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WWE Cruiserweight Classic Preview & Profiles (July 13): Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta and the whole northeast "region"


You didn't seriously think we'd leave you hanging without weekly CWC previews, did you? C'mon now. Granted, we don't have a complete matchlisting for tonight's show, so I've decided to wing it, covering the confirmed matchup and then going through the rest of this "region" of the tournament bracket as a series of profiles.

Anyway, owing to a lot of these guys flying under folks' radars, we're gonna provide a free match link for each man in this week's matches so you can have a chance to check 'em out before seeing 'em on the show.

Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta

Representing Japan, Kota Ibushi comes into the tournament with arguably more hype than anybody, and with good reason. The Golden Star has worked for New Japan (3-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, 1-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with Kenny Omega, as well as wrapping up the 2011 Best of the Super Junior and 2015 New Japan Cup tournaments) and DDT Pro (Too many accolades to list in a parenthetical, including three times each with the KO-D Openweight Championship and the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship), as well as being Chikara's 2009 Rey de Voladores and the current Kaiju Big Battel Hashtag Champion. He's been just about everywhere and done just about everything, and now he's here to bring his high octane high flying style to the Cruiserweight Classic. This is a man that does a springboard Phoenix Splash for fun, folks. Get hyped!

The nephew of Wild Samoan Afa (and thus cousin of WWE Superstars Roman Reigns and the Usos), Sean Maluta trained at his uncle's Wild Samoan Training Center and has mostly worked for the attached World Xtreme Wrestling promotion, with his most notable outside gig coming at a single Beyond Wrestling show in 2009. Naturally enough, he represents American Samoa and the storied history of Samoan wrestlers everywhere. Maluta has a an arsenal of kicks culminating with his deadly savate kick, a little high flying flavor off the top turnbuckle, and a bloodline made for success.

The matchup has to favor Ibushi here, as in size and weight they're fairly evenly matched, but Ibushi's experience edge is crucial. Not only that, but the Golden Star has wrestled many men who fight with a similar style to Sean Maluta, whereas Maluta is not likely to have faced anyone quite as pyrotechnic as Kota Ibushi.

Kota Ibushi in action against El Generico, Jigsaw, and Nick Jackson for Chikara.

Sean Maluta in action against Beast for WXW.

Brian Kendrick

One of the two veteran former WWE Superstars in the tournament, Brian Kendrick needs no introduction, but I'll introduce him anyway.

Getting his start at the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy alongside the American Dragon Bryan "Daniel Bryan" Danielson and Lance Cade, the man once known as Spanky has worked for nearly every major promotion in the world, from Ring of Honor (where he was in the four-way to crown the first ROH Champion), to TNA (where, following his WWE run, he won the X Division Championship), to Dragon Gate USA and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and while he had the longest run in Pro Wrestling Zero1, he's also worked for All Japan, New Japan, and Pro Wrestling Noah. He's the man who brought the Shiranui (or Sliced Bread No. 2, as he calls it) to the United States, and one-half of the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions with Paul London.

No matter how you slice it, age is just a number, and Brian Kendrick's career speaks for his chances of fulfilling Daniel Bryan's wish to see him take the whole thing.

Brian Kendrick in action against Kyle O'Reilly for Quintessential Pro Wrestling.

Raul Mendoza

Representing Mexico and trained by Gran Apache and Ricky Marvin, Raul Mendoza is mainly known for his work in the Mexican independent scene as Jinzo, although he's also recently started going by Ronnie Mendoza. He calls Desastre Total Ultraviolento his home, and has captured their DTU Alto Impacto Championship, but has worked for AAA and done a tour of Pro Wrestling Noah (having won their 2014 wrestling camp) as well. He brings exciting fast-past lucha libre action to the Cruiserweight Classic, along with a healthy barrage of kicks and strikes.

Raul Mendoza in action as Jinzo against Black Boy, Mirage, Proximo, and Septimo Dragon for The Crash.

Anthony Bennett

The Pride of Paulsboro, Anthony Bennett is a product of New Jersey's own Monster Factory, the same school that produced wrestling's fastest rising superstar Matt Riddle. His hair says he's here to party, but his resume says he's ready to kick some ass, being a former MFPW Supersonic Champion. Bennett wrestles a classic American cruiserweight style, finishing with a Sliced Bread No. 2 with plenty of flying in-between.

Anthony Bennett in action against WAR for Monster Factory Pro Wrestling.

Tony Nese

Trained by Mikey Whipwreck at New York Wrestling Connection, Nese is part of a heritage that includes the likes of Amazing Red, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, and Trent Baretta. Nese brings a style split equally between acrobatic pyrotechnics and power moves that show off his immense strength. But of all the men that came to the Cruiserweight Classic by qualifying matches, Tony Nese had the hardest path, having to eliminate four men (TJ Perkins, Johnny Gargano, Drew Gulak, and Lince Dorado) who had already qualified in order to win his spot in the Cruiserweight Classic Flashpoint at Evolve 63.

Tony Nese in action against David Finlay for Fighting Spirit Wrestling.

Cedric Alexander

Cedric Alexander comes into the CWC as one of pro wrestling's hottest free agents. After five years of working for Ring of Honor, he finished up in May and almost immediately hit the ground running with Evolve. Not that he was a slouch beforehand, as he worked for over twenty five different promotions last year, from Absolute Intense Wrestling in Ohio, to England's Preston City Wrestling, to Germany's Westside Xtreme Wrestling, and many more. With an explosive style based heavily around kicks and working the back to set up his patented Lumbar Check backbreaker, Cedric is one of the more formidable competitors in this tournament.

Cedric Alexander in action against AJ Styles for Premiere Wrestling Xperience.

Clement Petiot

Clement Petiot represents France and like many successful members of the WWE roster was trained by Lance Storm. Mainly sticking to continental European promotions like the European Catch Tour Association and the International Catch Wrestling Alliance working under the name Tristan Archer, he's peddled his technical wrestling style around the globe, including a stint with the National Wrestling Alliance-affiliated Empire Wrestling Federation in California. Petiot works the hard-striking catch wrestling style that's steadily increasing in popularity around Europe and indeed the entire world, and has gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Chris Hero and Tommy End.

Clement Petiot in action as Tristan Archer against Tommy End for ICWA.

There you have it, Cagesiders, one quarter of the field down, three to go. Everybody ready for the most 2016 thing WWE has organized yet?

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