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    Thursday, August 11, 2016

    WWE Cruiserweight Classic Review (8/10/16): Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

    Ah, Thursday... My favorite time of the week because of my favorite wrestling program, the Cruiserweight Classic! Round 2 has officially begun and today, we get two appetizing matchups in Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik and Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander! Let's not waste any more time and get right to it!

    Match #1: Gran Metalik (Mexico) def. Tajiri (Japan)

    We get a quick reintroduction to both guys, which thankfully (1) doesn't just repeat what was already aired in Round 1 and (2) has no unnecessary dubbing. It's always better to hear guys speak in their native tongues, and then just read the subtitles. Good on this episode for being consistent with the pre-match video packages.

    The story of the match was centered around Tajiri's veteran experience going head-to-head with the relative youth of Gran Metalik. Throughout the match, you can see just how crafty the Japanese Buzzsaw would be with his quick holds, stiff strikes, and impactful moves in order to disorient the luchador also known as Mascara Dorada.

    Tajiri's deliberate moveset is one of the reasons he's able to continue performing at a high level despite being 46 years old, and it served as a contrast to the high-flying offense of Gran Metalik, which was on display once again in this match. The 23-year ring veteran would have the upper hand throughout most of the match because of the experience factor, painting Gran Metalik as the underdog during the bout.

    One of the highlights from Gran Metalik would be his tightrope walk on the top rope, which led to an insane somersault plancha on Tajiri!

    Gran Metalik would smarten up and go after Tajiri's leg late in the match to neutralize those strong kicks of his. Meanwhile, Tajiri would continue to ground Gran Metalik with his submission game, showing that both guys knew what they had to do to prevent the other from capitalizing on their respective strengths.

    In the end, Gran Metalik would get the upset victory, shocking both Tajiri and me when he successfully hit the Metalik Screwdriver leading to the 1-2-3!

    I had Tajiri pegged to win heading into this episode just because I expected him to have a deep run in this tournament. But after realizing that Akira Tozawa was in the same bracket, it does make more sense to have Tozawa be the guy to advance out of their bracket. I guess we'll be seeing Tajiri on RAW soon when its Cruiserweight Division takes flight!

    Match #2: Kota Ibushi (Japan) def. Cedric Alexander (U.S.A.)

    Remember what I said last week about Gargano vs. Ciampa being the most must-see match so far in the CWC? You can now scratch that and replace it with Ibushi vs. Alexander.

    This match was all about one-upsmanship because it featured a guy in Cedric Alexander who got his dream match against the one competitor in the tournament he admired the most in Kota Ibushi. The result was nothing short of an instant classic, as Mauro Ranallo himself would go on to say during the contest.

    Cedric would display a very fluid in-ring style, finding a way to get out of Ibushi's locks during that terrific opening chain sequence. But Ibushi would match Alexander's athleticism himself, proving that anything Cedric can do, Kota can do better.

    Both guys were already beloved by the Full Sail crowd to begin with that they got a "BOTH THESE GUYS!" chant, which was an amusing sight to see. It's also worth noting that WWE is really treating Ibushi like a big deal because they were totally fine with Mauro blatantly referencing Ibushi's Wrestle Kingdom 9 match with Shinsuke Nakamura from last year. Again, what a time to be alive.

    The pacing of the match was uneven, but in a very fun way because you'd see both guys taking their time and then shift into high gear the very next moment, like they went 0 to 100 real quick. While they slowed down with rest holds like a side hammer lock, it continued to be a fun viewing experience thanks to Daniel Bryan, who explained the logic behind a simple move like that, making every wrestler who uses a rest hold like that look smart in the process.

    For most of the match, Kota Ibushi wouldn't wrestle as recklessly as we're used to seeing him until he attempted and missed a golden triangle moonsault. Ibushi would crash and burn, allowing Cedric to gain momentum and hit a tope con hilo! So much for Ibushi's lack of recklessness!

    I continued fearing for Ibushi's well-being as both guys tried to match each other's stiffness in their strikes and throws. Ibushi would take several bumps on his neck, particularly a Michinoku Driver that had me cringing. 

    The match hit its crescendo towards the end, when Mauro pointed out that the match was approaching the 15-minute mark, reminding the viewers at home that each bout has a 20-minute time limit. That makes me wish that every match had a timer graphic because the longer ones—like this one between Ibushi and Alexander—could have used the added drama of the time factor creeping in.

    In the end, Cedric would miss a double foot stomp, allowing Ibushi to rally with a comeback, punctuating in his Golden Star Powerbomb for the win.

    What a match. It was so great that the fans at Full Sail broke out into a, "PLEASE SIGN CEDRIC!" chant, moving Alexander to tears as he made his way to the back.
    While he soaked the moment in one last time, a wild Triple H appeared, winking to the fans and giving a thumbs-up, which I can only assume means that we'll be seeing Cedric Alexander on RAW's CW division, too. He better, especially after putting on a performance for the ages today.


    Next week, we're getting three more second-round matchups, which should be less bitin than this week's, but just as fun regardless! Akira Tozawa takes on Jack Gallagher, while Noam Dar will most likely eliminate HoHo Lun (sorry, HoHo). And in the main event, Brian Kendrick looks to continue his veteran underdog run against Tony Nese.

    What was your favorite moment from this week's CWC episode? Let us know in the comments below!

    Photos from WWE.


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. He used to dress up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's General Manager.
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    Item Reviewed: WWE Cruiserweight Classic Review (8/10/16): Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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