Welcome to the second night of the first round of the Cruiserweight Classic on the WWE Network.
First of all if you missed my HUGE CWC Bracketology Bonanza, click here.
I was 4 for 4 on my predictions last week, by the way.
No big deal.
Second of all, if you missed last week's episode watch this playlist of all the exciting matches:
Third of all, check out my preview of tonight's episode, featuring brief interviews with the competitors.
All caught up? Good.
Tajiri vs Damian Slater
Damian Slater is very slick and very athletic, but that very doesn't matter.
Tajiri works the left arm with hammerlocks and kicks to the deltoid. Once, when Slater is on all fours, Tajiri kicks him in the ELBOW, which looks like it could end a man's career.
Anyway, Slater breaks out of a wristlock with a step-over enzuigiri and hits a corkscrew pescado to the outside. He nails a tornado DDT and a running knee to Tajiri's ear. But Tajiri continues to kick the arm, and even puts Slater in the Tarantula. Breaking out all the hits, he goes for the Buzzsaw kick, but Slater ducks it. He doesn't duck the second one, though, and Tajiri gets the 1-2-3.
The crowd is weirdly dead for this match, though. Not a "Welcome Back" chant to be heard. Can it be that Full Sail doesn't remember how awesome Tajiri was 15 years ago? Oh wait, Full Sail was in the third grade 15 years ago.
WINNER: Tajiri by Pinfall
TJ Perkins vs Da Mack
The match starts out with duelling breakdance wristlocks.
It's pretty sweet.
Then TJP starts busting out handstand spinning headscissor takedowns, and when he gets Da Mack on his back, he Dabs.
Also, as you can see, he wrestles in vintage Jordans. I think he and Enzo just became best friends.
Da Mack is really at a disadvantage here. His whole thing is speed and flashiness. But Perkins is faster and flashier. You can tell he's used to playing to the crowd, but the crowd is rooting for TJP. As well they should be. As fun as it is to watch Da Mack, it's more fun to watch TJP, and that makes Da Mack's job that much harder.
(I feel silly typing "Da Mack." Does it look silly? It feels silly.)
Anyway, Mr. Mack would have been much better served facing somebody like Ariya Daivari, someone the crowd was bound to hate, so he could have gotten some love.
When he hits a somersault plancha to the outside, the crowd applauds, but they're only doing it out of respect. It sounds like this:
It sounds like that. Well, it's not that bad, but it's not great.
He does get a response when he does a dancing stomp thing and a springboard disaster kick, but you can tell the crowd doesn't want him to win.
Perkins hits a sprinboard wrecking ball drop kick to Mack in the ropes, then lands a Ricochet-version GTS and then puts him in a Kneebar.
Winner: TJ Perkins by Submission.
Lince Dorado vs Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali, as you might expect from a man with that name wrestling in an arena in Central Florida, works heel.
Also, he looks like this.
He is actually a replacement in the tournament, taking the place of a guy from Brazil by the name of Zumbi.
That's Zumbi. It's seems that this gentleman had a bit of a scheduling conflict and would not be available for the week of the CWC's First round tapings. Pity for us, since this dude is a bit of a Capoeira master, and that would have been DOPE.
But his replacement, Ali, hailing from Chicago and representing Pakistan, is a solid choice. Turns out Ali is good, even very good, with the potential of being great. And hey, if we ever get to a point in this country where half of the population doesn't automatically hate a guy because his name is Mustafa Ali, he might have a nice future ahead of him.
(end of slightly political diatribe)
Lince Dorado, meanwhile is where it's at, yo.
First of all, he enters wearing a cape:
And that's always awesome.
Secondly, check out his mask:
His mask has TEETH.
Thirdly, take a good look at that tattoo. That tattoo is Half Puerto Rican Flag, Half SKELETOR.
WWE, SIGN THIS MAN.
Also, he can wrestle good too. He nails a headscissor takedown from the apron to the floor that gets a "Holy Shit" chant going, and he follows that up with a picture perfect Asai Moonsault.
Then he does something so ridiculous, I think he gave Mauro a stroke:
A springboard reverse-spike-rana. Ho-hum.
SIGN THIS MAN.
To Ali's credit, he kicks out of that thing, then nails a springboard Spanish Fly that looks like it might have given Lince's grandchildren a mild concussion.
He then goes for an inverted 450, which would have set the building on fire had he landed it.
He misses it, which sets up Dorado for this beautiful, textbook Shooting Star Press.
Match of the Night, and a Candidate for Best Match of the First Round. The crowd went nuts for these two, and that finishing sequence ranks right up there with the best I've ever seen. Daniel Bryan put these two so far over, they're on the other side. I don't know if that line even makes sense.
SIGN BOTH OF THESE MEN.
Winner: Lince Dorado by Pinfall
Akira Tozawa vs Kenneth Johnson
Throughout the introductions and the opening minutes of the match, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan relate the story of Kenneth Johnson, which I will now summarize for you:
- Grew up in a bad neighborhood in Detroit, always picked on as the runt of the litter.
- At age 10, he saw Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12, entering on a zipline, and knew right then that he wanted to be a professional wrestler.
- Moved to Atlanta,when he was 18 to train with Curtis "Mr." Hughes.
- This is Mr. Hughes:
- At some point, tried out for a WWE developmental contract, but due to a severe speech impediment, he was denied.
- Took speech therapy classes, and in six months, he was able to give a three minute speech without stuttering once.
- Moved to San Antonio to train with Sho Funaki.
- This is Sho Funaki:
- He walked two miles to the bus stop every day to get to his job, sweeping floors in a movie theater.
- He walked across town to get to the gym where he trained with Funaki.
Now, don't you think that's a story they could sell the hell out of? I do. And I think they would have, too. If he had the ring ability to back it up. It really is a shame that all that training didn't make him a better wrestler.
Now listen, he's not bad. Not at all. He's just hopelessly outmatched by one of the best 50 wrestlers in the world. He's doing all the moves, they're just kind of botchy. He does do some things better than others. For instance, he's got a nice leg lariat off the ropes,
and he did a Backslide transition into a sideways Code Breaker that I rather enjoyed.
But his sunset flip is terrible, and when he goes for a twisting senton off the top rope, and Tozawa rolls out of the way, he lands nowhere near where Tozawa used to be. Like if Tozawa never moved, Johnson would have missed him by about five feet. I do think that Mauro and D.Bry are being a tiny bit condescending. Like at one point, Johnson gets credit for "not giving up and laying down."
This is Daniel Bryan for most of this match:
But Johnson does indeed show a lot of heart, and at least he never embarrasses himself or injures his opponent. Seriously.
Like, he's not nearly as bad Eva Marie, or WCW Erik Watts.
But then again, nobody is as bad as WCW Erik Watts.
The horror ...
The horror ...
Anyway, this match. It's booked to be an even fight, and that's a problem. No one believes that Ken Johnson, inspirational backstory or no, belongs in the same ARENA as Akira Tozawa, much less getting half a dozen near falls on him.
Thankfully, the outcome is never really in doubt, and Tozawa lands the fastest Snap German Suplex you've ever seen,
and we've got to hire this man to do something about our crumbling infrastructure in this country, because DUDE. BUILDS. BRIDGES.
Winner: Akira Tozawa by Pinfall
Oh, and I should mention, they just dropped a little factoid in there that Akira Tozawa's best friend is Apollo Crews.
Wait, what? How does that even work? Tozawa speaks through an interpreter for all of his interviews, but apparently he does speak some English. Apollo is up on the main roster, floundering for lack of a character. Sign Tozawa, bring him up to Smackdown immediately and give him and Crews a Han and Chewie gimmick right damn now. Like Crews speaks English to Tozawa, and Tozawa speaks Japanese to Crews. That would be hilarious, and it would get over immediately. Smackdown needs more tag teams anyway. They could feud with Breezango.
BOOK THIS NOW.
The night in review:
Looking forward to seeing what Tozawa does against better competition, he seemed to be holding himself back here a bit.
TJ Perkins is ready right now to be a major player in the Cruiserweight division on Raw. Right damn NOW.
Tajiri looked kind of old in that match with Slater, but he can still throw a kick that'll knock your block off.
And if the rest of the first round goes as I suspect it will, that Rich Swann vs Lince Dorado match in round number 2 is going to be more lit than Clark Griswold's house.
Oh, by the way, I am now 8 for 8 on picks in the First Round. I better call my bookie. I'm on a hot streak.
Next Week on the CWC:
Anthony Bennett vs Tony Nese
Drew Gulak vs Harv Sihra
Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tyson Dux
Raul Mendoza vs The Brian Kendrick
Hoo boy, are we in for a treat next week. Sabre Jr. vs Tyson Dux promises to be a bloodbath, and I think Drew Gulak might accidentally shoot murder poor Harv Sihra. Plus, they billed Brian Kendrick as "The Post Apocalyptic Scavenger". Does that mean we're finally getting a gimmick for Kendrick than more closely aligns with his world view?
Tune in next week to find out.
Until then, I've been Alex Pawlowski and this is me watching Dorado vs Swann in Round 2.