Written By: Traves Bezenar
WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic kicked off this Wednesday on WWE Network and is far better than anyone had expected. Before the first match even started it was clear that the ‘CWC’ wasn’t going to be average WWE programming. Right off the bat the announce team, Daniel Bryan and Mauro Ranallo, were hyping up the combatants, and it made the whole thing feel more legitimate. In fact, everything about this show has a big legitimate fight feel to it; the pre-fight video packages, the match time limits, the pre-fight referee instructions, the Tapout branded ring, and even the post fight hand raise all added an air of legitimacy that WWE’s flagship shows are desperately missing. I’m so impressed with this premier episode, that as editor of MNDT, I’ve decided we’re going to review each episode as the air. As for this premier episode of the ‘CWC, Let’s see what they got.
(W) Grand Metalik vs. Alejandro Saez
Grade 3.5 / 5
This match was very good. I’m a big advocate of the Lucha Libre style of professional wrestling so naturally, I was drawn to Grand Metalik from the word go. Alejandro Saez won me over to his side in the end too after an impressive display of athletic prowess that included a Springboard Flip Suicide Dive and a Running Star Press off of the apron. Grand Metalik picked up the win in the end after Saez missed a Corkscrew 450 followed by an impressive looking Fisherman Driver by Metalik.
(W) HoHo Lun vs. Ariya Davari
Grade 4 / 5
I went into this match knowing a little bit about Ariya Davari from his appearances on the ‘Art of Wrestling’ podcast but I had never heard of HoHo Lun until the CWC bracketology a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say, I was impressed by both men. Davari got the chance to show how effective of a heel he could be in just a few quick gestures like not shaking hands with Lun. Meanwhile, HoHo Lun looked like a prime babyface in comparison. Overall I really enjoyed Davari’s aggressive attitude in the ring but I think having Lun win was the right choice because of the matches he could have moving forward. That said, If I were WWE I would scoop up both of these two as soon as possible.
Clement Petiot vs. (W) Cedric Alexander
Grade 5 / 5
This was the match of the night for me. The opening video package and tale of the tape really helped sell it as a legitimate contenders bout and after UFC 200 last week I can appreciate it all the more. Alexander looked amazing in the ring for the most part but there were a few times he looked a little awkward and I think that can be chalked up to the size of a WWE ring versus that standard size of a wrestling ring, it’s only a few inches, but that can make all the difference when it comes to muscle memory. Petiot’s facial expressions and aggression helped to sell the match and make Alexander look that much better. Likewise, the dichotomy between the two wrestler’s style was amazing to watch, one an amazing high flyer and the other a powerful submission technician, that’s a recipe for a good match. Alexander winning with a Lumbarcheck (it’s an amazing move) after kicking out of, and reversing a second Discuss Lariat was amazing and made for a great heart stopping moment. I have a feeling WWE already has their eyes on Cedric Alexander given his ring gear and entrance music, but if they don't, they should.
Kota Ibushi vs, Sean Maluta
Grade 5 / 5
Ibushi is the one star on this episode I’m most familiar with. He’s one of the biggest asian stars of NJPW that isn’t already signed to NXT but according to reports him debuting at NXT house shows that may no longer be true. I had know idea who Maluta was going into this match but he seems like a good guy and a lot more like the kind of guy WWE would want on Raw than his cousin Roman Reigns and I suspect he too will be signed soon. The match itself was excellent albeit a little slow out of the gate. Ibushi hit a few great moves; a t-bone suplex, a missile dropkick, a springboard moonsault to the outside, and eventually picked up the win with an awesome Last Ride style Powerbomb. Maluta, on the other hand, had a few slips in the ring, most noticeable of which was a botched Suicide Plancha that could have seriously injured him. The commentary team did a great job of making the botched move part of the matches overall story though and for that reason, I think it only added to the legitimate feeling of the event. Maluta also hit a few great moves of his own including an Avalanche Codebreaker and Drive By Kick into a Neck Breaker but in the end, he was no match for the legendary Kota Ibushi.
The ‘WWE Cruiserweight Classic’ is easily the best thing WWE has produced in a decade. The wrestling is top notch, the announcing is intense and not over produced, and they way the show is presented as a legitimate contest is a breath of fresh air. To give this premier anything other than a perfect score would be a travesty because it is truly a perfect representation of what professional wrestling fans want to see. Keep up the good work WWE and we’ll all keep watching.
Final Grade 5 / 5