Welcome to the Turnbuckle Bandwagon, MFR’s semi-regular column on professional wrestling, sports entertainment, and some fun stuff.
10 weeks ago, the first ever WWE Cruiserweight Classic began. A tournament showcasing 32 of the best 205 lb. and under professional wrestlers on the WWE’s big stage. The WWE audience was introduced to a slew of new faces, as bringing in outside talent is not something the WWE has done in the past. More than a few made their mark. Some well-known, like Zack Sabre Jr., Tajiri, and Kota Ibushi. Some not so well-known who endeared themselves to the crowd, like Jack Gallagher and Cedric Alexander. Through all 4 rounds, and amazing performances, it came down to two men, both not expected to be in the final.
Gran Metalik (Mexico) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (England)
Gran Metalik (known as Mascara Dorada in CMLL) would upset Zack Sabre Jr. ZSJ is widely considered to be one of, if not the best technical wrestler in the world, was bested by a luchador/striking style hybrid in Gran Metalik. An amazing match that mixed Lucha Libre, technical wrestling, submissions, and high-flying, Metalik would best ZSJ and move on to the finals.
T. J. Perkins (The Philippines) vs. Kota Ibushi (Japan)
Kota Ibushi is one of the best performers on the planet. This is not an opinion, it’s an obvious fact. The Golden Star has had more 5 star matches in a span of a few years than most wrestlers get in their entire career. Perkins, the former Manik, has taken his place among the elite in this tournament. Working his way through NJPW, TNA, ROH, and even WWE’s prior developmental promotion, Florida Championship Wrestling, TJP seems to have finally found his place. Ibushi threw everything he had at his underdog opponent and TJP just kept coming. Perkins, known for his high-flying, would also employ his submission moves to ground Ibushi and submit the odds on tournament favorite to move on to the final of the CWC.
T.J. Perkins vs. Gran Metalik – CWC Final
There are times as a wrestling fan that can be hard, and then there are those moments that make you love wrestling. Moments that are recalled years later as seminal moments, where something began. A rivalry born, a new era started. Right before this match, one of those moments happened.
Triple H aka Paul Levesque is the mastermind behind NXT and the CWC. He would enter the ring before the match. He would announce that not only would the winner of the match be the first ever Cruiserweight Classic Champion, but would also move on to Monday Night RAW as the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. The Cruiserweight Division will make its RAW debut next Monday, bringing back a style of wrestling that has been missing from the WWE for quite some time and has influenced wrestling since its rise to prominence in the mid to late 90s.
Both men would rise to the occasion in a match worthy of what a tournament final match should be. A performance that had everything a wrestling fan could want. From striking to Lucha Libre to submission, Perkins and Metalik would push each other past their limits. T.J. Perkins would emerge victorious, and now sporting some extra hardware, with his kneebar, which he had been dispatching his opponents with throughout this tournament.
The Future Is Bright And Has A Sweet Looking Title
Before and during the CWC, rumors were floating around that the WWE was going to reintroduce the Cruiserweight Title. The cruiserweight division will showcase the best talent that is available to the WWE. You will see high flying, you will see technical wrestling, you will see striking, and you will love every minute of it. T.J. Perkins will be leading the charge as the first Cruiserweight Champion of this era in the WWE and it is going to be fun to see who else shows up from the CWC on Monday Night RAW.
Did you have a favorite moment from the CWC and WHO are you hoping to see in the new Cruiserweight Division? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter @MatPDouglas.
The WWE Cruiserweight Classic is available on demand on the WWE Network
Monday Night RAW airs at 8pm EST on USA