WWE Cruiserweight Tournament Finals Report
September 14, 2016 – Week 10/10
Live at Full Sail University
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
The Final Four is set for tonight’s live two-hour special:
- Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Gran Metalik
- Kota Ibushi vs. T.J. Perkins
- Winners meet in the Finals
The Cruiserweight broadcast opened with Triple H narrating a video package on the first nine weeks of the tournament building to the finals. One man will be called the best in the world and receive the Big Trophy.
Live from Full Sail, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan hyped tonight’s two-hour special one night after being part of Smackdown Live in Philadelphia. They talked about this generation of cruiserweights revolutionizing wrestling, like the Super J Cup in the 1990s.
In the first semi-final, it will be high-flying Gran Metalik against the technical wizard Zack Sabre, Jr. And in the other semi-final, it’s the tournament favorite Kota Ibushi against underdog T.J. Perkins.
Video Package: All four men talked about being part of this tournament.
In-ring: Ring announcer Mike Rome was standing by to introduce the first semi-final match with a 30-minute time limit. Out first was Gran Metalik wearing a flashy silver robe for the occasion. Bryan hyped the Metalik Driver bringing him this far in the tournament. Big reaction for Zack Sabre, Jr. out next looking to reach the finals. Sabre popped his sweet jacket collar like a boss, then measured up Metalik. They met in the middle of the ring for final instructions before shaking hands. Cue the bell.
1 — GRAN METALIK (Mexico) vs. ZACK SABRE, JR. (U.K.) — Semi-Final Tournament match — 30-minute time limit
Sabre stood still in his corner looking to feel out Metalik, but Metalik suddenly exploded on Sabre with a flying dropkick. Sabre fell to the outside, then Metalik nailed a flip dive to the outside, stunning Sabre. Back in the ring, Metalik nearly pinned Sabre for a shocking win in the first minute.
Sabre sold being stunned by the early onslaught, then he nailed Metalik with a uppercut to get a breather. The crowd was hot and alive after the unexpected start to the match. It was like Metalik returned the opening kickoff for a Touchdown. Sabre tried to slow the pace, but Metalik nailed Sabre with a dropkick. He followed with a hard slap to the chest. Metalik tried a springboard move, but Sabre caught him and put him in a Dragon Sleeper until Metalik made it to the ropes.
Sabre and Metalik went back and forth inflicting punishment on each other – Sabre with submission stretches and Metalik with high-flying, high-impact offense. The exchanges were super-intense, then Metalik flipped it around with a Boston Crab on Sabre. Sabre broke free, then both men sold on the mat.
Back on their feet, Metalik exploded on Sabre with a lariat. Superkick to the side of the head. Springboard back elbow smash. But, Sabre kicked out of a pin. Metalik then tried to run the ropes for a springboard attack, but Sabre kicked him in the chest. Sabre followed with a glancing Penalty Kick for a two count.
At 10:00, Sabre and Metalik battled on their knees. Big blows and strikes. Sabre then locked Metalik in an octopus submission, but Metalik escaped by using the ropes. Now in the corner, Metalik crotched Sabre before delivering a leaping huracanrana. Metalik tried to follow with a springboard dive, but Sabre caught him with a triangle choke. Metalik rolled through into a bridging pin for a two count. He then picked up Sabre and hoisted him into the air for the Metalik Driver. Metalik pinned Sabre for the pin and the win.
WINNER: Metalik at 13:13 to advance to the Finals. Well, there goes Sabre vs. Ibushi in the Finals. Metalik was amazing in this match. It looked like that deal where Metalik looks awesome and gets in the majority of offense before Sabre gets the win, but Metalik got the win after getting the majority of offense. Sabre wasn’t given much of anything to hang his hat on. Overall, the energy in the ring, in the crowd, and from the announcers was superb. (***3/4)
Post-match, Metalik and Sabre stood together in the ring. Metalik got his hand raised as Sabre sold dejection and embarrassment. NXT GM William Regal then entered the ring to award Metalik a medal for making it to the finals. Charly Caruso and Dasha Fuentes conducted an interview in English and Spanish to preview Metalik in the finals.
Backstage: Kota Ibushi and T.J. Perkins were shown warming up for their semi-final match.
Backstage: Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were interviewed backstage. D.I.Y. is here to be part of a big moment facing Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander tonight. Gargano vowed to win the NXT Tag Titles from The Revival when they get another shot.
In-ring: Kota Ibushi was introduced first for the second semi-final match. T.J. Perkins was out next and the crowd was clearly behind Ibushi. Some appreciation for Perkins, but they were there to see Ibushi. Referee Drake Wuertz brought both men to the ring for a pre-match handshake. Cue the bell.
2 — KOTA IBUSHI (Japan) vs. T.J. PERKINS (Philippines) — Semi-Final Tournament match — 30-minute time limit
In contrast to the opening match, Ibushi and TJP slowly felt each other out. TJP checked two of Ibushi’s signature kicks, but he couldn’t check a flying kick off the ropes that decked Perkins. Ibushi then nailed Perkins with a dropkick sending Perkins to the floor. Ibushi wanted a flying dive to the outside, but Perkins kicked Ibushi in the butt, sending Ibushi reeling to the floor. Ibushi made it back into the ring just before ten for the match to continue.
Back in the ring, TJP slowed the pace wearing down Ibushi. But, Ibushi nailed him with a dropkick out of nowhere. Ibushi tried a flying dive to the outside a second time, and this time he connected on Perkins. Ibushi rolled Perkins back into the ring to deliver a missile dropkick for a two count.Ibushi tried a second-rope
Ibushi tried a second-rope moonsault, but Perkins blocked and slapped on the kneebar. As crowd members shrieked with Ibushi in jeopardy, Ibushi desperately reached for the ropes and he got the bottom rope. Ibushi came back to his feet and nailed a German Suplex with a bridging pin for a two count.
Ibushi followed with repeated kick strikes right to the chest. TJP asked for more, so Ibushi gave him more. Perkins was covered in red marks as he rested on the ring apron. At 10:00, Ibushi gripped Perkins from the ring apron and he tried to deadlift him over the top rope for a German, but TJP blocked. Big dropkick from Perkins. Pause. Big Pele Kick from Ibushi to rock Perkins. Goodness.
Ibushi wanted his powerbomb finisher, but Perkins countered in mid-air with a snap DDT. Perkins followed with an inverted lungblower for a super-close two count. The crowd was absolutely nuts. Ibushi tried to come back with a back kick, but Perkins caught Perkins’s foot for the kneebar. Ibushi sold desperation locked in Perkins’s finisher, but he got out.
Big standing exchange, then Ibushi hoisted Perkins into the air for the Golden Star powerbomb. One, two, super-close kick-out. The crowd lost their minds on that nearfall. Just nuts here. Ibushi climbed to the top rope looking for the Phoenix Splash, but Perkins moved out of the way just in time. Both men sold being exhausted at this point. Metalik is loving life right now.
TJP and Ibushi came to their feet trading blows. Ibushi went for a big kick, but Perkins escaped into a wheelbarrow, but Ibushi caught him and dropped him square into the mat with a seated bomb for another super-close nearfall. Ibushi, angered, kicked Perkins right in the head. Ibushi wanted another powerbomb, but TJP slid out the back door into the kneebar. The crowd freaked out again with Ibushi in trouble. TJP dragged Ibushi down to the mat, then grapevined the heck out of the leg. TJP then turned the submission into a neck vice targeting the surgically-repaired neck. Ibushi tapped! And the crowd lost it.
WINNER: Perkins via submission at 14:52 to advance to the Finals. Goodness gracious, that was nuts. If you want to make a star with Perkins, that’s how you do it with his latest super-underdog victory in this tournament. This match was amazing with the crowd buying every nearfall and exchange. Metalik vs. TJP is not exactly the finals the crowd came to see, but Metalik and TJP had amazing semi-final matches tonight. (****1/2)
Post-match, TJP and Ibushi stood in the center of the ring for the official decision. Perkins got his hand raised as Ibushi sold dejection. Ibushi held his face selling tears, then Ibushi shook Perkins’s hand. William Regal entered the ring and gave Perkins a medal for making it to the finals. “Thank you, Kota” chant from the crowd. Perkins joined in, then stood proudly in the center of the ring after advancing to the finals.
Charly Caruso then entered the ring to interview TJP about facing Gran Metalik in the Finals. Perkins said his strategy has been just win one more match. Is it difficult to comprehend being in this position? Perkins said he’s this close, but it feels so far away with one more match to go.
Moments Ago: Gran Metalik received some ice treatment as he watched T.J. Perkins win his match to face him in the Finals.
Backstage: Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar were interviewed about facing D.I.Y. in tag action tonight. Dar said they don’t need a gameplan even though they’re teaming for the first time. Alexander said all they need is three seconds. He said they are going to show they are two of the best around.
Ringside: Sasha Banks was shown in the crowd. Kalisto was also on the front row with Sasha. Rich Swann got a big reaction along with Jack Gallagher. And then Bayley was shown to a huge reaction.
In-ring: Noam Dar was introduced to the ring first for the tag team showcase match. Cedric Alexander, who appears to have slimmed down even more than the first few rounds of the tournament, got his own ring introduction. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were out next.
3 — D.I.Y. (TOMMASO CIAMPA & JOHNNY GARGANO) vs. NOAM DAR & CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Ciampa and Alexander started things off after all four men met in the middle of the ring for a pre-match handshake and show of respect. Things quickly accelerated with Alexander knocking Ciampa out of the ring to deliver a running flip dive to the outside. Back in the ring, Alexander worked over Ciampa until Ciampa cut him off with a surprise dropkick.
Tag to Gargano, who threw Cedric across the ring. Gargano then kicked Dar onto Ciampa’s shoulders to deliver a superkick out of the Doomsday Device. Gargano then sprung onto Alexander with a spear through the ropes for a two count. What a sequence.
Suddenly, all four men went crazy with rapid-fire offense to each other. Tags to Gargano and Dar. Big standing exchange. Dar then caught Gargano in a kneebar, but Ciampa broke it up with hard stomps. Gargano sold injuring his leg in the process. Ciampa then took Dar to the top turnbuckle looking for a big move, but Dar blocked and trapped Ciampa in the buckles. Tag to Alexander, who kicked Ciampa in the head. Big brainbuster suplex to Ciampa for a two count.
Alexander followed with a kick to Ciampa, then he pinned him for a two-and-so-close. It was so close that the ref accidentally hit the mat a third time. The match continued with tandem offense from Ciampa and Gargano to Dar. Ciampa then pinned Dar after Alexander was too late making the save.
WINNER: Gargano & Ciampa at 9:49. Hot tag match packed into ten minutes. Alexander & Dar have an “out” with the ref’s accidental three count, so there’s that. But, this was about Gargano and Ciampa questing for the NXT Tag Titles. (***1/4)
Announcers: Ranallo and Bryan were shown on-camera recapping the Final Four matches so far tonight. Bryan said he’s in shock from the first two results. He said he’s not sure what to expect from Metalik and TJP after their earlier matches.
Ranallo brought in NXT GM William Regal to discuss this tournament. Regal said Triple H wanted this to happen and Hunter picked him to find the best talent in the world. Regal said the two men in the finals have cemented their legacies tonight. Ranallo asked what Cruiserweights of today look like. Regal said you have to be the best all-around wrestler in the world. They have to be great technicians, high-flyers, and strikers who don’t waste energy and have a reason for doing what they do at the right time. Exit Regal.
Ranallo and Bryan then talked about this tournament being the best of what their business has to offer. Bryan said someone like Cedric Alexander’s life has completely changed being part of the tournament. Ranallo then brought in Raw color commentator Corey Graves to discuss the tournament and the Cruiserweights coming to Raw starting this Monday.
Earlier Tonight: Gran Metalik beat Zack Sabre, Jr. in the first semi-final match. Then, T.J. Perkins shocked Kota Ibushi in the other semi-final.
In-ring: T.J. Perkins was out first for the finals. Perkins stopped at the big trophy in the aisleway and contemplated victory before entering the ring. Perkins showed fatigue, though, stumbling on his in-ring entrance. Gran Metalik was out second looking fresh after getting more rest than Perkins. The crowd was hot for Metalik, continuing the theme of the audience being more into Perkins’s opponents than him throughout the tournament. Both men met in the middle of the ring and shook hands.
Suddenly, Triple H’s music played before the opening bell. Hunter walked past the trophy, then entered the ring to bring TJP and Metalik together. Hunter had a mic. Hunter said tonight they are here to make history. Right here are two of the best in the world. But, they’re not looking for two. They’re looking for one. The One. The One who will be known as the Best in the World. And the first Cruiserweight tournament winner.
Hunter then leaned through the ropes and grabbed a bag. Hunter said the winner of this match will go to Raw on Monday night as the new WWE Cruiserweight champion. Hunter produced a purple title belt representing the new Cruiserweight division. He presented the belt to TJP, then Metalik for a good look. The crowd and announcers popped for the title presentation, then Ranallo noted the stakes just got higher determining the champion heading to Raw on Monday night.
4 — GRAN METALIK (Mexico) vs. T.J. PERKINS (Philippines) — Cruiserweight Tournament Finals — Cruiserweight Title match — 60-minute time limit
Metalik and TJP felt each other out early on. Metalik seemed to lose a burst waiting through Hunter’s pre-match promo. TJP took advantage with a Mutalock, but Metalik came back with a dropkick to the outside. Metalik followed with a diving suicide dive into a headbutt knocking down Perkins.
Back in the ring, Metalik put Perkins in a surfboard stretch looking to break his back and force a submission. Perkins survived, then cleared Metalik to the floor with a huracanrana. Perkins rolled Metalik back into the ring to deliver a slingshot dive for a two count.
Metalik came back with a kick that sent Perkins to the floor before nailing a running dive that seemed to hurt Metalik more than Perkins. But, Metalik rolled TJP back into the ring to deliver a majestic springboard elbow drop for a two count. Metalik followed with a leaping attack, then tried a running Shooting Star Press, but TJP moved. TJP immediately slapped on the kneebar, but Metalik made it to the bottom rope for a break.
TJP came to his feet and kicked the leg. And again. But, Metalik tried to break TJP’s chest with a hard chop to the chest. Superkick followed. Metalik charged, but Perkins kicked Metalik’s knee. Both men collapsed to the mat selling exhaustion at 12:30.
Both men to their feet. Metalik kicked Perkins, then tried the Metalik Driver, but Perkins blocked. Perkins tried to counter, but Metalik countered his counter with a spike DDT for a close two count. Metalik then tried a top-rope moonsault, but Perkins blocked. Inverted lungblower for a two count. And, TJP immediately transitioned to the kneebar. Perkins locked it tight, then dragged Metalik back to the middle of the ring. Perkins did it again, but this time Metalik rolled through into a quick pin for a super-close two count.
They hit 15:00 with both men selling in the ring. Fireman’s carry grip from Metalik. He nailed a driver, but he injured his knee in the process. Metalik draped an arm over Perkins, but TJP kicked out. Metalik had nothing left, and neither did Perkins. The crowd was alive chanting for both men as the wrestlers battled on their knees. Metalik slapped the crap out of Perkins, then again. Perkins’s body was a complete mess.
Metalik slowly lifted up Perkins looking for the Metalik Driver, but TJP escaped into a kick to the head. Perkins climbed to the top, but Metalik kicked him in the shoulder. Metalik wanted a top-rope move, but Perkins blocked. So, Metalik adjusted and wanted a super Metalik Driver. TJP elbowed out, then dropped Metalik in the middle of the ring. Quick transition to the kneebar. Perkins grapevined the crap out of the leg. Metalik had nowhere to go. He had to tap!
Post-match, the crowd exploded and WWE cut to the wrestlers on the front row showing respect for Perkins. Perkins’s chest was absolutely destroyed as he knelt down in the ring selling emotion and exhaustion. They replayed the high points and finish.
WINNER: Perkins via submission at 17:47 to win the tournament and Cruiserweight Title. Unbelievable finishing sequence to this match. Metalik is an absolute star, while Perkins finished his journey with an amazing series of underdog victories tonight. Perkins wasn’t the crowd favorite in any of his big tournament matches, but he won over some of the crowd by the end of the tournament. (****1/4)
Back live, Perkins was announced as the tournament winner as Metalik bent over at his knees selling exhaustion and pain from the kneebar. Hunter then presented Perkins with the Cruiserweight Title and put it around his waist. Perkins shook Metalik’s hand, then embraced him. Perkins raised his arms in the air, then Hunter and William Regal congratulated Metalik on his tournament run.
Perkins stood in the center of the ring as the first champion of this tournament. Hunter whispered his thoughts in Perkins’s ear and Perkins sold emotion hearing Hunter’s congratulations. Exit Hunter and Regal.
Charly Caruso then entered the ring to congratulate Perkins on winning the tournament and title. Perkins talked about his story of being homeless for a while. Now, he doesn’t need the key from the last place he was evicted from. Because he’s not looking back anymore. Perkins said he was in a place where he felt like he could never live up to his heroes, but now he’s standing in a big position representing all of the 32 wrestlers in this tournament. Perkins said this is for all of the competitors who made it here.
TJP celebrated in the ring, then confetti fell in the ring. Perkins soaked it in as Ranallo and D-Bryan gave their final thoughts on the tournament. Ranallo noted Perkins is leading the Cruiserweights to Raw on Monday night. “On this night, how do you spell history? T-J-P,” Ranallo signed off. Perkins left the ring and stood tall on the ring steps as the broadcast signed off at 10:54 EST, just before the two-hour mark.