Saturday, 23 July 2016

TV Review: WWE Cruiserweight Classic #2 - Akira Tozawa v Kenneth Johnson

After the first episode of the Cruiserweight Classic had produced some entertaining wrestling, but been a fairly average TV show on the whole, how would the 2nd episode shape up? With Akira Tozawa, Tajiri and TJ Perkins in action, what would the CWC have in store for us next? 

The main event of the evening saw Dragon Gate star Akira Tozawa reach the 2nd round of the competition with a victory over the unknown Kenneth Johnson. Seriously, Johnson doesn't even have a profile, what's that all about? It confuses me even more that Johnson looked comfortable in the ring with a competitor on the level of Tozawa, never looking out of place and never looking like he was having to be carried. The bout was full of hard strikes from both men, with Tozawa getting a good opportunity to show off what he has to offer to WWE with hard chops and elbow strikes. The commentary team pushing Johnson's heart during the match helped make a couple of his near falls feel more believable, as he was being pushed as potential giant killer in the tournament. Tozawa would go to hit German Suplexes throughout the match, including a brilliant sequence that would end with Johnson flipping out and the duo doing a double clothesline spot, so it was extremely satisfying to see Tozawa claim the victory with a pair of Germans, the first a snap version before closing the match with a stunning deadlift. Tozawa will face either Jack Gallagher or Fabian Aichner in the 2nd Round.

In the semi-main, WWN's TJ Perkins knocked wXw performer Da Mack out of the competition at the earliest opportunity. It was a battle of the show boaters, with both men looking to make the victory look as easy as possible. It crowd the crowd nicely worked up when Mack would start cutting shapes or Perkins would dab in the middle of submission and it would always play back into the story of the match with the opponent taking or trying to take advantage. There was a tidy mixture of styles here, with Perkins bringing some lovely submission based offence, that he'd transition well from hold to hold, whilst both men also pulled out some big highflying moves here also. The closing moments of the bout were very satisfying as Mack would injure his knee attempting a top rope enziguiri, with Perkins latter hitting his Detonation Kick, before leg scissoring himself into position to lock on the Figure Four Deathlock, which of course is all on the knee, to earn himself the win. Perkins will now face Johnny Gargano or Tommaso Ciampa in the 2nd Round. 

In the most flippy floppy bout of the Classic so far, ACW's Lince Dorado would earn himself a place in the next round with a win over FW's Mustafa Ali. Both men impressed me here as they took the short amount of time they were given and really went for it, pulling out some big spots and keeping the action coming thick and fast throughout the match. As soon as Dorado had crashed to the outside after a knee off the apron, the match picked up and it became an exciting spot-fest, that had the crowd bouncing. A double jump super spanish fly from Ali got a wonderful reaction both for the move and then the kick out. To be honest, I was actually much more impressed with Ali than Dorado, mainly because of the horrible reverse rana that he hit, but also because the finish involved Ali missing an imploding 450 splash before Dorado hit a Shooting Star Press. As cool as the Shooting Star Press will always be it's not 450 splash, and certainly not an imploding one. Perhaps that was a slight problem in the putting together of the match. Dorado does seem to have some potential though and I look forward to seeing him in the 2nd round against either Rich Swann or Jason Lee. 

In the opening bout, Wrestle-1's Tajiri went over WR's Damian Slater in a bout that was right up my alley. It took on a different tempo to what had been seen elsewhere in the show, keeping things technical throughout, making use of Tajiri's veteran skills to keep the pacing of the outing just right. Both men would sell stiff kicks from each other superbly throughout with Slater holding his arm, whilst Tajiri would have problems with his knee throughout the bout, which would lead to both attempting various submissions. I'd have been more than happy to see this go another ten minutes or so, as I think the two would have taken that extra time and ran with it to create an extra depth to the storytelling. Slater has to be one of the first round exitees that I've been most impressed with, whilst Tajiri's still got something in the tank and will provide a brilliant victory for someone later in the tournament. The fact that he was selling his knee at the conclusion of the bout made me a happy chappy indeed. Tajiri will face Gran Metalik in the 2nd round. 

It was announced that next week, Zack Sabre Jr, Tony Nese, Brian Kendrick and others would all be competing in 1st Round action.


Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Tajiri def. Damian Slater in 5 minutes, 28 seconds 

Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: TJ Perkins def. Da Mack in 6 minutes, 31 seconds 

Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Lince Dorada def. Mustafa Ali in 5 minutes, 56 seconds.

Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Akira Tozawa def. Kenneth Johnson in 9 minutes, 45 seconds


ATPW Scale Rating - 5.5/10 

This was a step-forward after last week's solid start with the Cruiserweight Classic beginning to find it's feet with four different but all entertaining matches across the hour. These first round matches are going to be made as much by the losers as they are by the showcased winners and this card seemed to have a much more solid base of exitees than we saw in the last episode. Of course, the stronger the opponent, then the stronger match you are going to get. There's a lot still to come from the competition, but WWE has certainly come flying out of the traps with this one. 

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