Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, September 05, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 8/31/16

Back for another week of Mauro SHADES OF Ranallo screaming and shoehorning longwinded references into matches!

1. Gran Metalik vs. Akira Tozawa

ER: I like Tozawa (and really liked him in his match against Gallagher) and I like Dorada (although I like him most in trios) but this was a match between two guys I like that left me mostly hollow. The flow seemed off, the build seemed stunted, and the finish was another lame Metalik finish where he takes his opponents' finisher, then just stands up and hits his own to win. I liked individual segments and started getting momentarily into things when I thought Metalik was going to be working heel. That moment where he strolled up to a kneeling Tozawa, paused, and then roundhouse kicked him in the face? I was on board. But any kind of dickhead behavior ended there, and we went into a series of segments that seemed almost disconnected from anything that happened earlier in the match. We even get a silly little "epic" strike exchange that only adds to the directionless feel of the match. But Tozawa at least tried to bring some personality to the proceedings, and he gamely - if not ridiculously - got into position for Metalik's highspots (on two occasions having to wander halfway around the ring or roll all the way to the center), but Metalik's highspots at least deliver. His topes especially always see him bury his head deep into his opponents' neck and chest, never bailing early on first contact. I love Tozawa's snap Germans, so was bummed to see him hit two, only to see both men then struggle to their feet and Metalik hit his driver finish for the win. It's a pretty uninteresting finish, an annoying example of Tozawa somehow being more tired from hitting his moves than Metalik was from taking them. TL;DR, things looked good, I like both guys, this didn't move me.

PAS: I thought this was fine, but never really came together. Felt like the most 2016 juniors matchish of all the tourney matches, no real story, no real . Both guys have cool looking spots but just kind of throw them out willy nilly with no connection between moves. I did love Metalik's dropkick which pinned Tozawa in the ropes, I am a big fan of this tourney bringing back the violent dropkick. I also thought both guys had cool dives. Still ultimately a forgettable match, this really should have been Tajiri v. Gallgher.

2. Brian Kendrick vs. Kota Ibushi

ER: This was a great match, a match that I really loved with a story I was really into, with a major hitch in the middle of the match that I'm having trouble reconciling with the rest of the match. Kendrick has been a revelation in the CWC, as nobody was talking about him before this special, and suddenly he's come off (to me, anyway) as the clear best guy in the tournament. And considering the tourney has two of my absolute favorites in Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher, this was not something I was expecting. But Kendrick is legit and his scrappy underdog stop-at-nothing approach has been easily my favorite thing in the CWC. I love him going for countout wins and trying to sink in that choke (never though something as simple as a posted up side headlock could get over so huge), kicking the middle rope into Ibushi's groin, dropping his neck over the actual corner turnbuckle while on the apron, doing awesome, incredibly precise things like getting his knees up on a standing moonsault and then in one motion rolling Ibushi into a small package, and then always going back for more on Ibushi's neck. It all lead up to that ultimate of neck crunching spots, the Burning Hammer, and here it couldn't have been delivered any more brutally. And it got a 2 count, and really never factored into the rest of the match. Ibushi sold his neck great in the moment, but jeez what a monkeywrench to jam into the middle of a match. I'm sure I'm far from the only one who views the move as (perhaps foolishly) sacred. It always felt like the go-to joke answer amongst my friends, to perfectly capture overblown indy match excess. "Well they finally put him away with a second Burning Hammer through chairs." We still laugh about some early 2000s Dateline type expose on "the dangers of backyard wrestling" that showed a kid dropping his friend with a Burning Hammer on a picnic table in a park. It's the ultimate death move in a fake sport, and there it was right smack dab in the middle; kicked out of, no less, not even delivered too close to the ropes, with Ibushi's body accidentally rolling to the floor and Kendrick unable to capitalize. But it's in there and there's no ignoring it, so I guess at minimum we can just flip out that we saw a freaking Burning Hammer on WWE TV. That's worth something. And for his part Ibushi was good. His kicks were nasty, his flying is graceful, and he looked like he was getting choked deeply by Kendrick. Now Kendrick helped out those kicks by flopping and leaning in and going down like a shot, no denying that. I loved the match and it just added to my full on over the top love of Brian Kendrick. A deep dive on current Kendrick is certainly in order and will be a fun new project for me. And damn does the CWC keep bringing these terrific pre-credits moments, with Gargano/Ciampa, HHH/Alexander, and now Bryan coming into the ring to cry and embrace Kendrick. Goddamn CWC, I need to clean my house because things are getting dusty in here.

PAS: Kendrick was really amazing in this match. I loved him trying to steal the win early, all of his desperate alleycat attacks, and all of the big near falls. Just masterful conducting of a wrestling match. Kendrick is a buck fifty at most, so I guess I buy his burning hammer not being as devastating as a 275 pound Kenta Kobashi's, still this really builds up Ibushi as basically unbeatable, if a neckbreaker on the post, a sliced bread, multiple bully chokes and a fucking burning hammer don't put him down, how can I buy anything done by anyone else beating him? Feels like they have booked themselves into a bit of a corner, especially because there really isn't anyone compelling left in the tournament. All the great stories are over, seems inevitable that it will be a ZSJ v. Ibushi final, and that is a really underwhelming finish. Don't want to get too down as this really was a hell of a match, and the Kendrick performance in this tournament was truly amazing. Right up there with Liger's 1994 J-Cup run in an all-time tourney run.

ER: Even with that Burning Hammer genie let out of the bottle, the Kendrick match was an easy choice for our 2016 Ongoing MOTY List; here's hoping we get even more Kendrick scrapping his way onto our list this year.


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