Last night on the WWE Network, following NXT Episode 343, we were treated to something that I do not recall WWE ever doing before. Last night was the premiere of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic Bracketology show. WWE has done many tournaments in the past, including cruiserweight tournaments, but they have never done a cruiserweight tournament like this, on this scale and with this much hype and presentation. I also do not recall WWE ever dedicating an entire show to look at some of the wrestlers in a tournament and go over some of the key matches in an upcoming tournament. We had heard rumors that the WWE was going to give this tournament a very “sports like” presentation, and after this CWC Bracketology episode those rumors can now be confirmed.
The show started with Triple H talking to the wrestlers that will be in the tournament at the WWE Performance Center. We then moved to Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan who will be calling the matches for this tournament. They talked about all the different countries these wrestlers represent, all of the different styles this performers will use and the different types of crowds they have performed in front of. Bryan talked about the Cruiserweight Division that made up the glory days of World Championship Wrestling and how the weight limit was 225 pounds. For this tournament the weight limit was set at a maximum of 205 pounds. This lead to the first performer that Ranallo and Bryan would focus on during this show, Alejandro Saez of Chilie. Saez had to cut weight from 235 pounds 205 pounds in just two weeks time but he did it, weighing in at 205 on the dot.
Next up was a video package about one of the favorites to win the CWC, Zack Sabre Jr. of England. Cayon Ceman, the the Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE was in next to talk to Ranallo and Bryan about the tournament. He said this was an effort 4 years in the making. He talked about scouting for talent around the world and that Daniel Bryan helped evolve the mold of what WWE looks for when trying to find people to bring in to work for WWE. Ceman said their main focus when looking for talent for the CWC was dynamic and diverse.
Jack Gallagher was the next wrestler that this special focused on. He would fit in right now with the Vaudevilians on the main roster. He considers himself to be a gentleman grappler and he feels he can pin anyone or make them submit if given the opportunity to do so. This guy should be fun to watch.
Focus shifted from England to India with a look at the Bollywood Boys, the tag team of brothers Harv and Gurv Sihra. They said they were influenced by Eddie Guerrero and how in a non-stereotypical way he embraced his Latino heritage and they wanted to so the same for their Indian heritage as well. They thought Bollywood was a great way to do this and that “They want to see a hero come down the snow-clad mountain with a pink scarf, sing songs to the heroine, and beat up all the bad guys at the end.” I would be shocked if these two do not get a full-time contract with WWE, lots of potential here in these brothers.
Next we heard about the background of one of the most entertaining men in the CWC tournament, Rich Swann. Swann, who always seems to have a smile on his face, talked about how his father died when Swann was only 13 and his mother then passed away when Swann was only 16. Swann said that he made some bad choices following the deaths of his parents but that wrestling saved his life. This story may make Swann the sentimental favorite as it just makes you want to see him succeed.
Next we were treated to Corey Graves breaking down some of the key matches on the left side of the CWC bracket. Matches that were talked about included Kenneth Johnson vs Akira Tozawa, Jack Gallagher vs Fabian Aichner, Tajiri vs Damian Slater, Alejandro Saez vs Gran Metalik, Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tyson Dux and Noam Dar vs Gurv Sihra.
Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa was next up for discussion. The video package about the match brought up how good of a friends the two are now. Gargano said he may talk to Ciampa more than his own fiancé and Ciampa mentioned he will be part of the upcoming wedding for Gargano in the fall. Bryan said they should bring the best out in each other since they are friends and tag team partners but he thinks Gargano wants single success more than tag success and talked about how Gargano held a singles title in Dragon Gate USA for over 800 days.
TJ Perkins was the next wrestler to have the Bracketology spotlight shine on him. Perkins, only 31 years old, is an 18 year veteran of the pro wrestling world having worked his first match at the age of 13. He said he wants to inspire others and that he will win the tournament. Perkins seems to have a great personality and I think he is going to take every advantage of this opportunity being presented to him.
We go back to Corey Graves for a look at the right side of the bracket, highlighting the following matches: Raul Mendoza vs Brian Kendrick, TJ Perkins vs Da Mack(not to be confused with The Mack of Lucha Underground and soon to be PHX fame), the already mentioned Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa encounter, and Rich Swann vs Jason Lee.
Tajiri and Brian Kendrick took their turn to be the focus of the CWC Bracketology show for a few minutes. The fact that Tajiri has been gone from WWE for 10 years was mentioned along with bringing up that Tajiri is a former WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Kendrick talked about being 37 years old, his release from WWE for being “an animal” and that this was his shot at redemption. Kendrick then joined Ranallo and Bryan on set and they talked about how Kendrick and Bryan worked their first match ever against each other, training under Shawn Michaels, and that Bryan wants Kendrick to win the tournament.
The man that many feel will win the tournament, Kota Ibushi, was the last performer to get the spotlight of this show. Ibushi, through a translator, talked about having faced men like Finn Balor, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura. “I will win the tournament because I love pro wrestling the most amongst the other wrestlers,” Ibshui said to close out the video package about “The Golden Star”. Bryan said that Ibushi was one of the hardest kickers he ever faced and that he still feels those kicks. Bryan also expressed concern about the fact that Ibushi had a herniated disk in his neck and how that might affect the style of Ibushi. Bryan was asked to explain just what strong style is and he explained it was knowing you are going to be hit, and hit hard, and that you are going to hit back hard. Bryan compared it to Sabre Jr. who believes in Escapeology, or the ability to maneuver out of the submission holds and locks of others without hard strikes.
The show wrapped up with Triple H joining Ranallo and Bryan at the announce desk. Triple H said this, the CWC, is something he has thought about for a long time. There has been a shift in philosophy of who WWE looks at and the style they look for because of guys like Daniel Bryan, according to Triple H. Ranallos says the CWC reminds him about the start of UFC, with trying to find which style is best. Triple H talks about how this is not going to be what many people think because there are going to be all kinds of styles and that being a cruiserweight does not mean just being a guy that does flips. Triple H says he knew this was going to be a success when he talked to Bryan and that Bryan had not heard of everybody in the tournament. Ranallo ask if this tournament will be one and done to which Triple H quickly replied no and that this is just the very beginning.
Overall the WWE Cruiserweight Classic Bracketology show was a fun almost 50 minutes that was unlike anything WWE has done before. This program only helped to give me even more belief that this is going to be an awesome few weeks of action and I am so ready to see this whole thing unfold. The fact that Ranallo and Bryan are calling the action is just icing on the cake.
That being said, the first round of this tournament has already been filmed. If you do not want any spoilers you may want to skip to near the end of this as I am going to go over the first round results and then give my picks for the rest of the tournament.
In the first round winners were Tozawa, Gallagher, Tajiri, Metalik, Sabre Jr., Dar, Lun on the left side of the bracket. On the right side of the bracket the winners in the first round were, Kendrick, Nese, Ibushi, Alexander, Perkins, Gargano, Dorado and Swann. With these winners known my picks to advance to the round of eight are Gallagher, Metalik, Sabre Jr. and Lun on the left side of the bracket with Kendrick, Ibushi, Gargano and Swann advancing on the right side. Next I see Gallagher and Sabre Jr making to the finals of their half of the CWC while Ibushi will face off against Gargano. In the semi-finals, if things go the way I predict, then I think we will see Sabre Jr and Ibushi win their matches to advance to the finals of the CWC with Ibushi winning the finals to become the first ever WWE Cruiserweight Classic Champion. Those are just my picks. I’m not right a lot when it comes to these kinds of things so do not make any bets based on my selections.
I think this is going to be a great few weeks of wrestling, no matter who wins the entire thing. If Kendrick ends up facing Tajiri in the finals then I might have a change of heart. I am really looking forward to this as I hope you are. I plan to return to covering the weekly episodes of NXT once my class for the summer is over. I am currently taking part in the last class I have to take in order to get my Masters Degree in the Art of Teaching.
That is all for this special look at the first ever WWE Cruiserweight Classic, including a review of the CWC Bracketology show on the WWE Network. The matches for the CWC will begin airing on the WWE Network starting Wednesday night, July 13, at 8 pm central standard time and after that on demand as you need it.
Agree or disagree? Let me know with an email, a comment below or send me a tweet at ThePhillMc. Until next time, keep it clean and keep it classy and that’s the bottom line because The Phill said so! YeaOH!