Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Finale

1. Gran Metalik v. Zack Sabre Jr.

ER: This one didn't really move me, but I thought it was a fun match with plenty of nice spots. They worked a really impressive fast pace almost the entire match and had a fun clash of styles. Sabre gets a lot of hate and it's odd to suddenly find myself as an almost Sabre defender. What's odd about it is my opinions on him haven't changed over the last year, but the online consensus opinions on him seemingly have. So while my opinions have stayed static - he being a guy who does a lot of things I like, has been in several good matches, and is also capable of doing plenty of things I dislike - I've somehow shifted from liking him less than the line, to seemingly liking him more than the line. "His strikes look bad" is something I've heard a lot, but...he doesn't ever position himself as a striker. He throws strikes, many of them, and they're never meant to be sold as KO blows, they mainly seem to get thrown to disorientate his opponent to set them up for what he's actually good at, submissions. I wish they would have played up the tradition of submissions in UK and lucha libre, but I guess it was more important for Mauro to scream out names of the same few Japanese wrestlers he really liked. Just because Katsuyori Shibata also does a penalty kick, some tells me that no, Mauro, Sabre's kick was not "inspired by Katsuyori Shibata". I liked how Sabre would use Metalik's speed to kind of lure him into a cranky sub, using Metalik's own momentum off a springboard or other flying attack. Those seem to be his most effective, like catching Gulak in that armbar off a lariat, I liked him shifting his hips to turn or Metalik splash into a triangle, or leaping onto him to wrench in a sick octopus. Metalik is always very smooth, but did a couple things that surprised me, like when he tossed in a nice headbutt during otherwise lax strike exchange. I wasn't actually sure who was going to win and that certainly added to the fun of things, and this was the first time I liked Metalik's build to his finisher. In the other matches he always seemed to kick out of a devastating move, then merely stand up and do his driver. Here I didn't get that same feeling, and he also hit the driver much faster than in the other matches. There was no struggle to lift Sabre, just a quick lift and a drop. So I did not love the match, but there was plenty to like, and I felt they filled the time well.

PAS: I enjoyed parts of this, Metalik had some fun llave which nicely played off the British style of ZSJ, when they were exchanging holds it was pretty good, when they were exchanging shots it really wasn't. Metlalik had a couple of nice highspots although it is more graceful then violent. I second the enjoyment of the Metalik driver, it was by far the best it has been used.

2. Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins

ER: I thought this was an exceptionally fun juniors match, and I'm sure if I thought long and hard about it I could find some kickouts or some selling lapses I didn't care for, but while watching it I was definitely synced up with the vibe of the crowd, and as this match went on the crowd was hot as hell. Hot crowds can do wonders for a match, and this crowd jumped me right in there with them. That moment when TJP kicked out of Ibushi's powerbomb, and a guy in a Bullet Club shirt was standing up to celebrate Ibushi's certain victory, and the camera caught him right in the middle of his STUNNED realization that TJP had kicked out? That shit is awesome. Being in the moment is becoming more and more of a lost joy, and it's infectious getting sucked into a moment. Both guys were very generous here, Ibushi tossed out some great kicks, and I liked how his aggression would lead to a couple of TJP's reversals. The moonsault that hit knees, and TJ's simple grab of the kneebar from that was satisfying. The nearfalls were good and the kickouts were exciting, and on this one I sadly *knew* TJP was winning it, and I could only imagine how exciting some of the nearfalls would have been had I not. But this match felt like the right match to have.

PAS: I enjoyed this a lot too, loved how TJP kept going after the leg and some of the snatches were really great looking, I totally freaked out over him turning the pele kick into a kneebar, such cool shit. Ibushi really laid in his kicks too, I especially loved him pummeling Perkins in the ropes, really felt vicious like something Hashimoto might do, rather then just a junior guy landing kicks that sound good as a spot. Still Ibushi had been built up as so indestructible in this tourney I never really bought any of TJP's near falls and the final finish didn't feel like enough. If Kendrick didn't bring him down with a burning hammer, how did a leg lock do it?

3. Noam Dar & Cedric Alexander vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa

ER: Really fun tag with a real colossal flop of an ending. Gargano and Ciampa are a really good team, both bring out some good things in the other. Noam Dar is still there because...well, nobody has any idea why Dar is there. But he's still digging around in his ears before the match, just like his last match. What is with that? He was doing it so much in the beginning of his match against Sabre that I was positive it would play into the match. But, no, Dar apparently just digs around in his ears a bunch with his fingers. I know I adjust my glasses as a nervous fidget, maybe Dar just jams fingers into his ear canal. Maybe he has an inner ear problem that messes with his balance, and can possibly explain why he looked so terrible in this match. But Gargano's kicks and Ciampa's knees were on point the whole match, and seeing a guy pinball between kicks and knees is a fun diversion from the more common superkick party. The spot with Gargano superkicking Cedric while he was on Ciampa's shoulders was sick, and they really got in a great groove during their car crash spot, one guy hitting a move seamlessly into him taking a move, and so on. And then Dar decides to do that stupid "head tucked against the turnbuckle" spot. Now, it's only a mildly stupid spot when it leads to the guy with his head stuck getting immediately superkicked. Every second beyond that initial tuck the stupidity of the spot increases exponentially. So of course Noam Dar was going to leave poor Ciampa out there to dry, and make him have to pretend to have his head stuck in a turnbuckle for an eternity. This was far worse than the legendary "Jeff, goddammit!" spot where Rico had to lose his balance for 30 seconds because a meth head was out of position. No, this is just Dar being horrible. He traps Ciampa's head, and then goes about his business in the rest of the match, leaving Ciampa just flailing and flopping in place, like he was about to be finished in Mortal Kombat. What a lousy place to be put in. Totally took the wind right out of the match. Maybe it was a comedy spot and I was out of the joke? They didn't do a whiff of comedy the rest of the match, so doing one in the final minute of the match would certainly be strange placement...

PAS: This match was based mainly around people being kicked, kneed and elbowed violently in the head, and that was a nifty twist on your normal workrate tag. Alexander opened up the fun by absolutely nuking Ciampa with a dropkick, and the whole match is mostly guys trying to dislocate each others jaws. It got a little repetitive, although lots of KO shots in a tag works better then lots of KO shots in a singles match (a big problem in Chris Hero matches) because guys can roll out and take a breather or tag someone else in. I agree with Eric about the head tuck spot, super dumb in concept, looked silly and really hurt the momentum of the match. Real problem with a lot of todays indy guys they feel like they need to horn in all of their comedy spots in every match, whether it works or not.

4. TJ Perkins vs. Gran Metalik

ER: Am I the only one who thinks Metalik looks like a mascot for Tecate? I can't be the only one. Is it just because I live in an area with a high hispanic population, and they all drink Tecate? No. Look at this can. That can is Gran Metalik in beer can form. Moving on! I thought this was a fun match that built nicely, but had small disconnects running throughout; spots that didn't hit flush, over cooperation on holds, little moments of the guys checking out of the corner of their eyes to see if the other was in position. And those kinds of things are going to happen. They just seemed more on display here than before. All of the opening mat stuff had those moments, the worst being TJ slapping Metalik's sides and Metalik just offering up his arms to complete a pendulum submission. But things did build nicely even if there was that disconnect. Both got to show off their apron ranas, and there was always that danger of Metalik slipping up and getting caught in the kneebar. This didn't have the drama of some of the other matches throughout. I didn't actually think of this before the tournament started, but there was FAR more drama involved in "I don't want to be eliminated" storylines than in "I want to win" storylines. Maybe it's because we love an underdog, and by the finals we don't have an underdog. Neither guy backdoored his way into the final match. So it didn't have that built in drama of the rest of the tournament matches, especially the 2nd and 3rd rounds. But things still build nicely in their own way, and I liked the finish with Metalik going for a giant top rope version of his finisher, that had been a killshot through the whole CWC, and it failing as he lost his balance, leading directly to TJ locking on his kneebar, than crossing the leg to definitively end things.

PAS: The main problem with the show for meis that they basically were left with four guys I didn't care about. It is a little like the NCAA tourney, in the early round you get all the fun Middle Tennessee State style schools with big upsets, and by the end it is just Duke v. Kentucky again. I also thought some of this felt a little off, Metalik jumped early on the basement dropkick, there were a couple of pillow soft kick and elbow exchanges, just a little more ragged then you would hope from a match between two normally smooth wrestlers. There was some individual stuff I liked, Metalik's dive looked cool, and I loved the final kneebar, but this was pretty forgettable for a final.


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