Previously on the WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Rich Swann outlasted Lince Dorado in an aerial dogfight, Zack Sabre, Jr. and Drew Gulak showed the ungentlemanly side of catch wrestling, and T.J. Perkins brought the meteoric rise of Johnny Gargano to a screeching halt. Our eighth week of competition now brings us to the quarterfinals. You may want to buckle up for this one, because it’s a wild ride.
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And now, The Best and Worst of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, Week 8.
Best: Peak Cruiserweight
With the arrival of the CWC quarterfinals, I finally feel like there is no more fat left to trim from this tournament. What remains are eight elite wrestlers — some more popular than others, but all with legitimate, international pro wrestling cred. The fun part, of course, is just throwing them at each other and seeing what happens. This whole setup has felt like mad science right from the day it was announced, but we’re now seeing the most explosive in-ring combinations yet.
For an example, look no further than Gran Metalik vs. Akira Tozawa. It’s hard for me to say anything other than “GO WATCH THIS MATCH” in my shoutiest voice, because it’s just so well put-together. I know I’ve said it before, but the greatest strength of this tournament is creating a structure wherein all the storytelling is done in the ring. Like, you get one 90-second vignette to pose dramatically in an empty ring and introduce yourself to the WWE Universe, and that’s it. There’s some high drama here, and I think Tozawa is responsible for the majority of the tension, but just barely. I don’t know if this is a skill explicitly taught in training, but Japanese near-falls are absolute heart attacks to watch. Go watch some of Shinsuke Nakamura’s big matches in New Japan, because he finds away to kick out when the referee’s hand is just a few electrons away from hitting the mat. Tozawa did his fair share of that here as well, and none of it felt overindulgent.
I do have a surprising number of nitpicks, though. None of them are big enough to take away from the quality of the match, mind you.
– The most significant one is obviously the fact that Gran Metalik nearly got himself counted out. On Twitter, I saw some people mentioning that tonight’s episode contained some pretty heavy edits, but I don’t know if this instance was something they were referring to. Both Japan and Mexico traditionally use different count lengths, so Metalik probably just got confused.
– The crowd chanting “C-Dub-C” for the Cruiserweight Classic sounds oddly similar to “P-Dub-G.” Consider that 10 of the 32 men in this tournament are PWG alumni. Just a weird coincidence.
– The finish felt a little bit weird. I think the perfect exclamation point to end on would have been Metalik’s rana to Tozawa while he was crotched on the top rope, but it went on a bit longer and ended with Metalik eating all of Tozawa’s power moves, only to suddenly pull out his finisher and win. Kind of a John Cena finish, but everything leading up to it was so good that I don’t begrudge it.
I’m bummed to see Tozawa eliminated, especially since this seemed to be the most vocal crowd in his favor thus far. His call-and-response to the crowd has mostly just consisted of him going “AAGGHH,” so naturally, someone brought an “AAGGHH” sign for him.