SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Report
August 31, 2016 – Week 8/10
Taped at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
The “Elite Eight” Quarterfinal matches tonight include:
- Kota Ibushi vs. Brian Kendrick
- Akira Tozawa vs. Gran Metalik
The Cruiserweight broadcast opened with a recap of the tournament field reduced from 32 to the remaining eight – Kota Ibushi, Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa, Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, T.J. Perkins, and Zack Sabre, Jr. Who will reach deep to win the first Cruiserweight tournament?
From the broadcast position, Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo were shown on-camera to recap the first two rounds leading to this quarterfinal round. Ranallo sent it to the control room for Corey Graves to preview tonight’s matches.
Video Package: Gran Metalik was highlighted representing Lucha Libre in this tournament. Akira Tozawa was then highlighted wanting to be in WWE. And, winning the tournament would make that dream come true.
In-ring: Akira Tozawa was introduced first to the ring as they recapped his two victories in the tournament to make it to the quarterfinals. Gran Metalik was out next as Ranallo talked up his CMLL background.
1 — AKIRA TOZAWA (Japan) vs. GRAN METALIK (MEXICO — Quarterfinal tournament match — 30-minute Time Limit
Very nice opening exchange positioning them as equals in the ring. Metalik then bounced Tozawa to the floor and nailed a rope-assisted suicide dive that wowed the crowd. Back in the ring, Metalik worked on Tozawa’s ribs before applying a figure-four leglock. Tozawa broke free, then Metalik kicked Tozawa hard in the shoulders to wow the crowd.
Tozawa came back with a suicide dive of his own, then another suicide dive to fire up the crowd. Back in the ring, Tozawa and Metalik broke out a chop-fest. Tozawa was amazing winning the exchange, but he could not get a pinfall. Tozawa then missed a corner attack, and Metalik answered with a tight-rope-walk pump kick into a running Shooting Star Press for a close two count. Metalik is just so smooth.
Crossing 10 minutes, Metalik and Tozawa battled for control of the match. Tozawa nailed a Bicycle Kick into a Saito Suplex for a close two count. Tozawa fired up himself and the crowd, then ran right into a superkick from Metalik. Metalik followed with a majestic springboard flip dive on the outside.
Back in the ring, Tozawa kicked Metalik in the face to block a moonsault. Tozawa then took Metalik to the top turnbuckle looking for a superplex, but Metalik blocked and kicked Tozawa onto the top rope. With Tozawa dangling on the ropes, Metalik nailed a springboard huracanrana sending Tozawa down to the mat for a close two count. The crowd went nuts for the nearfall.
Nearing the half-way mark of the time limit, Tozawa tried a German Suplex, but Metalik landed on his feet. So, Tozawa tried again and nailed it this time. Tozawa then went for a Deadlift German with a bridge pin, but Metalik kicked out just before three. Bryan noted that’s how Tozawa won his first two matches. Now what does he do?
Tozawa went back to the German looking for a Package German Suplex, but Metalik blocked, then nailed the Metalik Driver in the middle of the ring. One, two, and three, with Tozawa unable to escape the pinning predicament. What a finishing sequence.
Post-match, Metalik got his hand raised in the middle of the ring as Tozawa sold dejection. Tozawa started to roll out of the ring, but rolled back to shake hands with Metalik.
WINNER: Metalik at 15:49 to advance to the Final Four. Great chemistry between Metalik and Tozawa, who really shined before taking the loss. Metalik is so good in this setting, too. (****)
Announcers: Ranallo and Bryan were shown at the commentary position to recap Metalik vs. Tozawa. They switched gears to Bryan’s boy Brian Kendrick facing Kota Ibushi. Ibushi was shown warming up in his locker room as Bryan tossed aside his objectiveness to root for Kendrick.
Video Package: WWE highlighted the back-stories of Brian Kendrick and Kota Ibushi wanting to make a big impression in this tournament, but for different reasons. It could be Kendrick’s last chance, while Ibushi needs to prove that he’s the best in the world.
In-ring: Brian Kendrick was out first as they recapped Kendrick surviving Tony Nese in the previous round. Kendrick acknowledged a “Brian Kendrick” chant before Kota Ibushi was introduced to the ring as the favorite to win this match and the tournament.
2 — BRIAN KENDRICK (USA) vs. KOTA IBUSHI (Japan) — Quarterfinal tournament match — 30-minute Time Limit
Ibushi teased a kick early on, so Kendrick bailed to the floor and told Ibushi to come meet him on the floor. Ibushi didn’t take the bait and waited for Kendrick to get back in the ring. Kendrick blew the Kiss of Death to Ibushi, trying to mind-game Ibushi into making a mistake. But, Ibushi pounded his back and kicked Kendrick right in the shoulder. What a blow. Kendrick rolled to the floor to avoid more kicks, but Ibushi flew over the top rope with a springboard moonsault wiping out Kendrick.
Ibushi rolled Kendrick back into the ring, but Kendrick rolled out the other side of the ring. Ibushi took the bait and walked right into a leg trap. Kendrick tried to get a count-out win, but Ibushi made it back in with a springboard dropkick to the chest for a two count. But, Kendrick craftily caught Ibushi in the corner and delivered a neckbreaker over the metal piece of the turnbuckle to punish the neck. Ouch.
Kendrick continued to target Ibushi’s surgically-repaired neck, but Ibushi responded with a Okada-like dropkick in the middle of the ring. Ibushi then nailed Kendrick with rapid-fire strikes, but he missed a leaping blow and Kendrick rolled him up for a close two count.
Kendrick followed up with a running Sliced Bread off the top turnbuckle, but Ibushi escaped the pin just before three. Ibushi continued to sell the neck as Kendrick contemplated his next move. Kendrick put Ibushi in a rear-naked choke and walked Ibushi up the turnbuckles, but Ibushi kicked him down to the ring apron. Ibushi then leaned over the ropes, gripped Kendrick, and deadlift German Suplexed Kendrick back into the ring. That was nuts. Two count on the cover.
They crossed 10:00 with both men selling on the mat. Ibushi nailed a kick to the chest, then tried a powerbomb, but Kendrick landed on his feet and rolled Ibushi over into the Bully Choke. Kendrick wrenched the hold, but Ibushi reversed the pressure and elbowed out. Kendrick then put Ibushi on his shoulders and nailed a Burning Hammer drop, nearly ending Ibushi, who kicked out just before three. That was insane.
Kendrick’s eyes told the story of needing to win this now. Kendrick angrily clubbed Ibushi in the head, which only woke up Ibushi, who nailed him a roundhouse kick to the head. Ibushi then wheelbarrow-dropped Kendrick for a close two count. Both men sold on the mat as the crowd fired up.
Ibushi dragged Kendrick to the corner looking for the Phoenix Splash, but Kendrick dramatically rolled out of the way. Kendrick flowed right into the Bully Choke and the crowd went nuts thinking it was over. Ibushi refused to tap, though. Ibushi suddenly flipped Kendrick over into a pin for a two count. Kick to the head. Kendrick was stunned and Ibushi nailed him with a lift-up Golden Star powerbomb. One, two, and three. Kendrick’s journey is over.
Post-match, both men sold on the mat before they replayed the high points of the match. Back live, Ibushi got his hand raised in victory as Kendrick sold
WINNER: Ibushi at 13:58 to advance to the Final Four. Amazing match. Kendrick’s story mixed with Ibushi’s super-stardom was terrific. Another great piece of match-making in this tournament. (****)
On commentary, Bryan got choked up talking about Brian Kendrick’s journey. Ibushi and Kendrick then bowed to each other and hugged in the ring. Long conversation before bowing again. Ranallo signed off as Kendrick teared up.
Next Week: The quarterfinals continue with Zack Sabre, Jr. facing Noam Dar and Rich Swann facing T.J. Perkins. Who will join Metalik and Ibushi in the Final Four?
Bonus Footage: They cut back to the arena for the crowd chanting “Thank you, Brian,” as Brian Kendrick continued to sell emotion. Suddenly, Daniel Bryan walked down from the commentary booth to join Kendrick in the ring. Bryan hugged his long-time buddy and original training partner as the crowd chanted and applauded. Lots of tears and emotion in the ring. Bryan then raised Brian’s hand in the air as the show signed off.
This tournament continues to get better by the week. Next week’s quarterfinals should be equally as good with Sabre-Dar and TJP-Swann.
|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|