Cruiserweight Classic – July 27, 2016: A Lot Of Wrestling

Cruiserweight Classic
Date: July 27, 2016
Location: Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Commentators: Daniel Bryan, Mauro Ranallo

We’re still in the first round but since this tournament is structured rather well, we’ll be done with it next week. This show has become a very refreshing change of pace with nothing but wrestling and almost no storylines. I know that wouldn’t work long term but it’s really fun in the short version like this. Let’s get to it.

We look at tonight’s four matches.

Opening sequence.

Tyson Dux used to wrestle in WWE and then destroyed his knee.

Zack Sabre Jr. says Harry Potter isn’t the only wizard from England.

First Round: Tyson Dux vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Canada vs. England. I’ve actually never seen a Sabre match. The fans are entirely behind Sabre here as he takes Dux down by the leg. Bryan talks about Sabre being well educated in the art of escapology, meaning he knows how to get out of every possible hold. Sabre keeps spinning around from one body part to another with some sweet movements, each one frustrating Dux even more. You can almost hear Bryan drooling over every single thing Zack does.

Dux tries to grab a headlock but gets caught in an armbar on the mat. A slam and some chops stagger Sabre a bit but he comes right back with European uppercuts. Some kicks to the arm only seem to tick Dux off and he grabs a fisherman’s buster. Zack’s stunned look as he lands is great.

Dux puts on a Fujiwara armbar but Zack gets to his feet and grabs an octopus hold. Tyson gets the ropes so Zack hits a running kick to the chest for two. A quick DDT gets two for Dux and he clotheslines Zack’s head off. Sabre comes right back with a Kimura before taking him down into something like the YES Lock but he bends Dux’s fingers back for the submission at 9:23.

Rating: B. This was exactly the way they should have had Sabre make his debut: Instead of having him just run through Dux, Sabre had to actually break a sweat here and that makes for a more interesting match. It means that Sabre might have to actually put in some work as he moves forward, which makes for something worth watching. Just having Sabre tie Dux up and make him tap in four minutes would have worked short term but this is putting in some early effort for a better payoff later. That’s so rare these days and it’s nice to see a change.

Drew Gulak is a submission expert from Philadelphia.

Harv Sihra was inspired by Eddie Guerrero to embrace his heritage.

First Round: Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra

America vs. India. Sihra is part of the Bollywood Boys and his brother is also in the tournament. They’re quickly on the mat with Gulak grabbing a bodyscissors, only to have Harv tie the legs up to send Drew crawling to the ropes. The fans didn’t seem to see what was going on though and there wasn’t much of a reaction. Gulak comes right back with a middle rope clothesline for two, only to be backdropped to the floor. Harv gets in a nice twisting cross body to the floor and grabs a superplex back inside. With Gulak down, Harv goes for the ankle but gets caught in a dragon sleeper for the tap out at 5:24.

Rating: C. Gulak isn’t as flashy as Sabre but you can tell he certainly knows his submissions. That dragon sleeper looked great and he looked completely in control of Sihra out there. Sabre vs. Gulak in the second round should be excellent, especially if they give it enough time to go somewhere.

Tony Nese says he’s a complete athlete.

Anthony Bennett is from Philadelphia and has very large hair.

First Round: Tony Nese vs. Anthony Bennett

America vs. America here and Bennett’s hair has its own sunglasses. Bennett dances around to start and Nese will have none of that nonsense. They head outside with Bennett hitting a quick cannonball off the apron but is easily taken down for a springboard middle rope moonsault. A suplex plants Bennett, who pops back up for a dropkick. Bennett’s guillotine choke doesn’t get him very far so Tony slams him again….and the referee stops the match to check on him. We get the all clear and Nese hits a 450 for the pin at 6:33.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t feeling this one as well with Bennett’s size being a bit too much to overlook. Nese is fine but a bit too much of your standard “I’m awesome and athletic” cruiserweight. The 450 looked good though and made for a good ending to a not so great match. Eh they can’t all be great.

Raul Mendoza grew up idolizing Eddie Guerrero who was small but became champion.

Brian Kendrick is here to get his second chance.

First Round: Brian Kendrick vs. Raul Mendoza

America vs. Mexico. Kendrick is looking very skinny and you can see a lot of his bones here. They trade leapfrogs to start with Kendrick being sent out to the floor. Back in and Mendoza slaps on something like a reverse Texas Cloverleaf, only to swing Brian around before taking him down into a leglock on the mat. Cool indeed. Kendrick suckers him in for a big boot before putting Mendoza’s mouth on the ropes, which he then kicks for good measure.

Mendoza is bleeding from the mouth but quickly says he’s ready to continue. Raul comes right back and sends him outside for a f

lip dive, only to miss a springboard 450 back inside. A big running kick to the face drops Raul but Kendrick takes too long getting up top, allowing Raul to crotch him into the Tree of Woe. Mendoza goes way big with a Coast to Coast dropkick but a backbreaker only gets two. We get some old school goldbricking as Kendrick fakes an injury, only to pull Mendoza down into a choke (apparently the Bully Choke) for the submission at 7:35.

Rating: C+. I would have gone with Mendoza here as Kendrick is a big name but he’s not exactly a big enough name that he has to go forward here. Raul was a sweet high flier here and that’s something we haven’t seen much of tonight. I get why they went with Kendrick but I hope he doesn’t go much further than this.

Overall Rating: B-. This show worked but I would have gone with Sabre as the main event. It’s clear that he’s going to be a big deal in this and I don’t know why they wouldn’t go with him last. They had a good show with four good to watchable matches though as this tournament is flying by. The first round wrapping up is a good thing as we can now see big names facing off, which is the point of a tournament. Another good show this week, as has become the norm.


Zack Sabre Jr. b. Tyson Dux – Double arm lock

Drew Gulak b. Harv Sihra – Dragon sleeper

Tony Nese b. Anthony Bennett – 450

Brian Kendrick b. Raul Mendoza – Bully Choke

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  1. Bloodbuzz Bunk says:

    That may have been the best week of the tournament so far. All eight guys were somewhat impressive in their own way which is more than can be said the last two weeks.

    I understand your point in regards to Kendrick but I think that logic applies more to Tajiri than it does to Kendrick. Kendrick actually gives us a story in his search for redemption and a nice wrinkle in that in his desperation to win he has resorted to heel tactics with age is sorta awesome. It’s been a long time since I have seen a natural double turn like that during a match which makes it a pretty good match even more enjoyable.

    Nese and Gulak are two other impressive natural heels that I like as Nese looks like a million bucks and Gulak is just a grounder who looks mean.

    Finally I will wrap up this long post by saying that Sabre Jr. would be a classic heel too if he wasn’t so skinny and so smooth. He has an arrogance about his skill that reminds me of Malenko, Tully, and a young Jericho. But the crowd loves him no matter what. It was a very heelish night which is sorta weird for them to do considering it’s all pretaped and they could arrange them however they wanted.

  2. El Killjoy says:

    Anthony Bennett’s song sounded familiar. I don’t think it was WWE produced.