I decided to blog the entirety of the G1 Climax and the Cruiserweight Classic. Because I decided this after the CWC started, I’m combining Night 1 and Night 2 into one post. First thing I have to say about the CWC is I love the style and presentation. Everything from the UFC style introductions to the different colors being used makes this feel special. Only the top notch quality of the presentation makes this noticeable as a WWE product, and that’s great. A lot of these wrestlers are guys I’ve never heard of, so I’ll be relying on the WWE’s own information. I’ll also include their “fighting style” and where they are representing next to their name, because I love stuff like that.
Gran Metalik (Mexico, lucha libre) vs Alejandro Saez (Chile, striking): Gran Metalik is Mascara Dorada, who spent 2015 in New Japan doing jack and squat. The luchador can really bounce around the ring, but mostly just filled in space in multiman tag matches while in Japan. Saez trained in Mexico and Japan, and had to cut a lot of weight to make the legitimate 205 weight limit, making him one of the biggest guys in the tourney.
First off, it must be said, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan on commentary are fantastic. The little comments on Saez’s history, for instance, are such gems. Saez works basic heel stuff until Metalik hits a fantastic series of moves including a step up tope to the outside. Not to be outdone, Saez does a Shooting Star Press off the apron, much to the delight of Ranallo and Bryan. He misses a move off the tope rope though, and Metalik lifts him up for a Dorada Screwdriver, driving Saez’s head into the mat for the win. Saez looked good, if a bit basic, and I wouldn’t mind if he was able to stick around. **1/2
Hoho Lun (China, high flying) vs Ariya Daivari (Iran, high flying): I don’t know much about either of these guys. Lun is from Hong Kong, and I’ve never heard of him before. But with China being such an open market, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him do well in the tournament. Daivari I know of slightly, because of his brother, also named Daivari.
Daivari heels it up immediately, refusing to shake hands. It’s obvious from the early moments that Daivari is much more polished of the two. He has a much better “wrestler” look to him as well. Lun though immediately gets the crowd behind him, I assume because his name is really easy to chant. Hoho wins with a German Suplex, but Daivari was definitely the more impressive of the two. Daivari could be a great heel in the new cruiserweight division. Hoho, well, he’s got some natural charisma to him, but really needs to improve on everything else. **
Clement Petiot (France, technical) vs Cedric Alexander (USA, high flying): I know Cedric slightly, though I’ve never watch him work before. But I’ve heard really good things about him, and followed along as he cut weight to make the tourney. Petiot is a complete unknown, but trained with Lance Storm. He even looks like Lance Storm a little.
Cedric is very entertaining here, but Petiot does the difficult task of not boring me when he slows the match down. Petiot has some very nice looking elbow and knee strikes, but Cedric gets huge air on a springboard clothesline. Petiot flips Cedric with a discus clothesline, but Cedric ducks a second one and hits the Lumbar Check backbreaker for the win. Both guys were good here. ***
Sean Maluta (American Samoa, technical, high flying) vs Kota Ibushi (Japan, high flying, strong style): Kota Ibushi should be familiar to anyone reading this blog. He’s one of the best in the world, no doubt, and seeing him in a WWE production is still just so bizarre. Maluta is part of the Samoan wrestling family, so he’s got pedigree on his side, though I’ve never seen him wrestle before.
The commentators are really playing up Ibushi’s kicks, like if he hits one is might kill Maluta and his descendants. So of course Kota hits a kick immediately. Ibushi is very impressive early, easily in control of the match. Maluta finally gets some offense in with a Codebreaker from the turnbuckle, but then almost kills himself jumping over the top rope to the floor. It looks like he tried to flip over the ropes, but his shoulder hit the top rope, spinning him out of control. Ibushi takes back over though with some impressive offense, climaxing in a triangle moonsault to the outside. Ibushi wins with a sit-out Last Ride powerbomb. ***1/2
Night 1 was pretty good. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of everyone involved, except Hoho Lun, who was unimpressive. Onto Night 2!
Tajiri (Japan, strong style) vs Damian Slater (Australia, technical): Tajiri is the Japanese Buzzsaw, and well known to anyone watching wrestling in the 90’s and early 00’s. It will be interesting to see if he slows down at age 45. Slater is a complete unknown to me, but he has a good look to him.
Slater is impressively smooth with his holds, and does a nice corkscrew plancha to the outside. Tajiri focuses on Slater’s arm with holds of his own, and Slater is selling the damage well. Slater has some very smooth strikes as well, but Tajiri wins shortly with a Buzzsaw kick. I was very impressed with how well Slater moved around. While it’s cool to see Tajiri in the ring again, he’s definitely lost a step or two. I’m not sure the right person won here. **1/2
T.J. Perkins (Philippines, technical) vs Da Mack (Germany, high flying): There’s a lot of buzz about T.J. Perkins on the independent scene, and the CWC did a profile on him in their Bracketology special that really made him look special. I’m looking forward to finally seeing him in action. I know nothing about Da Mack, other than his name is similar to a wrestler in Lucha Underground. Da Mack is described as a “charismatic German,” which, I don’t know. Maybe go with a different description next time.
Perkins is the obvious star in the match. He’s got a lot of style in his holds, in the cocky, “I’m so good I can dance while I do this” way. Da Mack is more of a goofy, Human Tornado wrestler, with some particularly weak looking strikes. Perkins uses about a dozen different submissions, which I love. He eventually wins with a Figure Four Deathlock submission, and looked like a million bucks. **1/2
Mustafa Ali (Pakistan, high flying) vs Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico, lucha libre): I’m not familiar with either of these guys by anything other then name. Ali was a last minute replacement who didn’t make the cut to 32 wrestler initially, but one of them had scheduling conflicts, so Ali replaced him. Other than that, I’m going into this match up pretty blind.
Both these guys fly around the ring, climaxing in Dorado throwing Ali to the floor with a headscissors off the apron to the floor, followed by a beautiful Asai Moonsault. Dorado also landed with a springboard reverse hurricanranna, which just feels stupid to type out but was very cool. Ali then countered his next move with an amazing springboard Spanish Fly off the top rope! Ali then missed an inverted 450 splash, and Dorado won with a Shooting Star Press. This was everything I want out of a cruiserweight match. Both these guys looked great. ***1/2
Akira Tozawa (Japan, technical) vs Kenneth Johnson (USA, high flying): Tozawa is a guy I have read a lot about, but never seen before. He works mostly in the Dragon Gate promotion, and is someone I expect to go far in this tournament. Johnson is… uh, well, I have no idea. Never heard of him before. Bryan tells us he worked really hard to overcome a speech impediment. Maybe he can coach Jack Swagger.
These two were very evenly matched early, matching holds and strikes. It was a little sloppy, but Johnson is impressive early. They’re telling a fine story of Tozawa underestimating Johnson, but it seems like they’re not quite on the same page. They exchange strikes, and Johnson avoids all of Tozawa’s big moves until he misses a move off the top rope and Tozawa hits a series of German Suplex’s for the win. This was good, and I like what they tried to do. Johnson was made to look very good, and it wouldn’t suprise me to see him again. ***
Matches for the second round include Kota Ibushi vs Cedric Alexander and Gran Metalik vs Tajiri.