2/20 Moore’s WWE 205 Live Review: Mustafa Ali vs. Jack Gallagher and Buddy Murphy vs. Ariya Daivari in the final first-round WWE Cruiserweight Title tournament matches, brackets revealed, tag match

By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live from Phoenix, Arizona at the Talking Stick Resort Arena

This week’s teaser was just like last week’s where the epic narrator guy recapped the tournament matches from that night. The narrator talked about how the first match contained “an arsenal of a veteran” (Tozawa) vs. “the innovation of an underdog” (Andrews). The intro also recapped Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese. The teaser hyped up all four competitors in this week’s final first round matches. The 205 Live intro theme aired…

Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Joseph said his contractually obligated line of calling 205 Live “The most exciting hour in television” (which to WWE’s credit, that is not a bold face lie anymore). Nigel ran through the card which included the final two first round matches of the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Nigel McGuinness threw in the line that Mustafa Ali is a former police officer.

Airya Daivari made his entrance. Daivari cut a selfie promo where he made fun of Buddy Murphy for saying that losing weight for the Cruiserweight Tournament was difficult. Daivari said this is not the Biggest Loser show where people are rewarded for losing weight. Daivari proclaimed that he was going to win the championship at WrestleMania. Buddy Murphy made his entrance with his old Blake and Murphy theme complete with the dub step. Nigel cut over to another Buddy Murphy weigh-in from Monday where Buddy Murphy supposedly weighs in at 200.9 lbs. now. (which we didn’t see, the medical guy just said it). Adam Pierce and Drake Maverick were in the room verifying the weigh in…

John’s Thoughts: I feel it’s a bit goofy to constantly show Murphy being weighed in because it draws attention to this looking like a sham. It may be true, but he still looks very heavyweight, unlike Cedric Alexander who lost a ton of weight and looks better and lighter. Murphy looks like a muscular Curt Hawkins. I’m rooting that the guy succeeds because that Full Sail Crowd can be unnecessarily cruel sometimes when they buried him and I hope he makes it similar to Elias Sampson.

1. Ariya Daivari vs. Buddy Murphy in a first round WWE Cruiserweight Title tournament match. Nigel noted that the weigh in was yesterday and he might have regained some of his water weight today to give him a size advantage. Nigel and Vic talked about how he may be the largest Cruiserweight in the division (As I said, drawing attention only makes this act look fake). Murphy sent Daivari outside with a huracanrana. Daivari pulled Murphy by the hair into a backbreaker on the apron. Daivari worked on Murphy in the ring.

Murphy escaped a chinlock with a jawbreaker and surprised Daivari with an overhead kick. Murphy grounded Daivari with a Missile Dropkick. Murphy picked up the pace with single leg lariat and kip up. Murphy set up Daivari with an enziguri. Daivari rolled outside. Murphy hit Daivari with an impressive Tope Con Hilo. Murphy landed a top rope meteora on Daivari for a nearfall. Nigel noted that Murphy might have hurt his back on the Tope. Daivari grounded Murphy and hit his Magic Carpet [-less] ride frogsplash on Murphy for a nearfall. Murphy rolled up Daivari on a lariat attempt but Daivari countered back into his finisher the hammerlock lariat. Murphy kicked out at two. Murphy hit a CQC combo on Daivari to set up and land his finisher, a pumphandle pop-up swinging fireman carry slam (modified Paige Turner). Murphy won the match.

Buddy Murphy defeated Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 7:34 to advance in the WWE Cruiserweight Title tournament.

Murphy yelled that this was his division. Nigel McGuinness noted that he’s never seen anyone kick out of Daivari’s finisher lariat. The camera showed shots of the WrestleMania sign and belt pedestal…

John’s Thoughts: This was the most “WWE style” match of the tournament, but that’s not a bad thing. This was a good match and I’m surprised by the solid babyface work that Murphy did in the match. Murphy is playing the heavyweight who’s trying to play cruiserweight and he did a good job with the cruiserweight high spots. Ultimately, I want to see him as a heel because this show needs strong heels, but I can also see the argument to keep him face because his heel in ring work leaves much to be desired. Daivari is always solid in the ring but he is still scrambling to find a character. It also hurt him a bit that Murphy kicked out of both of his finishers given how damaged he was after being a part of that lame Enzo Train thing.

Vic Joseph cut over to Drake Maverick who introduced the viewers to the actual bracket graphic (finally!!!). Maverick noted that in two weeks Buddy Murphy will face the winner of the main event of this show. Maverick also announced Drew Gulak vs. Mark Andrews for that same show. Maverick announced Cedric Alexander vs. TJP for next week as well as Kalisto vs. Roderick Strong. TJP and Cedric Alexander walked in. TJP mocked Alexander for being inspiring. Alexander said TJP is standing in his path to WrestleMania and his dirty tricks won’t work… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Interesting brackets because I sorta expected an easy path for Cedric Alexander and for TJP to be given a somewhat easy path since this new cruiserweight division is sorely lacking in credible heels. The brackets aren’t bad though as all the matchups can go either way and make sense. I think the only one that seems like a lock is Strong going over Kalisto, but I can see Kalisto moving forward too. Raw and Smackdown creative, take note. This is how you book matches and this is a common occurrence on NXT.

Kalisto’s Lucha Dragon played as he accompanied Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado to the ring. Kalisto wore his El Dragon Azteca Jr esque match since his head looks like a watermelon (credit for Wil Pruett for that observation with EDAJ).

2. Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado vs. Evan Daniels and Corazon Delgado. I hit the pause button to go to WWE.com to find out the names of the enhancement guys. Is the second guy’s first name really “heart”? Dorado and Daniels started off the match. Dorado got the early advantage and dominated with lucha libre moves. Vic Joseph talked about how a lot of good “lucha things” go down with the “Lucha House party” which is the name this trio has been going by the last few weeks. Metalik tagged in for some tandem offense. Kalisto did his lucha things on the outside. Metalik walked the ropes and hit a dropkick on Delgado. Metalik got distracted and blindsided by Delgado.

Daniels tagged in and mocked Kalisto’s Lucha thing. Daniels dominated Metalik until he was able to get the hot tag in on Dorado who cleaned house. Dorado hit a spinning wheel kick on Delgado and sitout facebuster. Dorado showed off a nice Capoeira kip up. Dorado hit an innovative scissor kick enziguri from the apron. Daniels broke up the subsequent pin. Dorado hit a double Lethal Injection on the enhancement guys. The Lucha House party hit stereo tope planchas on the opponents. Dorado hit a Shooting Star press on Delgado for the win.

Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado defeated Evan Daniels and Corazon Delgado in 4:01.

Kalisto led his trio in doing his Lucha thing…

John’s Thoughts: It was a bit surprising to see Metalik selling so much for the local enhancement wrestlers. Dorado looked really impressive though and dominated throughout. Dorado is someone I see similar to Sin Cara in that they are damaged in their current iteration, yet they speak great English and are great in the ring with more than just your basic Lucha Libre. Cara and Dorado are two guys I see having good futures if they can either unmask or change their mask.

Vic Joseph cut to a Drew Gulak selfie promo. Gulak wore a suit and talked about how people are saying that Gulak went to far. Gulak said winners don’t go too far, that’s something losers say to feel better. Gulak said Mark Andrews is all flash and panache. Gulak said that won’t help when Andrews is on the ground and forced to tap out. Gulak let out a smirk and mocked the thought of going “too far”. They cut to a Mark Andrews selfie promo as Mark Andrews was standing in the middle of a ring in a Bingo hall (you could see the bingo scoreboard behind him). Andrews talked about how he’s excited about his next match but not excited of the thought of tapping out to Drew Gulak. Andrews brought up Gulak’s no fly zone and showed off a somersault while holding his phone.

Mustafa Ali was shown taping his hands up while Jack Gallagher was shown shadow boxing backstage heading into the commercial… [C]

During the commercial, and ad aired for the Andrade Almas vs. Johnny Gargano Title vs. Career match set for tomorrow’s NXT episode. Back to the show, Jack Gallagher made his entrance wearing green three-quarter length tights which Nigel mentioned was traditional for bare knuckle boxers. Mustafa Ali made his entrance next with a focused look on his face. Nigel noted again that Mustafa Ali is a former Chicago police officer.

3. Jack Gallagher vs. Mustafa Ali in a first round WWE Cruiserweight Title tournament match. Nigel wanted to know if the viewers were going to see the more aggressive Gallagher that Nigel knew a long time ago. Gallagher dominated early on with his superior chain wrestling. Ali went into a hammerlock but Gallagher reversed into a ground hammerlock. Gallagher maintained control over Ali’s wrist like he was a Rottweiler. Buddy Murphy was shown watching the match at a 90-degree angle (because for some reason people watch TV like that in WWE). Ali kept trying to use his agility to slip away but Gallagher’s technique was still superior.

Gallagher then took on a running offense and turned a side slam into a Fujiwara armbar. Gallagher mocked Ali with a formal bow. Gallagher then taunted Ali by giving up his open hand for a hammerlock. Ali took a headlock instead and gained some control. Gallagher hooked Ali’s leg for an escape. Ali rolled through and landed a single leg crab. Gallagher used his boots to escape Ali. Gallagher waved hello at Ali while doing his signature corner handstand. Ali did a somersault and waved back at Gallagher. Gallagher and Ali traded a bunch of pinfall attempts which got a respectful ovation from the crowd. Nigel noted that if this were being scored by points that Gallagher would be ahead.

John’s Thoughts: Nice call by Nigel and fellow martial arts practioners will respect the attention to detail. If Jack Gallagher were in Impact Wrestling with such technique, he could be a person to get over that weird pseudo-MMA “Grand Championship Rules” system.

Gallagher tried to keep control by having higher ground over Ali with the headlocks. Gallagher grounded Ali with a Muay Thai knee strike. Ali sent Gallagher outside with a spinning wheel kick. Ali went for a baseball slide but Gallagher trapped Ali in the ring apron for some punches clubbing blows. Gallagher used his leg to trap Ali’s arm during a headlock in the ring. Gallagher hit a snap suplex on Ali and then worked on Ali for a sequence. Ali flipped away from the corner for a slight rally topped off with a popup dropkick. Ali caught Gallagher with a front kick and huracanrana.

Ali slipped to the apron and hit an enziguri on Gallagher. Ali hit Gallagher with rolling X Factor. Gallagher made sure to pull down Ali to prevent the inverted 450. Ali and Gallagher brawled on the top rope as Gallagher slipped down to yank Ali’s left arm on the top rope. Gallagher then lifted Ali and tossed him like a lawn dart into the turnbuckle where his shoulder hit and he tumbled to the ground. Ali sold it like a champ. Gallagher got a nearfall in the ring. Ali used his hands to prevent an armbar but Gallagher converted to an omoplata like position.

Ali escaped with a pin attempt. Gallagher continued to attack the injured left arm of Ali. Gallagher hit a hammerlock body slam on the injured arm of Ali. Ali dropkicked Gallagher outside to get a bit of breathing room. Ali went for a corkscrew plancha but hit nothing but dirt. Nigel noted that Ali had to adjust since Gallagher got out of the way. Ali went for a crossbody but Gallagher rolled into a Fujiwara armbar. Ali escaped and went for it again but Gallagher caught a midair Ali into the Fujiwara Armbar. Ali made it to the bottom rope for the break.

Ali was bleeding from the mouth and selling the left shoulder. Ali went high risk but Gallagher got control of Ali’s right arm on the top rope. Ali went high risk but ate a dropkick from Gallagher which sent him falling into the barricade like he just got murderized. In some meta-analysis by me, the replay showed that the move was intentional and this guy is just that damn good at selling. Vic Joseph yelled that the referee has to save Ali from himself. Nigel said that they should send out the medics. Gallagher continued to attack by sending Ali’s injured shoulder into the barricade.

Gallagher tossed Ali into the turnbuckle with a hammerlock slam. Ali kicked out of a pin which gave Gallagher a window for an armbar. Ali struggled to keep the claw hold on his own hand to prevent the armbar. Gallagher converted to a higher position and laid in clubbing forearms to the lower neck and shoulder of Ali. Nigel McGuinness yelled in concern and told the referee to check and see if Ali is passed out. Ali sold being passed out but managed to kick out of the subsequent pin attempt at two. Ali escaped a reverse superplex and hit Gallagher with a superkick and tornado spike DDT. Joseph yelled “Ali, this is your chance!!!” while Nigel referenced Muhammad Ali in saying “Bomaye!!!” (somewhere in the back, Shinsuke Nakamura sled a tear at that call). Mustafa pulled out the inverted 450 on Gallagher for the win.

Mustafa Ali defeated Jack Gallagher via pinfall in 17:08 to advance in the WWE Cruiserweight Title tournament.

Nigel McGuinness got out of his seat, as seen from the ring, as he gave Ali and Gallagher a standing ovation. Vic Joseph talked about how Mustafa Ali wants to go back to the kids he mentors in Chicago and how they should never give up on their dreams. Nigel McGuinness said he’s never seen a match turn around in such dramatic fashion. Ali continued to sell the injured left arm. Vic Joseph cut to the updated brackets with all of the first-round matches done with…

John’s Thoughts: A great match where Mustafa Ali made Jack Gallagher look like a million bucks in defeat. People who practice martial arts know that after the replays, the scary sell jobs by Ali were completely safe yet the guy sells like a madman. That goes to show that Ali is quite the in-ring magician. This combined with his show stealing match against Cedric Alexander during the awkward Enzo Amore week sold me on Mustafa Ali maybe being WWE’s best seller at the moment. He reminds me a bit of Dolph Ziggler and Jeff Hardy. Dolph Ziggler’s character is damaged to all hell and Jeff’s legs are damaged to all hell so Ali might be the top. To avoid being a Ziggler, he has to show and not tell which hurt Dolph over the years. Gallagher has had more good matches than bad in his WWE run. I do hope that this leads to some development for him because ever since he turned heel I can’t remember him ever winning any matches. Maybe he needs to go back face but 205 Live is in dire need of bad guys.

I was never impressed by Vic Joseph in his WWE or House of Hardcore work. However, he has developed into a strong babyface announcer during the rebranding of 205 Live. Where Mauro Ranallo sometimes goes a bit too far too often, Joseph has been hitting that right note of being intense and calm at the right times. Joseph and Nigel deserve a lot of credit for showing genuine emotion during the main event while leading the viewers in their suspension of disbelief by showing concern for Ali’s life and well-being.

Overall, this was another great episode in a successful first round of the cruiserweight tournament. It was also great to see that regular matches can still happen with the “Lucha House party” enhancement match in the middle, though I’m not too fond of the “Lucha House party” name. Now I’m just picturing Kid n’ Play in Lucha Masks. Give 205 Live a chance. A month ago, I would have told you to stay the hell away from this show because it was a waste of time but so far this is a new 205 Live and it’s become a good show. I’ll have more thoughts in my member exclusive audio review later today.

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