By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on WWE Network
Aired Live in Kansas City, Missouri at the Sprint Center
205 Live started off with an intro teaser recapping last week’s introduction of Drake Maverick (Rockstar Spud) by Daniel Bryan. It also summarized Drake Maverick’s announcement of the WrestleMania Cruiserweight Championship tournament. The 205 Live intro theme aired…
Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Joseph and McGuinness were excited about Drake Maverick as the GM of the show. Joseph went over this episode’s card which included Kalisto vs. Lince Dorado and Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami. Kalisto made his entrance first still wearing the Dragon themed mask (which I’m a huge proponent of him using). In what was possibly Vic Joseph’s best line ever, Joseph talked about how “we were about to see some good lucha things tonight” (in reference to Kalisto’s infamous promo botch at the WWE Draft). Joseph cut to a Kalisto Instagram Selfie promo where Kalisto talked about reclaiming the Cruiserweight Champion and being the king of flight. Kalisto talked about Dorado being his boy and that the Lucha House party will continue. Kalisto said “may the best man win”…
1. Kalisto vs. Lince Dorado in a first round Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match. Kalisto and Dorado started of the match with the Code of Honor handshake. Dorado held on longer to show that he was serious. Both luchadores managed to get in some shots during the opening chain wrestling. The next sequence was a traditional indie lucha sequence. Kalisto led the crowd in his lucha thing. Kalisto blocked an Irish whip with a stand on the standing chest of Dorado. Kalisto sent Dorado outside with a huracanrana and Suicide Dive.
Kalisto went for a sunset flip but Dorado sat on Kalisto for a pin attempt. Lince Dorado sent Kalisto and hit an innovative cannonball Tope. Dorado showed some aggression which Nigel noted he was a huge fan of. Lince Dorado planted Kalisto with a deadlift Falcon Arrow. Kalisto managed to stagger Dorado with a thrust kick. Both men fought on the turnbuckle until Dorado grounded Kalisto with a high Frankensteiner. Kalisto dominated the succeeding strike exchange. Kalisto regained control with a corkscrew elbow. Dorado blocked a Frankendriver into a rollup attempt.
Kalisto fought Dorado on the other turnbuckle. After staggering Dorado with a kick kalisto hit a Super Victory Roll on Dorado for a two count. Kalisto yelled his lucha thing and went for the SDS but Dorado countered. Dorado caught the Listo Kick. Dorado hit Kalisto with the Lethal Injection finisher and nailed the shooting star on Kalisto. Dorado sold gut pain after the two finishers allowing Kalisto to roll to the ringside area. Nigel noted that Dorado’s damage to himself caused him to lose the opportunity. Kalisto hit Dorado with the Salida del Sol. Dorado broke up the pin with a rope break. Dorado went for a rollup but Kalisto escaped. Kalisto went for the reverse Frankendriver (and there was a bit of a botch with Dorado’s neck pressing and sliding on Kalisto’s back). Kalisto hit the Salida del Sol on Dorado to pick up the win.
Kalisto defeated Lince Dorado via pinfall in 11:38 to advance in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
Joseph and McGuinness went over the false finishes as well as the finishing sequence. After the match, Kalisto tried to hold Dorado’s hand up out of respect but Dorado told Kalisto that it was his victory and that Kalisto should keep his eyes focused on WrestleMania. Kalisto did his lucha thing…
John’s Thoughts: Dorado looked okay, but I hope there was no serious damage from his neck getting sandwiched. Personally, I’ve been tossed around the mat in my Judo matches and getting your neck pressed like that can have you hurt for weeks and I’ve seen other people out for months. Anyways, that was another great CWC style match and I liked that the two luchadores found a unique way to insert false finishes other than the indie cliché of kicking out of finishers with Kalisto rolling away and Dorado getting the rope break. I would have liked to have seen Dorado go over though because Kalisto is established and can eat the loss. So far, there are no surprises in the tournament.
Vic Joseph cut to the abridged version of the Roderick Strong documentary that aired on NXT (The real version took 20-30 minutes and was spread out over two weeks). The vignette got in the part of Strong growing up in a trailer park and how his parents had drug and alcohol problems. Strong talked about how wrestling kept him away from the vices of his parents and saved his life. Strong said he’ll give you the best 8, 20, 30, or 60 minutes in the ring. Strong said he’s not fighting for himself now, he’s fighting for his family. His wife, Marina Shafir of Rousey’s Four Horsewomen, was shown giving him a hug… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A good condensed version of the Roddy vignette but if this is your first exposure to Roddy I would forward you to the April 26, 2017 episode of NXT as well as the following week to get the full-on documentary of Roderick Strong. It’s a touching tale and it did a lot to make him a genuine and sympathetic babyface in NXT. It also did a lot to mitigate his weaknesses on the mic by doing a lot of his exposition for him.
Back to the show, they cut to a Cedric Alexander selfie promo where he talked about advancing to round 2 of the WrestleMania tournament. Mustafa scared Alexander from behind and taunted him by saying that he will hit his 054 splash…
Next was TJP sitting in the interview set. Perkins red off tweets of people not liking the way he won last week. Perkins said it sucks to get booed for succeeding in life. Perkins said at the CWC he lived and died to give the people something to believe in and now he has to ignore that people don’t believe. Perkins said he did what he had to do to win. He said he’s not doing it for you, he’s doing it for himself…
Nigel McGuinness announced that next week’s tournament match was going to be Akira Tozawa vs. Mark Andrews. A Mark Andrews vignette aired which was the one WWE aired during the UK Tournament. In the vignette Andrews talked about how he not only wanted to put the UK on the map but he wanted to make Wales known for Wrestling (Take that Rob Terry and Mason Ryan!!!)
John’s Thoughts: So ultimately that show TNA had should have been called WWE 205 Live British Bootcamp. Spud was the winner of Season 1 and Andrews was the winner of season 2. Another guy TNA misused because as I’ve said before, WWE did for for Mark Andrews in that two-minute video package than TNA did in two years. If you haven’t seen Andrews wrestle, you’re in for a treat. I like to call him a Welsh Luchador because he wrestles a very smooth Lucha Libre style.
Akira Tozawa cut a selfie promo where he asked a guy who was going to win next week’s match between him and Andrews. The random guy said Andrews was going to win. Tozawa was goofy and said “you don’t know, you don’t know?”. Tozawa then said “you’re fired” and did the Vince McMahon impersonation that he’s been doing every week the last few weeks.
John’s Thoughts: Huh? Please don’t tell me they’re going to make Tozawa a random Vince McMahon impersonator? I hope it’s just him being cute with the selfies but I fear the worse because they’ve been showcasing this the past few weeks.
Sanity vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish was advertised during the commercial for NXT. Back from the break, the 205 Live J-Brone team of Tony Nese and Drew Gulak appeared in Drake Maverick’s office. Maverick asked Drew what happened to him. Maverick said Gulak used to be a good grappler and now he’s just doing PowerPoints picket signs. Maverick said Drew has become a goof. Nese let out a chuckle. Maverick told Nese “I don’t know what you’re laughing at Muscles”. Maverick said Nese is the most physically gifted person on the 205 Live roster but it’s being wasted because all Nese does is count his abs while standing on the ramp. Maverick said “Congrats Tony! You have Abs!” (Spud’s just reiterating my criticisms of Nese and I’m not wrong). Maverick said Gulak and Nese are wasted potential. Maverick said Nese and Gulak are just “comedy acts”. Maverick said this is a different 205 Live and he booked Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese for next week’s 205 Live…
Hideo Itami made his entrance first. Itami got an inset promo where WWE continues to do that weird thing where the words flash on the screen of the promos delivered. Itami gave Strong credit for being a good wrestler but Itami said he was going to win and go to WrestleMania. Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph talked about how Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami would be considered a “Dream Match” or final match and it was happening in the first round….
2. Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami in a first round Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match. Itami started the match off with a head-scissors headlock. Strong countered into a bow and arrow stretch. Strong and Itami fought to a stalemate in the chain grappling. Itami blocked a Strong backbreaker into a headlock which he kept synched in. Strong grounded Itami with a single leg dropkick to get a two count on Itami. Nigel McGuinness noted that Hideo Itami is a master of innovation, so much that several WWE stars modeled their movesets after Hideo Itami (Daniel Bryan and CM Punk are examples to this reference Nigel is giving).
Hideo Itami hit Strong with a guillotine knee drop while Strong was draped on the second rope. Itami teased stomping on Strong but Itami just tapped his foot on Roddy’s face out of disrespect. Strong reversed a tornado DDT into a side gutbuster. Vic Joseph noted that Strong might not be focused since he is also the number one contender to Pete Dunne’s WWE UK title. Nigel said that’s just credit to Strong’s ability to put himself in opportunities for success. Strong initiated a stretch which Joseph noted was targeting the surgically repaired shoulder of Itami. Strong hit Itami with a pumphandle backbreaker which Nigel noted was similar to the Bitter End (pumphandle Flatliner).
Strong accidentally yelled “Come on, KENTA” and then corrected himself by saying Hideo. Strong and Itami had a strong style forearm exchange. Strong tied up Itami like a pretzel and continued to stretch out the injured shoulder of Itami. Itami managed to get to a vertical base and hit a jawbreaker. Itami floated over and hit Strong with a DDT. Itami initiated a rally on Strong and hit him with a Suplex. Itami hit Strong with a running boot and flying clothesline. Strong hit Itami with an enziguri and then an Angle Slam for a nearfall. Strong and Itami ten traded shots on the outside.
Strong then tossed Itami like a basketball with a backbreaker on the ring apron. Itami reversed a Strong suplex in to his own Falcon Arrow. strong caught Itami and went for the stronghold (liontamer) but Itami fought out. Strong caught Itami with a back elbow. Itami reversed into his modified Rings of Saturn. Strong got his feet to the ropes for the rope break. Itami hit Strong with his signature Busaiku Knee to get a nearfall. Itami went for his “new” GTS but Strong fought out of it. Strong hit a gutbuster and cloud 9 on Itami for a nearfall. Itami fought his way out of the top rope and gave Strong a running boot for the stagger. Itami hit strong with a Super Falcon Arrow to get another nearfall on Strong. Itami caught Strong with a powerful right hand and backfist. Itami hit a hesitation dropkick and went for the finisher. Strong hit a knee and the End of Heartache on Itami for the win.
Roderick Strong defeated Hideo Itami via pinfall in 17:02 to advance in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.
Roderick Strong celebrated his win in the ring to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A really good match that you should go out of your way to see if you haven’t been watching 205 Live in a while. This show’s in ring quality has improved drastically since the dark Enzo Amore era. That said, by Hideo Itami’s Pro Wrestling Noah standards, this was a bit underwhelming on his side with Roderick Strong carrying a bulk of the psychology. Jason Powell asked Paul Levesque (Triple H) about Hideo Itami’s lack of progression in WWE during a conference call and Paul mentioned that the only thing holding Itami back was Itami himself and how he was holding back. It took Itami two years, but when he returned from his latest shoulder injury he unleashed the old Hideo Itami from Pro Wrestling Noah and Ring of Honor.
To reference another one of my reports HERE, I’ll forward you to my May 10, 2017 NXT review where I dubbed Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami as Itami’s best match in WWE to that point because Itami stopped holding back. This week, Itami regressed back to the “nervous” Hideo, so much that he went back to pandering with the crowd. I hope this isn’t due to WWE telling him to pull back due to the Brian Kendrick injury. If so, I hope he finds a way to get some of his edge back and not be nervous about injuring people. Of course, just don’t injure people and go back to what was working at the end of his NXT run which was shades of the old KENTA. Criticisms aside, I liked Strong going over and was surprised by the finish since I was expecting the 205 regulars be the ones moving through. As Nigel mentioned, Strong is involved with many things like the UK Championship, the Cruiserweight Championship, and he was starting up a feud with Lars Sullivan before Sullivan went MIA.
So far so good with the “new 205 Live”. It’s almost like we’re getting a 2nd Annual Cruiserweight Classic, but that isn’t a bad thing. Anything to wipe away stank of the “most nihilist hour in television” in my reviewing experience. Another positive is the commentary team. Vic Joseph has been strong commentator since the rebrand and Nigel is back to what makes him good on NXT. Give this show a chance again if you want to watch some good wrestling. Interesting to say, this was the worst show on television for a while, down there with Impact Wrestling, but now this may be better than Smackdown? I’ll be by later today with my 205 Live Audio Review for the Dot Net Members.