WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Report
July 27, 2016 – Week 3/10
Taped at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
This week’s broadcast opened with Corey Graves in a voice-over hyping the first two weeks of the tournament leading to tonight’s next four tournament matches. Tonight, it’s Zack Sabre, Jr., Drew Gulak, Tyson Dux, Brian Kendrick, and more wrestlers in action.
From Full Sail University, Mauro Ranallo introduced the show. They went straight to a video package on the opening match of Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Tyson Dux. It’s Sabre Time.
In-ring: Zack Sabre, Jr. was introduced to the ring first as Ranallo and Daniel Bryan hyped Sabre as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world. Tyson Dux was out second carrying himself like a heel. Ranallo noted each match is one fall with a 20-minute time limit.
1 — ZACK SABRE, JR. (U.K.) vs. TYSON DUX (Canada) — Cruiserweight Tournament First Round match
Sabre displayed superior technical skills in the beginning, middle, and end of the match. Dux tried to be more physical than the lighter Sabre, but Sabre kept going back to his technical skills to trap Dux.
For the finish, Sabre trapped Dux in a standing armbar, then went to a Rings of Saturn-like submission. Sabre bent Dux’s hand back to stretch Dux’s body in all kinds of directions, and Dux was forced to verbally submit.
Post-match, Sabre and Dux met in the middle of the ring for Sabre to be acknowledged as the winner. Sabre and Dux embraced after the match to show respect.
WINNER: Sabre via submission at 8:28. Just a sample of how good Sabre is in the ring focusing on his technical skills. Surreal to see him on WWE TV.
Video Package: Drew Gulak and Harv Sihra. Who will advance to face Sabre in the second round?
2 — DREW GULAK (USA) vs. HARV SIHRA (India) — Cruiserweight Tournament First Round match
This was a big contrast between Gulak’s super-serious technical approach and Harv’s lighter fare dancing to Bollywood music on the way to the ring. Bryan noted on commentary that Gulak dislikes other wrestling styles, making him ultra-aggressive early in the match.
Sihra came back with a springboard moonsault on the outside, then rolled Gulak back in the ring to score a one count. Sihra showed some aggressiveness with a ground & pound attack. But, he left himself vulnerable to a Dragon Sleeper from Gulak. Gulak wrenched it with a body scissors, and Harv had to tap out.
WINNER: Gulak via submission at 5:18. Really nice ending with the submission coming out of nowhere to make it seem like the matches in this tournament might end at anytime. Harv looked good showing unexpected aggressiveness to counter Gulak. This match-up worked well.
Video Package: Tony Nese and Anthony Bennett. Another contrast in styles with Nese continuing his “Premiere Athlete” marketing from WWNLive and presenting himself like a tough, physical wrestler from New York. Meanwhile, Bennett is a lighter, high-flying wrestler only weighing 147 pounds, giving up about 50 pounds to Nese.
3 — TONY NESE (USA) vs. ANTHONY BENNETT (USA) — Cruiserweight Tournament First Round match
Nese showed off a combination of speed, agility, and power in the opening minutes of the match. Bennett was just completely over-matched early on. Bennett tried to fire back with forearms, then he nailed a leaping clothesline. And a second time. Bennett hit a Tornado DDT, but Nese kicked out of a pin.
Nese then came back with a spinning powerslam. He went to the top rope looking to finish Bennett, but paused when the ref checked on Bennett. The ref was satisfied with Bennett’s condition, then Nese hit a top-rope 450 splash for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Bennett recovered to the corner as Nese celebrated his victory. They replayed the powerslam where Bennett appeared to suffer an injury before taking the 450 splash. Bennett was unable to make the post-match victory circle as the trainer checked on him while Nese got his hand raised.
WINNER: Nese at 6:34. Nese is one of those interesting guys who doesn’t look like a Cruiserweight because of his frame. Hypothetically if WWE signed Nese, he would be able to go back and forth between the CW division and main WWE roster.
CW Studio: Corey Graves hyped the main event of Brian Kendrick vs. Raul Mendoza, who was highlighted in a video package. Raul noted Eddie Guerrero is his inspiration. “I’ve made it,” he said in Spanish. Next, WWE highlighted Brian Kendrick’s redemption story trying to take advantage of his second chance.
4 — BRIAN KENDRICK (USA) vs. RAUL MENDOZA (Mexico) — Cruiserweight Tournament First Round match
Kendrick was out first, prompting D-Bryan to note he is his sentimental favorite to win since they had their first career matches against each other in October 1999 in San Antonio, Texas as part of Shawn Michaels’s wrestling training school. A lucha libre battle broke out early on to allow Mendoza to show off.
Kendrick, embarrassed, played an angry veteran trying to sneak his way into the advantage. But, Mendoza trapped him in Cesaro’s Big Swing into a bowtie leg trap submission. Kendrick made it to the ropes for a break, then utilized more heelish tactics to finally get control. Mendoza started bleeding from the mouth following a kick to the mouth, then referee Charles Robinson checked on him to see if he wanted to continue.
Mendoza, with his mouth covered in blood, came back with a twisting corkscrew splash on the outside. Back in the ring, Mendoza scored a super-close two count. Mendoza then hung up Kendrick in the Tree of Woe and went to the opposite corner. Mendoza went Coast-to-Coast, wowing the crowd. Double knee backbreaker and a cover, but Kendrick draped his foot across the bottom rope to stop up the pin.
Kendrick then feigned an injury, drawing in Mendoza to yank him throat-first across the middle rope. Kendrick quickly slapped on a chokehold following a hip toss, wrenching back on Mendoza’s neck. Mendoza had to tap out, giving Kendrick a “crafty veteran” win. Bryan said he’s not thrilled with his buddy’s tactics, but he wants to see Kendrick win the tournament.
WINNER: Kendrick via submission at 7:35. Interesting presentation of Brian Kendrick in this role of playing a heel who’s trying to hold onto perhaps his final shot at redemption. Kendrick matched up with some of the other submission specialists in the tournament will make for some interesting match-ups.
After a look at the bracket three-fourths of the way through the first round, Corey Graves signed off with a preview of the final set of opening matches airing next week, including a big main event…
- Rich Swann vs. Jason Lee
- Noam Dar vs. Gurv Sihra
- Jack Gallagher vs. Fabien Aichner
- Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Overall: Not as much juice to this week’s show, especially with Zack Sabre’s match placed in the opening slot. This was definitely a lead-in to next week’s big first round conclusion with Gargano vs. Ciampa.