3/20 Moore’s WWE 205 Live Review: Drew Gulak vs. Mustafa Ali to advance to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match at WrestleMania, TJP vs. Kenneth Johnson, Lince Dorado vs. Hideo Itami

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

WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired Live in Dallas, Texas at the American Airlines Center

205 Live started off with the same intro teaser as it usually does, prior week’s highlights and sound bites from the current episode. The 205 Live intro theme aired…

Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Vic Joseph said his contractually obligated line of calling 205 Live “The most exciting hour of television”. Lince Dorado made his entrance with his Lucha House Party stablemates Gran Metalik and Kalisto. Dorado had his video wall but came out to Kalisto Lucha Dragon theme. Hideo Itami came out with Akira Tozawa. Itami’s back to yelling at people and telling them to “respect me!!!”…

1. Lince Dorado (w/ Gran Metalik and Kalisto) vs. Hideo Itami (w/ Akira Tozawa). The referee broke up the initial tie-up which allowed Itami to sneak in a cheap knee and lock in a headlock. Itami had a rally of shoulder blocks but was tossed to the ringside. Dorado teased doing a Topé but instead made a fakeout into a Ginyu Force Pose. The crowd started to get behind Dorado and Kalisto’s Lucha thing. Itami yelled “shut up!”. Dorado locked in a Kesa Gatame but Itami made it to his feet to lay in some shoulder tackles on Dorado. Dorado used his agility to sidestep Itami. Dorado hit a dropkick and corkscrew plancha on Itami at ringside.

Kalisto was having the time of his life doing his lucha thing and piggyback riding Metalik. Joseph said he was shocked that Nigel was so excited. Dorado held on to Itami’s head for a sequence. Itami regained a bit of momentum after hitting a running knee to the gut of Dorado. Itami booted Dorado outside and yelled at everyone to respect him. Itami hit one of his signature still slaps. Dorado hit Itami with a stiff slap of his own. Dorado had a stiff strike rally topped off with a spinning wheel kick. You could tell it was good because Nigel yelled “oh my lord”.

Dorado landed a springboard crossbody on Itami. Dorado went for a Lethal Injection but Itami came back with a powerful lariat. Itami landed a backfist combo on Itami. Dorado blocked the hesitation dropkick with a superkick. Kalisto led the crowd in a lucha chant. Dorado sent Itami to ringside. Metalik and Itami had some words at ringside as a continuation of their problems from last week. Itami yelled “shut up” and shoved Metalik. Metalik pulled and shoved Itami into the apron to invoke the DQ.

Hideo Itami defeated Lince Dorado via DQ in 6:12.

Kalisto and Akira Tozawa ran into the center of the ring to prevent a brawl like last week. Kalisto and Tozawa managed to break things up. Itami taunted Dorado while walking up the ramp. Vic Joseph cut to a Drew Gulak video package.

Drew Gulak talked about how he was not blowing smoke and grandiose in wanting a better 205 live. Clips were shown of Drake Maverick chewing out comedic Drew Gulak. Gulak said he doesn’t like being called a goof. Gulak said he’s not here to prove anyone wrong, but rather himself right. Gulak said he’s here to set an example that no one else can. Gulak said the tournament puts you in a “lose or go home” situation. Gulak said he intends on winning and taking a step closer to the title. Gulak said the example he is setting is leading to success. Gualk said the keys to victory are to put him on the mat, pin him, submit him. Gulak said he’s going to become the next Cruiserweight Champion at WrestleMania…

John’s Thoughts: Good opening match and the type of progressive match that I would like to see on 205 Live once they move away from the tournament story arc. Lince Dorado continues to be the most impressive of the Lucha House Party trio with his innovation and charisma. That’s tough given how heralded Metalik and Kalisto are via reputation. While Itami is still holding back in the ring, I like that he’s going back to more of the heelish persona which started to give him some success at the end of his NXT run. Itami’s good at being a dick, which gets emphasized due to people of eastern cultures usually having a high affinity towards being respectful. In being a dick, he’s pandering to the crowd less often which makes his moves transition well.

Cedric Alexander was shown in front of the solo sit-down interview set. Alexander talked about how last week was the greatest moment of his entire career. He said he went to hell and back to earn a spot at WrestleMania. Alexander said the journey isn’t over. He said he achieved one dream by making it to WrestleMania, but that will mean nothing if he doesn’t win the Cruiserweight Championship…

TJP made his entrance to his video game theme and his opponent was WWE CWC enhancement wrestler Kenneth Johnson. TJP cut a selfie promo where he bragged about being the first Cruiserweight Champion…

2. TJP vs. Kenneth Johnson. Perkins made a few quick takedown attempts on Johnson. Perkins hit a flying elbow on Johnson. Perkins hit a European Uppercut and consectuive Suplexes. Perkins followed up with a slingshot swanton. Joseph and McGuinness brought up the similarities that Perkins has to Shinsuke Nakamura. Nigel noted that both Nakamura and Perkins were trained at the New Japan Santa Monica dojo. Johnson hot a boot in when Perkins was getting cocky. Johnson hit a Liger Kick on Perkins for a one count. Perkins ended the momentum with a basement dropkick and series of moves. Perkins hit the detonation kick followed up by the kneebar for the submission win.

TJP defeated Kenneth Johnson via submission in 2:39.

Perkins held on to the hold a few seconds longer before letting go…

John’s Thoughts: Another good preview as to what to expect after the end of the title tourney. A good win to rebuild Perkins but he does need to find an identity that sticks. Nigel makes the same Shinsuke Nakamura comparison that I keep bringing up. The comparison on my end came from Perkins having Nakamura’s best television match in 2017 in my opinion. Perkins wrestles like a main eventer, which was evident when I was reviewing his matches back in TNA. I also like that they are starting to build up some strong heels like Perkins, Gallagher, Gulak, and likely Itami. As for Kenneth Johnson, I hope the guy sticks around. This show needs an enhancement guy and he can be this show’s Cezar Bononi. That’s not a knock, enhancement wrestlers are valuable.

Vic Joseph cut to a Mustafa Ali interview package. The package had cool hip hop beats in the background. Ali talked about his Chicago Police Officer history. Ali said he wanted to be more than just an activist who speaks for change. He wanted to be the change. Ali said this tournament means a lot to him in more than one way. He said he wants to be Cruiserweight Champion, but he also wants to fix things. He said he wants to change someone’s mind. Ali said when people see the name “Mustafa Ali” they boo by default and he wants to change that preconception. Ali said he’s going to fight until he can’t fight no more. Ali said we will have to wait and see if that’s at WrestleMania. Ali was shown prepping backstage while Drew Gulak was mediating… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Good sports-style promos from Gulak and Ali tonight. Of the two, Ali has proven to be a more enthralling promo. I’m personally liking Ali’s targeting of real life issues in society and not coming off as forced. Gulak’s run as the comedy goof has enhanced his current character and keeping it from coming out as bland and vanilla. As I said, I expect Ali to win this upcoming match, but Gulak winning wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It would have been weird four months ago.

Dasha Fuentes interviewed Drake Maverick who was extra jittery all of a sudden. Maverick said he’s fuming because people lost their heads and ruined a match that just happened. Maverick said he thinks Kalisto and Akira Tozawa should be rewarded for calming things down. Maverick booked Akira Tozawa vs. Kalisto vs. TJP vs. Buddy Murphy for next week in a fatal four-way. Maverick gave himself a pat on the back for making a negative into a positive…

3. Drew Gulak vs. Mustafa Ali for a spot in the WrestleMania Cruiserweight Championship match. Gulak dominated early on with a wristlock sequence. Ali had an armbar locked in. Ali reversed a body slam with the same armbar hold. After dodging each others blows, Gulak managed to gain the upper hand after a flapjack slam. Ali swung the momentum in his favor with a huracanrana and popup dropkick. Gulak regained control with an elbow to the ear of Ali. Gulak hit a sharp lariat to Ali where a loud slap could be heard. Ali went for a rollup. Gulak reversed an electric chair into an electric chair slam.

Gulak toyed with Ali with boots. Gulak used the mandible claw to lift up Ali. Ali beat Gulak to the punch by giving Gulak the stiff slaps that he usually dishes. Ali had a rally after a spinning wheel kick. Nigel noted that Ali could cost himself if he overexerts himself. Ali hit a rolling X-Factor on Gulak for a nearfall. Ali returned the favor from earlier by toying with Gulak with some boots. Gulak regained control after slamming Ali’s face into the second turnbuckle. Gulak locked in a Dragon Sleeper but couldn’t grapevine it because Ali maintained a vertical base.

Ali fought out but got planted with a discus lariat. Gulak made his primal (and somewhat nerdy) yell. Ali reversed a pin attempt into a Koji Clutch on Gulak. If this were Chicago, Ali’s hometown, a CM Punk chant would have likely ensued. Gulak managed to get his foot to the apron to break the hold. Gulak went to the barricade for some respite. Ali nestled on the top rope and hit Drew Gulak with a somersault. There was a loud “Ali” chant. Ali went for the inverted 450 but Gulak quickly made it to his feet to trip off Ali to the outside. Ali broke up the ten count but Gulak didn’t relent and tossed Ali into the barricade.

Gulak tried to run into Ali but Ali sidestepped and sent Gulak over the announce table. Ali flew over the table and went to the ground and pound on Gulak. Ali cleared the announce table for a move. Gulak reversed the move and backtossed Ali clear to the floor. The crowd fired up with an Ali chant. Gulak broke up the ten count and yelled like a maniac. Gulak tossed Ali into a barricade. Gulak then body slam tossed Ali over the barricade and into the Timekeeper. Ali had a great near-loss moment by beating the ten count at nine. The crowd was on fire.

Gulak went for the Dragon Sleeper again but couldn’t grapevine it with Ali breaking the hold with the top rope rope break. Gulak went for a power slam but Ali slipped into his signature tornado DDT. Mustafa Ali landed the inverted 450 for the victory.

Mustafa Ali defeated Drew Gulak via pinfall in 15:12 to earn a spot in the WrestleMania Cruiserweight Championship match.

Vic Joseph talked about not giving up on your dreams and how Mustafa Ali is breaking barriers. Dasha Fuentes interviewed Ali after the match after earning a spot at WrestleMania. Ali said he isn’t going to WrestleMania, “we” are going to WrestleMania. Ali said he’s had one mission his entire life. He said it doesn’t matter about your name, where you’re from, the color of your skin, the only thing that matters is what is inside of your heart. Ali’s entrance theme played. A WrestleMania graphic was shown with Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander for the Cruiserweight Championshp at the biggest show of the WWE Year. Ali was shown hugging a family member at ringside as 205 Live closed with his exit…

John’s Thoughts: What else could you have expected? This was a great match. A great clash of styles. A great bunch of everything right here. Granted, Cedric Alexander and Roderick Strong had the better overall match with the more compelling storytelling; but Mustafa Ali has put on great match after great match. Great story after great story. The guy’s Dolph Ziggler done right. It helps that he’s building up a backstory and cutting good promos. Drew Gulak had a great run in this tournament as well in reinventing himself. The guy used to be chinlock city back in the day. I like this brutal edge. My favorite spot from him was him tossing Ali like a trash bag into a dumpster. I’m intrigued to see how he does down the road. The “Orange Division” of the bracket had the star power but the “purple “division” bracket showed the most surprise, evolution, and innovation. A great end to the tournament.

Now that the tournament is technically over because the next match is the title match, we might get a little preview as to what 205 Live will end up becoming next week. Hopefully we also get a Cedric and Mustafa face-off. To point out another positive before I end the review. Props to Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness for providing strong commentary throughout the new 205 Live rebranding. Vic Joseph in particular has turned up the emotion and the best parts of his commentary are when he shows emotion over the health and well-being of the wrestlers. Speaking of the emotion, the crowd was great tonight. Maybe they were riding the “Daniel Bryan high” a bit but that’s not a bad thing per se. Alexander and Strong won over a dead crowd last week with great storytelling while Ali and Gulak took advantage of a strong crowd and fired them up even more in a show that usually hinders positive crowd response. Anyways, go out of your way to see this episode and maybe go back to binge the rest of the tournament if you’re late to the party, it was a blast. I’ll be by later today with my audio review for the Dot Net Members.

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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