By John Moore
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live from Dayton, Ohio at Nutter Center
Backstage, Akira Tozawa was chatting with Rich Swann in Japanese. Swann ended up speaking in English by saying that it’s a big night for himself. Swann said he’s facing Neville in the main event of the show which might put him back in the title picture. Titus O’Neil walked in singing a song with cha ching sounds. Titus O’Neil told Swann that he could have a chance to join the Titus Brand but he first must do something about his hair to be considered. Swann left as Titus called Tozawa his man from Japan. Titus talked about Tozawa’s good night on Raw. He talked about Akira Tozawa taking the Titus Brand international and the next level. Titus offered Tozawa a contract and said they will be printing money. Tozawa had a blank stare and didn’t sign. Titus assumed Tozawa wanted a higher percentage of the merchandise money. Titus proposed making the “Tozawa Towel” merch. Titus told Tozawa to just give him a few days so he can come up with a deal that Tozawa can’t refuse. Titus walked off doing his “cha ching” thing as Tozawa shook his head in disappointment…
John’s Thoughts: I’m starting to warm up a bit to this Titus Brand thing as a babyface act based off the way Titus is presenting himself on 205 Live. He has his dumb overacting bits, but he’ll tone it down at points which makes him seem a bit genuine. I think this thing would work a lot better if it were on Smackdown (as would a lot of things) because on Raw Titus O’Neil is a King of WWE Main Event and the Cruiserweights are glorified piss breaks. I’m also a bit curious to see how a babyface stable can work in 2017?
After the 205 Live intro theme, Corey Graves and Vic Joseph checked in on commentary. Vic Joseph creepily has the same haircut as Corey Graves. He sorta looks like he’s trying to cosplay as Graves (I need to find some humor to fight what can be a boring show). Graves hyped the main event that Swann mentioned. Joseph talked about Mustafa Ali facing Drew Gulak on this episode. In a nice change of pace, Noam Dar or Cedric Alexander didn’t open the show. Jack Gallagher came to the ring with his umbrella. I’m going to assume he’s winning because he’s presented as an important dude on this show. Joseph cut to Austin Aries announcing that he wasn’t medically cleared to wrestle from last week with the segment becoming a segment between Anthony Nese and Jack Gallagher.
1. Jack Gallagher vs. Tony Nese. Nese tried to taunt Gallagher with his biceps. Gallagher did his handstand foot technique. Gallagher rolled into a ball to baffle Nese. Gallagher reached his hand out to do a single hand takedown of Nese. Aries was shown watching the monitor in that weird 45-degree angle that WWE does with all their wrestlers when they are watching the monitor. Nese slowed things down with a headlock. Nese took Gallagher down with a shortarm lariat to the back of Gallagher’s neck. Nese put Gallagher in the Tree of Woe and did some abdominal bicycle workout kicks on Gallagher. Gallagher escaped a suplex when Nese tried to show off his biceps. Gallagher hit Nese with a double underhook hip toss.
Gallagher hit Nese with his signature headbutt. Nese missed a springboard moonsault and missed a shoulder block into the ringpost. Nese had the ref stop Gallagher’s attack by feigning a shoulder injury. Nese schoolboy’d Gallagher’s head into the second rope and followed up with a running knee to the corner. Tony Nese surprisingly picked up a pinfall win.
Tony Nese defeated Jack Gallagher via pinfall in 5:00.
Graves credited Nese for outsmarting his opponent. Vic Joseph talked about Austin Aries watching the match on the monitor.
John’s Thoughts: A surprising win (and you could tell I thought differently based on my analysis of the entrances). Tony Nese does nothing for me in his current iteration. Not only did WWE have him lose about 80% of his matches, but he is also doing this dead-end body guy gimmick. It’s not Brian Cage where he has an edge. This is more Chris Masters without the Master Lock, and Chris Masters hit the same dead end that every one-dimensional body guy does. Gallagher can take loses because his character can overcome loses but I don’t see this helping Nese because I only feel parity is going to kick in with Gallagher getting his win back sooner or later. Sadly, I feel the same way about Drew Gulak losing tonight. Maybe they’ll surprise me there like they did here and give Gulak the win that would be logical in rebuilding the guy with the “fresh” gimmick.
They then cut to Noam Dar facetiming with Alicia Fox. Cedric Alexander walked in (oh no. This is still going?). Cedric Alexander told Alicia Fox that this was over (then why did he walk into this skit?). Alicia’s facetime was mic’d and she said it’s over when she says it’s over. Dar said Alexander should quit 205 Live or else he and Alicia will make Alexander’s life a living hell. Dar asked Alexander if he can fish because he’s going to have to fish his bag out of the bottom of the river. Alexander said his bag wasn’t thrown in the river. Alexander left. Ariya Daivari walked in to continue the joke that Dar threw Daivari’s expensive bag in the river.
John’s Thoughts: Damn. Just Damn. Damn. They really want to continue this feud? The feud that has been going on since 205 Live started and wasn’t even that good back then. Dar’s good as a character. Alexander’s good as a wrestler. Fox is good at being crazy. But this feud is as stale as stale bread. And Daivari isn’t good at being a low rent version of his brother’s rich guy gimmick! He’s a much better wrestler though and when they were presenting that in matches against Gallagher, he was starting to get over! Damn 205 live! Just Damn.
Corey Graves and Vic Joseph were talking about Drew Gulak’s campaign against high flying. They cut to a video package with highlights from their feud. After that was their actual match. Vic Joseph hyped up Great Balls of Fire which was sponsored by a video game about kicking balls (Rocket League)..
John’s Thoughts: Small little sidetrack. I like Mustafa Ali, but is his attire anime/DBZ inspired (wearing the same cosplay New Day wore at WM a few years ago) or is he Super Sentai/Kamen Rider inspired? He needs to clarify that because I think he just looks goofy without context. Now I know how Jason Powell feels about Low Ki’s Agent 47 cosplay, which Impact doesn’t bother to give context to either.
2. Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak. Drew Gulak had his megaphone. Gulak proposed making 205 Live better by making the ring a no-fly zone in their match. Ali hit Gulak with a dropkick and corkscrew plancha before the bell. Ali hit Gulak with a corkscrew springboard crossbody. Ali tripped off the ropes after a simple push from Drew Gulak which sent him to the ground writhing in pain. Gulak worked on the injured left arm of Ali. Gulak locked in a chicken wing. Joseph and Graves digressed a bit into Graves revealing Big Cass as Enzo’s assailant.
Gulak continued to use his mat wrestling with a focus on the left arm of Ali. Gulak even body slammed Ali onto his left arm to continue the attack on the injured left arm of Ali. Ali used his agility to sneak in a drop kick on Gulak. Ali gave Gulak running double knees. Ali then gave Gulak a kick to the ears. Ali grounded Gulak with the rolling cutter. Ali went for a missile dropkick but Gulak caught him and went for a Boston crab. Ali rolled Gulak up to pick up the victory.
Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak via pinfall in 4:42.
Vic Joseph and Corey Graves said that Mustafa Ali beat Drew Gulak at his own game. They showed a nice slow mo replay of Mustafa Ali’s opening corkscrew plancha where he gained a lot of hangtime. Ali walked up the ramp bragging to Drew Gulak about how he beat Gulak at his own game…
Jack Gallagher was walking backstage as he walked into Austin Aries who tossed him a towel. Aries was eating a banana. Aries said he watched Gallagher be a gentleman while people like Neville or Nese cut corners. Aries proposed an alliance to counter what the heels do. Gallagher said he wasn’t comfortable cutting corners. Aries said he’s just returning the favor to Gallagher for having his back. Aries turned it around and said they can learn from a relationship. Aries said they were international men of mustaches. Gallagher said they can strike an accord. Aries said he doesn’t own an Accord, but he does like Hondas. They shook hands on their new alliance…
John’s Thoughts: As I was transcribing the match, I hypothesized a match finish that would have worked to push this feud forward. WWE executed the finish just as I postulated which I thought was perfection. Ali winning with a mat hold. WWE then goes on to ruin that by the way they scripted the post-match. The commentators and Ali were all scripted to say that Ali beat Gulak at his own game where what they should have done was what they did last week and have Gulak be happy and excited over the loss. Having Gulak steal Ali’s thunder would have been not only comical but smart in pushing Drew slightly out of obscurity. Instead, the post-match reactions put Drew Gulak into WWE parity hell.
After a raw recap, TJP talked with Rich Swann in the hallways. Perkins talked about not liking the way Swann talked to him about taking shortcuts. Swann said he wasn’t trying to get into TJP’s head. Perkins said it’s not TJP or TJ Perkins in the main event. It’s swann. TJP said he wants Swann to go out there and do what Swann told Perkins to do, and take care of business. Perkins pat Swann on the back as he walked off. After Corey Graves cut to the WWE 2K game trailer… [C]
Greg Hamilton told us that Akira Tozawa would watch the match from ringside, courtesy of The Titus Brand. They had a chair and TV tray set up outside. The tray had a purple tablecloth with some concessions food and drink on top. As Neville made his entrance, Vic Joseph talked about how Neville has been unpinned and unsubmitted in singles matches since November.
3. Rich Swann vs. Neville in a non-title match. Rich Swann went for the punches right as the bell rang. Neville slipped in and out of the ring to gain an advantage over the aggressive Swann. Swann flipped out of a snapmare and hit Neville with a dropkick. Swann locked in a headlock and took Neville to the ground. Neville escaped and overpowered Neville with a shoulder block. Swann took down Neville with a huracanrana and dropkick. Neville retreated several times to ringside. Swann hit Neville with a single leg dropkick. Neville overpowered Swann again, this time with a double axe handle to the chest.
Neville went for the Superplex which Graves put over as a finisher. Swann pushed Neville off, who landed on his feet. Swann pushed Neville to the outside and hit him with a senton to the outside. Swann maintained an upper hand over the champ. Neville blocked a standing frogsplash with his knees. Swann retreated to ringside but Neville followed and rammed swann into the ringside barricade. Swann tried to mount a comeback but Neville flapjacked Swann on the announce table. Neville soaked up the boos while the ref was making his ten count. Neville went high risk as Swann recovered in the ring. Neville chuckled as Swann collapsed in the ring.
Neville grounded himself and tried to pick up Swann who fired up and hit Neville with a high thrust superkick. Neville stood up wobbly which allowed Swann to nail Neville with strong style kicks. This actually drew a “This is Awesome” chant from the crowd. Swann threw a kick and got a nearfall off the Michinoku Driver. Neville recovered and kept Swann from climbing up the ropes. Swann pushed Neville off. Neville quickly rolled out of the path of the Phoenix Splash causing Swann to crash into the ring. Neville then locked in the Rings of Saturn for the submission victory after Swann tried his best to fight the pain off.
Neville defeated Rich Swann via submission in 10:43.
Neville glared at Tozawa who watched the match from his “VIP” area. Tozawa had a calm and collected look. Neville held his title up on the top rope as the show closed…
John’s Thoughts: 205 Live may not do a lot of things right, but they do a pretty good job with whatever Neville is involved in. This match was good. Swann got to show some cool intensity down the stretch which got the live crowd fired up. This was way better than TJP vs. Neville which both wrestlers had a methodical mirror match. The cruiserweights are still at the level “divas” matches used to be five or six years ago, but at least it appears that crowds are sticking around for them and even participating when given a reason to cheer. Here’s a note Impact should take in their rehabilitation of the X Division. Don’t book unadvertised title matches. Unadvertised non-title matches like we saw on this 205 Live are fine and if the story is told well enough in a singles match, both men can come out looking strong. This was a standard 205 Live episode with a good main event. Standard is still not must-watch by far, but luckily if you must appease your fix of good wrestling, you can get a good ten-minute chunk of it with Neville and Swann. The Titus Brand also had the second good week in a row, so that’s a plus. I’ll have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review later today.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Brian Pillman Jr., who discusses his training, following his father's footsteps, his own career aspirations, being part of the Hart Foundation faction, his big match at the MLW Saturday Night SuperFight pay-per-view, working with Jushin Liger, touring the WWE Performance Center, and much more...