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WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Report
August 3, 2016 – Week 4/10
Taped at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
It’s the final set of First Round matches, culminating with Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a battle of NXT tag partners.
Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan introduced the show from the broadcast position before Corey Graves reviewed the tournament bracket through three weeks.
Video Package: Rich Swann made it to WWE. His opponent is Jason Lee, who mixes wrestling and kung-fu.
1 — RICH SWANN (USA) vs. JASON LEE (Hong Kong)
Bryan noted that this is Swann’s first match since suffering a shoulder injury, while Jason Lee had to travel thousands of miles to make the tournament. Which will affect the competitors the most? Swann was impressive early on with a leaping huracanrana and rolling frog splash for a two count. Lee came back with martial arts kicks, but Swann answered with a kick to the head. Swann dragged Lee to the corner, then nailed a double jump 450 splash. It was good for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Swann at 3:47 to advance to the Second Round. Super-impressive athletic display from Swann, plus Swann has so much personality that he’ll be a big deal on NXT soon enough.
Video Package: Gurv Sihra is on the WWE stage. But, he has to face Noam Dar representing Scotland and Israel. WWE noted Dar is the youngest wrestler in the tournament.
2 — NOAM DAR (Scotland via Israel) vs. GURV SIHRA (India)
Sihra targeted Dar’s lower region trying to set up for a submission later in the match. But, he lost focus doing the Hollywood Blondes’s rolling camera hand motion, allowing Dar to catch him in a kneebar submission. Sihra was forced to tap out.
WINNER: Dar via submission at 5:26 to advance to the Second Round. Not particularly memorable match. Dar seems to be on the verge of finding himself in the ring, but it’s not all there yet at only 22/23 years-old.
Video Package: Fabian Aichner is representing Italy, where there isn’t a lot of wrestling. He speaks great English. Then, there is Jack Gallagher, who is bringing a gentleman’s approach to the tournament.
3 — JACK GALLAGHER (U.K.) vs. FABIAN AICHNER (Italy)
Bryan noted Gallagher is a bit goofy, but lethal in the ring. Aichner had a big size advantage over Gallagher, but Gallagher seemed unmoved, mocking his build before the opening bell. They had a very good opening exchange showing off strong matwork and wrestling holds.
After a staredown, Aichner went rogue on Gallagher with a kick to the gut. Aichner nailed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then made a crazy motion. Aichner delivered a double springboard moonsault, going Lucha on Gallagher for a close two count. Aichner couldn’t believe he only got a nearfall.
Gallagher recovered and fired up on Aichner, catching Aichner in a standing guillotine choke. Aichner broke the hold, then tossed Gallagher into the air for a giant sit-out powerbomb. Again, only a two count. Aichner tried to follow with a top-rope frog splash, but Gallagher moved out of the way. Gallagher followed with a flying corner dropkick that rocked Aichner in the face. Gallagher covered for the win.
WINNER: Gallagher at 6:45 to advance to the Second Round. Super-impressive display from both men. Aichner could be a big star for WWE based on his moveset and combination of power and speed, plus a marketable look. This was an unexpectedly great match. Now, Gallagher advances to face Akira Tozawa in what should be another great match.
At the CW Tournament studio, Corey Graves hyped the big main event of Gargano vs. Ciampa to conclude the First Round of the tournament.
Video Package: The stories of Gargano and Ciampa separately and together as an NXT tag team. It’s on.
Backstage: Gargano and Ciampa squared off in a face-to-face interview hyping their match.
4 — JOHNNY GARGANO (USA) vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA (USA)
Once in the ring, Ciampa was reluctant to shake hands before the opening bell. He eventually shook his friend’s hand to start the match. Clean start, then Ciampa suddenly nailed a wicked back-elbow smash to the mouth. Ciampa knocked Gargano to the floor, then chopped him across the chest.
Back on the ring apron, Ciampa dropped Gargano hard across the ring apron with the Air Raid Crash. Back in the ring, Ciampa hesitated before following up, allowing Gargano to kick him in the head. Ciampa, angered, slapped around Gargano and then nailed a powerbomb into the lungblower for a super-close two count.
At the 10-minute mark, Ranallo brought up the 20-minute time limit to this match. If they wrestled to a draw, they would both be eliminated. On cue, Ciampa went for an armbar submission, but Gargano rolled through into a crucifix pin for a quick three count.
Post-match, Ciampa sold frustration and anger being one-upped by Gargano. After a replay of highlights from the match, Gargano was shown getting his arm raised while Ciampa hung his head in disappointment. Gargano then extended his hand toward Ciampa, who left the ring unable to accept. But, Ciampa stopped and returned to the ring. He sat down next to Gargano in the ring and hugged him before raising Gargano’s arm in the air. Both men stood up and hugged to close the First Round of the tournament.
WINNER: Gargano at 10:47 to advance to the Second Round. This was strong, strong in-ring work playing off their friendship and Ciampa’s desire to be better than the more popular Gargano. Really nice cap to the First Round of the tournament.
Next Week: The Sweet 16 kicks off with two matches, including an epic, buzz-worthy main event…
- Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik
- Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi