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    Thursday, September 8, 2016

    WWE Cruiserweight Classic Review (9/7/16): #LabanTJP

    Ah, Thursday. My favorite day of the week. Seriously, it's when the best shows are on TV (because for some reason, American TV channels schedule them on Wednesday nights). *Kanye shrug*

    This week's extra special because Lucha Underground returned with its season premiere, while the CWC had its penultimate episode. If you want to read about how LU kicked off season 3, you can click here for Anthony Cuello's review. If you're here to read about how Zack Sabre Jr. and TJ Perkins punched their ticket to the CWC's Final Four, then read on!

    Match #1: Zack Sabre Jr. (U.K.) def. Noam Dar (Scotland via Israel)

    Noam Dar has been the most consistent heel in the CWC, and he stayed in character this week as he takes home the tournament's Ariya Daivari Dick of the CWC Award. Dar played the annoying little brother to ZSJ's babyface-in-peril through the match, which saw the former rely on dirty tactics to counter the latter's technical proficiency.

    The match itself wasn't incredibly exciting through the first half, as are most ZSJ matches. As usual, it required an extra bit of focus and patience to appreciate what we were seeing. But once Dar and Sabre Jr. shifted gears with their swift counters and reversals, even casual fans would find themselves being taken along for the ride.

    Throughout the CWC, ZSJ has been the wunderkind to whom everything else just looked easy. He didn't seem to face a lot of adversity heading into the quarterfinals, so it was refreshing to see him being outwitted by Noam Dar in this match. ZSJ also came out looking more like a genuine babyface now that he wasn't giving everyone the "this shit is too easy" vibe. 

    Despite ZSJ being the bigger name—and therefore, the safer pick to advance—Dar looked like a credible threat, which said a lot about how both men made each other look. Watching the match, I found myself wanting to root against Dar because his heel work was actually pretty good. 

    The finish of the match was amazing as a series of counters led to ZSJ using both of his legs to wrench Noam Dar's arms in a modified Rings of Saturn. Damn, I could feel Dar's agony right there.

    That ZSJ vs. Dar match was the better and more exciting match of the night, and given that, I was satisfied with ZSJ's win and Dar's exit. I'm also actually excited to see how the Technical Wizard and Gran Metalik will collide in next week's semifinal matchup. Boy, I'm going to miss the CWC when this ends.

    Match #2: TJ Perkins (Philippines) def. Rich Swann (U.S.A.)

    TJ Perkins vs. Rich Swann was a fun match because it seemed like both guys were facing a mirror image of each other. Both men were known for being highflyers, who knew how to mix it up on the mat when they had to. Both also have a tendency to be flashy, especially with their dance moves. What I love about how they did this match was their emphasis on their facial expressions, and how those added a lot of value to the match itself.

    I enjoyed seeing their bouts of one-upmanship from the simple chain wrestling to all of their reversals, even to the dabbing. You could see how they were both holding back at first because it had been established that TJP and Swann were like brothers, given their shared history together.

    In the end, it was the work TJP did on Swann's left knee which paid dividends, as Swann was unable to hit his moves with maximum impact. TJP resorted to tactics like keeping the TJP Clutch locked in until the four-and-a-half count when Rich Swann reached for the rope break. That and the fact that Full Sail was a pro-Swann crowd led to TJP getting booed a lot during the match.

    None of that mattered to Kuya TJ, who was able to find the wherewithal to finish Rich Swann off with a fireman's carry to a Pele kick into the TJP Clutch!

    I love how the match just took everything out of both men, and that it came down to who was willing to tap into their inner darkness to maim their friend into submission. That was a compelling way to have a match between two babyfaces who are also friends—a recurring theme in the CWC.

    Cue all the #PinoyPride tweets! Man, I know how huge this moment is for us Pinoy wrestling fans, but I can't help but feel like this will get watered down by having the peenoise on the bandwagon.Ah, whatever. That shouldn't put a damper on the high I'm feeling because TJ Perkins is going to the Final Four, baybay!!!


    Next week, we're getting the two-hour CWC finale, featuring the semifinal match-ups between Gran Metalik and Zack Sabre Jr. and that between Kota Ibushi and TJ Perkins! And of course, the winners of those match-ups go straight to the main event to complete for the right to be crowned the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic winner!

    I actually laid out my predictions two weeks ago, so if you want to see that, then either head on here or to my CWC writeup on Sports Illustrated Philippines right here.

    What was your favorite moment from the CWC?

    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 (9/7/16): #LabanTJP Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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