It’s week four of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, and it’s the final week of Round 1 action. Once again, this is about what you have come to expect from the CWC – great matches, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. I believe that this episode characterized those qualities more than any, particularly the main event, which stood out to me as the best match in the tournament so far, and although I struggle to put it in the match of the year pool, I do find myself calling it one of my favorite matches this year.
Our opening match was Rich Swann vs. Jason Lee. Swann is a competitor in WWE already, signed to NXT, and although I’ve seen some of his indy work, I’ve been slacking on NXT lately and haven’t seen any of this run. Needless to say, I’m impressed. His energy is absolutely infectious. I normally hate dancing characters, but this seems like him. I can’t help but want to dance along.
Seems I’m not the only one, as the crowd frequently chanted his entrance song throughout the match. Good action here too, as Lee is focusing on martial arts strikes. This was a pretty short match, however, with Swann hitting his standing 450 splash for the win.
Next up, Noam Dar vs. Gurv Sihra. For me, this match fell a little flat. They never seemed to get out of first gear. Dar hit a good looking uppercut sequence, as well as an enzuigiri followed by a fisherman’s suplex. A kneebar pulled the submission victory for Dar. Just a sloppy match overall, and for my first exposure to both men, not impressive.
Our third match was Fabian Aichner vs. Jack Gallagher. Aichner is very muscular and looks like he shouldn’t be able to make the weight cut, whereas Gallagher looks like a twig next to him. We had a nice clash of styles here, though, and I enjoyed this match. Gallagher wrestles a technical style, but Aichner kept up, even though his strengths leaned towards power and high flying. Both men worked very hard here and had good chemistry. After Aichner missed a frog splash, Gallagher picked up the win with a sick looking running dropkick in the corner. I can tell you almost certainly that Vince McMahon didn’t book this match, otherwise it would’ve been the other way around.
Our match of the night, and the main event, was Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa. Prior to the match we had an excellent video package with both men discussing their friendship with each other as tag partners – Ciampa is going to be in Gargano’s wedding for crying out loud! But both men are determined to win, and they’re going to leave that friendship behind the curtain. We even got a pre-match promo from both men backstage, reiterating what was said in the video package.
This match delivered on the hype and promise set by the video and promo. It was hard hitting, fast and furious, and whatever other cliche phrases you can think off. They all apply. Ciampa and Gargano battled on the apron and Ciampa hit an Air Raid Crash onto the apron, causing me to cringe in horror at the sight. Ciampa immediately rolled Gargano in for a near fall.
Ciampa set Gargano up for a running knee, and dropped the knee pad to deliver the move, but he had a change of heart and rolled the pad up again. The delay was enough to give Gargano a chance to counter, even though Ciampa got the better of the exchange. After some more intense back and forth action and a series of reversals, Gargano locked in a crucifix pin to pick up the surprise win.
It was the post-match action that took this to the next level, however. Gargano extended a hand to Ciampa, which Ciampa declined. Ciampa walked away and started to head to the back as Gargano sat in the middle of the ring, but Ciampa had a change of heart, turned around and walked back. He sat down next to his friend, raised his hand, and they hugged each other. It was a very touching moment, and really, truly exemplified what this tournament is all about.
Next week, we enter a new round of competition, and this is where things st to get a little muddy. The first round was, quite frankly, very predictable. There were very few matches where I questioned who would advance. But now, it’s a wide open playing field and while I have some winners in mind, for the most part I truly have no idea.
Next week, Tajiri is scheduled to face Gran Metalik, and Cedric Alexander will take on Kota Ibushi. Alexander vs. Ibushi has been called Match of the Year by those in attendance for the tapings, so… this is absolutely not to be missed! See you next week folks!