By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on WWE Network
Aired Live from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Wells Fargo Center
The 205 Live intro theme played. Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary with Joseph hyping up the 205 Live General Manager announcement. Daniel Bryan came out to his theme music and a plethora of “Yes!” chants. Right behind him was former TNA X Division Champion Rockstar Spud who wore one of his nice suits and bowties. The crowd converted from Yes chants to pockets of the crowd chanting “Rockstar Spud” and “Spud” chants. Daniel Bryan talked about how the Cruiserweight Classic was close to his heart back in 2016. Bryan said he’s bringing in someone to usher in a new era of 205 Live. Bryan said under his leadership he was going to give us the action that the fans, Bryan, and everybody wants. Bryan introduced the former Rockstar Spud under the name of “Drake Maverick” and as the General Manager of 205 Live.
John’s Thoughts: To paraphrase Daniel Bryan “205 Live has sucked so far and we are about to go back to the CWC stuff that was awesome!” I do also like that, just like Tom Philips did on NXT last year, Bryan is saying that this is a “New 205 Live”, which hopefully would result in the same thing as NXT.
Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness said that Maverick was previously known as Rockstar Spud. Maverick introduced himself with a “ladies and gentleman”. He said he worked his entire life and dedicated his entire career to stand in front of everyone in the WWE. Maverick said he’s proud to stand in the WWE and more proud to be the 205 Live general manager (random aside, It’s already getting annoying having to backspace every time I type in Spud). Maverick said he’s here to help 205 Live and the first thing he’s going to do is help find a new Champion. Maverick was inspired and asked Philadelphia if they were ready. Maverick announced a 16-man tournament that will conclude at WrestleMania. Maverick said this isn’t going to happen all at Mania but rather start tonight. Maverick yelled to production to hit the graphics. Maverick announced Gran Metalik vs. Cedric Alexander as well as TJP vs. Tyler Bate in first round matches for this episode.
The former Spud said “My Lords, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Drake Maverick and let the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament begin.” Cedric Alexander shook hands with Maverick and made his entrance for the upcoming first round match. They cut to a Cedric Alexander inset selfie promo (what? There here too?). The Lucha trio were shown backstage. Kalisto talked about “Latinos Unidos” in Metalik making them proud. Drake Maverick walked in and told Metalik to “show me” and go out there since it’s his time…
John’s Thoughts: I can’t remember the last time I legit smiled during 2-0 F’n 5 Live. Not even that, I’m just really happy to see Rockstar Spud on the big stage and in a prominent role. A lot of people aren’t familiar with his work since he’s been buried in meaningless X Division matches and in bad feuds. His farewell feud in Impact was where he was (kayfabe) addicted to painkillers and feuding with Hornswoggle. Seriously? This guy is one of the best promos in the business and when TNA trusted him in the main event he hit a home run at the Wembley Arena. Again, I’m so happy to see him here and I may straight up cry if we get Ethan Carter III vs. Drake Maverick at WrestleMania in two years.
1. Cedric Alexander vs. Gran Metalik in a first round Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match. Nigel McGuinness talked about how Drake Maverick is a wrestler but also has had managerial experience under his belt. The camera cut to a shot of the Cruiserweight Championship sitting on a pedestal right next to Joseph and McGuinness. Alexander and Metalik started off with the Code of Honor handshake. Metalik and Alexander had an even chain wrestling sequence which led to a Lucha Libre stalemate. Alexander and Metalik impressed each other with nice Lucha counters. Metalik dominated the next sequence with a side armbar takedown.
Metalik countered a body slam into an armdrag armbar. Alexander escaped with a thrust kick to Metalik’s thrust. Metalik blocked a whip and hit a springboard dropkick on Alexander. Alexander countered a tope with his signature springboard lariat. Alexander hit Metalik with a Tope Con Hilo which Joseph said “was what 205 Live is all about”. Nigel McGuinness gave credit to Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Eddie Guerrero (lots of guys with the name ending in “o”) for pioneering the cruiserweight style in the United States. Alexander kept Metalik grounded with a straitjacket chinlock.
Joseph said Alexander might be 205 Live’s best striker but Nigel countered and said that Hideo Itami is. Cedric Alexander blocked a huracanrana and went for a power bomb, but Metalik countered with a Code Red for a nearfall. Cedric Alexander hit his signature handspring roundhouse for a nearfall on his end. Metalik surprised a running Alexander with a superkick and rolling bulldog. Metalik hit a nice tightrope dropkick. Metalik hit Alexander with a Tope Con Hilo. A loud “2-0-5” chant started (that’s a first at least in a while).
Alexander caught Metalik with an uppercut and Metalik responded with a thrust kick. Alexander hit Metalik with a Spanish Fly for a nearfall. Metalik fired up the crowd with excitement and loud chest slaps. Alexander was staggered with a kick on the top rope. Metalik caught Alexander with a frankensteiner from the apron area on the ropes. Alexander went for a Lumbar Check but Metalik countered with an impressive pendulum DDT. Alexander lifted the boots to block a moonsault followed up by a Lumbar Check for the win.
Cedric Alexander defeated Gran Metalik via pinfall in 9:37 to advance in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
The commentators recapped the pendulum DDT moment and the end of the match in their recap. Alexander acknowledged Metalik’s hard work and celebrated his win on the apron. Nigel McGuinness cut to the video package on Tyler Bate that was shown on the WWE UK Tournament show. They showed the exact same interview just with new clips from his NXT matches. They also showed Tyler Bate accepting the WWE fan vote award for Match of The Year for his match against Pete Dunne…
John’s Thoughts: Last week’s show featured the best 205 Live main event in maybe half a year and this week’s opening match was the best undercard match this show has had in probably an even longer period of a time. It’s hard to remember great undercard matches other than matches involving Twix and Kalisto’s cake. You can argue that this crowd was interested due to them being the hardcore Philly crowd, but I’m sure the smart Philly crowd would also smell a crappy formula 205 match too so this reaction is something to take into account. New GM, good matches, and a new 205 Live, fingers crossed that they keep this up. Wow, I didn’t think getting rid of Enzo Amore would have been such a great thing for WWE as a whole.
The show cut to Jack Gallagher cutting a selfie promo. Gallagher said he liked that a fellow countryman was GM and he hopes he sees how important it is to have a gentleman in this tournament and at WrestleMania. Drake Maverick was talking to a production person and was approached by Drew Gulak who was holding a bouquet of roses with his Gulak pin on it. Gulak sucked up to Maverick and handed him the bouquet. Maverick smiled and gave the bouquet to the production guy… [C]
John’s Thoughts: WWE’s really going overboard with the selfie style promos.
Back on 205 Live. Mustafa Ali was shown sitting down on a chair on an interview set where he showed genuine emotion about last week’s great main event. Ali talked about tearing the house down and showing everyone what 205 Live was all about. Ali was giddy about the “This is Awesome” chants. Ali then drooped his head about losing the match. He said it’s okay because he’s going to get a wakeup call with this tournament. Ali said he’s not going to be the guy who just steals the show. He said he’s going to steal the show AND punch his ticket to WrestleMania…
TJP was interviewed and made Dasha Fuentes announce him as the first Cruiserweight Champion. TJP tried to brag. In a TNA X Division reunion (where TJP was known as Manik and Suicide), Drake Maverick introduced himself for TJP. Maverick said TJP winning the Championship was a long time ago. Maverick said Bate would be facing TJP and was hungry for a match at WrestleMania. Drake wondered if we were seeing the TJP that won the Cruiserweight Championship or the TJP that whines and complains when he doesn’t get what he wants…
They cut to yet another Selfie promo where Akira Tozawa did the same thing he did last week where he did a Vince McMahon impersonation. Bate was shown shadow boxing before the break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I’m liking the change in focus so far. That Mustafa Ali promo was simple, effective, and overall pretty good. Ali is not the most affluent of promos, but he’s one of those guys who cuts good promos because he speaks from the heart. The best part of it was where he talked about not wanting to “steal the show” (take that Dolph Ziggler!) but rather he wants to wrestle for championships and for WrestleMania. I don’t expect Ali to win this, but if he continues to cut good promos and great matches, whatever heel beats him is going to look like a prick and generate great heat. Call it the Johnny Gargano effect, if you will.
The show cut back to still shots of the Royal Rumble PPV. Back on 205 Live, TJP made his entrance…
2. TJP vs. Tyler Bate in a first round Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match. Charles Robinson was the referee. Vic Joseph talked about how Bate also has a big night on NXT tomorrow with Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate in a UK Championship number one contender match. The crowd was behind Tyler Bate with them chanting “Let’s go Tyler”. Bate dominated early in the chain wrestling. TJP countered into his headscissors into a dab.
Bate countered with his own version of a headscissors headlock. Bate prevented a TJP kip up. TJP got to a vertical base after a wide base. Bate kept the headscissors locked in like a Rottweiler. TJP dodged Bate’s rebound lariat and did a Tiger Feint Kick to escape the ring. Bate acknowledged that move was good out of respect. Bate went for a body scissors but TJP countered into a low Surfboard stretch. Bate rolled and converted to the exact same surfboard with him holding it. Bate converted the surfboard to his signature baby cradle swing.
Bate hit a dropkick and struck his moustache mountain pose. Bate hit a darting Suicide Dive and kip’d up on the outside. Nigel reminded the viewers that Bate is only 20 years old. TJP slowed down Bate by slamming Bate’s left knee to the mat. Joseph noted that TJP made all of his opponents in the CWC tap out with a kneebar. TJP hit Bate with a back and front suplex combo. Nigel noted that TJP started wrestling when he was 13 years old. TJP dodged Bate and locked in a single leg crab on the top rope. TJP hit a slingshot Senton Bomb on Bate. Nigel noted that when TJP was 13, Tyler Bate was born.
TJP focused his attack on the left knee. Bate favored the left knee after a knee strike. Bate dominated TJP with precision strikes. Bate hit a deadlift delayed German Suplex on TJP. Dueling chants started for Bate and TJP, who continued to low kick on Bate. Bate escaped a detonation kick. Bate hit a deadlift Exploder Suplex on TJP. Bate tried to kip up but Nigel pointed out that Bate may have damaged his knee with the kip up due to TJP’s attack. TJP responded to the pain with a standing shooting star. Nigel said that might have not been a great decision because of possible knee damage and landing on his neck.
Bate dominated the subsequent boot battle. Bate kicked off TJP who went for a knee bar. TJP hit a CQC combo. Bate went for his rebound lariat but TJP locked in the kneebar. Bate finally managed to hit his rebound lariat on TJP to get the nearfall. Bate signaled for and executed a helicopter spin on TJP.
Nigel continued to question if standing on the knee was smart. Bate went for the Tyler Driver but TJP countered into the kneebar. Bate rolled up TJP for a two count. Bate hit his feint Bop-Bang punch on TJP. Bate went for the AJ Styles Spiral Tap but TJP rolled away. TJP went back to the kneebar on the injured knee. Bate managed to crawl his way to the rope break. TJP started one of his tantrum and ran into Bate’s elbow. Bate favored the knee and rolled in to a Liger Kick. TJP escaped the Tyler Driver 97′ and rolled up Bate with a hand full of tights to pick up the win.
TJP defeated Tyler Bate via pinfall in 14:32 to advance in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
TJP mocked Bate outside with a three up three down hand sign. Bate responded by telling TJP that he had a hand full of tights and cheated. The replay showed the Spiral Tap Injuring Bate even further. TJP walked out to his Capcom sounding theme as Bate tried to plead his case to Charles Robinson. Vic Joseph advertised two matches for next week. Lince Dorado vs. Kalisto and Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami. 205 Live ended.
John’s Thoughts: Remember when Tyler Bate had to job to Enzo two months ago and sell that gawd awful looking Eat Defeat? There are some chills going through my spine, just a bit, after that match. That was a damn good match on 2-0 F’n 5 Live. When I review Lucha Underground, I compare Ricochet to a young AJ Styles with his ability being able to carry a promotion with top tier main events. Tyler Bate’s ability can draw comparisons to the modern AJ Styles and that AJ is the best pro wrestler in the world, and Bate’s only 20. TJP picked up his game to levels we’ve haven’t seen in a long time. That was great heel work that kept him looking credible with the focus on the injured knee and kneebar. The chicken heel finish was fine as it establishes him as a heel in a promotion that is lacking meaningful heels.
Trust me, I’m still guarded on this one; but this was the best 205 Live show top to bottom that I’ve seen in a long long time. The opening match was great, we got a good Mustafa Ali promo, Maverick Drake did some inspired work, the wrestlers looked inspired for the first time in forever. Also, this might have been Vic Joseph’s best night on commentary as he and Nigel provide great sportscaster-like commentary and analysis. It looks like WWE is taking more of the CWC approach to this and I hope they find a way to make it stick. They also did what I wish they would do is acknowledge that the show has sucked and that we are getting a “New 205 Live” (like Tom Phillips did on NXT). Who would have thought that it would take firing Enzo Amore from WWE to cause this show to do a complete 180 for the better? It was also cool to see 205 take a page out of the NXT book by hyping up Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami for next week’s show. I’ll be by later on today with my 205 Live audio for the Dot Net members and trust me you’ll hear me sounding a lot different in terms of tone on this show than I have been for the rest of my 205 Live audio reviews.