Notes In Observance – WWE CWC 8/31/16: The Great Eight
Posted by Nicholas Jason Lopez
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows. Quick results can be found at the bottom of the post.
The Great Eight
– The Cruiserweight Classic has been exactly that from the moment it became reality. As the weeks pass on, the 32 men that the tournament started with has dwindled itself now to “The Great Eight,” which were shown in the opening video to be Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, TJ Perkins, Gran Metalik, Akira Tozawa, Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr.. This show would feature Quarterfinal Round action from Metalik-Tozawa and Kendrick-Ibushi.
– The Quarterfinal Round match between Metalik and Tozawa was about as good as you could get without being too much of a water-cooler topic like Cedric Alexander-Ibushi was. There was a good contrast between the two on paper, as Metalik was the proud Mexican who wanted to showcase his unique style in lucha-libre and liked to stand out from the others. Tozawa referred to himself as the tournament’s best and took pride in taking WWE by storm, as he claimed that winning the CWC would be an excellent first step. To the ring action. Metalik stood out early on with a headfirst suicide dive, while the crowd echoed Tozawa’s exaggerated screams. Tozawa countered a Metalik springboard elbow and began to take control with two consecutive suicide dives as he played to the crowd. We also had tremendous insight from Mauro Ranallo on commentary as he likened Tozawa to the “new generation” of Japanese strong style while Metalik had been tested in big matches against the likes of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. This was an excitable, fast-paced encounter from the get-go, but things picked up intensely towards the end. Tozawa hit two German suplexes for a close near-fall, but Metalik eventually got the win with his Michinoku Driver finisher. A little surprising considering that we expected Tozawa to go over based on name recognition and crowd popularity, but Metalik was a fine choice too since he was one of the tourney’s truest standouts.
– The Quarterfinal Round match between Kendrick and Ibushi had great storytelling on its side before the bell even rang. Kendrick’s “Cinderella Story” was winding down, as the established veteran looked to stay relevant in the business and stressed that it was “all or nothing” for him, while the highly praised Ibushi looked to push his momentum into the Finals. Ibushi was portrayed as a hard worker who saw his passion and drive for wrestling overshadow everything else. As the match began, Kendrick smartly tried to play mind games with Ibushi, as he goaded him to come outside the ring with him and even blew a kiss to his face. Ibushi held his ground with his signature stiff kicks and pulled off a great moonsault from the second rope to the outside on Kendrick. SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan made it known on commentary that Kendrick was his friend and pick to win the whole thing and did more cheerleading here, though as not as rampant as on previous episodes. Kendrick continued his heel-like tactics, as he tried to get a countout win by tying Ibushi’s feet in the guardrail. Another big target for Kendrick was Ibushi’s previously surgically repaired neck, as he hit a devastating neckbreaker on the actual turnbuckle itself. We cringed a little bit at that one. Another big spot was where Ibushi kicked out of Kendrick’s finisher, the Sliced Bread Number Two for a close near-fall. Ibushi answered right back with a huge German duplex from the second rope to the canvas for another near-fall. Kendrick seemed to have it lined up when he applied the Bully Choke, but Ibushi got to the ropes to break it up. Kendrick’s last hurrah was a burning hammer that almost won him the match, before Ibushi settled down and countered another Bully Choke attempt into a pinfall attempt that transitioned its way into his Last Ride finisher. Kendrick didn’t get out of that one, as his “Cinderella Story” came to a screeching halt. We had expected Ibushi to advance from before the match began, but that was a fun bout regardless.
– Next week hyped the other two Quarterfinal matches with Sabre Jr.-Dar and Swann-Perkins.
– The show ended with the genuinely moving embrace between a teared-up Kendrick and Bryan, who came from the commentary booth to hug him. The crowd emphatically chanted, “Thank you, Brian!” to close it out. We wonder if this was Kendrick’s swan song in WWE or if they’ll use him as a key ingredient to the soon-to-come WWE Cruiserweight Division which was set to debut on the Sep. 19 Raw.
- Quarterfinals – Gran Metalik def. Akira Tozawa via pinfall to advance
- Quarterfinals – Kota Ibushi def. Brian Kendrick via pinfall to advance