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WWE Cruiserweight Classic preview (Sept. 14): Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre, Jr., Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins, and the finals

We’re here! Finals night is upon us and we’ve got a special two-hour live presentation to round out the Cruiserweight Classic. Let’s dig on in!

Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (Cruiserweight Classic Semifinal Match)

It must be said that Sabre is walking into this match worse for wear. Noam Dar attacked one of his legs and one of his arms fiercely in their match, and even though Sabre had his arm raised, the damage was done. Metalik, however, won his match with no such obvious injuries. You add to that the fact that his quarterfinal was two weeks ago and he’s had time to rest while Sabre is coming in hot off his match and a grueling weekend wrestling for Evolve, well...

But still, it’s not an impossible hill to climb. Metalik has never faced a man so brutally focused on technical grappling as Zack Sabre, Jr. Indeed, the last time he fought anybody even close, it was Bobby Fish in last year’s Best of the Super Junior, and he lost that match. If Zack can take his legs out early, clip his wings and ground him, he stands as good a fighting chance as anybody.

Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins (Cruiserweight Classic Semifinal Match)

Let’s get the obvious problem out of the way first— Kota Ibushi’s legs are made of solid titanium. I’ve watched my fair share of the man’s matches at this point, and for better or worse, you lock ‘em up as much as you want and they stay fresh like he just walked out of the curtain. It may be some kind of black magic, perhaps a spell cast on him by an actual wizard, because that seems like a thing that may have happened at a DDT show at some point, but the point is, attacking his legs doesn’t seem to work.

Which presents TJ Perkins a problem. He’s tore through the first three rounds, tapping Da Mack, Johnny Gargano, and Rich Swann all same way. Destroy the leg, engage the TJP Clutch. Works every time... except perhaps here. But Perkins is as versatile a wrestler as you’ll find on the planet, the sort of guy who numbers his plans because he might run out of letters. If anyone can find a way to take Ibushi out of the tournament, it’s TJ Perkins.

Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa in tag team action

NXT General Manager William Regal confirmed that Gargano & Ciampa would have a match, but not against who, so let’s speculate!

The obvious pool of talent to look at first is the NXT roster itself. The Authors of Pain, TM61, the Revival themselves, perhaps even the yet to debut team of Alexander Wolfe & Sawyer Fulton. All fine possibilities, but a bit pedestrian. It’s the Cruiserweight Classic, let’s live a little!

The Bollywood Boys are an obvious choice from the tournament’s own participants, but there are many options. I’d personally pop harder than anyone for Catch Point, in the form of Drew Gulak and either "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams or Fred Yehi, both men who had CWC qualifying matches in Evolve.

But perhaps Mikey Whipwreck might come by for a one-night-only reunion of the Unholy Alliance with Tajiri. Or if DUSTIN weren’t busy being so angry at WWE down in Evolve I’d even suggest that perhaps he and Rich Swann could have a one-night-only Ronin reunion to bring it to their former partner Johnny Gargano.

And, for one last thought, one really wild bit of speculation... Austin Aries, in his Ring of Honor days, had a stable called Generation Next. He won the ROH World Tag Team Championship in this formation, partnered with Roderick Strong. Roderick Strong, a man who’s coming to NXT sooner rather than later. It’d be a hell of a way to make a debut!

How the finals stack up

  • Ibushi vs. Sabre: Ibushi has to be the favorite here, but on the off chance that TJP actually does manage to put a dent in his titanium legs, perhaps that’s enough for Sabre to pull the upset.
  • Ibushi vs. Metalik: Ibushi and Metalik know each other well, having teamed many times for New Japan in the past. Indeed, they’ve even locked up before, in the 2011 Best of the Super Junior tourament. Ibushi won that one, but Metalik has grown as a performer since then, so it’s got to be a pretty even playing field.
  • Perkins vs. Sabre: Another potential finals that has already happened elsewhere, as Sabre and Perkins did battle at Evolve 46. Sabre won that one, but with the Technical Wizard coming in with an injured leg, TJP has to be the favorite here as well.
  • Perkins vs. Metalik: This feels like the true wildcard of all the potential finals matches. Can Metalik get past Sabre without taking some kind of grievous limb injury that Perkins will exploit to victory? Can Perkins get past Ibushi without using every trick in his book and exhausting himself?

There you have it, folks.

Who’s taking the crown?

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