The Best And Worst Of WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Week 9: Looking Back In Anger

Previously on the WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Gran Metalik’s lucha libre propelled him over Akira Tozawa to the final four, while Brian Kendrick’s quest for redemption heartbreakingly ended at the hands of Kota Ibushi. The finale is next week, can you believe it?

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And now, The Best and Worst of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Week 9.

Best: Where Were You While We Were Pinning Guys

So, in the past, I’ve stated that I didn’t really “get” Noam Dar, especially his weird taunts. But in the weeks since then, I’ve had it pointed out to me by at least a few Uproxx commenters that Dar makes it a point to physically emulate Liam Gallagher of Oasis, a band that he thoroughly enjoys. Mauro Ranallo actually touches on this a few times during the broadcast, even mentioning in passing that his submission finisher is called the “Champagne Superkneebar.”

Knowing this, my outlook on Dar is improved. I still wouldn’t say that I’m a massive fan or anything, but I’m suddenly seeing a lot of potential that was invisible to me before. Let’s face it, no one is ever going to accuse the Gallagher brothers of being the nicest guys in music, so I think Dar should take that ball and run with it. He should absolutely be a heel who claims artistic superiority over all his peers. Heck, he should form a tag team with another Gallagher (Jack) for a few years only to beat him up, go solo for a while, and then eventually reunite for a lackluster comeback.

And in case you think he’s not the right guy to commit to this gimmick, take a look at his name. Oasis was founded by Noel and Liam Gallagher. Noel + Liam = Noam. It’s fate.

And wouldn’t you know it, Dar kind of acted like a jerk during his match, and it was definitely his most compelling night of the tournament. He and Zack Sabre, Jr. have crossed paths many, many times in the United Kingdom, so we already knew that these were two ingredients that would mesh well. Before you know it, Dar’s mean streak is bringing out Sabre’s mean streak, and we’ve got a pretty exciting technical wrestling match on our hands.

So, all in all, if Dar can continue to cultivate a personality around the technical skills we saw in this match, I’m more than happy to watch him develop. This was a fitting note on which to exit, I think. Tonight, he’s a Rock ‘n’ Roll Dar.

Worst (But Not Really): And Then There Were None

When the Cruiserweight Classic bracket was revealed, I was certain that either Johnny Gargano or Rich Swann would make it to the final four before falling to a high-profile international star. It seemed impossible to me that a tournament housed in NXT’s sanctuary would shed its last representative of Team Yellow Ropes before the semifinals, but here we are.

I’ll start on a positive note: I’ve made my feelings (or lack thereof) on T.J. Perkins pretty clear in previous weeks, but I’m giving credit to him here for a match that actually had me emotionally invested. Swann didn’t do that all by himself. At a certain point, Perkins dropped the whole #YOLOSWAG act and just started wrestling the heck out of Swann. How’s that for a weird contradiction? I’m nitpicking Noam Dar for not having enough of a character, and in the very next breath I’m giving reluctant praise to Perkins for dropping his character and humanizing himself. It goes to show you that characterization in wrestling is a surprisingly deep science, developed through endless trial and error.

This match revisits a common theme of the CWC: Wrestling your friend with more intensity than you’d give the average opponent. Like several matchups prior (Gargano/Ciampa, Sabre/Dar), Rich Swann and T.J. Perkins have met many times in places like PWG. They have an intimate knowledge of what the other man is bringing to the table, and that comes with a built-in guarantee of raising the bar from any previous heights. I don’t have any brothers, so I don’t know if that whole “You fight family harder than you fight strangers” thing is true or not. But if pro wrestling is to be believed, then I’m sold on the premise. Look at the way Perkins shows instant remorse after Swann taps out. That’s for real.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for a well-executed callback to Michaels vs. Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, but occasionally the walls come down and reveal something pretty special. Admittedly, this is a pretty shallow Worst that I’m handing out, because there’s some standout wrestling here. Blame it on the dabs.

Also, let’s talk about Rich Swann here, because damn. Part of me wants him and Bayley to stay in NXT forever just so they can teach recruits about selling on offense. That was some world-class babyface peril on display. Swann could probably sell hats to the Headless Horseman. I think he went out a round too early, but he’s probably got his sights set on Raw’s cruiserweight program already. Onwards and upwards, I suppose.

Oh, and speaking of upwards …

Worst: That Trophy Is Still A Straight-Up D*ck

Heh … “Straight-up.”