John LaRocca gives his thoughts of the tournament so far in part 1 of our CWC finale preview.
When WWE announced the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament, excitement was in the air. So much so, that even friends who stopped watching pro wrestling were texting me about the tournament and trying to find out when it starts.
The anticipation was so high, that I thought the first round was unjustly knocked by a lot of people for being underwhelming. I felt that same way at first, but looking at the tournament overall, it made sense to start slow and build to the climatic finale.
WWE wanted to present an International tournament, thus putting guys in the tournament who may be greener than most and that held some of the early matches back. But, it was a sacrifice to get over the global aspect of this tournament and it was worth the risk. Of the losers in the first round, Raul Mendoza, Fabian Aichner and Kenneth Johnson really stood out to me. I really hope they come back, especially Mendoza who lost to Brian Kendrick in what was in my opinion the best first round match.
As the tournament moved into the second round, it really picked up as most hoped. The skeptics who were underwhelmed by the first round, really got what they were waiting for in the second. Seven of the eight second matches were great, topped by the star making performance by Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi on August 10th. Though Alexander did not move on in the tournament, his stock rose as one of the top cruiserweights in the world. Jack Gallagher, who lost in the second round to Akira Tozawa, was another competitor who really made a name for himself in the CWC tournament. Zack Sabre Jr. gets the praise of being the best technical wrestler in the world, but Gallagher’s style is a lot more entertaining. Gallagher’s performances made me really want to watch more of him, plus he has a fun personality to go with his ring style.
The quarter-finals were fantastic, with the standout matches being Kota Ibushi vs Brian Kendrick and Zack Sabre Jr. vs Noam Dar.
— John LaRocca (@LaRoccaJL) September 2, 2016
Dramatic matches are what hooked me onto pro wrestling as a kid, and this match had everything. Finishers were protected so well, that when Kendrick locked the bulldog choke on Ibushi, I thought it was over.
It was great, high drama, followed by Kendrick and his long time best friend in pro wrestling, Daniel Bryan crying in the ring together. The story they told from the beginning was that this was Kendrick’s last chance on the big stage.
Sabre Jr. versus Dar was great as well with a lot of holds and counter holds. With each match, Dar wins me over even more. The kid is only 23 years old and in the WWE system, he is going to become a great worker fast. When Sabre Jr is put in a match that looks more like a fight, his work shines. It shined in his second round match with Drew Gulak and it shined here versus Dar.