The third week of the Cruiserweight Classic saw the First Round of the tournament continue, with Zack Sabre Jr, Anthony Nese and The Brian Kendrick and others join in on the fun. Would the tournament continue it's slow burn towards the 2nd round or would we finally see a breakout match?
In my opinion, this week's main event opened the show, as PWG World Champion Zack Sabre Jr. jousted Canadian indy stalwart, Tyson Dux in a solid technical match. I'm extremely appreciative of ZSJ's technical, submission based style, and this match did a good job of getting over the kind of wrestler that he is, as he controlled large portions of the contest with various painful looking holds. He'd use a variety of different hold on various parts of the body, but always came back to Dux's arm in preparation for the Jim Breaks Special. Dux looked more than comfortable in their with someone who is considered one of, it not the, best technical wrestlers in the world, knowing his main role was to make ZSJ look as damn good as possible, whilst also having a near fall off a brainbuster, that was well worked indeed. The crowd seemed to struggle with the slower pace of the contest at times, however I'm not too concerned for ZSJ as I know when given a longer match later in the contest he'll have the fans eating out of the palm of his hand in no time at all.
In the strongest bout on the show, The Brian Kendrick defeated Raul Mendoza [Jinzo] in a gritty and exciting effort, that had the Full Sail crowd on their feet at various points. Mendoza may have become the break out start of the tournament, as in only his third appearance in the USA as he impressed with a series of aerial manoeuvres, including a stunning corkscrew plancha and an unconventional cross-legged swing that dropped down in a submission of some sort. The crowd took to him swiftly, helped by veteran Kendrick being especially vicious, including placing Mendoza's mouth over the rope before kicking the rope hard, causing the Mexican to bleed from his lower lip. The reaction to Mendoza going for a Coast to Coast, with Kendrick in a tree of woe position was incredible as the whole building seemed to get to it's feet in unison! The finish was satisfying stuff, as Kendrick played possum before getting a submission with a reverse headlock takedown transitioned into a choke. It was a shame not to see Mendoza advance as he'd been taken to by the crowd, but I'm expecting at just 24 years old that this won't be the last we see of him on the world stage.
In the weakest match of the tournament so far, as New York regular Tony Nese went over some lad called Anthony Bennett. I know very little about Bennett, and my usual source cagematch.net doesn't have a profile for him, which isn't a great start. From watching this match, it was clear that Bennett was completely out of his depth in this tournament, looking sloppy when executing moves and struggling to keep up with Nese's pace leading to a horribly messy section in the final third. The crowd's reaction to some of the botches were hilarious though. Nese is top draw talent however and managed to salvage his own credibility with a series of well-performed moves, including the 450 splash that would win him the match and 2nd Round tie against The Brian Kendrick.
Rounding off the show, Drew Gulak would book his 2nd round place with a victory over one half of the Bollywood Boyz, Harv Sihra. This was an enjoyable, but short-lived contest, that told a rewarding story and told it well. Gulak bought a powerful and rather rough style to the match, whilst Sihra used his speed to attempt to get flash victories at numerous points. One particular moment that stands out was Gulak hitting a scoop slam, where Sihra's leg came crashing down the middle of the top rope. The finish was a clever piece of booking that raised a little smile, as it called back to a previous part in the fight beautifully. After Shira had escaped a body scissors by wrapping his own legs across Gulak's to create a kind of ankle lock, the finish would see Gulak locking in a brutal variations of the dragon sleeper, which included a body scissors, however when Shira tried to reverse again, Gulak was quickly able to recover and crank the sleeper on harder for the victory. It's the kind of wrestling that just wouldn't be possible on Monday Night RAW, because of the size of the crowd, so it's great to see it find a home on CWC.
It was announced that next week's show will see the last four first round matches, including the likes of Johnny Gargano, Fabian Aicher [Adrian Severe] and Rich Swann.
Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Zack Sabre Jr def. Tyson Dux in 8 minutes, 26 seconds
Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Drew Gulak def. Harv Sihra in 5 minutes, 17 seconds
Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: Tony Nese def. Anthony Bennett in 6 minutes, 34 seconds
Cruiserweight Classic First Round Match: The Brian Kendrick def. Raul Mendoza in 7 minutes, 47 seconds.
ATPW Scale Rating - 4.69/10
The weakest episode of the series so far, which has more than a lot to do with the show including a piss-poor performance from Anthony Bennett. The rest of the show was of the same quality as had been seen in the first two weeks, with The Brian Kendrick and Raul Mendoza putting on a particularly strong bout, that had the crowd at the hottest they've been so far. Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo continue their strong form on commentary, helping to tell the stories, including the complex submission based narrative of Drew Gulak v Harv Sihra, whilst Bryan cheerleading for his pal Kendrick on commentary also added an extra depth to that already enjoyable contest. Having two second round matches confirmed throughout the show with Gulak facing Zack Sabre Jr and Tony Nese clashing with The Brian Kendrick was also a neat idea, with each winner being presented well in their match and making the potentially clashes even more appetising.
All content - James Marston