WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Taping
June 23, 2016
Taped at Full Sail University
Report by Josh Parry, PWTorch correspondent
The 32-man tournament is beginning with WWE taping all 16 First Round matches tonight. There will be 20-minute time limits in each match.
First Round Matches – Week 1
Charles Robinson is out for ref duties. Gear pat-downs in the respective corners are back.
(1) Gran Metalik beat Alejandro Saez at 4:03. Sick Michinoku driver finish. Saez landed hard on the back of his head/neck.
The closing format of each match seems to be that the ref stands between both guys center-ring and and holds up the victor’s hand as the announcer presents him as the winner. Handshakes pre and post match.
(2) Ho Ho Lun beat Ariya Daivari in 5:09. Hoho won with a bridge pin off a German suplex. Daivari refused to shake and was conveniently foreign enough to be the default heel, so there we go. ‘Rasslin!
(3) Cedric Alexander beat Clement Petiot in 5:58. Cedric finished it with a back suplex into a double-knee backbreaker. Clement bounced about three feet in the air off the knees. So visually awesome. By far the most impressive performance so far.
(4) Brian Kendrick beat Raul Mendoza in 7:49. Kendrick got a great reception, but turned it to boos by the end. Credit to Mendoza for the babyface fire. My first time seeing him, but he was crazy athletic and reeled in the crowd with his flashy offense. The highlight was a “coast-to-coast” with great hang time as Kendrick in the tree of woe in the opposite corner.
End of taping one.
First Round Matches – Week 2
(1) Tajiri beat Damian Slater in 5:17 with the buzzsaw kick. Tajiri hasn’t aged a day or missed a step.
(2) T.J. Perkins beat Da Mack via submission in 6:30 with a modified figure-four.
(3) Lince Dorado beat Mustafa Ali in 6:03 with a shooting star press. This was way out there in terms of innovate high-flying offense and creative counters. New MOTN so far for me. Ali apparently replaced Zumbi, who was the only one of the announced 32 wrestlers who did not make it to the tournament.
(4) Akira Tozawa beat Kenneth Johnson in 9:45. Akira won after bridging on a second consecutive deadlift German suplex. Good grief, this one was physical.
Back-to-back awesome matches on Episode 2.
First Round Matches – Week 3
(1) Zack Sabre, Jr. beat Tyson Dux in 8:29. Brutal-looking armbar submission by Sabre.
(2) Drew Gulak beat Harv Sihra in 6:03.
(3) Tony Nese beat Anthony Bennett in 9:36 with a 450 splash. Unfortunately this was really sloppy, but I don’t think much of that was on Nese’s end.
(4) Kota Ibushi beat Sean Maluta in 9:44 with a sit-out powerbomb. Best match of this episode by far.
First Round Matches – Week 4
(1) Rich Swann beat Jason Lee in 4:12 with a standing 450 splash. Swann got over with this crowd FAST. Serious charisma; doubled with being a main-stay on the local indies. Swann had the whole crowd dancing and singing along with his celebrations. Really cool!
(2) Noam Dar beat Gurv Sihra in 6:32 with a leg submission.
(3) Jack Gallagher beat Fabian Aichner in 6:48.
(4) Johnny Gargano beat Tomasso Ciampa in 12:11. Alright, not sure where to start with this. It was incredible. Watch this one if you don’t watch any others. With another five or ten minutes, this was quality enough to have main-evented a Takeover special.
Post-match, the two embraced and shared respect to close out the first round. Just epic.
And that’s all for tonight! A really tight, brisk, four episode taping. No downtime at all, other than five minutes after the first episode to clean the mat due to some blood.
I thought the whole thing was really well executed. Some of the indy tropes were a little cute, but overall I thought it was a really nice, legitimate sports-like presentation, which is something I’ve been craving from WWE for a long time. Can’t wait for round two!