3/6 Moore’s WWE 205 Live TV Review: Drew Gulak vs. Mark Andrews and Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy in the last quarterfinal matches, Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa become a tag team

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

WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired Live from Green Bay, Wisconsin at the Resch Center

The opening teaser opened the show as usual with highlights from last week’s matches. The narrator guy dubbed Cedric Alexander as “The Tournament Favorite”. After the match highlights, the teaser included mini-interviews with the wrestlers in upcoming matches on this episode. Mustafa Ali talked about how Jack Gallagher took him to the limit but he’s going to WrestleMania. Buddy Murphy talked about working too long and too hard to let Ali get past him. Mark Andrews said his favorite thing to do is perform and he wants to live his WrestleMania dream. Drew Gulak had a cut on his eye and said Mark Andrews is going to take away pain from his match. 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” (and nowadays, this show is actually exciting). Nigel recapped the updated bracket. Mark Andrews made his entrance to his Band’s “Fall to Pieces” song. Dasha Fuentes interviewed Drew Gulak. Drew Gulak joked about putting his thoughts in a PowerPoint Presentation, but he said he was so focused on his upcoming match that he hasn’t opened Microsoft Office in weeks. Drew Gulak said he was going to be Cruiserweight Champion at WrestleMania. Gulak said the man in the ring is trying to take that dream away. Gulak said if Dasha wants to know how he’s going to counter the arial game of Andrews, “watch this”…

1. Mark Andrews vs. Drew Gulak in a second-round match of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Nigel said that Andrews can counter Gulak’s strength with his superior escapability. Gulak shoved Andrews into the corner and then laid a loud slap on the face of Andrews. Gulak controlled the body of Andrews with a wristlock to the ground. Andrews escaped with a series of armdrags. Gulak rushed back with a strong forearm. Andrews escaped a sunset flip into a dropkick. Gulak powered back and lifted Andrews with a waistlock. Andrews countered into a side ground headlock.

Andrews returned the favor to Gulak with a loud slap to the face. Gulak reversed a Code Red attempt with an Alabama Slam. Gulak lifted Andrews and walked around the ring to body slam Andrews into the ropes. Gulak then hit a Gorilla Press body slam on Andrews for a nearfall. Gulak dominated with a hammerlock which kept Andrews grounded. Andrews fought hard and succeeded in keeping his free arm away. Gulak managed to ground Andrews again with a chickenwing takedown. Andrews recovered and put all his body force into some forearms but Gulak came back with a simple shoulder block. Andrews flipped into an electric chair position and hit Gulak with a huracanrana. Andrews planned to do a flip dive but Gulak pulled Andrews under the ropes. Andrews escaped and hit Gulak with a Moonsualt from the announce desk.

Andrews made it into the ring and hit Gulak with a modified bulldog takedown. Gulak landed a victory roll into a double stomp. After hyping up the crowd Andrews hit a corkscrew standing moonsault on Gulak for a nearfall. Andrews hit some roundhouse kicks on the chest of Gulak. Gulak had an adrenaline rush and roar as he hit an electric chair slam on Andrews. Gulak hit some strong style slaps and chops on Andrews in the corner with Andrews daring him for more. Andrews gave a few chops and slaps to corner Gulak, causing the referee to pull Andrews away. In a sick move, Andrews hit an impressive huracanrana from the ring apron and onto the floor onto Gulak.

Andrews made it back to the apron and hit a Golden Moonsault on Gulak. Andrews took down Gulak in the ring and hit Gulak with a crucifix bomb which led to a nearfall. Andrews tried to go high risk but in a move similar to what he did to Tony Nese, Gulak pulled Andrews by the long beard that Andrews has suddenly grown. Gulak swatted Andrews mid-air with his fist. Gulak let out a primal (yet somewhat nerdy) yell. Gulak ragdolled Andrews with consecutive shortarm clotheslines. Gulak went for a suplex but Andrews pulled out a surprise Stundog Millionaire. Andrews executed the Shooting Star but Gulak got his knees up. Gulak locked in the Dragon Sleeper and Andrews quickly tapped out.

Drew Gulak defeated Mark Andrews via submission in 12:11 to advance to the semifinals of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.

Drew Gulak didn’t release the hold after the referee’s call immediately. Gulak eventually got off and yelled at the referee. Gulak had his mean face while the referee checked on Andrews who was knocked out. Nigel counted ten seconds as to how long Gulak held on to Andrews…

John’s Thoughts: This was a great match and a great clash of styles. I was a little kid at the time, but it reminded me of watching Nitro before Raw would come on and seeing Dean Malenko vs. Billy Kidman. The great part of 205 Live now is the wrestlers are allowed to tell actual stories in the ring rather than have ring work be an afterthought. It also helps that Andrews has developed into a fun storyteller in the ring since I’ve dreaded watching him in his “Mandrews” skateboard days. Gulak has impressed me even more with his evolution. It helps that he got rid of the Tom Green look; but the guy comes off as viscous heel in the ring when he was so good at playing the nerdy white guy a few months ago. Gulak’s in-ring has improved since his indie days as the guy relies less on chinholds and now creates movement in the ring, all without doing flips, dives, and dropkicks.

Drake Maverick was shown texting on his phone. Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami walked in and Maverick asked the pair if they were wondering why they are a tag team now (because they’re Japanese I assume?). Maverick said Tozawa and Itami must be disappointed in being eliminated and Maverick was disappointed as well. Maverick said Hideo Itami is a worldwide legend and Tozawa is a former cruiserweight champion. Maverick said putting them together, he believes, will bring the best out of the duo. Tozawa gave Itami a handshake and continued his Vince McMahon impersonation by telling Maverick “if you’re wrong, you’re FIRED”…

Vic Joseph cut to a cinematic promo that Mustafa Ali cut and posted on his Twitter page. Mustafa Ali talked about how being a police officer taught him how to look into the eyes of someone and sense danger in them. Ali said he saw Buddy Murphy wish him well and being kind, but Murphy’s eyes sold danger. Ali said Murphy’s eyes had hostility and that Murphy wanted to knock Ali’s head clean off his shoulders. Ali said to look at his eyes. Ali said he was going to share his best kept secret with the man who calls himself “the best kept secret”. Ali said that secret was that the most dangerous man in the world doesn’t fight for himself, he fights for others. Ali turned around showing that he was wearing a Muhammad Ali “G.O.A.T” jacket… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Great promo from Ali. This guy comes off well as a sympathetic babyface but also as a relatable person from the current generation. Ultimately, I’m saying that the guy has range. Also, was it just me or did this cinematic seem like a Jeremy Borash production? Maybe I’m just overthinking it since he’s been labeled an NXT guy, but of course I’m familiar with how the guy shoots things and that’s the reason I’m really excited to see what Borash can bring. Back to Ali, they didn’t air the full promo since Ali had a great line about how a lot of people don’t like the police these days and he joined the police to try to change some of that reputation from within. I’ll embed the full video below.

2. Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami vs. Nemeth Alexander and Scott James. Tozawa managed to get the crowd to cheer (somewhat) with his “ah” chants. Tozawa dominated Nemeth with his signature offense. Nemeth managed to turn the tables a bit as he gave Tozawa some forearms. Tozawa regained control and hit a Saito Suplex on Nemeth. Itami tagged in to initiate some tandem offense. Itami hit a suplex and then pandered to the crowd. Itami hit a kick combination on James who tagged in. Itami hit a flying clothesline on James. Tozawa used an Irish whip to allow Itami to hit a hesitation dropkick on James. Tozawa hit his finisher, the diving Senton, for the win on James.

Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami defeated Nemeth Alexander and Scott James via pinfall in 2:56.

Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness were impressed by how fast Itami and Tozawa got acclimated to each other. Vic Joseph cut to the updated brackets while announcing Cedric Alexander vs. Roderick Strong for next week…

John’s Thoughts: Your standard squash match business, nothing new. I’m not a huge fan of the Tozawa and Itami pairing as it continues to put Itami in a pattern of regression. First, he starts holding back and panders to the crowd more often, and now he’s back in a tag team which is what he was in in NXT when Finn Balor outshone him. I’m also a bit perplexed in the rumored Cruiserweight Tag Team Division, which this seems to be a step towards. We already got the “Lucha Houseparty” trio having squashes and now the Japanese duo. That’s five wrestlers and 205 Live has had about 12. They are going to have to bring in more bodies. You can’t bring up NXT Tag Teams since with the exception of Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, most NXT Tag teams are either big, tall, wide, or any combination of the three. Maybe TM-61 are light enough? But then what happens to your singles division?

The show cut to a Roderick Strong video package where he was giving forearms and suplexes to the punching bags at the Performance Center. Strong said he wants to tell Cedric that he outworks everybody. Strong said he’s been preparing for WrestleMania for a long time and is one match away. The show cut to the interview room that looks like the wrestlers are about to make a dating video. Cedric Alexander sat at the seat for a promo. Cedric said he only has one more match to get to WrestleMania. Cedric brought up how he’s had several chances to become champion but bad things keep popping up. Cedric said this time will be different and nothing will stop him…

Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali were shown getting ready for their match as the WWE Cruiserweight Classic theme played heading into the commercial… [C]

Before the next match, 205 Live cut to yet another Buddy Murphy weigh in led by Drake Maverick and Charles Robinson. Drake Maverick botched a line and in a comical moment WWE left in the re-shoot with Maverick counting down the camera. Murphy weighed in at 197.0 lbs.

John’s Thoughts: Is this going to be Murphy’s gimmick where he’s the guy that gets weighed in every week? I want to suspend my disbelief if they are possibly having a heavyweight in the division but WWE is making it hard by laying it on so thick. I’m willing to believe that he really lost the weight. They didn’t show the scale escalate so who’s to say that the scale wasn’t zeroed out at +30 lbs? It’s just like when a horror movie lays it on thick that “X is not the killer, X is a good guy, there was no way X could have done it” only to have X be the killer.

3. Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy in a second-round match of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Nigel killed the cause again by saying that Buddy Murphy looks to have regained some of his weight back in the last 24 hours via water weight. Murphy cornered Ali with his power early on. Murphy won a headlock exchange with a shoulder block. Ali and Murphy traded waistlocks and suplex attempts. Murphy dominated again with a shoulder block. The camera showed Drew Gulak watching the match at a 90-degree angle.

Murphy locked in a headlock and had more success than Ali at the move. Ali managed to send Murphy outside with a huracanrana. Murphy caused Ali to stop in his tracks with a quick recovery to prevent the Tope. Ali met Murphy’s taunting with dropkick. Ali returned Murphy’s taunt. Ali taunted Murphy into a handshake but Murphy drilled Ali with a shortarm clothesline which turned Ali inside out. Murphy stomped a mudhole into Ali in the corner. Murphy then hit Ali’s back with a PK. Ali kicked Murphy off the top rope and gave Murphy’s outstretched arm a 450 splash. That was different?

Nigel explained the possible damage to the arm similar to the way he described the Drew McIntyre injury with possible hyper-extension. Ali used a tilt a whirl to get a shoulder takedown on Murphy. Murphy tried to shoulder tackle Ali but he shoulder tackled the ring post into the damaged shoulder. Ali hit Murphy with a rolling X-Factor. Ali went for his signature spike tornado DDT but Murphy blocked the DDT with his core. Murphy tossed Ali to the outside which Ali sold well with a face bump on the apron. Murphy hit an impressive flip dive on Ali. Murphy hit a diving meteora on Ali for a nearfall. Nigel noted that Murphy couldn’t hook the leg with the injured arm. Joseph said at times the arm looks like it’s dangling.

Ali shoved Murphy’s injured shoulder into the turnbuckle and hit Murphy with an impressive reverse Frankendriver. Ali successfully hit his signature Tornado DDT leading to a nearfall and shock on Ali’s face. Ali targeted Murphy’s injured shoulder with roundhouse kicks with Murphy asking for more. Ali continued to dominate with Murphy asking for more. Murphy pulled out an impressive CQC combo with Ali returning fire with a spinning wheel kick. Murphy went for his now named “Murphy’s Law” finisher (great name), but his injured shoulder gave up on the pumphandle. Murphy instead went for a backslide but Ali kicked out. Ali locked in a crucifix pin out of nowhere and pulled out the victory.

Mustafa Ali defeated Buddy Murphy via pinfall in 11:04 to advance to the semifinals of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament.

Murphy sold shock as Ali went to celebrate with the fans in the hard camera side. Joseph cut to the turning point of the match which was the 450 to the arm of Murphy. In a great piece of commentary, Nigel McGuinness pointed out in the replay that during the backslide, Murphy’s injured shoulder gave up on him. Murphy looked a bit disappointed up the ramp but gave a nod in acknowledgement at losing to the better man on the night. The graphics showed the updated bracket with Cedric Alexander vs. Roderick Strong in the Orange Division and Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak in the purple division…

John’s Thoughts: A great match that utilized the “show, not tell” method of storytelling to it’s fullest. One huge positive to come from Paul Levesque booking the show is that the matches are telling stories. Most of the non-main-event program stories under Vince McMahon’s booking involved the same formula of buildup -> restholds -> go-home. Now each match is telling a tale. The tale here was Murphy being a powerhouse with some agility. Ali then cut off the arm of the giant by hitting the giant with a 450 to the arm. Props to Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness for their stellar commentary in pointing the viewers in the right direction. Ali continues to be one of the wrestlers I look most forward to when reviewing but Buddy Murphy shouldn’t be slighted as well because his selling of the arm was great.

The “Orange Division” may have contained the most star power of the brackets but my favorite matches via match quality have come from the Purple side of the bracket. The quarterfinals were extremely predictable but that was not a bad thing. It established the semifinalists. In turn, it also set up for some possible intriguing possibilities for WrestleMania. I feel like if WWE wants to tear the house down at Mania they need to put Mustafa Ali in there because the guy sells like a maniac, but Drew Gulak has converted and built himself into a beast in the ring and a confident promo. Cedric Alexander in the finals makes the most sense, but WWE has dubbed him “The Tournament Favorite” so is there a swerve down the line. Could you imagine the madness from an Ali vs. Strong match?. Ali/Alexander, Ali/Strong, Gulak/Alexander, and Gulak/Strong are all great WrestleMania possibilities. I’m looking forward to covering the road to that match. I’ll be back later today for the Dot Net Members with my 205 Live audio review.

Feedback is always appreciated and feel free to contact me via twitter @liljohnm to tweet and discuss pro wrestling or anything for that matter. You can also comment and discuss professional wrestling topics directly with me via email: jmoore3.net@gmail.com.

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