Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Be sure to check out our Twitter page to enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of WWE’s Greatest Stars of the 90’s on DVD! Contest runs now through midnight this Thursday. Check out our gallery at the end of this post for our live photos from last’s Clash of Champions! For more photos, check out our Instagram page. And now, our Monday Night Raw coverage.
After spending a few hours at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Clash of Champions, my voice is nearly non-existent from cheering and I’m ready for Raw to resolve some issues that weren’t put to rest last night. Raw kicks off in Cincinatti, Ohio with our new United States Champion, Roman Reigns. Right off the bat, he will be defending his title against Rusev. Rusev gets Reigns down on the mat early on, but Reigns is able to counter and get Rusev in a headlock. This crowd is definitely more behind Reigns than we were in Indianapolis. Rusev targets Reigns’ back with kicks before hitting a suplex into an unsuccessful pin. Reigns is able to get Rusev in the corner and hit chops to the chest, and Rusev counters by hitting a fallaway slam that sends Reigns out of the ring. After the break, Rusev has Reigns on his back in the ring as Lana looks on. Reigns fakes his injuries about as well as John Cena, if not somewhat worse. Reigns hits a few punches, but Rusev counters with a dropkick. As Rusev lands kicks, Reigns starts to do that mini headbang to get himself psyched up. He hits Rusev with a clothesline, then cocks his fist and goes for a Superman Punch, but Rusev catches him and both men go flying out of the ring.
They break for a second time for commercials, and we return to Rusev in control. Reigns is placed on the ropes, and Rusev tries for a suplex but Reigns is able to hit punches and knock Rusev away. He dives off the ropes and hits a clothesline, then hits a Samoan drop into a cover. I really wish Corey Graves would quit calling Reigns the “big dog.” Rusev tries pin after pin, but can’t keep Reigns down for the three count. This match started off a bit slow, but it’s really picked up the pace. Rusev calls for the Accolade, but Reigns catches him by the foot, then hits a Superman Punch into the cover, and nearly wins. Lana jumps on the apron as a distraction, allowing Rusev to roll out of the ring. Reigns follows, throwing Rusev into the steel stairs and then into the crowd. The referee counts both men out and calls the match, but the two are still fighting in the crowd. Rusev throws Reigns back into the ring area, then slams him into the barricade and ring apron. A “this is awesome” chant starts right before Reigns throws Rusev into the barricade. Rusev grabs a steel chair and takes Reigns down, nearly finishing him off, but Reigns is able to hit a spear and takes Rusev out. We’re a little over thirty minutes into Raw at this point; I’m surprised they gave these two that much time. Reigns grabs the steel chair and sits by Rusev, who is out cold, while holding his belt and talking trash. Once Rusev gets up, Reigns gets one good chair shot in before continuing his celebration. Not the match I would have booked, but they both did a good job. Compared to last night, this was a better match.
Mick Foley gets in the ring to address the Best of 7 series that concluded last night at Clash of Champions in a draw; medical staff decided that neither man was able to finish the match. This was very confusing to me as a fan who was present, as our seats didn’t allow us to see the move that “injured” the pair, and Cesaro hopped back into the ring to try and continue the fight. Foley invites Sheamus and Cesaro to the ring, and Sheamus is angry because he wants his title opportunity that Foley promised either he or Cesaro. Both men consider themselves the winner even though the series ended in a tie. Foley decides that both men get a championship opportunity, but it will be as a team for the Tag Team titles. What? This was seriously unexpected! I like it!
Speaking of our tag titles, our champions come to the ring to compete again against The Club. Kofi Kingston gets control of the match early, as Woods cheers him on via trombone. He starts using quick tags with Big E to keep Anderson down, but Gallows attacks Big E outside of the ring, then hits Kingston with a clothesline that flips him completely over. As Kingston gets back to his feet, Anderson hits him with a dropkick, then rolls him back into the ring for a cover. Gallows hits Kingston with a chokeslam after an unsuccessful attempt by Kingston to knock him down. Anderson tags in during the break and will not allow Kingston to tag in Big E. After a miss by Anderson, Big E finally tags in and hits him with a Belly to Belly. Outside the ring, Kingston takes down Gallows. Anderson dodges Big E, sending him into the ringpost hard, and trying for another pin. This is essentially the same match we were given last night. It isn’t bad, but having just seen it 24 hours ago, I could do with something different. New Day nearly win after hitting The Midnight Hour, but Gallows breaks the pin. Anderson and Gallows hit the Magic Killer on Big E and almost win it, but Kingston saves the match. He is able to get the pin on Anderson for the win, but has blood gushing out of his head! What the heck happened?
Bayley makes her way to the ring now, facing a local soccer mom named Anna Fields. Fields pins Bayley on the rope early, hits her with her forearms, pins her in the corner with her foot, and then goes for a pin. The crowd starts chanting for Bayley, who is in a headlock. She finally breaks away from Fields, slamming her head into the turnbuckle. She hits Fields in the back, then with a running clothesline. Bayley picks up a quick win after hitting the Bayley to Belly. I’m confused. It strikes me as odd to give Bayley a random squash match at this point in time. After the match, Tom Phillips asks Bayley how she feels about her match last night. She calls Charlotte and Sasha Banks the top two women in this industry, but promises that she’ll be back in the title picture soon.
Backstage, Foley accuses Stephanie McMahon of playing favorites when it comes to Kevin Owens. Because last night, Chris Jericho interfered with the match and was not disciplined and because McMahon “took her time” getting a new referee for the title match, she was helping Owens. McMahon snaps back at Foley, telling him that she was picking up his slack and he isn’t doing his job. He needs to stop letting his ego get in the way and stop accusing her of not properly doing her job. Foley admits that he was out of line, and walks away like a hurt puppy dog.
It’s Cruiserweight time! Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann versus Lince Dorado and Drew Gulak. Swann and Dorado start the match off, and both men are so acrobatic that neither can land a move. This is awesome. Dorado gets the first pin but Alexander saves his partner. Dorado sends Swann outside of the ring and into Gulak and Alexander. He then moonsaults off the top rope and takes down all three men. After the commercial break, Gulak is in the ring with Swann and has him down on the mat in a chinlock. He tags in Dorado who tries to get Swann down for the three count. Swann dodges a dropkick, sending Dorado into the ring post. Gulak and Alexander tag in, and Alexander dominates immediately. It’s amazing watching the cruiserweights fly around the ring. Alexander flies off the top rope into a pin, but Dorado breaks it up. Gulak suplexes Alexander back into his corner where he tags in Swann. He hits Gulak with a hard kick into a bridge cover for the win! These guys should hbe given the thirty minutes allotted to Sheamus and Cesaro; they are truly amazing athletes.
Cesaro and Sheamus awkwardly walk to the ring together to battle Nick Cutler and Willis Williams. Cesaro and Cutler stat things off, and Sheamus is already refusing to tag in. Cesaro gets him tagged in when he is playing to the crowd, and Sheamus proceeds to show off at the expense of Cutler. Cutler tags in partner Williams, who is immediately taken down by Sheamus. Cesaro tags himself back in and hits Williams with an uppercut. The crowd starts a “let’s go jobbers” chant, which isn’t a good sign for our new tag team. Cutler tags back in and targets Cesaro’s shoulder. Cesaro hits an uppercut to Williams, then goes for the neutralizer on Cutler. Sheamus jumps in and Brogue kicks both Williams and Cutler, allowing Cesaro to get the pin and win the match. This was… different.
TJ Perkins joins Tom Phillips backstage, saying that winning the Cruiserweight title is a dream come true, and debuting on Raw is a dream come true. He is interrupted by our resident pirate, Brian Kendrick. Kendrick is still very bitter about losing the CWC and losing his match last night at Clash of Champions. Kendrick says that Perkins owes him for his entire career. I personally am very glad that Perkins is champion over Kendrick.
Our women’s champion, Charlotte, is on now with Dana Brooke. She calls Clash of Champions “her night” thanks to her win; she is now 12-0 at PPVs when defending her title. Charlotte admits she isn’t huggable like Bayley, isn’t an internet sweetheart like Banks, but she is the face of the division. Sasha Banks interrupts, saying that last night may have gone her way, but that is still her title. Bayley was pinned, not her, and she is still owed her one-on-one rematch. Charlotte says she is “just as much better” than Banks, but admits that Banks has earned a title shot. She agrees to fight Banks next week because if she doesn’t, Banks will just whine until she gets her way. Banks delivers a hard slap across Charlotte’s face, then attacks Brooke. Charlotte gets back up and Banks throws her and Brooke from the ring. I was hoping they would have the rematch tonight, but next week works just fine.
Backstage, Seth Rollins runs into Mick Foley. Rollins is currently not medically cleared for competition, but is determined to go out to the ring during Chris Jericho’s segment with Kevin Owens. He knows McMahon is sabotaging him and wants to confront Owens instead of just let him brag. But first, TJ Perkins comes to the ring! He will be facing Tony Neese, who is a bad ass. Neese tries to lock Perkins’ wrist, but our champ flips around too much for him to lock it in. Perkins locks in a knee bar, but Neese grabs the rope. Neese lands a superkick, then dives from the ring to take Perkins down. They break for commercial only a couple of minutes into the match, which is frustrating. THIS IS HIS DEBUT RAW MATCH. As we return, Neese is in control. The crowd starts an obnoxious CM PUNK chant as Perkins goes for another pin. Perkins tries for a tornado DDT, but Neese blocks it and nearly gets the win. This crowd is filled with a bunch of dicks, chanting names of other wrestlers as these two put on a clinic. Perkins gets the tap out victory via knee bar. This was an awesome match. A shame some idiot fans have to ruin it.
Jericho’s Highlight Reel is up now, and Jericho is adding more stupid idiots to his list. Sorry, unnamed cameraman. His BFF, Kevin Owens, is his guest for this evening. Jericho says that Owens proved what excellence was last night during his match. Owens says that he proved that he is the man, he is the main event, and he is better than Seth Rollins. He then calls out Rollins for injuring John Cena, Sting, and Finn Balor. Cue Rollins! Every security guard in existence rushes out to stop Rollins before he can get down the ramp. Foley and the security team manage to get Rollins backstage, but now Enzo and Cass are here! The crowd loses it; I wish they had been at the PPV last night. This is funny, and Jericho’s threat to go sit on their lap was fantastic. YES! I have never laughed this hard at Jericho ever. Our main event is set; Enzo and Cass versus Jericho and Owens, right after the break.
Jericho and Enzo are in the ring after the break, but Owens is quickly tagged in. Owens demands “the big one,” so Cass tags in and is immediately targeted. Cass slams Owens in the corner, then tags in Enzo who dives into Owens. With Jericho and Owens outside of the ring, Cass lifts Enzo over his head and throws him on top of both opponents. Cass throws Owens back into the ring, gets a knee in his midsection, and then gets hit with chops from Jericho. Cass counters with a sidewalk slam to both opponents, then tries to hit Jericho with a kick, but Jericho grabs the ropes and sends Cass flying. After the break, Owens is thrown to the mat by Cass who then tags in Enzo. Owens tags in Jericho, and he is hit over and over by Enzo. He goes to the top rope and hits a crossbody on Jericho, then kicks Owens off the apron. Jericho tries a quick roll up but Enzo kicks out. Owens grabs Enzo by the legs, assisting Jericho in knocking Enzo out. Owens then throws Enzo into the barricade and showboats for the crowd, then does a fantastic impression of Enzo’s dance. Enzo is stuck on the top rope thanks to Jericho, but he is able to counter and knock Jericho off the ropes. He dives off, but Jericho hits a kick and knocks him out. Owens tags in and nearly gets the win on Enzo, then argues with the referee. Jericho goes for a lionsault, but Enzo gets his knees up. Owens and Cass get tagged in, and Cass starts hitting shoulder tackles. He hits a fallaway slam, then kicks Jericho right in his face as he tries to interfere. Cass hits the Empire Elbow, takes out Jericho again, and tries to finish Owens, but he ducks away. Cass manages to regain control with a well timed kick, then tags in Enzo. Jericho slams Cass across the face, so Cass gives him another kick to the head. Meanwhile, Enzo hits a DDT on Owens, but can’t win the match. This is a great main event, guys. Owens hits the Pop Up Powerbomb and wins the match.
Next Monday, Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson will be guests on Raw to confront Jericho and Owens. Brian Kendrick will get his rematch against TJ Perkins to try to win the Cruiserweight title, and Sasha Banks also gets a rematch against Charlotte for the Women’s title. Let us know what you thought of tonight’s Raw in the comments below, and give us a follow on Twitter at @facetoheel. We’ll see you tomorrow for Smackdown.
Face To Heel at CLASH OF CHAMPIONS!
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Round two continues tonight, and we can only hope it’s as amazing as it was last week. WWE has really hit a homerun with this cruiserweight tournament. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that when they bring the division up to Monday Night Raw it stays this special. Without further ado, let’s review tonight’s newest episode!
Three matches scheduled for tonight. The first is Rich Swann (United States) taking on Lince Dorado (Puerto Rico). Some insane athleticism from both guys to start. They are fast and agile as all hell. Crowd applaud break 30 seconds in. They keep doing high risk moves but the other guy counters with an impressive athletic move. The two have fun with the crowd, doing some dances. Major dropkick by Swann. Dorado off the top rope with a missile dropkick. And then we are outside the ring. Back in the ring, spinning neckbreaker by Swann. The pair trade submissions on the mat. Huge chop by Dorado! Forearms traded between the two then Swann gets Dorado on the top rope. Blocked and Dorado gets off the ropes. Moments later double scissors kick by both men, and they drop to the mat. Ref starts a ten count. They get to their feet and trade blows, both wobbling. Cross body off the top rope by Dorado, near fall. DDT by Swann, and a near fall for him. Standing 450 splash by Swann, but Dorado gets his knees up and then tries a cover. Two count. Elbow and kick by Dorado. Huge kick by Swann. Reverse hurricanrana by Dorado and a two count. Dorado misses with a Shooting Star Press. Swann climbs the top rope. A Phoenix Splash for the pinfall! Swann advances to the quarter finals. Wow. That was a hell of a match.
Next up, Zack Sabre Jr. (England) gets set to take on the dangerous submission expert Drew Gulak (United States). Sabre tries to shake hands before the match and Gulak slaps his hand away. They run right at each other out of their respective corners as soon as the bell rings. Straitjacket submission by Sabre early in the match. Gulak reverses it into the same hold. Zabre reverses that and pulls Gulak’s arms behind his back. This is some vicious grappling. Springboard into a stomp kick by Gulak. Chop in the corner. Then a suplex. Gulak covers, but Zabre kicks out at two. Another submission by Gulak. Gulak leaps off the top rope but Zabre grabs him in mid-air and follows him down to the ground into an armbar submission. A gruesome torture rack hold by Gulak. Ouch. Tries a cover after but no dice. Ankle lock by Gulak. Gulak tosses Zabre into the ropes. Penalty kick by Zabre and two count on Gulak. The pair trade some painful looking slaps in the middle of the ring. Bridge submission out of no where and Gulak’s shoulders can’t get up after three! That was so cool to watch. Geez, never seen grappling and submission wrestling like that. Those two are experts at their craft. Terrific match! Zack Sabre Jr. advances. After the match, Zabre again tries to shake hands. Gulak sort of taps his hand real quick and then rolls out of the ring.
One match left on the card and it should be a doozy. The high-flying T.J. Perkins (Philippines) takes on the incredible Johnny Gargano (United States) for the final spot in the quarter finals. Grappling to start, as per the usual course for this tournament. Perkins with a scissors leg takedown. Armbar by Gargano but Perkins quickly reverses it. Irish whip into a dropkick sends Perkins out of the ring and Gargano leaps out after him, knocking him down. Ref starts a ten count. Chop by Gargano, then he rolls Perkins into the ring. Submission by Gargano. Perkins reverses it into a rocking horse submission, into a Romero Special. This one slows down for a few minutes. Gargano chops Perkins in the corner multiple times. The pair trade some devastating kicks. Outside the ring, Perkins reverses Gargano leg first into the timekeeper area. He lands painfully. Ref starts counting them both out. They manage to get back in the ring and Perkins kicks Gargano and nearly gets a pinfall. Springboard rebound dropkick by Perkins but Gargano kicks out at two. Gargano attempts to get a submission on Perkins, but he blocks it. Gargano holding his left knee, grimacing. Neckbreaker by Perkins. Gargano launches Perkins face first into the corner like a lawndart and covers. Perkins narrowly kicks out at two. Crowd in a frenzy now. Superkick by Gargano. Perkins rolls him through into a kneebar submission on Gargano’s bad knee. He crawls to the ropes. Perkins locks it in even tighter and Gargano has no choice but to tap out! Goodness! Everybody is shocked! What a finish! Can we consider this one a minor upset? Tough week for Johnny Gargano.
Just another outstanding group of matches out of the Cruiserweight Classic. This truly gets better each and every week. I can’t wait to see who wins this whole thing. What did you think of tonight’s three matches? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for TNA!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
So far during this tournament we have seen some really great matches. And they have lead to some incredible NXT signees. We just saw Kota Ibushi in tonight’s main event earlier. So far, this Cruiserweight Classic has been pretty damn great. Let’s get started with a review of tonight’s episode. Four episodes for the first round on the card, and we can’t wait to see them.
First up, Tyson Dux (Canada) takes on Zack Sabre Jr. (England). Already liking the look of both guys. ZBJ has a clean-cut, cocky youngster look and Dux looks mean and ready to fight. Quick take down by Sabre and he starts twisting Dux’s left leg. He counters and does the same thing to Sabre. Fun grappling to begin the match with some clever reversals. Sabre makes the mistake of slapping Dux, who becomes infuriated and plants him with a Fisherman Buster. Armbar by Dux on Sabre, who rolls him up for a two count. Sabre is a little bad at selling. Sabre gets Dux in an armbar and he desperately tries to crawl to the ropes. But Sabre bends his fingers and yanks the arm further back. Dux can’t even tap, he just nods his head when the ref asks if he wants to stop it. Sabre advances. Good outing for both men. I really like this Dux character. He’s got a good look about him.
Second match features Harv Sihra (India) versus Drew Gulak (United States). Evenly matched guys. Nice submission moves from both to kick off the match. Sihra is grounded for a minute but recovers and brings the crowd around to rooting for him with some great moves outside the ring. Dragon Sleeper in the ring by Gulak, and Sihra taps! That one was over pretty quick. Neither guy was overwhelmingly great. Middle of the road match for me.
Tony Nese (United States) set to go up against Anthony Bennett (United States) in our third match. We got a New York kid versus a New Jersey kid; so you already know they are going to try and one-up one another. Bennett starts the match dancing around, being silly and Nese drops him with a waistlock takedown. Bennett isn’t fazed and remains goofing around, playing with his hair. Nese ducks a clothesline and drops Bennett to the mat. Crowd seems to be behind Nese. Leg sweep and Bennett drops to the apron. Outside the ring, kick to the face by Nese. This guy Nese is really good. Fun to watch, no-nonsense action. 450 Splash from the top rope by Nese for the pinfall victory. Solid, strong match. It appears that maybe Bennett got hurt, or might have gotten a concussion. Ref tending to him after the match.
The main event for the evening is Raul Mendoza (Mexico) against Brian Kendrick (United States). Mendoza looks tough, right up until he smiles and you see a mouth full of braces. Poor bastard. Adults with braces is always kind of sad. Brian Kendrick has been in the WWE before. He gets a second chance tonight. Crowd goes wild for him when he enters. They start a chant for Kendrick as soon as the bell rings and he quickly runs at Mendoza. Kendrick puts Mendoza’s open-mouthed on the second rope and kicks it. Mendoza begins bleeding from the mouth. Ref checks on him and says he is okay to go. Mendoza quickly rallies the crowd behind him with some smooth moves inside and outside the ring. Very impressive. Mendoza hangs Kendrick upside down in one corner and leaps off the top rope of another one, drop-kicking him in the face. Cover, but Kendrick somehow kicks out at two. The crowd has really turned and is now booing Kendrick and cheering “Men-Doz-A!” Bully Choke by Kendrick and Mendoza taps. Disappointing ending. I really liked that Mendoza. Hope HHH signs him. He was really fantastic.
Very heavy on the home grown boys tonight. Lots of USA representatives; while not a bad thing is not necessarily what we all signed up for. This was supposed to be a global tournament. Half of tonight’s competitors were from the States. This has been my least favorite episode so far. Half the matches were just okay. Highlight of the night was Raul Mendoza from Mexico putting on a Luchador clinic. Next week will feature the final matches of the first round. The second and third round of this tournament is going to be insane. What have you all thought about the Cruiserweight Classic so far? Let us know in the comments below. See you tomorrow for an all new episode of TNA Impact wrestling!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker