This is the final episode of the second round. The second round has been really good so far. Also, I’m only an episode behind after this one, though another airs tonight. I should be caught up before the finals. Woot!
Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico, lucha libre) vs Rich Swann (United States, high-flying): This should be a fast paced, high flying affair. They open up with a low key version of the Ricochet/Ospreay opening from the Best of the Super Juniors tournament earlier this year. Dorado decides to join in the fun and dance a little before diving waaaaay out of the ring. Swann ties up Dorado in, uh, well, a unique submission to say the least, but Dorado escapes. Stiff strikes are exchanged, and the dancing is over as these two start laying into one another. They both go down as they scissor kick each other.
Commentary plays up that these two have had many matches together before across the country, which explains their many counters to each other. Dorado has impressive distance on his leaps across the ring. I just noticed that Swann has pop-out wings on the side of his trunks. Dorado nails Swann with a reverse hurricanrana, and soars through the air, missing the Shooting Star Press. Swann climbs to the top, and flips around with a Phoenix Splash, landing right on Dorado’s face! That’ll do. ***1/2
Drew Gulak (United States, submission) vs Zack Sabre Jr (England, technical): This should be a lot of grappling. A grappling match can be hard to do right. Trading holds on the mat can very easily look too rehearsed, and it can also be, well, boring. If I wanted to watch two guys roll around on a mat trying to apply headlocks to each other, I’d watch MMA. Gulak shakes hands with some aggression, as he’s apparently pretty pissed that ZSJ is getting all the accolades. They exchange straightjacket sleepers before Sabre shimmies out of it, but Gulak is done playing, and starts laying into ZSJ with stiff kicks and chops.
Gulak goes for a flying clothesline, but ZSJ grabs him in an armbar. But that gets countered into the most devastating Gory Special I’ve ever seen. Like, holy crap the body isn’t supposed to bend like that. The Gory Special is normally a rather silly move, but that looked brutal. Gulak counters the Octopus Hold into an Ankle Lock, he’s got a counter for every hold of ZSJ. ZSJ locks in a Kimura, but Gulak lifts him up, slamming him into the ropes. Ranallo drops a Shibata reference as ZSJ nails Gulak with a penalty kick. They are nailing each other with slaps to the face. Yeesh. Gulak goes for the Dragon Sleeper, but ZSJ is ready, rolling him up with a leg-trapping briding roll-up for the win. Excellent match. Gulak hates it, but begrudgingly shakes Sabre’s hand after the match. ***1/2
Johnny Gargano (United State, technical) vs TJ Perkins (Philippines, technical): They open this with a recap of Gargano tapping on at NXT Takover: Brooklyn, hinting that his knee was probably still injured. Perkins was a lot of fun to watch in his first match. Perkins won his first match with a kneebar, and locks in a Muta Lock early to keep attacking Gargano’s knee. Gargano doesn’t stay down long though, as they exchange holds.
Perkins as such a fun style to him, but that doesn’t help much when Gargano launches himself through the ropes, spearing Perkins in the ring. They exchange strikes until Perkins catches one of Gargano’s legs, powerboming him. Perkins slides around the ring, but gets knocked out, and Gargano launches himself off the apron, cannonballing into Perkins, but he overshoots, slamming himself into the barricade also. They battle back into the ring, Gargano tries to lift Perkins from the top rope but his knee buckles. They exchange holds, but Gargano gets Perkins up this time, lawn darting him into the turnbuckle! Holy crap that’s a mean move. Perkins is able to counter a move into the kneebar, and Gargano crawls across the ring until Perkins locks his other leg in a reverse figure four, forcing Gargano to tap! Wow, that’s the first real upset of this tournament, I had Gargano making the final four. Good for Perkins. ***1/2
The quarterfinals will be Akira Tozawa vs Gran Metalik, Zack Sabre Jr vs Noam Dar, Brian Kendrick vs Kota Ibushi, and TJ Perkins vs Rich Swann. Those should be some fantastic matches. I have Metalik, ZSJ, Ibushi, and I guess Swann moving on.