On Wednesday, the road to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic gets a little closer with Bracketology, a one-hour WWE Network special akin to the NCAA tournament selection show, featuring bracketing and officially putting all 32 competitors in their slots for this summer-long tournament.
The competitors are a wide array of talent from all over the world.
Some of the faces and names involved are already familiar to the WWE audience like veteran cruiserweights Brian Kendrick and Tajiri. Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa and Rich Swann have also already competed in front of the crowd at Full Sail University as members of the NXT roster.
Most of the talent in the tournament has never before competed in a WWE ring. Independent stars from the United States like Drew Gulak, T.J. Perkins and Cedric Alexander that are looking to make a good first impression to the WWE and its audience.
It also includes international stars like Kota Ibushi, Gran Metalik and Zack Sabre Jr. that are looking to further establish themselves in the United States.
With such a diverse group of both known and unknown talent, the first 16 matches could lead to some real gems.
Tonight’s bracketing show will be hosted by Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan, and with the show purportedly going for a more sports like atmosphere, it will be interesting to see what they say about the competitors.
Join us at 9 PM EST as the brackets get revealed!
The show starts with Triple H cutting a speech at the performance center, basically a pep-talk to those competing in the tournament.
Mauro welcomes us to the show and asks Daniel how he feels being back after his retirement in February. When he heard about the Cruiserweight Classic, he felt he had to be a part of it as there are tons of people coming in from all around the world competing in one tournament. Mauro says it reminds him of the birth in MMA.
They go over the story of Alejandro Saez and how he was 25 pounds overweight before the tournament, but managed to make weight before deadline. Daniel Bryan questioned if he'll gain that weight back before the tournament starts.
Zack Sabre. Jr profile video. He says he grew up watching guys like Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko who were well known for their technical skill. “Harry Potter isn’t the only wizard in this tournament” he notes.
WWE Senior Director of Talent Relations Canyon Ceman is interviewed, saying how he traveled around the world in search for competitors. The goal is to bring someone for everyone.
Jack Gallagher is interviewed, putting over the British style. He has to use his mind and his techniques to beat his opponents. He’ll keep it gentlemanly as long as his opponents keep it gentlemanly. He considers himself a classic English gentleman.
Harv and Gurv Sihra are profiled next. They are from Vancouver, but their parents are from India. They call themselves the Bollywood Boys, as Bollywood creates this idea of fantasy. To be in the biggest wrestling company in the world, that is a great accomplishment within itself. They both have what it takes to be here, but what it comes down to is who is the better man.
Rich Swann is profiled next. He mentions pro wrestling saved his life. His father passed away when he was 12, his mother at 16. He went down a dark path, but wrestling changed him. He never thought he'd make it, but he did. The perfect ending for him would be him winning the first ever Cruiserweight Classic.
Daniel Bryan likes Rich Swann because of his story - he's used wrestling to be successful in life. He's a small guy, but he has done things a lot of people haven't.
They switch it to Corey Graves at the control center, where he goes over the left side of the bracket:
- Kenneth Johnson vs. Akira Tozawa
- Jack Gallagher vs. Fabian Richner
- Tajiri vs. Damian Slater
- Alejandro Saez vs. Gran Metallik (aka Masacara Dorada)
- Harv Sihra vs. Drew Gulak
- Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tyson Dux
- Noam Dar vs .Gurv Sihra
- Arya Davari vs. Hoho Lun
Next up is a look at Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, and how they are a tag team but going into this tournament as opponents in the opening round.
Gargano says they clicked instantly. Gargano says he might even talk to Ciampa more than his fiance. But when it comes down to them facing off, Gargano will shake his hand and will see who comes out on top. Ciampa says he always goes in there with the intent to hurt, not injure. Says he doesn't want to see Gargano get hurt, but he doesn't want to lose.
TJ Perkins is profiled next. He's the one that likes to make it look good. He started wrestling when he was 13, and lucha libre was a big influence on his style, growing up in LA.
He mentions how he was homeless for a while, mentioning it was tough and that wrestling was the only way to get out of that and it creates a lot of mental toughness. He feels like he's representing the Philippines and he's out to inspire others.
Mauro and Daniel are joined by Perkins, and ask him about his story. He brings up mental toughness again and Murphy's law, and those experiences changed him as a man. Daniel Bryan mentions he was the youngest trained wrestler to ever compete in New Japan.
Perkins mentioned that this is akin to the Super J-Cup in that 10 years from now people will be looking at this tournament. He's proud to represent the Philippines, mentioning that they don't have a lot of heroes there so he wants to represent them.
Graves is back and goes over the right side of the bracket:
- Raul Mendoza vs. Brian Kendrick
- Anthony Bennett vs. Tony Nese
- Kota Ibushi vs. Sean Maluta
- Cedric Alexander vs. Clement Petiot
- TJ Perkins vs. Da Mack
- Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
- Mustafa Ali vs. Lince Dorado
- Rich Swann vs. Jason Lee
They go over the two veterans in the tournament, Tajiri and The Brian Kendrick. Kendrick says wrestling is what he loves and what he is passionate about. When he has the world in his hands, he let it go. He mentions he was released because "he was an animal" and deserved to be released. He's been wrestling consistently since 1999 for his moment, and if he falls short...then it's his life that will fall short.
Kendrick joins Daniel and Mauro. Daniel brings up his first match ever was against Kendrick, and how Kendrick came out to "Genie in a Bottle" and how Bryan came out to "Born in the USA".
Daniel asks him what he wants from this tournament. Kendrick says he wants to win because he's never won a tournament before. In terms of the age factor, he says that is a downside, but he is smarter now and is used to this environment.
Mauro asked about both Daniel and Brian Kendrick were trained by Shawn Michaels and what that was like. Daniel Bryan talks about his passion and brings up a story about how Kendrick's mom came in during a training session and let Shawn have it. Kendrick says he wants to beat them all when it comes down to who he wants to face the most.
Mauro brings up how Daniel Bryan has faced Kota Ibushi in the past and they go to a profile on him. Kota says he doesn't need to represent Japan, but wants to show how good Japanese wrestlers are. He mentions his experiences with Finn Balor, Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura and he has an advantage over others in this tournament because he's faced them all.
He will win the tournament because he loves pro wrestling the most above other wrestlers. Bryan brings up that Kota Ibushi has just come back from a herniated disc and questions if he'll be the same.
Strong style is brought up, and Mauro asks what that is. Bryan says its an ideology about striking and hitting hard, and contrasts it to Zack Sabre Jr.'s ideology of escaping and outmaneuvering his opponents.
Triple H is brought in. Mauro says he'd never thought he'd see something like this under the WWE umbrella. Triple H mentions there are so many out there, but there was no platform for them to come into the WWE and this is the platform.
Mauro asks if this is where the future lies. Triple H mentions Daniel Bryan and how he was part of the paradigm shift and how you don't have to be a 300 pound guy to be successful in this industry. Triple H says he doesn't want this to be about flips and high flyers and wants to show diverse styles - mat based, striking, flyer, whatever.
Mauro asks if this is one and done and if there are futures for the athletes involved. Triple H says no, this isn't one and done and the opportunity for the cruiserweights will be there after the tournament.
They show footage of guys training at the Performance Center and Hunter says he's really excited. Mauro thanks Triple H for this Cruiserweight Classic and is excited to see it. Hunter mentions he wanted them both to commentate for this tournament, day one.
And that'll do it! The first matches will air next week at this time.