The first round of the Cruiserweight Classic is over and what a first round it was with 32 extraordinary competitors. Now that we are a round in and familiar with the competitors it’s time to look at who is most likely to leave a lasting impression and win this tournament!
Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher
What an incredible first match and a difficult one as it comes to predictions because I’d hate to see either man eliminated. Gallagher has a unique charm to him that screams superstar in the WWE. With an upcoming Cruiserweight division headed to RAW, Gallagher will surely be apart of it. He has a bit of a Vaudevillian look to him but in-ring mannerisms make him a delight to watch. Tozawa is one of my favourites and now that I’m familiar with everyone in this tournament, I’m changing my picks and picking Tozawa not only to win this match but make it to the finals. His in-ring is brutal (in a good way) and he strikes me (thankfully not literally) as just a notch better than everyone else!
Tajiri vs. Gran Metalik
I was familiar with Tajiri because of his previous WWE stint. He appears to not have aged and can easily keep up with the younger talent in this tournament. Gran Metalik was in the first match of this tournament and after seeing him compete I was hooked on this tournament so that should indicate the level of his in-ring abilties. Again, I’d hate to see either man eliminated but I’m going to go with experience over mystique in this one and say Tajiri defeats the masked superstar!
Drew Gulak vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
I am unfamiliar with both superstars but had heard a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Sabre Jr. so I had high expectations. I expect that Sabre Jr. is polarizing in his style in that either you love it or despise it; I am in the latter camp. I don’t necessarily despise his style as much as I think it’s rather plain. On top of that, Sabre Jr. doesn’t strike me as a superstar as he doesn’t even look like a wrestler and so I’d be disinterested if I saw him on RAW. He was my pick to win this tournament but I am quickly taking that back and going with my favourite (who will be revealed later). I am not a fan of Zack Sabre Jr. but I dare not say he isn’t talented. Gulak was another guy who looked totally generic compared to his opponent, one half of the Bollywood Boys. His in-ring style at least captivated me as it looked stiff and painful. I want Gulak to win this one but I think Sabre Jr. finds a [unique]way to win.
WINNER: SABRE JR.
Noam Dar vs. Hoho Lun
Dar was similar to Gulak as far as an impression based on look. Again however, once I saw him in the ring, I knew the second Bollywood Boy would have a similar fate to his brother. Hoho Lun was heavily criticized for not being as good as many in this tournament but he had an underdog charm to him so I was happy to see him win. I think the so called fairy tale run is over for Lun because with his limited skills and Dar’s toughness and superior ability I’d have a hard time believing an upset is even remotely possible.
WINNER: NOAM DAR
Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese
Former WWE Superstar “The” Brian Kendrick will square off against fellow American Tony Nese in the second round.Fans (including myself) were familar with Kendrick but I must say I want to see his opponent Raul Mendoza on RAW as a part of the Cruiserweight division because he was the standout in their match. Kendrick resorted to underhanded tactics and slapped on his submission the bully choke for the win. As far as Tony Nese is concerned, I hadn’t heard of him and wasn’t initially impressed by his graphic picture. Let that be a lesson as you can only truly make a decision once you see a man inside the ring. He was much larger than his flashy opponent and dominated Bennett. Nese is incredibly deceptive as his appearance makes him look like strictly a powerhouse, but his athleticism ranks him among the elite in this tournament. I doubted Nese in the first round and will not make that mistake again. Look for Kendrick’s road to redemption to end against Tony Nese.
WINNER: TONY NESE
Kota Ibushi vs. Cedric Alexander
Two familiar names here from other promotions but again I hadn’t really seen their in-ring talent. This is slated as the main event of next week’s show and after both men’s showcase in the first round it’s not hard to see why. I could see this one going to a draw but that would rob this tournament of two outstanding competitors. I am going with the favourite, Ibushi in this one but I anticipate a tremendous match.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI
TJ Perkins vs. Johnny Gargano
The theme in this second round is that I’d hate to see either man eliminated. I was familiar with Perkins as he was in Impact Wrestling when I used to watch under a mask. In his first round match he was far better than I had ever seen him with a lot more charisma and confidence. Gargano squared off against his tag team partner in NXT, Tomasso Ciampa. I predicted Ciampa to win and it certainly looked that way for most of the match. This was the best match of the first round with a great back story and hard-hitting action. Gargano is coming into the second round with a ton of momentum that I think he’ll be too much for Perkins to handle in this one.
WINNER: JOHNNY GARGANO
Lince Dorado vs. Rich Swann
I said earlier I wanted to see Akira Tozawa in the finals versus my favourite. My favourite in this one is Rich Swann! Swann’s back story got me emotionally invested in seeing this guy succeed. Swann is both charismatic and an excellent in-ring athlete and has the tools to succeed in this tournament. Lince Dorado may play spoiler to my hopeful final and champion of this tournament. I am not convinced it would be an upset because Dorado was certainly impressive and was apart of the best match of the tournament to that point in my opinion. This is going to an exciting, competitive and athletic encounter!
WINNER: RICH SWANN