Week 3 of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic started with a brief video introduction of those competing on the show and it ends with the tag line, “8 men, 1 dream. To win the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.”
Cue fancy graphics to start the show. No Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan pre-show stuff, it’s straight into the action.
ROUND 1 MATCHES
Tyson Dux vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
BigFreaky: The Isle of Sheppey vs. The Great land of Canada. Tyson opens up with offence and ZSJ goes right into what he does best, Escapeology. Counter upon counter from ZSJ as the match continues.
Zack thinks it’s in his best interest to slap Tyson in the face, and pays for it, but eating a big plate of Fisherman’s Buster. Saber continues to wear down Dux for the remainder of the match, methodically breaking him down. Until the final of the match where Tyson has to submit to the Uma Plata by Zack.
Greg: So Zack Sabre Jr. says Harry Potter is not the only wizard to come out of Great Britain. And that is backed up by his style of wrestling. Both Bryan and Ranallo put him over as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world regardless of weight class.
This particular match was very ground based and it included many fancy escapes out of holds by Sabre Jr. It did speed up mid-match when both competitors were on their feet but for the most part it was ground and pound type action with each man trying to gain the advantage over the other through various holds and counters.
Sabre Jr. came as advertised, grinding Dux down with slick escapes, technical wrestling and painful submissions to get the win.
Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra
BigFreaky: The winner of this match will face ZSJ in the next round. Gulak a Philly Boy who has always worked and pushed forward in his craft. Sihra one half of the Bollywood boys, who is bringing the “Butter Chicken Beatdown”. Gulak known for his catch wrestling style, starts out right away with Sihra into hold and submission combinations. Drew appears to have the upper hand with strength, but Harv uses it to his advantage with quickness and turns that into multiple pin attempts. Sihra lands a few highflying moves, but in the end Gulak taps him out with an impressive Dragon Sleeper.
Greg: Drew Gulak employs catch style wrestling, a stark contrast to Harv Sihra’s quick strike/high flying attack. Much of the match consisted of Gulak applying a smash mouth attack to keep Sihra grounded.
There were some brief comebacks from Sihra including a nice springboard cross body to the outside of the ring, but it was not enough as he submitted to a dragon sleeper/body scissors combination. This match really made Gulak look like a badass. Not so much for Sihra unfortunately.
Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese
BigFreaky: The kid that has play vs. The Premier Athlete. Bennett might think he is the only one is this match that has some moves, but while Anthony shows off, Tony makes his move and starts laying in the offence. Bennett tries to work his way back, but the match continues to be a back and forth affair. In the end Nese’s strength and power moves prove too much for Bennett. Tony finishes off Anthony with another unsuspected part of his arsenal, the 450 from the top rope. Bennett appears to have been possibly injured, but hangs in there to finish the match and can sit up on his own.
Greg: First off, Tony Nese is a big dude for a cruiserweight. He seems to have a similar build to Neville. Anthony Bennett on the other hand could probably use some sandwiches. His hair seems to be the heaviest part on his body. Yet put him next to HoHo Lun and he looks hella swole.
Hiro: Hey! HoHo Lun is a physical specimen man. He will shock the world.
Greg: Anyway, Mauro Ranallo says the match will be very entertaining and the 90’s throwback comments come fast and furious from himself and Bryan in reference to Bennett. Once the match starts Nese shows his size is deceptive and he is just as quick and agile as his smaller opponent.
Nese basically manhandles Bennett for the majority of the match with some brief flashes of hope from the smaller man that included a sweet tornado DDT for a near fall. But alas, no victory for Bennett as he succumbs to a possible injury and a 450 splash from Nese.
This was another match where one guy come out looking like a million bucks while the other was just so-so.
Raul Mendoza vs. Brian Kendrick
BigFreaky: Mendoza is unknown to me, and Spanky (Kendrick) has been around the block and this may be his very last chance for WWE fame. Raul is out of the gate with flips and spins, all over the ring obviously aggravating THE Brian.
Mendoza slaps on an impressive giant swing with a leglock at the same time and Kendrick has to bail to catch his breath. A veteran move giving himself some time and then returning with a huge kick to the face.
Raul with obviously bleeding from the mouth, does not prohibit THE Brian from continuing his attack. Raul starts to fire back with some unique Lucha Libre moves, but THE Brian will not give up. Mendoza performs a Coast to Coast dropkick and a huge Back Cracker leading to the pin, but the ring instincts of Kendrick showing through as he drapes his leg across the bottom rope breaking a possible 3 count. Kendrick plays possum and hits a reverse headlock takeover into the Bully Choke for the submission.
Greg: Brian Kendrick is a former longest reigning WWE tag team champion (with Paul London) before New Day recently broke their streak. He returns after 8 years away looking more like a homeless guy than the fresh young buck from the past.
There was plenty of flippy shit in this match that got the crowd popping. The swinging leg lock from Mendoza was something new that I’ve never seen before. Crowd momentum swung from Kendrick to Mendoza as his move set dazzled those in attendance.
Kendrick started to heel it up a bit using his experience to slow Mendoza down. He even busted Mendoza’s lip with a nasty kick to the mouth. The highlight of this match was the coast to coast corner drop kick to the back cracker combo Mendoza performed near the end of the match. That got the crowd way behind him but the wily veteran Kendrick survived the after move pin attempt by getting to the ropes to break the count.
A few short seconds later Kendrick had Mendoza in the bully choke for the submission win. He gets booed out of the building while the people cheer for Mendoza. Both men come out looking fantastic at the end of this match.
This week’s episode showcased the grounded game that the Crusierweights can bring to the table. It’s not all flying around like some people are conditioned to think. The second round is beginning to take shape. The last of the first round matches are in week 4 with the headlining match being NXT roster members Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa.