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    Friday, August 19, 2016

    WWE Cruiserweight Classic Review (8/17/16): By Any Means Necessary

    Before we get to this week's Cruiserweight Classic review, let me apologize for getting this in a day late. It's been quite the busy week for me, so I only really had the time to write my favorite column of the week right now. Now that that's out of the way, we'll be looking back at the last three matches to take place in the second round of the CWC. Fair warning: another robbery took place this week.

    Match #1: Akira Tozawa (Japan) def. Jack Gallagher (U.K.)

    I'll be honest: I loved Akira Tozawa's round one performance so much that I pegged him to be the one to come out of his bracket heading into the Final Four. But then Jack Gallagher's match took place in the last batch of first-round matches that it became hard to even think about Gallagher exiting in the second round because I wanted to see more of his performances in the ring.

    That leads us to yesterday's match, in which Gallagher wrestled circles around Tozawa. From the opening bell, that was the story. Gallagher was simply the better man, and he looked entertaining as hell doing it, too.
    He tied Tozawa up in a literal knot, taunted the Japanese sensation, and frustrated him to no end by being flashy in the process. But Gallagher also knew how to be serious, spending the second act of the match working on Tozawa's left leg.

    Now that doesn't mean that Tozawa didn't get his licks in. He did, and he displayed a meaner side to him in doing so, being the more intense, heel-like character as Gallagher's foil. But ultimately, what made me turn on Tozawa as a viewer was the fact that he couldn't keep selling Gallagher's offense, especially when it mattered the most.

    Gallagher weakened Tozawa's leg to prevent him from successfully hitting his bridging German suplex, and yet when it was time for Tozawa to make his comeback, he shrugged it off and completely no-sold his supposed injuries! We knew that Tozawa planned to finish Gallagher off with a deadlift German, which is always an impressive feat to see. But seeing Tozawa do it while no-selling what Gallagher did to him left a bad taste in my mouth because it felt like the British Gentleman was robbed of an opportunity right there.

    Gallagher was definitely the better man, and while I don't want to take too much away from Akira Tozawa, the latter was just simply outclassed by his opponent throughout the match. That comeback came from out of nowhere that it seemed like such a forced finish. Man. Do the right thing, Triple H. Sign Jack Gallagher.

    Match #2: Noam Dar (Scotland via Israel) def. HoHo Lun (Hong Kong)

    Noam Dar was very impressive in this outing against HoHo Lun from start to finish. Dar showed that despite playing a heel character, he could wow you with his technique as he slithered easily out of whatever hold HoHo tried to get him in. Even the Full Sail crowd couldn't help showing their appreciation for him, singing the Imperial March from Star Wars to Dar's name among other things.

    I really want to like HoHo Lun. I really do, but this guy just makes it so difficult for me to do so. He tries to fire up by getting the crowd to cheer for him, but it feels so forced that when the crowd actually popped, it felt half-assed. While I see the value in engaging the crowd to get them to interact with you, it just doesn't work as well when there's not much of a connection between a performer and their fans, and that's why HoHo's signature moves didn't seem to get as big of a crowd reaction as he would have liked.

    Much like Tozawa, HoHo also relies on bridging suplexes to weaken his opponents—something Dar must have picked up on because he spent a lot of time during the match taking down Lun's left knee. It showed how cunning and clever Dar could be, which is a wisdom that belies his age, being the youngest competitor in the CWC. HoHo was ultimately unable to go for his signature bridge after a fisherman's suplex, which allowed Dar to kick out late in the match. And when Noam Dar saw a window of opportunity, he capitalized quickly and locked in the Kneebar and using his free leg to pound the back of HoHo's head, forcing the father of Hong Kong wrestling to submit.

    Noam Dar's got a lot of potential as a young, but savvy performer, and I really enjoyed watching him go to work on HoHo. There weren't a lot of wasted moments from this match, and it should be a testament to the talent of both guys. Thanks for coming, HoHo. Asia thanks you.

    Match #3: Brian Kendrick (USA) def. Tony Nese (USA)

    The story of this match centered around Kendrick's brains going up against Nese's brawns, which was interesting given the styles that both men were presented as having heading into the CWC. Brian Kendrick was classified as a highflyer because of his WWE past, but in this tournament, he's been more of a scrappy, calculating veteran who was willing to use anything to gain an advantage. And then there's Tony Nese, whose hybrid style blended everything that the cruiserweight division could offer into a complete package.

    That being said, Nese started off surprising Kendrick with his power and striking game, leveling the former ECW Champion with stiff, strong shots. But Kendrick would come back at Nese by using anything he could get his hands on from Nese' nostrils, to getting Nese's hand caught inside a turnbuckle pad, to even grabbing Nese's beard. 
    Watching Kendrick move in the ring shows the desperation with which he fights, alluding to his "last chance at redemption" arc. It's actually an interesting juxtaposition given that the arc itself is very babyface, and yet the way he goes about it in the ring is very heelish because of his willing and liberal use of underhanded tactics. Daniel Bryan rooting for him wholeheartedly on commentary adds to the contrast because Bryan willingly blinds himself from Kendrick's heel actions, while playing up his supposed "heart" and "perseverance," as he would a babyface.

    In the end, Brian Kendrick would capitalize on a missed 450 splash from Nese and pick up the win via Bully Choke, submitting Nese after a mostly even and exciting matchup, which was able to showcase both men's styles. While I don't think Nese was robbed like Cedric Alexander or Jack Gallagher were, I do think this was the right result because seeing Kendrick eventually face off against Kota Ibushi will be an interesting matchup. But if Trips is going to sign some CWC talent to RAW, then he could do worse than picking up the Premier Athlete.


    Overall, this week's episode was still a lot of fun, proving once again that the Cruiserweight Classic is the best hour of wrestling you'll find on television today. It's pretty sad knowing that we're already six episodes into the series, because that means we only have four episodes to go. And then we'll have to wait another year before we get the CWC again.

    But for now, let's enjoy the last batch of second-round matchups, which are set to take place next week: Rich Swann takes on Lince Dorado, Zack Sabre Jr. faces off against Drew Gulak, and in the main event, Johnny Gargano takes on our Kuya TJ Perkins!

    What was your favorite match 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 (8/17/16): By Any Means Necessary Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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