T.J. Perkins def. Kota Ibushi (Semifinal Match)
When the field was announced for the Cruiserweight Classic, many people saw it as a foregone conclusion that Kota Ibushi would make the Final, if not win the entire tournament. Most wrote off T.J. Perkins as just another win along The Golden Star’s march to glory.
Only one person seemed to think the impossible was possible: T.J. Perkins. Motivated by the mantra “Do what they say you can’t,” The Fil-Am Flash did just that, forcing Ibushi to tap out and exit the tournament in their Semifinal bout.
Perkins wrestled with no fear, going right after Ibushi but trying to evade the Japanese star’s vicious kicks. The Filipino grappler showed The Golden Star just how quickly his fortunes could change, slipping into perfect position to apply the kneebar that got him here. Ibushi wriggled free of the submission, but not out of Perkins’ grasp. He then looked to turn the tide of the bout by clobbering Perkins with a springboard dropkick. However, The Fil-Am Flash leapt up to the ring apron and prevented Ibushi from hitting the Golden Triangle Moonsault, taking out his rival’s legs and sending The Golden Star crashing to the arena floor.
The underdog went right to work on Ibushi’s leg, but the Japanese competitor was resilient, finally connecting with a breathtaking Golden Triangle Moonsault at ringside. Ibushi seemed on his way to victory, surviving the kneebar and dumping TJP on his neck with a German suplex. Perkins didn’t back down, though. Absorbing a flurry of thunderous kicks from The Golden Star, he slipped out of the Golden Star Powerbomb and planted Ibushi into the canvas with a DDT. Ibushi’s second attempt at the powerbomb connected, but Perkins kicked out, stunning Ibushi and the Full Sail University crowd in attendance.
Ibushi went for broke on a Phoenix Splash, but found nothing but canvas after Perkins moved out of the way. The Fil-Am Flash, fueled by the doubts, stayed in the bout and again locked on the kneebar. Adding more pressure by crossing his legs and standing up to pull back on The Golden Star’s surgically repaired neck, Perkins forced the Japanese star to tap out.
Even though he had pulled off the biggest upset of the CWC, Perkins couldn’t celebrate; he had to go to the locker room and recover before his showdown with Gran Metalik in the tournament Final.