The first episode of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic opened with video of cruiserweights of the past and transitioned to glimpses of the participants in the tournament while a Triple H monologue describing the heritage of the division played in the background.
After that Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo excitedly hyped the upcoming tournament. 32 men, 16 countries, 1 prize. The WWE Cruiserweight Classic trophy. This presentation of the #CWC is great. Feels a lot like how the Olympics do. Graphics and info, tons of info. Crisp and tight, the focus is exactly where it should be, on the competitors.
ROUND 1 MATCHES
Gran Metalik vs. Alejandro Saez
BigFreaky: Saez starts strong, but Metalik comes back with a 2nd rope springobard sommersault plancha to the floor! The action continues back and forth until Metalik finds himself outside again and Saez hits him with the shooting star to the floor! Gran Metalik ralleys back and sneaks in his Metalikdriver to get the 3 count.
Greg: It was mentioned in the opening moments of this match that Saez cut a lot of weight and works a couple of web designer jobs when he’s not training as a wrestler. The match had many displays of agility from both Metalik and Saez. Saez in particular was impressive for a man with a much bigger natural frame. His shooting star press to the outside of the ring was sweet.
HoHo Lun vs. Ariya Daivari
BigFreaky: Hoho Lun hung in there with a visually much larger man, Divari. Divari takes it to Hoho, for a good portion of the match until Divari goes to the high rent district and makes a grave mistake by missing the big splash (in other circles known as the “Magic Carpet Ride”). Hoho Lun never gave up and returned with some kicks then won with a Misawa Style German Suplex.
Greg: If Daivari sounds like a familiar last name, his older brother is Shawn Daivari from the days of yore in WWE. HoHo Lun is one of the pioneers professional wrestling in China apparently.
No handshake from Daivari before the bell rings, which makes him the default foreign heel guy. There was a significant size difference between the men in this match. HoHo Lun is a tiny guy. He kind of looks like he would be a clerk at a video game store rather than a professional wrestler.
The crowd was apparently into him despite Lun being somewhat awkward in the ring compared to a seasoned wrestler like Daivari who carried the match and looked very good in the process. Not the greatest or most believable finisher for a man of Lun’s size but at least he didn’t try something silly like an F5.
Hiro: I told you all. HoHo Lun will shock the world. The only match worth watching on this show in my opinion.
Cedric Alexander vs. Clement Petiot
BigFreaky: Alexander is out the gate with a lot of his patented arsenal. A big mistake by Cedric plays right into the hands of Clement who starts the punishment. Petiot is not a flips guy, but uses his fitness and deadly accuracy to break down Alexander. Petiot, a trainee of Lance Storm is showing his pedigree hitting all his power moves. Petiot nails his huge discuss clothesline, but Alexander manages to kick out. Then seemingly out of nowhere Cedric get’s Clement airborne and delivers his deadly Lumbar Check to end the match.
Greg: As Freaky said, Peitoit is a Lance Storm trainee and it showed. No flippy shit from him, it was all brawling and power moves. The guy is a badass heel. Alexander on the other hand had a nice arsenal of flippy shit. This was a nice contrast of styles.
Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta
BigFreaky: I have to say I’ve never seen Maluta in action before and didn’t have high hopes, but man was I wrong. A hell of a tough match between the two. Maluta brought his A game for sure. Back and forth, back and forth. Maluta hit plenty of moves that could be considered a finisher. Maluta knew of Ibushi’s previous neck problems and focused a lot of his attack there, but in the end it didn’t prove enough to stop the Golden Star Kota Ibushi from pulling out the win. A match of beautiful and innovative moves. Kota Ibushi is a favorite in the tournament, and this match just solidifies why he is.
Greg: Ibushi’s pre match promo video focused on the challenge to endear himself to the WWE audience and Maluta’s was about him continuing his family’s legacy in professional wrestling.
Kota Ibushi in a WWE ring was some surreal shit and there was an early “Ibushi” chant as the match started. There were some nice spots in this match starting with Ibushi selling a second rope code breaker like The Rock sells the stunner. After that a follow up where Maluta almost killed himself doing a somersault flip to the outside.
The commentators covered that saying he was taking risks to make it far in the tournament. Much of Maluta’s offence focused on Ibushi’s surgically repaired neck and Ibushi sold like a champ. Unlike say, Nakamura on NXT where his knee suddenly healed after Balor worked it. Anyway, the ending sequence had Maluta hit a nice savate kick for near fall. After he took a kick from Ibushi which lead to a sit out power bomb for the win. This was match of the night for sure in my opinion.
Hiro: I must respectfully disagree with MOTN. HoHo Lun is the gift that keeps on giving.
We were all very happy with the presentation of this show. Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo are the perfect team of announcers for this event. The in-ring action is something that those accustomed to the current WWE style have probably not seen for a while. Probably not since the cruiserweight division in WCW. We won’t count the watered down version of the cruiserweight division WWE tried to create back in the day.
This was definitely a great start to the tournament and it looks like we are in for some treats as it continues.