Wayne Utterback writes about the WWE and sports entertainment at large for We Are Regal Radio
Tucked away from the dredge of WWE’s Main Roster, and excelling every Wednesday on the WWE Network, the Cruiserweight Classic continues to flourish as one of the most entertaining and fascinating showcases in professional wrestling right now.
You’d think that with a recent brand split between Raw and Smackdown, each show would have more time to expand and explore the good things about WWE: well-told stories, proper builds within feuds, expanded in-ring action, etc. However, we’ve gotten nothing more than a hodgepodge of results with some guys (AJ Styles, Finn Balor) getting real spotlights while the rest of the roster runs around looking for proper footing.
Then along comes Round 2 of the CWC to bypass so much of what has been mudding the waters of WWE’s mainstream to give fans of wrestling (you know, the thing that we watch for hours on end) a substantial product they can sink their teeth into.
At a glance, the match listing for Round 2 of the CWC stands out as nothing short of exemplary.
Akira Tozawa defeated Jack Gallagher
Gran Metalik (CMLL’s Mascara Dorada) defeated Tajiri
Kota Ibushi defeated Cedric Alexander
Brian Kendrick defeated Anthony Nese
Noam Dar defeated HoHo Lun
Still to come
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak
TJ Perkins vs. Johnny Gargano
Rich Swann vs. Lince Dorado
We’ve had some absolute classics in Round 2. Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi will stand as the best in-ring action we’ve seen so far. In a world where WWE has really become formulaic in how they present wrestling, these guys took the playbook and burned it in a dumpster. From the insane dives, to the hard kicks, to the passion showed by both competitors, this match was exciting from beginning to end. Ibushi brings an almost uncanny hype with him no matter what match he is in, but I’m going to be blunt with you, Alexander was the star here.
Whether it was his relentless flurries of offense to put down the Japanese superstar, the frustration in his face when Kota wouldn’t stay down, or his ability to hit a flying forearm or a Lumbar Check out of nowhere, he did it all and he did it with charisma that you just can’t help but be drawn in by. Triple H coming out to acknowledge his legendary performance only bolsters my desire to see Cedric get signed to the Cruiserweight Division on Raw. They need him. We need him.
Tozawa and Gallagher had a wondrous clash of styles that played to both of their strength. Tozawa is a perfect fit for the incoming division, but Gallagher has both the technical prowess and the entertainment factor that also would make him a perfect fit. Throw him in with the Vaudevillains and I would be hard pressed not to love the hell out of that trio.
Gran Metalik got to show off more of his rope-walking prowess and high flying in his match against grizzled vet Tajiri, who didn’t look like age has stopped him from delivering a great showing as the brutal experienced ring general who can stop an opponent with a single kick. They had some great technical exchanges while also adding in some striking that only complimented the dazzling array of moves Metalik unleashed. If you haven’t seen what Metalik has done in CMLL, do it. He’s got even more tricks in his bag.
Rounding out the rest of what we’ve seen in Round 2, Nese and Kendrick put on a really fun match where Kendrick just wrapped up Nese like a snake, almost wearing the guy out before locking in the Bully Choke for the win. Nese is an athletic freak and he would work well within the realm of the new division, while Kendrick is that veteran that you know is a terrible human, but is gritty enough to fight for a win. He’s got this desperate aura to him that you don’t even see in even the oldest hangers-on in WWE. He needs this tournament to legitimize his wrestling career.
Noam Dar vs. Hoho Lun was terrible. Dar had an especially brutal match against Gurv Sihra and by brutal, I mean it was atrocious. Timing was off, both men were moving at half speed, and the fans could not have cared less. HoHo Lun won a decent match against Ariya Daivari, who made it watchable since he was being uber awful. When Lun and Dar locked up, it was shoddy at best. These guys just look so out of place with all the other matches and talent moving up the ranks.
We still have some huge matchups coming up as Round 2 concludes and the final rounds of the tournament help determine the next star in WWE, so check back here next week to see how the rest of the Top 8 round out.
Wayne Utterback is a contributor to We Are Regal Radio, Editor in Chief of Rudo Can’t Fail and co-host of Spandexistential Thoughts, follow him on Twitter @DubyaLucha; Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio