Around lunch time PT, WWE.com unleashed their breaking news monster, delivering hype videos, profiles, pictures and most importantly all 32 entrant names for their 2016 Cruiserweight Classic tournament. If you’ve lived under a rock, you need to know that there have been qualifiers taking place in EVOLVE, Revolution Pro, PROGRESS etc. Names have slowly trickled in as those who didn’t have qualifiers announced their participation. Today was a huge day as not only did the get the list of names, but there were tons of surprises added into the mix; including some legendary cruiserweights. With that being said, boss man here to breakdown the entrants, give a recommended legally free match for each person, and pretend to know about 10 of the entrants, accidentally burying them because I can’t write a profile. Let’s take a trip to the Super Haitch Cup field.
CREAM OF THE CROP AND NAMES YOU ARE LIKELY TO KNOW!
In what’s been rumored for months, Kota Ibushi will finally join the WWE NXT ranks come this tournament. There’s no doubt that Full Sail will erupt for the puroresu popular name. Ibushi is going to bring his wild ass mentality, and will more than likely do a few ridiculous spots in more ways than one. Ibushi can easily work his way up to BITW status in any given year and given this field of competitors; it’s impossible for one to think that ‘The Golden Star’ won’t deliver. He’s the most hyped name in the tournament, and one people have been buzzing about for months. Expect nothing but great things from him. P.S., “well it’s trapped up inside you…there’s no peace, there’s no hope…” better be hitting as soon as he walks out.
Recommended Match: Kota Ibushi return match, DDT 2016
Gran Metalik, otherwise known as Mascara Dorada, is having an absolutely killer year. He’s been tearing it up in Mexico, traversing from place to place: making it impossible for himself to have a ‘bad’ match. He’s great in trios, great at switching roles, and most importantly is a RIDICULOUS spot-guy when he wants to be. Whether or not we’ll see the ring-ramp hurricanrana pop-up is up to the venue and him, but aside from such expect breathtaking aerial moves, and someone who can go on the ground, in the air, and screwdriver ya into the mat. This is the name us in the WWW bubble are most hyped for. The matches that could potentially be produced is insane to think about, as I’ll be saying that for a lot of people, but it’s hard to argue the case is strongest for Dorada (Matalik).
Recommended Match: Mascara Dorada vs. Caristico, ELITE
In a shocking move, although some have known about this and have alluded to it, Tajiri is in the freaking Cruiserweight Classic! Arguably the most consistent wrestler of all-time, Tajiri has not lost a step, and is going to prove why he’s one of the best cruiserweights ever. I hope they play his WWE theme. There’s nothing much else to add to the case because you know exactly who Tajiri is and what he is capable of. This is a brilliant move and proves that there is just so much variety in this tournament. We’ve got indie stars, legends, new names, and floaters.
Recommended Match: Tajiri vs. Minoru Tanaka, WRESTLE-1
Zack Sabre Jr.:
Whew. Take that in for a second. The hottest property on the independent circuit worldwide is coming to Full Sail. The roof will blow off the NXT Arena when he walks out to anyone of his awesome themes (EVOLVE, PROGRESS). I’m sure a lot of you have seen this mans work. Boy can he ever go. He’s apart of the World of Sport/Catch Point/technical wizardry style that’s seen a resurgence in the past few years. Sabre, along with Drew Gulak, Tyson Dux, Jack Gallagher and pending on how/who he’s working, TJP, will be adding variety in that sense to the field.
Recommended Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, RevPro
Most excited for this one. Cedric Alexander is having a career year, and frankly it’s only to get even better. We are only approaching the summer months. He’s lit up the EVOLVE loop since returning recently, and has demolished every critic in his path en route to becoming one of the best in the world. ROH, Delirous and co. dropped the ball on Alexander in every sense of the word. With a motivated Cedric, a few Lumbar Checks and Michinoku Drivers in his back pocket, and full motivation; expect the best wrestler in the tournament tearing it up with whomever he cuts paths with. This is the star. This is the guy that should win. He’s the newest, hottest free agent, with even more room for improvement.
Recommended Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Trevor Lee, CWF
Akira Tozawa is beloved by those on American soil, who’ve either experienced him at a PWG event or watched him on tape. His charisma is untapped and he’s a dude you can’t help but smile watching. He’s helped groomed many gaijin that went on to become successful entities elsewhere stateside in Monster Express; most notably being the absolute bestest of friends with Uhaa Nation (Apollo Crews). Watch those Vines. Tozawa has a deadly snap German, and arsenal filled with lovable athleticism, quick feet and taunts that’ll make you shoot out of your chair to emulate. Tozawa should have a great tournament with star power to match. Maybe he’ll even have a ZSJ rematch that ends up being MUCH BETTER than their PWG encounter. He can bring comedy and seriousness to the table and intertwine one and the other better than anyone on the planet. Expect tons of shouts. Brainbusta! Oi! Oi! Oi! Tozawa’s living the dream and has finally made it to the biggest stage of them all.
Recommended Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Eita, Dragon Gate
Tommaso Ciampa is also having (another) career year. 2015 was a breakout statement and 2016 is an elongation of the fact. He’s tearing it up worldwide with matches in PROGRESS, AAW, AWE, among others that are absolutely must see. He’s also putting on a killer tag team year with fellow Cruiserweight Classic participant Johnny Gargano. He might just be the stiffest guy in the tournament, with brutal strikes and offense that people would most likely wrongly profile as strong style. He is strong and does have a distinct style though! I expect nothing but great things from ‘The Psycho Killer’ as along with Cedric, prove that ROH dropped the ball on the “mid-carders” who are now becoming international stars and standouts to those of us in the wrestling bubble.
Recommended Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Samoa Joe, NXT TV (highlights)
Johnny Gargano is becoming a stable of “turning people”. Not in a storyline sense, but in the way in which someone works hard to prove people wrong. People such as myself and Fray used to be harder on him, gimmick or not, but ‘Johnny Wrestling’ has put in TONS of work since 2014, and more specifically recently to prove that he can hang with the best of them. People such as Dylan Hales think highly enough of him to consider him a Thesz/Flair candidate. He’s not only travelling the world with scorching hot girlfriend Candice LeRae, but is, like Ciampa, tearing it up worldwide as well. Aforementioned he’s doing a fantastic job teaming with Ciampa in NXT. Gargano’s a seasoned veteran but still has a lot left in the tank. I’m curious as to how he matches up with a lot of the competitors in the tournament.
Recommended Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Tyson Dux, Smash Wrestling
TJ Perkins is the name I most like to play around with come the Cruiserweight Classic. What do I mean by that? There are so many different styles he emulates, and pending on who he faces, things can get ridiculous in so many ways. Matches vs. Ibushi, Dorada, Swann could provide wondrous spot-fests, and on the flip side matches vs. Dux, Gallagher, Sabre Jr. and Gulak could provide technical wrestling goodness. Another reason I’m so hyped for Perkins is the fact that Stokely Hathaway will be his manager the whole way through – cause, you know, DREAM TEAM BABY. LET’S GET LIT for the good brothers. Perkins has a lot left in the tank but is considered a veteran at this stage. He’s easily marketed as the next big thing none the less, and I expect nothing but a FANTASTIC tournament, with Perkins going far in it. With Stokely by his side and dabs to be had we could expect easily the most entertaining act of the tournament right here.
Recommended Match: TJ Perkins vs. Drew Gulak, EVOLVE
I’ve been scooped on this but had no clue what was going to happen. It’s now confirmed however that THE SINGULAR BEST WWE CHAMPION IN HISTORY will be working the tournament. Kendrick is notorious now-a-days for his long entrances and habit of…smoking…something, and also grooming Eva Marie for better things? Jokes aside, ‘Spanky’ is one of my favorite wrestlers to watch ever. Even if he’s starting to fizzle out, he’s a household name that everyone watching the tournament knows. For marketability, in ring, and more, it’s another smart move on top of adding Tajiri to the mix. Kendrick is a fun one-off addition, and who knows, maybe he’ll be added part-time to the NXT roster after this. I’d love to see that. It’s time to get a little Spanky, 31 other of y’all.
Recommended Match: Spanky vs. Shooter Schultz~!, TWA
NAMES AND HIDDEN GEMS YOU NEED TO KNOW IN THE LEAD-IN!
The Bollywood Boyz (Harv & Gurv Sihra):
This is the wildest selection of the entire field. I cannot believe my boys are in the tournament. You may have heard of the Bollywood Boyz. They are the current GFW Tag Team Champions and are an underrated tag team coming out of my hometown – Vancouver, BC – working for ECCW and other promotions. I love these two. It’s going to be interesting watching them in singles action, but there’s no doubt their work-ethic and charisma that have gotten them here will help them get over with the Full Sail crowd in the long run. You can easily guess their gimmick. Butter chicken ass kickin’ is a way of life for a lot of us ECCW fans and the like. I’m incredibly excited to see what these two can make of this opportunity and how they come about working singles. The best bet is them going against each other, which is honestly likely to happen. Put them in tag matches the rest of the time, as we don’t always have to just get tournament matches as part of the show.
Recommended Match: The Bollywood Boyz vs. The Cunninghams, WrestleSport
Jack Gallagher is the definitive hidden gem of this entire field. He oozes stardom and wrestling ability. He’s more manly than the Vaudevillains, a better technical wrestler than anyone in the world, and has the ability to blend a connection with the crowd with old school antics and classic babyface fired up World of Sport action. It’s simply incredible to watch this mid-20s technical wrestling savant go. His theme is amazing, he is amazing, and I’m sure he will be over well in Full Sail. It’s going to be AWESOME to see him matchup with so many people in this tournament. He’ll represent the U.K. well, as well as add to the technical wrestling portion of the group. I am so excited for Jack.
Recommended Match: Nothing recent for free so just watch qualifier highlights vs. Pete Dunne
This is as close to the 2nd place hidden gem as you can get. I mean no harm by that comment. Tyson Dux is a world-traveled veteran that has busted his ass for countless years, searching for opportunity. This is the best one yet. Some of you may know him from the Canadian independent circuit, most notably the great Smash Wrestling promotion in Ontario. Dux brings technicality and smash-mouth wrestling to the forefront of his offense which provides a great performance to watch in ring. He’s a solid babyface and a solid heel. It’s more in ring than anything for Dux, as he just wants to hit ya and stretch ya out. I love watching Tyson, and am once again stoked for more Canadian representation in this tournament. He’s going to have killer matches and a killer performance. He’s be a great asset to the NXT roster a la a Tye Dillinger like role. Team ’em up!
Recommended Match: Tyson Dux vs. Kevin Steen, Smash Wrestling
All night long! All night, all night. Rich Swann is one of the most entertaining performers in modern indie wrestling history. Everyone had high hopes for the goofster when he signed with NXT, but he’s yet to fully take on the duties of a superstar there. He’s also been nursing a shoulder injury, which sucks timing wise; but he’s confirmed for the tournament and will be competing. Swann has a ridiculous skillset both in the cruiserweight aspect and comedy aspect. Much like Tozawa, he has an aura to him that makes him much watch, and you have to have this man come out to All Night Long when the time comes! His ability to get a crowd behind him is frankly unmatched and it also helps that the dude can freaking fly! There’s no doubt that Swann is an excellent addition to the field.
Recommended Match: Rich Swann vs. Flamita, DTU
Anthony Nese is a good pro wrestler. There, I said it. He’s had more than enough ‘good’ performances to justify that statement, and prove complete ANTI-Nese haters wrong. I used to hate the Premier Athlete Brand but when I realized both Konley and Nese are perfectly fine on their own – I stopped my personal hatred. Nese is by far the most jacked guy in the tournament and will most likely be a surprise. Pending on who he’s matched up with, I see him doing well and busting out some crazy dives like he does in EVOLVE. More EVOLVE representation, and someone from the homeland representing USA in the tournament is neat. All in on Nese being included in the field. It’s a nifty addition. By no means is he winning the thing though.
Recommended Match: For free? Tony Nese vs. Matt Hardy, PWS, I guess
SPECIAL GUEST ANALYSIS!
Da Mack made his professional debut in 2008 and really began making a name for himself when he started teaming with Axel Dieter Jr. as Hot & Spicy in 2009. Ever since their wXw debut in 2012 the two have become arguably the hottest tag team act in Germany winning their tag team titles on two occasions with their great high flying based tag team offense. They provided spectacular tag team matches against the teams of Ricochet & Chuck Taylor in 2013 and against Ricochet & Rich Swann one year later. As you can tell from this introduction Da Mack is primarily known as a tag team wrestler, but also began making a name for himself as a singles wrestler winning the wXw Shotgun Championship this April. With his continued success the charismatic high flyer who uses a moonwalk as part of his offense seems like a good choice to represent Germany in the Global Cruiserweight Classic. Da Mack brings a solid technical base and still the tournament will provide a great opportunity for the 8 year pro to further improve his technical skills while putting his high flying to use.
Recommended Matches: A playlist wXw put out for familiarization of Da Mack
skillcrane (@naturalbornheel) – WWW Staff Member
There are names in the CWC that people may not be familiar with, but that doesn’t mean that they are not noteworthy. One such name is that of Kenneth Johnson (or as I know him for the last 7 years or so, Weazy Woo). I’ve seen Weazy for years at local promotions in San Antonio, Texas, such as River City Wrestling (RCW), Warriors 4 Christ Wrestling (W4CW), Branded Outlaw Wrestling (BOW/local NWA promotion), Lone Star Championship Wrestling, Inspire Pro in Austin, Pro Wrestling TeXas in Buda, Texas Wrestling Entertainment (TWE), random gyms on the South Side and even Ring Of Honor (ROH). I hear a rumor that he may have even gotten a chance to shine at a SmackDown taping or two, so WWE has had him on their radar for some time. He is a guy who has busted his ass every time I’ve seen him, just grinding and putting in work knowing that the next stage of his career is just around the corner.
He may be from Detroit, but San Antonio claims him now as one of their own. This San Antonian, for one, can’t wait to see Weazy make a name for himself on the biggest stage he’s ever been on, the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament.
Knowing what I know about Weazy, his determination, hope and faith motivates him and I’ve always felt that if given the chance, he could really bust out of the pack. In fact, he has already held titles for W4CW, NWA-BOW, Fighters For Christ (FFC), WWA4 in Atlanta (where he attended wrestling school in 2005) and more that I can’t recall at the moment.
I remember the first time I saw him in 2009 or so, with zero background for myself or really anyone in the crowd, he won everyone over like it was his calling. He exudes charisma, engages the crowd and genuinely has that “it” factor that draws people in. Much like Bayley, he’s all smiles and that is infectious, sending positive vibes to all who are in the building with him and makes people happy that they are wherever they are at that time.
Not only can he flip and fly with the best of them, but his small stature allows him to zip around the ring like he’s on fire. When I say he is small, I don’t mean this as a slight. His motto is “Lean Like Weazy” and he like to keep it that way. While others are eating whatever is around them, Weazy’s dieting and conditioning are second to none. He may be naturally built smaller than most of the other guys he competes against, but he is in better shape than over 90% of the “names” out there and that helps him to stand out from the crowd. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in his huge heart. On a personal level, I am happy for a guy who has killed it for years and is about to get to share his passion with a whole new audience.
Recommended Match: Weazy Woo vs. Rudy Russo vs. Erik Shadows, NWA/BOW
This post will be updated when the brackets are announced, unless if they are surprise day of. Stay with Wrestling With Words for full coverage of the 2016 WWE Cruiserweight Classic.