By John Moore
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live from Birmingham, Alabama at the Legacy Arena
The intro video of this week’s 205 Live focused on the Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak feud where Drew Gulak wants to end high flying in 205 Live. Gulak talked about high flyers like Ali being all style and no substance. Ali called Gulak a bully. The first part of the video focused on Gulak’s successes in the feud while the latter part focused on Ali’s victories. The video also started off with Corey Graves and Tom Philips talking up 205 Live with Philips calling 205 Live “the most exciting hour of television”…
Vic Joseph and Corey Graves checked in from the commentary table. Vic also called this show “The most exciting hour on television”.
John’s Thoughts: Are the announcers saying 205 Live is “The most exciting hour on television” the same as Vince McMahon saying that the game show NXT was going to be the “next evolution of television history”? And Talking Smack was the one cancelled? Ugh.
Graves talked about how last week ended with a match that closed out a long-standing feud and how this week was similar. Graves also forgot to hype up Akira Tozawa vs. Ariya Daivari but the graphic reminded him of that. The 2-out-of-3 falls match opened up the show. Gulak walked to the ring with his No-Fly Zone sign and megaphone.
John’s Thoughts: What an odd placement of what should be a feud ending match? Is this because they don’t have confidence in Ali and Gulak to deliver in a higher profile spot?
1. Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak in a Best of Three Falls Match. Gulak and Ali locked up early in the match with both men trading rear guards. Gulak gained the upper hand with a wristlock. Ali used his slippery agility to lock in a hammerlock. Gulak escaped and took Ali to his knees in a headlock. Ali escaped and hit Gulak with a shoulder block. Ali taunted Gulak with a somersault. Gulak tried to get a quick pin with a crucifix pin. Gulak escaped a second pin attempt. Gulak couldn’t kick out of the last arm trap pin which gave Ali an early pinfall.
Mustafa Ali picks up the first fall via pinfall in 1:52.
Gulak retreated to ringside and had a little tantrum out there by taking apart the ring steps and announce table. Graves framed it as Ali getting into Gulak’s head by beating him with ground holds. Gulak grounded Ali and hit an elbow drop on Ali. Ali caught a running Gulak with a dropkick. Ali went for another schoolboy. Gulak picked Ali up and tossed him to ringside. Gulak rammed his head into Ali. Ali tried to rally up while in a headlock but Gulak continued to dominate. Gulak yelled at Ali that Ali doesn’t belong in his campaign and will not find success.
Ali hulked up and no sold a few boots in the corner. Ali hit Gulak with a spinning wheel kick. Ali staggered Gulak with a roundhouse and hit Gulak with a rolling cutter. Gulak threw Ali into the timekeeper’s area. Ali popped out of the box and hit Gulak with a huracanrana. Graves pointed out that Ali might have gotten injured in the move. Ali went for the reverse 450 but Gulak pulled Ali off the top rope. Gulak locked in a Dragon Sleeper to cause Ali to tap out.
Drew Gulak earned the second fall via submission in 7:56.
Drew Gulak wouldn’t let go of the submission until the referee ripped him off of Ali. Joseph talked about how Ali tapped quickly. Graves defended it by saying that Ali was pacing himself out for the final fall. Ali told Gulak to bring it. Gulak brought it by putting the boots to Ali in the corner. Gulak with for a suplex which Ali reversed into an inside cradle. Gulak hit an elbow drop on Ali. Gulak then locked in another sleeper. Ali escaped the clinch and delivered a loud slap to the chest of Ali. Ali went for a huracanrana but Gulak forced Ali down with a nice powerbomb to get a nearfall.
Ali flipped out of a reverse suplex. Ali hit Gulak with a reverse frankendriver. Gulak retreated to ringside and waved off Ali. Ali went to the top rope to hit Gulak with a high angle senton bomb to a standing Gulak. Gulak tried to sneak out a win by rolling through the crossbody and grabbing the tights. Ali staggered Gulak a bit. Gulak hit a suplex into the corner to get a close nearfall. Graves said “this is what the cruiserweight division is all about”. Gulak managed to make it to his feet first. Ali and Gulak traded strikes. Gulak took a boot to the head and a tornado DDT to lead to Ali’s latest nearfall. Gulak and Ali traded ground holds. Gulak hit a strong lariat which lead to a nearfall by Gulak. Drew Gulak looked at the top rope again and went high risk like he did a few weeks ago,. Gulak took his time and decided against the top rope move. Ali took down Gulak with a frankensteiner. Ali then hit the reverse 450 for the victory.
Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak 2 falls to 1 in 16:51.
Corey Graves told us again that this was “what 205 Live was all about”. Graves said Ali defeated Gulak with the 054, 450 backwards. Graves said this was one of the most exciting matches he’s seen on 205 Live. Graves and Joseph cut to clips from the prior night’s Raw where Titus O’Neil threw in the proverbial towel for Tozawa. They then cut to a WWE.com clip where Apollo Crews showed his concern for Tozawa’s shoulder. Crews defended O’Neil by saying that O’Neil stood up for Crews when he got beat up by Braun Strowman. Tozawa reiterated his initial point of Titus having no right to stop his match. Crews said Titus cares for he and Tozawa. Tozawa said Daivari better bring it on this episode. They cut to Brian Kendrick marching to the ring area… [C]
John’s Thoughts: This was an okay end to the feud, but I didn’t think the two-out-of-three stipulation enhanced the match. In fact, I believed that it detracted. This three fall match suffered from the early pinfall early on in the match. Graves covered for the second fall well by saying that Ali was trying to pace himself, but the first one was still abrupt. The time in between the first and second fall consisted of Drew Gulak stretching the match with boring headlocks. The least Gulak could do is emote a bit more during his headlocks. The third fall was the real match and it had some solid nearfalls and impact moves down the stretch. To point out another odd thing, is it just me or is Graves going a bit overboard with calling 205 Live exciting on this episode?
Before his match Brian Kendrick grabbed a microphone. Kendrick asked his opponent Davin Bennett if he was from Manchester, England and knew Jack Gallagher. Devin said he did. Kendrick asked Devin if Manchester was proud of Jack Gallagher. Kendrick said things work differently in America. Kendrick said there are two different types of competitors in WWE. Fighters like Brian Kendrick or people like Jack Gallagher who have jokes and corny gimmick. Kendrick said Gallagher steals opportunities. Kendrick asked Bennett if they admire clowns in jolly old England. Kendrick asked Bennett to just quit and walk away. Bennett said he could beat Kendrick.
2. Brian Kendrick vs. Devin Bennett. Kendrick baited Bennett with a test of strength but Kendrick kicked Bennett’s arm and followed up with a suplex. Kendrick kicked the second rope into the face of Bennett. Kendrick worked on Bennett in the corner with chops. Kentrick taunted Bennett and Bennett responded with a slap to the head. Kendrick rushed back with a boot to the face of Bennett. Kendrick locked in the Captain’s Hook. After taking the move for longer than most people do, Bennett tapped out.
Brian Kendrick defeated Devin Bennett via Submission in 1:47.
Kendrick stood over Bennett with his pirate flag. Graves and Joseph then moved on to a recap video of last week’s Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar “I Quit” match. After the video Dasha Fuentes interviewed TJP. Dasha said people were questioning Perkins’ motives after what he did last week in beating a weakened opponent that was already beaten by Rich Swann. Perkins said it’s Swann and not the people questioning his motives. Perkins said Swann can’t stand coming second to him. Perkins said it hurts Swann that Perkins bounced him off of the CWC about a year ago. Perkins said he does feel guilt against Swann. Perkins then proposed another challenge where Perkins finds a partner and Swann finds one. Perkins said “may the best Cruiserweight win”. Joseph hyped up Daivari vs. Tozawa for after the break.
John’s Thoughts: The match was a squash but the highlight was Kendrick’s mic work, which just get’s marginalized due to him performing high level mic work on such a lame show. I still feel that Kendrick is better served on the main roster with a heavy a la Big Zeke. Speaking of heavy, I hope TJP throwing the line “Best Cruiserweight” is not a tell that he’ll get nefarious and Swann gets squashed by a heavyweight next week.
Ariya Daivari spoke in his native tongue in the middle of the ring before his match. Daivari said there was no place better than his home country of Iran. He mentioned the same quotes that he did last week and the night prior where he talked about Wrestling being a pastime in Iran for thousands of years. He also mentioned the first Iranian Gold Medalist in freestyle wrestling, Emam-Ali Habibi from the 1956 Olympics. Daivari said Hababi defeated a Japanese wrestler and history repeated itself with how Daivari defeated a Japanese wrestler. Daivari said he was dedicating his upcoming victory to Emam-Ali Habibi to start his quest to become the next big Iranian Champion. Tozawa came out to his entrance and without Titus O’Neil.
3. Ariya Daivari vs. Akira Tozawa. Graves talked about Titus trying to protect his investment on Raw. Tozawa led the crowd in a “Ha” chant early on. Tozawa guarded his left shoulder away form Daivari. Tozawa feigned a chop and punched Daivari’s face when Daivari’s guard was down. Tozawa hit a PK and running senton on Daivari. Daivari went for the shoulder but ran right into the uninjured elbow of Tozawa. Tozawa went for hit top rope senton but Daivari escape. Daivari dragged the injured shoulder on the rope. Daivari then ran the shoulder into consecutive turnbuckles. Daivari wrenched Tozawa’s injured shoulder on the bottom turnbuckle spike.
Tozawa kicked out of a pin attempt while favoring the shoulder he kicked out from. Tozawa continued to take punishment from Daivari. Tozawa caught Daivari with the uninjured shoulder. Daivari blocked a Sunset Flip and took a boot to the shoulder. Graves explained that a sunset flip was tougher with only one shoulder. Daivari trapped the shoulder in the steps. Tozawa gave Daivari a boot to block Daivari from running into the steps. Tozawa hit Daivari with a huracanrana inside of the ring. After Daivari retreated to the apron he ate an elbow from Tozawa. Tozawa hit Daivari with a lot of nice air with a suicide dive. He hit Daivari with and sold the injured shoulder.
Tozawa climbed the top rope with one arm. Daivari recovered and managed to take down Tozawa with the help of the injured shoulder of Tozawa. Daivari went for another shoulder stretch but Tozawa reversed with an inside cradle. Daivari ate a kick to the gut followed up by a Shining Wizard. Daivari kicked out of the pin attempt at two. Daivari recovered and gave Tozawa’s injured shoulder. Daivari then hit Tozawa with the Magic Carpet[-less] Ride. Tozawa kicked out at two. Tozawa rolled through the next pin attempt and won by grabbing the trunks of Daivari.
Akira Tozawa defeated Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 8:20.
Tozawa rolled out of the ring to recover. Daivari chased Tozawa and threw his shoulder into the ringpost. Daivari yelled in his native language at Tozawa and the referee. They cut to a replay of the match finish and it showed that Daivari was the first one to use the tights and Tozawa just returned the favor. Graves said the victory may have gone to Tozawa but questioned whether it’s a true victory if you’re on your back in the end. The show ended with Daivari’s theme playing…
John’s Thoughts: I can see why they went with Tozawa over Ali in the main event. Both Daivari and Tozawa told a smart match. The story also went out of the way to protect Titus O’Neil by building sympathy for Tozawa and possible long term injuries. I was about to question the finish as it had the babyface using cheating tactics to win. It would have been fine since Tozawa had the injured shoulder and had to be resourceful. Vic Joseph was good in pointing out that Daivari was the one who used the tights initially, which protected Tozawa’s babyface position. The ending also worked well in stretching out this mini-feud by having Tozawa come out on top by taking the loss. Overall, this show was middle of the road. The main event was fine and the opening match was okay, but there’s just not too much to be excited about with this show. I’ll have more thoughts on this show with my member exclusive 205 Live Audio Review later today.