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WWE Cruiserweight Classic Reaction for 07/27/16 – Week Three of the FIrst Round, featuring Zack Sabre Jr.’s debut against Tyson Dux, plus Gulak vs. Sihra, Nese vs. Anthony Bennett, and Mendoza vs. Kendrick

It’s week three of the Cruiserweight Classic, and if you’ve been tuning in the past two weeks, you know the score by now – it’s all about the wrestling.

We’ve got a number of great matches on paper this week, let’s see if they deliver.  I personally have been waiting to see Zack Sabre Jr. in a WWE ring for ages now.  And, I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about Raul Mendoza.  Well, enough talk from me, let’s get into it, shall we?

We open up the show with a video package about Tyson Dux, who is an indy standout from Canada.  He’s been in TNA a number of times, but that doesn’t matter to WWE right?  They highlight how he was in WWE and went down with an injury before he could get any momentum.

Zack Sabre Jr. then speaks about his influences.  He identifies himself as a technical wrestler, and says Harry Potter isn’t the only wizard from England.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux

ZSJ out first, Dux second.  They shake hands as the crowd cheers for Sabre.  Sabre is methodical and reverses a wrist lock into an ankle lock.  Dux has a few tricks up his sleeve as well, using his own technical style.  Sabre easily escapes out of hold after hold, reversing them into holds of his own.  Maruo Ranallo says Sabre looks at this like a chess match, and that’s becoming very apparent.  Sabre twists out of a cravat into a bridge on his head to get free and reverse the hold. Words fail.

ZSJ starts working the arm, Dux fires back with a bodyslam and a series of chops.  ZSJ hits a flying European uppercut. Sabre gets a little cocky and slaps Dux in the face, and Dux gets pissed, hitting a fisherman buster for two. Dux locks in a Fujiwara arm bar and rolls with it a number of times.  ZSJ locks in an octopus submission, Dux makes it to the ropes.  Dux hits a DDT for two.  ZSJ counters with a rollup into a bridge for a near fall.  He locks in a strange hammerlock in the center of the ring, and he just keeps twisting the arm in ways it shouldn’t bend.  He rolls it into an omoplata and Dux gives up.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. 

The two men shake hands after the match in a show of respect.

People do not bend that way. We just witnessed Tyson Dux get turned into a human pretzel.  My goodness.  My only concern is the pacing.  ZSJ has a slow, methodical pace, and I enjoy it, but can the average viewer find entertainment in it, or will they get bored?

Drew Gulak talks about his style and his strengths in the tournament.  Harv Sihra talks about embracing his heritage and embracing the Bollywood style in his wrestling.

Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra

The two shake hands and it’s on.  Gulak comes across aggressive early on.  Early roll-up attempt for two.  Sihra is trying to beat Gulak at his own game.  He goes for a monkey flip and Gulak counters with a body scissors.  Sihra counters, wrapping his feet over the legs of Gulak, causing Gulak to head to the ropes for a break.

Another handshake actually fuels the fire between the two.  Back and forth counters here, with Sihra using speed to counter Gulak.  Gulak nails him with a diving clothesline for two.  The action spills outside, and Sihra hits an impressive springboard cross body to Gulak.  Back in the ring, two count.  Nice superplex from Sihra.  They get to their feet and Gulak sneaks in a dragon sleeper out of nowhere.  Sihra tries to reverse again but Gulak wrenches it in for the win.

Winner: Drew Gulak

Not a bad match at all.  Gulak has a strong aggressive style, while Sihra seems more suited to high flying, but he never really got a chance to show it off.  Sihra did have some nice counters though, and I think the two worked well together.

A video package hypes up Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese.  Nese is from Long Island, NY.  He says he’s one of the strongest and quickest in the tournament.  He says he’s going to be the biggest name at the end of the tournament.  Anthony Bennett talks about being one of the smallest guys, but he’s here to win.

Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese

Bennett has two pairs of glowing sunglasses on – one on his face, one on his hair.  Yup.  This kid has a lot of charisma.  Nese seems much more straight forward.  Nese immediately drops Bennett to the mat.  Bennett looks small compares to Nese.  Bennett taunts Nese, who counters with a leapfrog and a sidekick leading into a nice exchange.

Nese sweeps out the legs on the apron, cartwheels on the apron and hits a superkick to Bennett on the floor.  Bennett hits a rolling cannonball from the apron.  Bennett rolls Nese in at 8, perhaps a mistake.  Nese hot shots Bennett, slips through the ropes to take out the feet, and hits a springboard moonsault for two.

The two trade blows.  Bennett hits a set of clotheslines, and a pop-up dropkick.  He goes for a tornado DDT.  Nese powers him back up, but Bennett hits it anyhow for two.  Elbows back and forth here.  Nese tries to counter and goes for a waistlock.  He slides through Bennett and hits a pumphandle slam.  Nese goes up top, and the referee actually stops him for a moment to check on Bennett.  Nese looks at the ref confused, then gets the ok to proceed, nailing him with the 450 splash for the win.

Winner: Tony Nese

A very weird ending to this match, which was pretty enjoyable overall, minus a few slips here and there.  Nese has a ton of strength and his build almost makes him look out of place in the tournament.  I heard some negative things about this match prior to airing, but I have to disagree.  I liked this.

Nese celebrates as a doctor checks in on Bennett.

A video for Raul Mendoza airs.  He speaks in Spanish, and talks about Eddie Guerrero being an inspiration for him.  He speaks about putting in hard work and dedication to the craft.  THE Brian Kendrick speaks about letting his dreams slip through his fingers because he was too busy patting himself on the back.  He is happy to have the second chance, because without wrestling he is just living.

Brian Kendrick vs. Raul Mendoza

Mauro Ranallo says Mendoza doesn’t wear a mask because he doesn’t get as many opportunities, and he’s also got a pretty face.  They shake hands.  Kendrick immediately works the arm.  Mendoza reverses out, goes for a snapmare and locks in a headlock.  Kendrick hits a shoulder tackle, Mendoza kippups, and Kendrick nails him with a front kick for his troubles.

Back and forth at a rapid pace.  Mendoza flaunts in the middle of the ring as Kendrick regroups.  He misses a dropkick and Mendoza goes for a leg swing into an ankle lock.  Cool move.  Kendrick gets to the ropes.  Kendrick hits a boot out of the ropes and gains control.  Kendrick makes him bite the ropes and kicks the ropes.  Ouch, that was nasty.  Mendoza’s mouth is bleeding a bit (it was before the rope kick, but now it’s more apparent).  Mendoza counters and rolls Kendrick up for two.  The ref checks on him, and Kendrick capitalizes immediately.  Mendoza slips through the ropes to counter Kendrick, and hits a springboard dropkick.  Mendoza corkscrews out of the ring to Kendrick.  Impressive.

Back in the ring, Mendoza hits a kick to the back of the head for two.  Kendrick hits a pair of boots to the head.  Kendrick goes up top for a moonsault.  Mendoza takes out the legs, hits a kick to the head and he’s in the tree of woe.  Mendoza goes coast to coast and easily hits a dropkick.  Double knee back breaker, and Kendrick gets his feet on the ropes just barely.

Mendoza runs the ropes, and Kendrick drops to the mat, clutching his head.  It’s a ruse, and he draws Mendoza in, hanging him on the ropes before rolling it into a bully choke.  Mendoza taps out.

Winner:  Brian Kendrick

Holy crap that was fun.  The story of this match was that Kendrick was barely able to hang on and keep up with Mendoza, who seemed to have endless energy.  Kendrick used tricks to outsmart his opponent.  But let’s not take anything away from Mendoza here – he easily won the crowd over by the end of the match, and there were dueling chants for both men.  He even got a standing ovation and a chant from the fans during the announcement of Kendrick as the winner.

This was another good night of action overall.  I really enjoyed seeing ZSJ in the ring.  The highlight of the night was definitely Kendrick vs. Mendoza.  Some great action overall, and the tournament goes on.

Next week should be the final week of first-round matches, if my math is correct.  I can’t wait to see who advances and I’m even more pumped for the second round!


About Drew Koscelek (1123 Articles)
Editor in Chief for, and a lifelong fan of pro-wrestling. Drew is one of the co-founders of Ring Rap, and is the current administrator of the site. Outside of pro-wrestling, he has a passion for all things geeky - reading, science fiction, video games, and music. You can contact him on Twitter @PsionStorm, or via email at

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