By John Moore
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live from Phoenix, Arizona at Talking Stick Resort Arena
No Cold Open this week. Titus O’Neil was shown walking backstage yelling at Akira Tozawa about training on his cell phone. Titus even quoted Chris Tucker from Rush Hour. Titus verified that Tozawa was in Japan. Titus told Tozawa that he was going to be paid so much at Great Balls of Fire that Steph Curry will be asking him for a loan. Titus ran into Ariya Daivari and asked him if his shirt was made of “si-lvet”, silk and velvet. Titus said he gets Daivari likes to spend money based on his chain. Titus pitched “Titus Worldwide” to him before walking off and continuing his talk with Tozawa on the cell. Titus then walked into Mustafa Ali. Titus complemented Ali for beating Drew Gulak last week and said that Ali might be Muhammed Ali one day. Titus continued his walk to the gorilla position. Apparently “Titus World-wide” is a chant he wants to get over. Titus led the crowd in Tozawa “ha!” chants which they did. He then barked like a seal…
After the 205 intro, Vic Joseph and Corey Graves checked in on commentary. Graves hyped Jack Gallagher vs. Tony Nese. Joseph hyped a battle between two former Cruiserweight Champions in Rich Swann vs. TJP. Titus O’Neil came out dressed in street clothes. Titus had the ring covered in red carpet. There were some pictures set up on canvases, one of Neville and one of Tozawa. Titus had a podium where he asked the crowd if they were ready for fireworks and the crowd got hype for this. Titus drew attention to the pictures of Neville and Akira Tozawa. The crowd booed Neville and cheered Tozawa. One person in the crowd started a “ha!” chant and the rest of the crowd picked up and followed. Titus talked about Neville calling himself a king sitting atop an ivory tower. Titus said Neville will be no match for the “powwa of Tozawa”. Titus led a “ha!” chant until Neville interrupted.
Neville laughed off Titus. Neville told Titus what a “charismatic leader” he has become. Neville said the problem is that all of what Titus is saying is a fantasy. Neville said this was a facade for manipulation. Neville then cut to clips Apollo Crews getting beat up by Braun Strowman as a way to show what happens to a person who signs with Titus Worldwide. Neville talked about Apollo Crews having a new baby daughter and Titus feeding Crews to a monster. The crowd chanted “you’re not Strowman!” at Neville which got a smile out of Titus. Neville waited a bit for the crowd to die down. Neville said the reality of the situation is that Titus doesn’t care about Apollo Crews or Akira Tozawa. Titus only cares about dirty dollar bills. Neville said Titus can either prove him wrong by showing compassion for his client, Akira Tozawa, by forfeiting the match on Sunday, or Titus can sit in on commentary to get a taste of what Tozawa has in store for him at the Great Balls of Fire PPV when he destroys Lince Dorado. Titus joined Graves and Joseph on Commentary…
John’s Thoughts: As I’ve said for the past few weeks, I’m starting to warm up to the Titus Brand/Worldwide thing. The problem with it in the big picture is there’s a tightrope they are walking with Titus and WWE’s forcing him to fall off on both ends. On one side, Titus is a good talker and I feel he can add to the Crews and Tozawa acts if he isn’t scripted to be an undercard goofball. On the other more negative side, Titus has been presented as an undercard goofball for so long that it’s hard to wipe that away. I’ll still wait and see on this one but in the moment, that was a good promo exchange with Neville. Meanwhile, Neville shows that he has a great grasp on the main event level promo style.
1. Neville vs. Lince Dorado in a non-title match. Titus covered Vic Joseph in his fedora and sunglasses that he brought to the ring. Neville dominated early on with a side headlock takedown. Neville followed up with a strong shoulder block. Dorado blocked a pin with a bridge and popped up into a sunset flip pin attempt. Dorada did a nice flying move where he ran on Neville into a flip. Neville and Dorado traded waist locks. Neville went for the German Suplex and Dorado flipped out by landing on his feet. Dorado hit Neville with a monkey flip.
Neville tried to push Dorado off the top rope but Dorado feigned falling and sent Neville outside with a headscissors. Dorado then did a nice running huracanrana on Neville into the announce table which impressed Titus. Dorado had a bit of momentum but Neville slowed things down by whipping Dorado over the steel steps. Neville put the boots to Dorado and took him back to the announce table. Titus yelled at Neville that he could only win by pinning in the ring. Neville hit a powerbomb on Dorado followed by the Rings of Saturn which gave Neville the submission victory.
Neville defeated Lince Dorado via submission in 3:57.
Neville jawed with Titus from the ring. Titus said Neville can be beat. Joseph cut to the clip where Dorado did that nice huracanrana. They then showed the complete dominance Neville had with the rest of the match. Titus said that this was Neville’s last win as champ. We could still hear Titus since he has the headset on…
TJ P was taping his fist backstage. Rich Swann talked about being boys with TJP. TJP said he knows Swann wants to see the old TJP, the TJ TJP that won the Cruiserweight Classic. TJP pointed out that TJ TJP beat Swann at the CWC. Swann said he doesn’t care if it’s TJP or TJ TJP, TJP can’t handle this…[C]
John’s Thoughts: A short four-minute showcase for Neville, but Dorado continues to look good in his limited appearances. He also looked good enough without making Neville look weak nor vulnerable so good work to both men for maximizing their in-ring time. Maybe someday Dorado can get a new mask and persona when creative decides to take him seriously. Titus added nothing on commentary since he was just goofing off with Vic Joseph. That’s the undercard goofball Titus that WWE should be avoiding. The reason I think it has a chance to work is Apollo Crews has been charismatically challenged so far in WWE while Tozawa has the language barrier thing. Titus can supplement that as long as he doesn’t bring his WWE Superstars/MainEvent stank with it.
2. Jack Gallagher vs. Tony Nese. Tony Nese flexed his biceps early on in the match. Nese dominated the early test of strength. Gallagher managed to lift his arms out of pin attempts and used his flexibility to to maintain a test of strength into a crucifix rollup. Nese tried to escape several times but Gallagher managed to keep Nese in position for the pin. Nese and Gallagher sold dizziness. Gallagher pushed Nese off with a twisted monkey flip. Nese managed to overpower Gallagher and mount punches. Nese het Gallagher with a flying shoulder block. Joseph brought up Nese guaranteeing victory on Twitter. Nese put Gallagher in the tree of woe and did his ab workout bicycle kicks on Gentleman Jack.
Gallagher tried to fight back but Nese punched Gallagher down and got a nearfall after a leg drop. Joseph noted the high amount of pin attempts Nese was going for. Nese put Gallagher in a modified Torture Rack which was modified by Nese squeezing Gallagher into a ball. Gallagher punched out and hit Nese with Muay Thai clinch knees. Gallagher hit Nese with a reverse Tiger Brainbuster into the pin attempt. Gallagher tried to lock in the cross armbreaker but Nese kept his hands together and picked up Gallagher. Nese grounded a running Gallagher with a chop block. Gallagher rolled away from a Nese lionsault. Nese sold a knee injury to the referee. Nese tried to play possum but Gallagher caught on to the act and caught the kick of Nese. Gallagher hit Nese with a headbutt. Gallagher hit his finishing running dropkick to pick up the victory.
Jack Gallagher defeated Tony Nese via pinfall in 6:02.
The commentators recapped Nese trying to play possum leading to the Gallagher win. Some patriotic British music played as pictures of the UK flashed on the Titantron. The slideshow ended with the title “A History of Great Britain”, just the “Great” was crossed out. Brian Kendrick was shown in front of a green screen wearing Old Time British/American garb. He said he was going to talk about not-so Great Britain. Kendrick talked about low-lifes. He then talked about US History where the British failed. Kendrick talked about British losses in US History. Kendrick said Gallagher claims to like America but he sees through Jack’s charade. Kendrick said he was going to take out the British like the US forefathers. Kendrick said this will be televised. That ended his promo with Jack Gallagher looking baffled in the ring. Vic Joseph called it mind games. They then cut to a clip from Raw the night prior regarding the never-ending Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar/Alicia Fox feud…
John’s Thoughts: Nese needs a hard reset just like Drew Gulak received in order for us to take him seriously again. Winning against Tony Nese doesn’t really do anything other than serve as a popcorn break. As for Gallagher’s budding feud against Kendrick. I’ve liked Kendrick’s over-the-top heel antics as they reminded me of the first time he turned heel back in the day on Smackdown. It is a bit odd that we don’t hear Gallagher retort because he just gets put in the ring to take it. It also hurts that what could be a great feud on any other show, only gets marginalized due to 205 Live’s status as a marginalized show.
Noam Dar was shown in the locker room icing his neck. Dar was joined by Alicia Fox. He said it was great to have Alicia back with him. Dar said the month with her gone was the longest most painful month of his life. He said he sees a new star and wants to go for the Cruiserweight Championship. Fox tried to talk about Cedric Alexander. Dar said it was finished. Fox ranted and said it was not finished. Fox was in crazy bad acting mode. Dar looked disappointed that Fox wants to stick with this feud…[C]
John’s Thoughts: I think we are all disappointed that this feud will never end. This does remind me of that never-ending feud between Derrick Bateman (EC3), Johnny Curtis (Fandango), and Maxine (Catrina) from back in the bad never-ending NXT Season 5 days. Dar is even playing the Dirty Johnny Curtis character!
TJP came out to his video game music theme and was dressed more like a Phillipino Flag than he usually does. Rich Swann came out after wearing nothing but tights and a red dress jacket. Little Naich Charles Robinson was the referee…
3. Rich Swann vs. TJ P. Vic Joseph said both of these men hold a decade long friendship. Graves brought up TJP and Swann both being good high flyers with TJP being the better striker. TJP and Swann traded control with wristlocks early on. TJP took down Swann with his headscissors takedown. TJP maintained pressure by locking in the headscissors. Swann forced TJP to break the headscissors by putting his shoulders on the mat. Both men showed off great agility with Swann ending up on top with a dropkick. TJP retreated outside. Swann teased a tope but flipped and mocked TJP by doing a dab in the center of the ring.
TJP ran into a drop toehold by Swann. TJP back-tossed Swann to the outside. TJP was about to pursue Swann but held back as a sign of mercy and sportsmanship. Swann beat the count at about eight. TJP kept the pressure with pin attempts. TJP locked in a modified Rings of Saturn into some wrist manipulation. Graves gave TJP credit for being a good submission artist.
TJP gave Swann some whips and acted conflicted after each one for some reason. TJP showed some aggression after being pushed by Swann. TJP hit Swann with a slingshot senton. TJP locked Swann in the Muta Lock. Swann managed to get a rope break. Swann flipped up and drove TJP into the corner where he gave TJP a standing Frankensteiner. Swann followed up with a rolling thunder splash. Swann hit TJP with a spinning Michinoku Driver.
John’s Thoughts: Little nitpick of mine. I feel we get too many Michinoku Drivers and Canadian Destroyers as transition moves when they should be finishers.
The crowd was fired up with a “This is Awesome” Chant. Swann went up for the Phoenix Splash but had to adjust since TJP recovered. TJP pulled Swann down and hit him with a flying clothesline. TJP kip’d up but right into Swann’s finishing back kick. This led to both men knocked out in the ring. Swann went for a double underhook. TJP countered into a double underhook gutbuster of his own. TJP locked Swann into the kneebar. Swann got up and landed a haymaker punch on the face of TJP. Swann followed up with a back kick.
TJP came back at Swann with a Rolling Sobat. Swann and TJP knocked each other out with roundhouse kicks to the head. The crowd cheered at the effort both men showed. Graves compared this to Fedor vs Mitrione in Bellator. Swann and TJP showed fatigue. Swann escaped the Detonation Kick. They then both traded rollups with Swann picking up the win via a surprise rollup.
Rich Swann defeated TJ P via pinfall in 12:22.
TJP kicked out and continued the match but was informed by Robinson that he didn’t beat the three count. TJP went into his corner disappointed while Swann smiled for his surprise rollup victory. Swann held out his hand for the handshake post-match and TJP agreed for the ovation. TJP then walked up the ramp showing frustration for his loss as Swann celebrated his win in the ring…
John’s Thoughts: That was one hell of a match! It was also different than you usually see on 205 Live. This was more WWE NXT/CWC style where innovation was included. It wasn’t all flips either. There was good submission, striking, and psychology. TJP lets me down sometimes, but I still believe that he has top-tier main roster potential, which I saw back when he was Manik in James Storm’s strange “Revolution” stable. All TJP has to do is pick one character and stick with it. He tries to be the Video Game guy, the Phillipino Flag, Spiderman, and the cocky athlete all at the same time. He should just pick one or two of those and abandon the others. Swann is just silky smooth in the ring. The finish was great too in that we usually don’t see that kind of finish often.
Overall, this was a solid episode of 205 Live that was worth seeing, although It was a bit odd for a go home show. Maybe, It’s because Tozawa’s back vacationing in Japan, which was odd timing. The Titus exchange with Neville was solid but it would have been better flip-flopped with last week’s solid show closing angle with Tozawa confronting Neville, which would have been a good go-home angle. I’ll have more thoughts on this in my Members’ Exclusive 205 Live Audio Review later today.