Previously on the WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Akira Tozawa advanced despite being tied into knots by an extraordinary gentleman, Noam Dar eliminated the last of the CWC’s Hong Kong contingent, and Brian Kendrick scratched and clawed one step closer to redemption. We’re more than halfway through the tournament. Where did the time go?
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And now, the Best and Worst of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Week 7.
Best: The Quackenbush Factor
As we begin with Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado, Mauro Ranallo actually drops a welcome reference (for a change) when he mentions that Dorado was trained by “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush, modern-day pro wrestling savant and founder of CHIKARA. I could go on about how important Quackenbush has been to American independent wrestling, but let’s face it, Danielle has already done it way better than I ever could. Instead, ponder how quickly this match turned into a CHIKARA-flavored dance battle after Quackenbush got namedropped. Is this a Beetlejuice thing? If Mauro says his name two more times, will the Estonian Thunderfrog suddenly be in this tournament?
Comedy spots aside, let’s not forget the fact that this was a great match-up of speed and high-flying offense. I think it’s super cool to see Rich Swann doing such an admirable job of carrying the banner for the full-time NXT personnel. I imagine that his stock has risen by leaps and bounds among fans who didn’t really know him prior to the tournament, and considering the adversity he’s overcome to make it this far, there aren’t a lot of people who deserve that boost more than he does. Put this man on Raw, ASAP.
Also, let’s talk about Lince Dorado. When I’m not writing over-emotional pieces about my favorite Japanese wrestler, I occasionally do my part to contribute to the world of wrestling as a referee. Just a week and a half ago, I was lucky enough to officiate a match involving Lince, and let me tell you, he really puts his heart and soul into his work. So yeah, I was a bit gutted to see him eliminated, but the commentary team has made it a point to mention that he always lands on his feet. You know, because of the whole cat thing. If WWE’s foolish enough not to take a second look at him, there’s a certain temple in Boyle Heights that can’t seem to get enough cat wrestlers.
Best: A Parking Lot Fight Contested Under World Of Sport Rules
So, remember when I said that Zack Sabre, Jr. was a great technician, but he tends to just go through the motions? And remember when I said that Drew Gulak’s catch wrestling looked more effective because it actually looks like he’s fighting in real life? Here’s today’s chemistry lesson: Throwing two opposing elements together will sometimes cause a wonderful explosion.
This match was everything. And trust me, sometimes that’s a recipe for disaster. We had a TV show that tried to be everything, remember? It was called Glee and it was a schizophrenic disaster. But Sabre and Gulak are multi-dimensional enough to fold a lot of elements into this match without it feeling bloated. This wasn’t just a catch wrestling showcase, because there’s a point near the end where it turns into a strong style slap-fight, and they’re somehow finding a way to pull it all off in a manner that develops their respective characters.
Gulak knows he’s the underdog coming in, so he wrestles with a huge chip on his shoulder, and it kind of turns him into a jerk. In turn, Sabre feels slighted by this, which actually gives him a reason to wrestle in that secretly mean, joint-dissecting fashion he’s become so well-known for. They bring out the worst in each other. It felt personal, and that’s why it was such a huge improvement over both of their opening-round matches.
Zack, if you’re reading this, I’m begging you: Embrace your heel side. If you’re really committing to this “British technical wizard” thing, at least be Draco Malfoy.
Worst: Corey Graves Is Onto Us
From my Week 5 recap:
“Also, let’s go ahead and throw a Worst to Corey Graves for having a closet full of reasonable suits and electing instead to go for the ‘Warped Tour Magnum P.I.’ look.”
And here’s Corey himself from last night’s show:
“I know how much Twitter likes it when I wear floral print, so I dug this one out of my closet.”
I don’t know, you be the judge. For the record, I like Graves as a commentator. He’s got a real Bobby Heenan vibe to him, but I just can’t help looking at him and thinking he’s what you’d get if Mike Ness got lost in the fabric section of a Hobby Lobby.
Worst: Johnny Gargano’s First Taste Of Main Roster Booking
Man, this makes no sense. Johnny Gargano is coming off of two molten-hot matches: His opening-round victory over Tommaso Ciampa, and his hard-fought tag team loss in Brooklyn alongside Ciampa. His bookings on the independent circuit are rapidly coming to a close and he’s having star-making matches like it was easy as breathing, so you think he’d be flying the NXT flag into the quarterfinals right alongside Rich Swann, right? Alas, that would make too much sense.
I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before: T.J. Perkins is an above-average wrestler, but there are people in this tournament that outplay him in every aspect. Less charisma than Jack Gallagher, less technical skill than Sabre, less heart than Gargano. So when put head-to-head against Gargano, a guy with the same underdog workhorse trajectory as Sami Zayn, you’d think this would be a no-brainer. Instead, it’s Perkins advancing, and I can’t help but feel disappointed by that.
Still, let’s consider the fact that Gargano has earned himself a bit of a break. He’s marrying Candice LeRae very soon, they should just chill at Disney World for a while and let Tommaso Ciampa wander into a feud with Bobby Roode or something. You can’t wrestle all the time, you know?
I Don’t Even Know: This Cameraman
By the way, near the end of the show, this guy on the ringside camera busts out laughing and it’s super distracting. My guess is that he just heard “Glorious Domination” for the first time.