By Alex Pawlowski - Part one of Fightful.com's HUGE Cruiserweight Classic preview!
Did you ever see the Jean Claude Van Damme movie, The Quest?
It was actually directed by Van Damme as well, and is a kind of a weird knock off of Bloodsport crossed with an adaptation of every mid-90’s arcade fighting game ever created.
Craziest fun fact: It was co-written by THE GUY VAN DAMME PLAYED IN BLOODSPORT.
Here is a summary of the film:
“In the slums of New York City during the 1920s, petty thief Chris Dubois (Jean-Claude Van Damme) finds himself on the run from the police. At the docks, he hides on an outbound freight ship leaving for Asia. Taken in by the mysterious Lord Dobbs (Roger Moore. Yes, that Roger Moore) as the boat docks in Thailand, Dubois is introduced to the underground world of martial arts fighting. His training culminates in a secret battle between the world's greatest fighters that takes place before a select audience in Tibet.”
Did you watch Bloodsport or play Mike Tyson’s Punch Out and think to yourself, “I like this, but I just wish the fighters from various lands all over the world could be even bigger stereotypes”?
Then, brother, this movie is for YOU.
Seriously. The Japanese fighter is a Sumo Wrestler. The Chinese fighter is a tiny Bruce Lee type who is a master of Snake, Monkey and Tiger Kung Fu. The fighter from Thailand is an expert in Muay Thai. The Brazilian fighter is a Capoeira master. The Scottish fighter is a bare-knuckle boxer who wears a kilt. The African fighter is a Zulu warrior (yes, he is from the entire continent of Africa, not any one country, because Geography is hard, you guys). The Russian fighter is a big ol’ bruiser who looks like he came straight out of the gulag. The fighter from Spain is a Flamenco dancing lothario who wrestles in an open-throated silk dress shirt and even makes eyes at Van Damme’s love interest because hot-blooded Latin guys, amirite? And the Turkish fighter was dreamt up by someone who has never been to Turkey, and I think is just cosplaying as Atilla the Hun or something. The final boss is from Mongolia, a giant Genghis Khan-looking motherf*cker.
Here is a music video montage I found on YouTube that is set to Michael Jackson’s Beat It, because the internet is a wonderful place that never runs out of surprises.
Anyway, this was a super long set-up to say that this is what I thought the CruiserWeight Classic was going to be. Which would have been cool, I guess, but just not what I wanted. I was afraid it was going to be a bunch of great wrestlers with wacky stereotypical gimmicks forced upon them. But that’s not what it is, at all. I mean, with the exception of Jack Gallagher’s mustache:
And Anthony Bennett's hair:
Everyone else appears to be relatively gimmick free. That is, until they’re formally signed by WWE and Vince McMahon gets his hands on them. And depending on how these matches are booked, I suppose anything can happen. It is The ‘E, after all. Raul Mendoza could come out wearing a Mariachi outfit and Akira Tozawa might be booked as an actual ninja. Or, y’know, like these poor sonsabitches.
But for now, this just appears to be a straightforward single-elimination tournament of 32 world class fighters. And I can’t wait.
Oh, by the way, spoliers are out there and readily available on the internet, but for the purposes of this column (and all other CWC coverage on Fightful), we’re all going to assume that nobody has seen them.
Let’s get to the brackets.
Top Left Quadrant: The SouthWest/FarEast Region
Kenneth Johnson vs Akira Tozawa
I literally can’t find anything about Kenneth Johnson, except that I’m pretty sure he looks like this:
Well, that and the fact that The Twin Towers old Manager, Slick, is also named Kenneth Johnson.
Let’s just skip over how problematic the WWF was in the late 80s and early 90s, with a tag team of a Confederate-flag-emblazoned correctional officer and a giant white guy named Akeem the African Dream wearing a kufi and a dashiki. And they’re managed by a black guy named Slick, who is obviously playing a pimp.
Let’s just skip over that.
So yeah, I’m like 80% sure “Slick” Kenneth Johnson isn’t the same guy as the one in the CWC, but I’m also pretty sure neither of them has a chance against Akira Tozawa.
This kid can work. And he has worked, with the best.
Jack Gallagher vs Fabian Aichner
Gallagher, he of the aforementioned mustache, was given a video package vignette on the Bracketology show, so my thought is that he’s not going out in the first round. He’s very impressive. Just look at his qualifying match to get into the tournament.
However, he’s the size of a fourteen year old boy, and he’s fighting this dude:
Smirky McChromeDome here is Fabian Aichner, who has five inches and fifty pounds on Gallagher. He hails from Italy and wrestles in Europe under the name ADRIAN SEVERE. That’d be enough to sell me on him right there, but there’s also the fantastic stuff he does in the ring.
However, WWE doesn’t produce those kinds of interviews like they did with Gallagher without knowing they’re going to push a guy at least a little bit.
Tajiri vs Damian Slater
Man, I used to love Tajiri. The Japanese Buzzsaw was my jam. In like 2002.
A lot has changed since then, and while it’s good to see him again, he shouldn’t be taking this spot from a younger talent. But now that he is in the field, I certainly hope they use him right. He should be here solely to put somebody over, but I’m not sure who just yet.
It might be Gran Metalik in the second round. It might be Jack Gallagher in the third, but one thing’s for sure: It won’t be Damian Slater in the opener.
Sorry kid, you’re doing the job. Hope you’re not allergic to green mist.
Alejandro Saez vs Gran Metalik
Alejandro Saez might be really really awesome. He can certainly do some amazing things in the ring.
But as was pointed out on the Bracketology Special, ol’ “Xtra Large” had to cut a lot of weight to get down to 205, thereby relinquishing his biggest advantage. He doesn’t look like this anymore.
Now, he looks more like he got out of a POW camp. Or like he just got off the most aggressive juice cleanse in history. The thing is, I’m not sure what kind of chance Saez would have had, even at full size, against Gran Metalik.
That’s a lot of Gold. Which is fitting for the guy they used to call “Golden Mask.”
Okay so they actually called him “Mascara Dorada”, but either way, he’s the real deal, yo.
Tozawa over Gallagher
Part of me feels like they might push Gallagher all the way to the Final Four, just so they can have an all-England left half of the bracket. This is a tough call, but I’m picking Tozawa all the way to the semi-finals.
Gran Metalik over Tajiri
Tajiri’s got to put over Metalik here, so we can see Metalik vs Tozawa (or Gallagher) in the Regional Final.
Regional Final: Tozawa over Metalik
I just love Tozawa’s style, man. But whoever comes out of this region ain’t beating the guy who comes out of the next.