Round one of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic wrapped up last week, and we saw some blockbuster matches, including a match of the year candidate in Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. But now, we’re down to 16 competitors, and the playing field is getting smaller… and more intense.
The nice thing about round two? We get longer matches. With only two matches in each episode, there’s room for each to breathe and stand on its own. Tonight’s show is a perfect example of that.
The show opens with an awesome video package highlighting some of the best moments from the first round. The focus is, once again, on the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.
After Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan intro the show, they kick it to Corey Graves in the Control Room, who hypes up tonight’s matches, and cues up pretaped interviews with our first competitors, Gran Metalik and Tajiri. Tajiri talks about having more experience than just about anyone in the tournament, but says his age is a factor too. And that’s perfectly fine by me – it’s a solid story to tell and it is fitting.
And so, Gran Metalik vs. Tajiri begins proper, and what a great match it was! Very good back and forth action here, with Tajiri focusing on hard-hitting strikes and Metalik trying to keep things moving. More than a few times, Metalik gave it right back to Tajiri with the stiff strikes, and both men pitted their will against each other to determine who was the best. Metalik hit an impressive springboard plancha to the outside of the ring. After some more more intense back and forth action, Metalik hit Tajiri with a Metalik Driver out of nowhere for the victory.
After the match, Tajiri congratulated Metalik on his win, by offering a handshake and a hug. A nice moment, and perhaps a symbolic passing of the torch?
And then, our main event – Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander. Corey Graves built up Ibushi as the favorite to win the entire tournament, with Alexander being the underdog here. The match begins with a very gracious handshake, and the audience is pumped with anticipation. They know they’re witnessing something special.
This match is a classic tale of counter vs. counter. There’s a nice pacing too, both men taking their time, not rushing the match. It feels like a game of chess, each trying to maintain control. Alexander hit a nice reverse head scissors out of the turnbuckle, and it led to an impressive series of counters and pin attempts. Things get real when Ibushi nails Alexander with one of his infamous kicks. The action spills outside, with Ibushi missing his Golden Triangle moonsault, and Alexander catching him with his own plancha. A springboard clothesline from Alexander leads to a near fall.
Ibushi kicks Alexander hard, and Alexander slaps the shit out of Ibushi in return. Ibushi dropped like a rock and Alexander smartly went for the pin. Ibushi hits an amazing dropkick, practically taking Alexander’s jaw off. They trade blows, and Ibushi hits a standing corkscrew moonsault for a near fall. An exploder suplex sends Alexander out of the ring. Ibushi follows out with a top rope moonsault.
The fans start chanting “Fight forever!” as the clock ticks down. Alexander hits a Michinoku Driver for a believable near fall. Ibushi and Alexander trade blows from the top rope, Ibushi goes for a top rope Frankensteiner, but he doesn’t connect with it. Alexander flips out anyhow, instead landing on his feet. He goes for a counter, and Ibushi hits a Pele kick to catch Alexander off guard. Alexander hits an enzuigiri into a brain buster for a very near fall, immediately follows it up with a kick to the head and another cover for another near fall. Even the fans bought it.
Alexander recovers, clearly frustrated. He adjusts Ibushi and goes up top with five minutes remaining. He misses a double foot stomp. Ibushi hits a snap German suplex, nails Alexander with a roundhouse to the head, and finishes him off with a Golden Star Powerbomb.
The fans are on their feet, clapping for both men. Bryan and Ranallo put this over as a huge moment, and talk about how even in loss, Alexander’s stock went way up. After the announcer calls the winners, Ibushi celebrates while Alexander sells the loss and disappointment.
Corey Graves puts over next week’s matches – Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher, and Noam Dar vs. Hoho Lun, and Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese. So, I guess we’re getting three matches next week!
We go back to ringside to see the fans chanting “Thank You” to Cedric Alexander, and a “Please sign Cedric” chant breaks out. He’s on the verge of tears, soaking in the moment. As he graciously bows, Triple H walks out, shakes his hand, pats him on the back and acknowledges the crowd, as if to say “You got it, guys.” It was a very nice moment to see play out, and leaves me incredibly hopeful for Alexander’s future.
All in all, two matches, awesome wrestling. Go out of your way to see this one folks – you won’t regret it.
I’ll be by later this week for this upcoming Wednesday’s episode of the CWC. Thank you for joining me, and don’t forget to hit us up with your Favorite Thing in Wrestling for Ring Rap Audio this Wednesday!