I am so terribly sad that this tournament is over.
It’s been 10 weeks, 32 contenders, and countless Match of the Year Candidates presenting one of the most amazing things I’ve seen come from WWE in decades.
On Wednesday night, the Cruiserweight Classic came to a close, and a tournament champion was crowned. But, perhaps more importantly, a new Cruiserweight Champion was crowned as well.
We had three tournament matches and an exhibition match. We saw the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in full swing. And I think it’s worth mentioning that WWE created more tear-worthy moments in the 10 weeks of this tournament with 32 “nobodies” than they have in 52 weeks of main-roster “Superstars.”
So, if you’ve been reading my articles over the past 10 weeks, you’ll know that I wholeheartedly recommend watching this episode, and every other episode, from beginning to end, in order. Til the last breath, this was a competition, where wins and losses mattered, and that made all the difference.
First up, the semi-final matches. Our first match was Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre Jr. The bell rang and Metalik immediately sent Sabre Jr. out of the ring with a drop kick, and followed it up with a dive outside the ring. Let’s get the pace of the match set immediately, shall we? Metalik kept the pace fast and frantic, keeping Sabre on his toes for the opening minutes of the contest.
It didn’t take long for Sabre to regain his footing from the assault and start unleashing his own brand of offense, which included submission attempt after submission attempt. Metalik, time after time, was able to break the hold on the ropes.
Both men completely exhausted each other, and began trading blows from their knees. Eventually, Metalik went for a springboard move that Sabre Jr. caught in a Triangle Choke, but Metalik rolled it into a pin attempt. Metalik countered a lariat with a Metalik Driver out of nowhere for the win.
This was truly an incredible match. I wrongly assumed that Zack Sabre Jr. would be moving on to the finals here. These two worked very well here, and I feel like this was the most impressive Gran Metalik has been thus far. I’ve enjoyed his previous matches, but this is the one he really came across as a top star for me.
After the match and highlights, William Regal entered the ring to present Metalik with an awesome looking medal for being a finalist in the CWC. Charly Caruso attempted to interview Metalik, but never went back to Metalik’s translator to get an answer to her questions in English. For shame.
Next up, Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins. The fans were hot for both wrestlers, but Ibushi was getting the dominant share of cheers. Early on, Perkins hit his signature head-spin head-scissors reversal, which he would typically follow up with a dab to taunt his opponent. He didn’t, and Bryan noted that, indicating that Perkins is taking the match very seriously and realizes what is on the line. Nice touch.
Ibushi connected with a missile dropkick, but Perkins started to zero in on Ibushi’s leg, trying to weaken it for his finisher. Ibushi hit his Golden Triangle Moonsault outside the ring. Back in the ring, Perkins went for a knee bar, which Ibushi escaped. Ibushi laid into Perkins with kicks. He attempted to German Suplex Perkins from the apron over the ropes into the ring, but Perkins countered and hit a dropkick. He followed it up with a DDT and a lung blower for a near fall.
The two traded strikes back and forth. Ibushi missed a Phoenix Splash off the top rope and landed right on his face. Ibushi nailed Perkins with a kick, but he held onto the leg and cinched the knee bar. Ibushi refused to tap, and Perkins took it to the next level, keeping the knee locked in and adding a cross face. Ibushi had no choice and tapped out, with Perkins picking up the impressive win.
This was truly, an unbelievable match. The outcome of this match buzzed across my Facebook feed before I could see the match, much to my chagrin, but half-way through I found myself forgetting about it and I got truly wrapped up in the moment.
After the match, the two shook hands and Ibushi raised Perkins’ hand and hugged him before leaving the ring. William Regal placed a finalist medal around Perkins’ neck and raised his hand, and Perkins chatted with Caruso about his win. He said he has to win just one more match.
Up next, we had an exhibition tag match between Team DIY (Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Noam Dar & Cedric Alexander. This was an exciting match, with Alexander hitting a dive outside of the ring early on, but on a second attempt getting cut off by a spear through the ropes thanks to Gargano. We had an awesome sequence with all four men hitting big moves and all being laid out in the ring. Eventually, Alexander got a near fall on Ciampa after a spin kick.
Ultimately, Gargano hit Dar with a lawn dart into the corner, and he and Ciampa teamed up to hit a running knee/kick to the head for the win. This was a fun tag match that kept the spirit of the CWC while not taking anything from the true spotlight.
We got the intros for our Final match of the tournament: Gran Metalik vs. TJ Perkins. Before the match, Triple H’s music kicked in and he came out to congratulate both men for making it this far. He said they are two of the best in the world, but they’re not looking for two. They are looking for one – one winner of the Cruiserweight Classic.
But more importantly, they are looking for their new Cruiserweight Champion, and Hunter revealed a Purple Leather/Silver Platter Cruiserweight Title. The winner of this match will not only win the Cruiserweight Classic, but they will be crowned the first Cruiserweight Champion of Monday Night Raw.
This was not completely unexpected, and it’s something I’ve spoken about previously as making complete sense, as another tournament for the title would be silly. The belt looks sharp too, carrying the dark purple color scheme of the tournament with a striking silver metal. I think it looks classy, though I’m sure there will be some backlash for all the colors WWE seems to be using in their leather lately.
The bell rang and Mauro Ranallo spoke of the 60-minute time limit they were given for the match. It started out at a slower pace, with Metalik hitting the first crazy spot about 9 minutes in. He leaped over the top rope and hit a hurricarana onto Perkins, who was standing on the apron. Both men tumbled to the floor. Back in the ring, Metalik ran the ropes in the corner to position himself for a dropkick. Perkins countered a shooting star press and went for the knee bar, but Metalik broke it up on the ropes.
Perkins got a near fall off of a DDT, and after a missed moonsault from Metalik, Perkins went for the kneebar. Metalik went for the ropes, and Perkins dragged him back in, but Metalik countered with a roll-up for a two-count. Metalik hit the Metalik Driver, but his leg buckled, and he wasn’t able to make the pin in time. Perkins kicked out. The two traded vicious slaps to the chest and throat. Metalik went for the Driver again, this time from the second rope, but Perkins slipped free and locked in his knee bar for the win.
Perkins was covered in welts across his chest and throat, and looked like he had been in an absolute war. Triple H wrapped the belt around Perkins and shook his hand, and then Perkins and Metalik embraced in the middle of the ring. Hunter whispered something in Perkins’ ear before leaving the ring.
Charly Caruso spoke to Perkins about the win, and he said he had a key he wore around his neck that belonged to the last place he lived before he was evicted. It reminded him of a place he could never go back to. Now he doesn’t need that key anymore, because it’s a place he doesn’t have to go back to.
Perkins hyped up the tournament, saying that the trophy isn’t just one person, but 32 people. He said he started out as one of their peers, and at the end of it, each one of them are also his heroes.
And then the confetti fell as Perkins stood basking in the moment, trophy behind him, medal around his neck, title around his waist. Mauro Ranallo closed the show with the words “On this night, how do you spell history? TJP.”
And it was absolutely unbelievable.
On Raw, I will be tuning in with anticipation, waiting to see what the charismatic, 18-year veteran will do as the champion of a brand new division. I am thrilled to see him pick up the win, and although I’ve been calling for his victory, deep down inside I never thought they would actually go with it. But there we have it – TJP is your Cruiserweight Champion.
Let me know what you thought of this show, and the tournament! Hit me up on Twitter @PsionStorm, or leave a comment below!