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WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Report
July 20, 2016 – Week 2/10
Taped at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
The second episode of the inaugural WWE Cruiserweight tournament started with Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan in the arena booth. Ranallo congratulated D-Bryan on being the Smackdown GM, then they went to Corey Graves in the Cruiserweight studio to hype reaction to Week 1 of the tournament. Graves threw to a video package highlighting last week’s results.
In-ring: Tajiri was introduced to the ring to a strong reaction for the opening match. A video package hyped Damian Slater from Australia before he was introduced to the audience. The referee gave them pre-match instructions, but his mic was lowered, unlike last week. Still no time clock on the screen.
1 — TAJIRI (Japan) vs. DAMIAN SLATER (Australia) — First Round tournament match
Tajiri used his veteran advantage early on, out-witting Slater. Slater came back with athleticism and youth to ground Tajiri. But, Tajiri surprised Slater with the Tarantula in the ropes, followed by a trademark handspring elbow. Tajiri followed with the buzzsaw kick to the face for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Tajiri checked on Slater, who sold the effects of the kick to the head for the finish. The two men met in the middle for Tajiri to be announced as the winner.
WINNER: Tajiri at 5:28, advancing to face Gran Metalik in the second round. Basic match for the veteran Tajiri getting a win over an unknown.
Video Packages: T.J. Perkins and Da Mack, the “urban German” influenced by Michael Jackson.
2 — T.J. PERKINS (USA/Philippines) vs. DA MACK (Germany) — First Round tournament match
Perkins was introduced first as D-Bryan described him as a wrestling prodigy who trained with Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura back in the day. Da Mack strutted down to the ring, drawing an Alex Wright comparison. Early in the match, Perkins was in complete control making it look easy with some showmanship. Mack then smashed him with a leaping dropkick to make TJP take this match seriously.
TJP came back with a wheelbarrow into an attempted Mutalock, but Mack saw it coming and scampered out of the ring to the floor. Mack then drew in TJP to wipe him out on the ring apron. Mack followed with a somersault dive on the outside. Back in the ring, Mack went for a combination of kick strikes and dance moves, spending too much time on the dancing, allowing TJP to catch Mack in the Muta-lock for a near-submission.
After a reset, Mack suddenly smashed TJP with a running kick strike for a close two count. TJP caught him in the ropes, though, and dropped him to the mat. He missed a 450 splash, though. Mack couldn’t capitalize, though, as TJP hit a fireman’s carry drop into a kneebar submission in the middle of the ring. Mack was forced to tap. Respect was shown after the match when Perkins was formally declared the winner.
WINNER: TJP at 6:32 to advance to the second round. Exciting singles match with TJP leading the match and Mack showing a lot of ability and personality. Also, nice work getting over Perkins’s submission finisher to play up in the next round(s).
Video Package: WWE highlighted Mustafa Ali having wrestling training from all kinds of different backgrounds. Ali said he believes he is the most well-rounded competitor in the tournament. Lince Dorado talked about his journey to get to this point, wrestling for his family.
3 — LINCE DORADO (Puerto Rico) vs. MUSTAFA ALI (Pakistan) — First Round tournament match
D-Bryan talked up Ali’s background as a high-flyer and police officer. He just looks like a star. Lince Dorado, from the Florida indies scene, was out next to a strong reaction representing Puerto Rico. D-Bryan said this match feels like “Cruiserweight wrestling.” Ali did not want to shake hands during the pre-match introductions.
Ali quickly charged Dorado to begin his attack, but Lince shook him off and nailed a head scissors. Ali came back with a flying reverse neckbreaker, surprising Dorado and the crowd. Two count for Ali. He tried to follow with a step-up moonsault, but Dorado avoided, then caught him with a dropkick to the head. Dorado followed with a head scissors off the ring apron to the floor. Dorado waited for Ali to get up, then he nailed him with an Asai moonsault.
Back in the ring, Dorado flew at Ali with a cross-body for a close two count. Ali came back with a jawbreaker to break Lince’s momentum. But, Lince answered with a springboard reverse huracanrana. That was sick, but dangerous, as Ali was dropped on his head. Dorado covered, but Ali kicked out.
The match moved to the top rope, where Ali shocked D-Bryan with a springboard Spanish Fly for a close two count. Ali tried to finish Dorado with a top-rope gainer, but Lince moved out of the way. Dorado tried his own top-rope move, nailing a Shooting Star Press. And that was good for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Dorado at 5:55 to advance to the second round. That was a nuts high-flying match packed into six minutes. Ali has a superstar look and showed flashes of brilliance, but he needs more seasoning not making some of the action look overly-choreographed. Ali has a certain presence to be a big international star for WWE if they sign him, though. Meanwhile, Dorado was excellent. Really nice chemistry between them.
Video Package: Akira Tozawa showed his trademark personality talking about always dreaming of wrestling for WWE. Next, WWE showcased Kenneth Johnson from Detroit. It’s main event time.
4 — AKIRA TOZAWA (Japan) vs. KENNETH JOHNSON (USA)
The announcers talked up Johnson’s journey from Detroit to wrestling school in Georgia with Curtis Hughes to Texas working with Funaki. Johnson, who is a standout on the Texas indies scene, shook hands with Tozawa before the opening bell.
This was a very technical match to start. They came to a stalemate after an opening exchange. More technical exchanges after the stand-off. Another stalemate as the announcers wondered if Tozawa has been thrown off by Johnson matching his skills.
Meanwhile, Ranallo noted the 20-minute time limit for the matches, and if there is a draw, both men lose their tournament spot and their next round opponent gets a bye.
Tozawa and Johnson came face-to-face exchanging hard chops, then Tozawa just punched Johnson in the face to knock him down. Tozawa followed with hard kicks to the back into a mat submission. Back on their feet, Tozawa nailed an elbow strike, but Johnson shook it off and nailed a leaping kick. Tozawa responded with a roaring elbow, but Johnson no-sold and they collided mid-ring. Nice exchange.
After a reset, they came to their feet trading forearm strikes. Tozawa got fired up accepting elbow strikes from Johnson, so he fired back with six, seven, eight consecutive forarms, but Johnson ducked a final blow and nailed a facebuster for a two count.
Back on their feet, Tozawa ducked a lariat and nailed a swinging German Suplex. That was impressively fluid. Tozawa followed with a deadlift, pause-in-mid-air German Suplex. Impressive again on the taller Johnson. Tozawa bridged the German Suplex this time and it was good for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Tozawa was declared the winner as Johnson sold the effects of the match. Tozawa posed in the ring as D-Bryan talked up his German Suplex. Tozawa celebrated as Ranallo signed off for this week’s action.
WINNER: Tozawa at 9:46, advancing to the Second Round. This was a really nice change-of-pace following the high-flying match. Tozawa was great in his role of a supremely-confident and stylish striker/grappler not worried about a size disadvantage against Johnson. Johnson has a bit of an “indies look” with his gear, but he had a nice showing in the ring opposite Tozawa.
In a voice-over, Corey Graves noted the eight wrestlers who have advanced in the tournament thus far. Graves also announced next week’s matches to close out the show.
- Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Tyson Dux
- Drew Gulak vs. Harv Sihra
- Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese
- Raul Mendoza vs. Brian Kendrick
|Alejandro Saez||Round of 32|
|Ariya Daivari||Round of 32|
|Clement Petiot||Round of 32|
|Sean Maluta||Round of 32|
|Damien Slater||Round of 32|
|Da Mack||Round of 32|
|Mustafa Ali||Round of 32|
|Kenneth Johnson||Round of 32|
|9||7/27||Zack Sabre, Jr.||8:28|
|Tyson Dux||Round of 32|
|Harv Sihra||Round of 32|
|Anthony Bennett||Round of 32|
|Raul Mendoza||Round of 32|
|Jason Lee||Round of 32|
|Gurv Sihra||Round of 32|
|Fabian Aichner||Round of 32|
|Tommaso Ciampa||Round of 32|
|Cedric Alexander||Sweet 16|
|Jack Gallagher||Sweet 16|
|Ho Ho Lun||Sweet 16|
|Tony Nese||Sweet 16|
|Lince Dorado||Sweet 16|
|23||8/24||Zack Sabre, Jr.||8:27|
|Drew Gulak||Sweet 16|
|Johnny Gargano||Sweet 16|
|Akira Tozawa||Elite 8|
|Brian Kendrick||Elite 8|
|27||9/7||Zack Sabre, Jr.||15:46|
|Noam Dar||Elite 8|
|Rich Swann||Elite 8|
|Zack Sabre, Jr.||Final Four|
|Kota Ibushi||Final Four|