By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Rich Swann def. Jason Lee in a First Round Match
Swann has been under a developmental deal for a few years now, so it shocks me we haven't seen more of him on NXT TV. And it's not that he's green, either, because he has plenty of experience from the independent scene and is one of the most charismatic competitors I've seen in this entire tournament. He really shined in this match and the crowd took to him fairly quickly (then again, Full Sail University has been exposed to him much more than we have). This was a very fun opening round match and Swann was the right choice to advance. That said, I feel bad for Lee because he should have been in the second round instead of Ho Ho Lun, who was absolutely awful.
Noam Dar def. Gurv Sihra in a First Round Match
The Bollywood brothers are entertaining, but they just aren't all that in the ring, and it didn't help that this Sihra brother wasn't as exciting to watch as the other one. I've heard quite a bit about Dar coming into this show, though nothing he did here blew me away. He had a fine showing, but the bout fell flat for this viewer and the live crowd as well in what was one of the weaker matchups of the first round.
Jack Gallagher def. Fabian Aichner in a First Round Match
I remember Gallagher standing out to me during the weigh-ins because he had an interesting look, and Aichner came across as just another guy to me in the beginning. That said, these two "unknowns" went above and beyond in delivering a fantastic match and the crowd was engaged in the action every step of the way. Both Gallagher and Aichner impressed me immensely with their respective styles and while I'm glad Gallagher advanced, either of them would be well-suited for the returning Cruiserweight division on Raw.
Johnny Gargano def. Tomasso Ciampa in a First Round Match
This match was perfectly placed at the very end of the first round and it was wise to go out with a bang. What better way to do that than by pitting two tag team partners (and potentially future tag team champions who are fresh off closing out NXT together) against each other? I love friend vs. friend matches because you know for a fact that they aren't going to hold anything back, and they definitely did not. As exceptional of a match as this was from an in-ring standpoint, I would say it was its sensational storytelling that really put it over the top as the best bout of the tourney so far. I enjoy both competitors, but Gargano was who I preferred to see move forward, and thus I was happy he won.
The second and third episodes didn't match up to the premiere, but I thought this edition of the Cruiserweight Classic was the greatest one yet. Sure, the second match was a bit of a dud, but the other three matches had much to offer, especially the main event. Better yet, the matches should only get more exhilarating and unpredictable as we progress toward the second round starting next week, so buckle up! If you thought the past month was a blast, you haven't seen anything yet.