By Zack Zimmerman
WWE 205 Live on WWE Network
Aired live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at PPG Paints Arena
A video package promoted tonight’s Fatal Five-Way match to determine the next challenger to Neville and his Cruiserweight Championship… The opening video played… Inside the arena, pyro hit before the commentary team of Tom Phillips and Corey Graves checked in. They noted that the usual third man, Mauro Ranallo, was absent due to travel issues resulting from the blizzard in the Northeastern US.
A graphic promoted the five-way match pitting Austin Aries vs. Akira Tozawa vs. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese. As the commentators were speaking, they were cut off by Neville’s music and the cruiserweight champ made his way onto the stage with a mic.
Neville said that one year and one day ago in the very same building, he broke his leg. He noted that he was three weeks out from WrestleMania and was robbed of a moment, but nobody cared because he was simply forgotten. He said that he came back with a purpose, obliterated the whole division, and reminded everyone why he shouldn’t be forgotten.
He said that tonight’s five-way match is the biggest in 205 Live history because the winner gets a WrestleMania title match against the king. Neville said it’s irrelevant who wins, because they only serve the purpose of feeding the inevitable. He said that he’s going to deconstruct his opponent, and make them question their existence. He dared anyone to step up to the king.
Suddenly, Mustafa Ali’s music and he made his entrance. He walked past Neville on the stage and made eyes at him, but there didn’t seem to be any real interaction. Drew Gulak was out next.
1. Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak. Tom Phillips explaining that Mustafa Ali doesn’t want to be judge by stereotypes was slightly uncomfortable. There was some nice lucha-inspired stuff early with Ali getting the better of Gulak and taking him out with a springboard crossbody to the outside. Back in the ring, Gulak reversed a tornado DDT attempt from Ali and took control for the time being.
Gulak stretched Ali out in a Gory Special before lowering the hold into a backslide for a two-count. Ali fired back shortly after the three-minute mark and hit the forward roll into a neckbreaker for a near-fall. A short time later, Ali hit a tornado DDT and the imploding 450 for the win.
Mustafa Ali pinned Drew Gulak in a little under 5:00.
Replays aired and Ali celebrated his win while Gulak vented his frustrations at ringside. Gulak called for a microphone and said that week after week he does his best but no one appreciates it. He said that he’s not the problem and he doesn’t need to change, but the problem is 205 Live. He said 205 Live needs to change…
Zim Says: Are we about to get Gulak “campaigning for a better 205”? I can’t say I followed CZW closely enough to be super familiar with the schtick, but it could bring some color to a guy who has come across very bland. Anyways, the match was solid. Not stand-out, but solid.
In the locker room, Noam Dar was talking with Ariya Daivari. He said that he’s sick of Rush Swann, which is why he asked for the match tonight. He said that “Dar and Daivari” sounds like a natural tag team. He tried to give Daivari the sales pitch, but Daivari cut him off and said that he doesn’t need any more motivation than knowing he’ll get his hands on Jack Gallagher tonight. Dar rambled on about Alicia Fox and he worried that she’ll leave him if they lose. Daivari wasn’t impressed… [C]
Back in the arena, entrances took place for the aforementioned tag team match. Gallagher popped the crowd when he danced with Swann and kept up rather impressively. A replay showed Gallagher and Swann winning the same match last week, and Dar having chocolates delivered for Alicia Fox after the match.
2. Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar and Ariya Daivari. Gallager used a handstand to escape a headlock in the opening seconds and then performed his corner headstand moments later. Gallagher looked for the tag, but Dar yanked Swann off the apron and the distraction allowed the heels to take advantage of Gallagher in the ring. They isolated him until Swann took the hot tag at the three-minute mark. He hit a rolling thunder frog splash for a two-count, and followed up with a no-hands frankensteiner. However he didn’t notice the blind tag, which allowed Dar to run in and wiped Swann out with a running shining wizard for the win.
Noam Dar and Ariya Daivari over Rich Swann and Jack Gallagher in about 4:00.
Afterwards, Dar took a microphone and Alicia Fox joined him in the ring. He said that every week he spoils Alicia Fox, but real gifts come from the heart so her gift this week was his win. A deliveryman appeared with a giant stuffed bear, and Dar acted like he had ordered it for her. He said the bear isn’t as precious as his Alicia Fooooooooooooox… [C]
Zim Says: The match was just there. It was essentially just a vehicle to get to the post-match stuff, which I don’t particularly care about. I’m over the idea that Alicia Fox is with someone or not with someone based on them winning or losing. It’s dumb.
Back in the arena, entrances took place for the Fatal Five-Way elimination match.
3. Austin Aries vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Tony Nese vs. TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick in an elimination match. The crowd chanted for Aries at the bell. He posted up on the top turnbuckle while everyone else went after each other. Aries came out of nowhere with a high-impact corner dropkick on Nese for an early near-fall before things settled into a normal 1-on-1 pace with Aries and Perkins. Perkins got the better of Aries and dabbed on him, so Aries kicked him in the gut. Aries used his signature headstand escape from a head scissors and used a flying back elbow off the middle turnbuckle.
Everyone re-entered the picture and Tozawa teased a dive but got wiped out by Kendrick, before Aries hit his hear-seeking missile dive through the ropes. Back in the ring, Kendrick tried to talk Aries into an alliance but quickly turned on him and dumped him out of the ring. TJ came in and rolled through Kendrick with a choreographed sequence of kicks, but he got leveled by Tony Nese a second later.
Going into the five-minute mark, Nese had settled into a bodyscissors on TJ mid-ring while everyone else was nowhere to be seen. Finally Tozawa re-entered and hit hit snap German on Nese, but Kendrick broke up the pin attempt. Tozawa fired up on Kendrick with a hard-hitting series ending with a vertical leaping senton for a near-fall.
Tozawa hit the ropes and flew at a wicked speed through the ropes with a kokeshi suicide dive onto Kendrick. Aries was going to dive off the top onto the floor, but he was knocked to the floor instead. Nese followed up with an insane running knee strike to Aries that sent both men crashing through the barricade and timekeepers area. Aries was left virtually unconscious at ringside, meanwhile in the ring, TJ Perkins caught Nese in a flying armbar and forced the submission for the first elimination.
TJ Perkins eliminated Tony Nese in about 9:00.
After being eliminated, Nese laid Perkins out and berated him for “ruining his moment.” Tozawa ran in with a kick to Nese’s face, but this allowed Kendrick to come out of nowhere with Sliced Bread on Tozawa for the pinfall.
Brian Kendrick eliminated Akira Tozawa in about 9:45.
Kendrick looked for another Sliced Bread on Perkins, but Perkins hung Kendrick up on the top turnbuckle. It set up a tower of doom where Aries powerbombed Perkins, who took Sliced Bread while also delivering an inverted superplex to Kendrick, and everyone was down. Once they recovered, Aries and Perkins took out Kendrick before turning to each other. They went back-and-forth and a good pace before Kendrick re-inserted himself, pulling out Perkins’s leg on a suplex attempt and assisting Aries with the pinfall.
Kendrick and Aries eliminated TJ Perkins in about 11:30.
Kendrick followed right up by locking Aries in the Captain’s Hook, but Perkins broke it up with a dropkick. Aries charged in toward Kendrick, but missed Kendrick and nailed Perkins with the rolling elbow to knock him off the apron. Kendrick opportunistically followed up with Sliced Bread, but Aries kicked out before three.
Kendrick floated over into the Captain’s Hook and Aries looked to be in trouble. The crowd chanted for Aries and he struggled, managing to reach the ropes and forced the break. Aries managed to send Kendrick bouncing off the ropes and caught him on the rebound with a perpendicular rolling elbow for the win.
Austin Aries eliminated Brian Kendrick last to win the match and become No.1 Contender.
A series of replays aired and Aries celebrated his win. The commentators talked up the prospect of Austin Aries vs. Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship in 19 nights at WrestleMania and that closed the show…
Zim Says: Fun match, especially down the stretch. There was one bit early where Nese had someone grounded in a bodyscissors which seemed ridiculous to make time for considering there were five guys in the match, but things picked up shortly thereafter and were pretty nonstop until the end. Aries winning was predictable, but predictable isn’t bad. Long-term I think Aries is a top-level 205 heel, but right now the right role for him as the returning star is in this spot. I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks of build and I’m really optimistic about the cruiserweight ‘Mania match on paper. Here’s hoping they’re given time, card positioning, and a match layout that allows them to make the most of their opportunity. I’ll have more to say for DotNet members in audio form tomorrow, so be sure to check back in! Thanks for reading.
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.