Upon the announcement of WWE’s global tournament designated for Cruiserweights, competitors under 205 pounds, the collective world of wrestling began to prepare. Thirty-two of the world’s best Cruiserweights would finally have a tournament just for them, under the WWE umbrella! The name, CWC was fitting in itself. The Cruiserweight Classic was indeed a classic. WWE truly scoured the globe for 32 of the best, and they found them. From Zack Sabre Jr. and Kota Ibushi, to Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander, CWC featured some of the best wrestlers the industry has to offer. I loved every moment, match, and competitor from the CWC. It just goes to show, here I am writing about it, just over a year later. Here are my top reasons why I thought this tournament was groundbreaking.
Now, I understand the the current state of the Cruiserweight Division is failing, however, this article will celebrate the tournament… the failing division is another story for another time.
Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi
Now that I’m left with the difficult challenge of putting how ridiculously awesome this match really was into words. First, I can tell you it got my “wrestling hater” friends out of their seats. The match was undoubtedly an instant classic that opened the eyes of all wrestling fans. Between Alexander’s Brain-Buster, spinning heel kick to the face, and Huricanrana reversal, I was already jumping up and down like a crazy person.
After Ibushi kicked out of the Lumbar Check and hit his Pele kick, German Suplex, and Golden Star Powerbomb, I felt as if I needed to shout from the rooftops to the whole world that this match was fantastic. After the match, fans showed their appreciation by chanting, “Please Sign Cedric.” Though Ibushi won the match, Alexander stole the show. Triple H came out of the back to endorse Cedric and “sign him” on the spot. Five stars from me.
The Extraordinary Gentleman, Jack Gallagher quickly became one of my favorite wrestlers in the tournament. Although we had already seen the technical prowess of men like Akira Tozawa, Lince Dorado, and ZSJ, nothing compares to Gallagher’s in-ring style. Every single thing that Gallagher did was beautiful. His movements were all thought out, his reversals, technique and ring awareness were spotless. He showed masterful control, and ability to connect to an audience. I was excited for both of his CWC matches, each equally entertaining between the ropes. ________________________________________________________________________
Johnny Gargano vs Tammaso Ciampa
Another match that brought tears to my eyes was Gargano vs Ciampa, another classic from the CWC. The last match of the first round pitted (at the time) NXT Tag Team partners against each other. Best friends in and out of the ring, Gargano and Ciampa proved HHH’s famous quote to be true: “You never hit anyone harder in the ring than your best friend.”
Johnny and Tammaso battled like true warriors inside the squared circle. One of, if not the most violent and brutal matches of the tournament featured Gargano receiving countless stiff blows to the head, and being suddenly dropped onto the ring apron. Gargano picked up the win anyway in this extremely emotional bout. The storytelling in this match was just as strong as the world-class in-ring action. Here, the storytelling was simply off the charts. Every move, every taunt, emotion, kick, punch, slap, etc., told a compelling story that moved plenty of fans to tears.
Who would have ever thought we’d see Tajiri or The Brian Kendrick in a WWE ring again, let alone in such an important, prominent tournament? Both veterans of the WWE and wrestling, they added another layer to the CWC. Kendrick debuted in 1999, and Tajiri in 1994. That’s 39 years of pro wrestling experience between the two. Because of this, they were both constant threats throughout the entire tournament. It was great to see them back, and they looked better than ever. They aren’t getting any younger, and the story of rebooting their failing careers by winning the CWC tournament victory seemed very, very real.
Best In The World
WWE was’t kidding when they claimed they had searched far and wide for the best talent this business had to offer. I’d say WWE did a pretty solid job. How WWE signed the big guys, I have no idea as most of them had big contracts with other major wrestling promotions, and now wrestle on RAW and 205 Live.
One of the coolest things the CWC had to offer was the diversity each superstar brought to the table. With more than 15 different countries represented, every wrestler brought the culture of his country to the ring. Along with the culture, the CWC boasted every wrestling style on earth. The clash of styles made for such intense battles. Lucha Libre, Puroreso, Technical, High Flying, Striking, Hybrid, etc. You name it, the CWC had it!
To a casual fan, and even to some hardcore fans, Metalik and Perkins weren’t considered the biggest stars in the tournament. Most didn’t bet on either of them making it to the finals, however, WWE had other plans. WWE turned Gran Metalik and TJ Perkins into stars with the climax of the first CWC. “The King Of The Ropes” dazzled with his high-flying perfection, and Perkins dropped jaws with his polished craft and downright nasty Knee-bar. In the end, RAW’s Cruiserweight Championship was presented to the winner, along with the trophy, carefully crafted by Orange County Choppers.
After a grueling match, Perkins emerged victorious, completing a Cinderella story, and realizing a lifelong dream.
As Triple H pointed out, this will absolutely not be the last CWC. Next time, I hope all the big stars will return: Alexander, Ibushi, Sabre, etc. But I also pray that WWE can sign Rey Mysterio, Ricochet, and Will Ospreay.
I think the Cruiserweight Classic was some of the best wrestling I’ve seen… EVER. Thank you to each and everyone who was somehow involved in the tournament.