Cruiserweight Classic Episode 4:
Week 4. It’s the final episode of round one and the CWC is shaping up pretty well. With stars like Zack Sabre Jr, Kota Ibushi and Brian Kendrick through to the next round the show is a pretty big deal. In this episode we get matches from the NXT’ers in the tournament with Rich Swann, Johnny Gargano and Thomasso Chiampa and last but not least we get to see the always great Noam Dar in action. With round 2 so close the grandeur of things is really setting in.
Match 1: Rich Swann vs Jason Lee.
Rich Swann is amazing, before this match had even started I could say Swann is incredible. Having seen him in a match with Finn Balor a few months ago I was astounded by his athleticism, so I was very excited to see where this match went. From the off Rich Swann brought the fun something Jason Lee didn’t take too kindly too setting up a good dynamic to start things off. Having the NXT recognition paid off well for Swann as the crowd was firmly behind him singing Lionel Ritchie and constantly chanting his name which adds to the show so much. Having an invested crowd is something that the CWC has lacked so far so having a vocal crowd from the very beginning of the episode set things off to a great start. The match was pretty short but it did enough allowing Rich Swann to show his athleticism, unfortunately I found Jason Lee to be rather forgettable not really pulling of any memorable manoeuvres where as we saw things such as a jumping hurricanrana to monkey flip frogsplash from Swann sowing his athleticism. That actually paled in comparison to the Standing 450 splash he pulled of just moments later. Rich Swann is a special talent and I’m very excited to see what else he can do in this tournament and what he can do in the future in NXT. Rich Swann Wins.
Match 2: Noam Dar vs Gurv Sihra.
The first Israeli born WWE competitor vs the Bollywood boy is a match that sounds quite interesting on paper so I was lloking for to this as I am a big fan of the Bollywood boys just from the gimmick but having seen Noam Dar live a few times it is tough to pick a player to back. From the start it was nice to see Gurv getting in more offense than his brother as the match started with a nice back and forth between the two men. Something that was really jarring for me was a weird edit during a strike it really threw me and took me out of the match a little bit which was a shame as it started quite well. There were a couple nice spots in the match the most memorable being a big boot from Sihra being reversed by Dar dodging the hit leading to Sihra getting caught up in the ropes and being hit by a big kick. Despite his impressive in ring ability the commentary team was really against Dar in this, perhaps setting up Dar as a heel later in the tournament as the constantly berated him for his showboating and his lack of respect for his opponent. Overall the match was pretty good but the end really soured me and left a bad taste in my mouth. The match was a nice back and forth but with the Ankle lock at the end that got the win looked so fake which really ruined the amtch for me and elft me disappointed. Noam Dar wins
Match 3: Jack Gallagher vs Fabian Aichner.
Not something I was particularly excited about but it wasn’t something I was dreading, the match just wasn’t on my radar that being said I went into it with an open mind. With the more British style of wrestling on show I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this match as I still haven’t made my mind up on Zack Sabre Jr. The caution was unnessacery as even though Gallagher describes himself as a submission heavy wrestler he is actually extremely diverse and is his opponent Fabian Aichner. Aichner is incredibly athletic, and powerful, one of the bigger cruiserweights in the tournament but nonetheless a great performer, combating Gallagher’s more technical style with ambitious spots such a springboard heel kick and a double springboard moonsault which left my mouth wide open. Spots like these got the crowd heated as they seemed to die down a little through the previous match. There was also a nice Duelling pins spot which was enteraining and a little fun, something hard to pull off with repeated pins. Gallagher’s movements are so fluid I can see he and Saber jr have a very similar style but personally Gallagher just does so much more for me. What really wowed me however was how strong Aichner really is. Towards the end of the match he pulled off what is probably the most insane feat of strength in the tournament so far with a Suplex Powerbomb. This was incredible and was another show from Aichner which left my mouth wide open. Not to be outdone though Gallagher showed he could be a hard hitter himself finishing the match with the best Corner dropkick I have ever seen, no exaggeration. The extraordinary gentleman truly is extraordinary. Jack Gallagher wins.
Match 4: Johnny Gargano vs Thomasso Ciampa.
Having the crowd suitably riled up from the last match we get to the main event with the NXT’ers and tag partners going at it in round one. A shock match up for the first round which makes this match very exciting. Yet another element that makes this match so interesting to me is the fact that there is a story, these two friends are vying for the same prize but have to go through one another to get there, it’s simple but effective and already has myself and the crowd invested. I’m on the edge of my seat already. This match is constantly being set apart from others in the tournament first of a having a story and secondly with a backstage interview before the match, it’s different and it’s really upping the importance of this match despite it only being a first round match. This is fantastic and neither man has even made his way to the ring yet. From the very start Ciampa looks like a monster going in with such an aggressive style really makes him seem like he is going to hurt Gargano, exactly what he said he was going to do, he looks like a legitimate tough guy which is great. That being said Gargano gets in some impressive offense of his own starting with a Nice DDT over the ropes from the outside. He also pulls off a nice Superkick Powerbomb combo, followed by a suicide dive, really getting the crowd on their feet. Ciampa comes back however with some huge hits making Gargano look completely out of it. Despite both men getting in good offense Gargano is coming across as the weaker, smaller guy, the underdog, but this is great as it helps us get invested into the story that is being played out. I love both these guys and this match is really showing off why they are so great, from the hesitation with the bare knee to the post-match interactions the story telling was really a key element in the match that only enhanced the already impressive ring work, a big standout being a Powerbomb Lungblower from Ciampa. To make sure both men look strong they had Gargano go over with a roll up just scraping the victory protecting Ciampa’s strength and playing up the scrappy underdog nature of Gargano which is great. In my opinion this has been the best match of the tournament so far and has set the bar very high! Some might disagree with me and I might catch a lot of flak for it but I think this could be a Match of the Year contender. Johnny Gargano wins.
With the final set of matches for round one out of the way we are really about to get into the meat of the competition and after this episode I can tell things are going to get intense. The cruiserweight classic is a great piece of wrestling that is revitalising the WWE in a big way.
This article was written by Joshua Procter. You can find him on twitter @Pegasaurus_Rex. If you want to see more articles from Josh be sure to check back regularly.