By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired Live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the PPG Paints Arena
The intro teaser focused on Drake Maverick’s fatal four way booked for this episode. In the teaser, Akira Tozawa continued his Vince McMahon “You’re Fired” impersonation. Kalisto said he was going to show everyone how the Lucha House Party gets down. TJP bragged about his mix of styles. Buddy Murphy talked about being back on 205 Live after making it close to the finals. The 205 Live intro theme aired…
Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary. Nigel McGuinness framed exhibition matches as a way to impress General Manager Drake Maverick. Drake Maverick was shown joining the commentary team in order to scout the upcoming match. Mark Andrews made his entrance first. Tony Nese made his entrance and he still does his unnecessarily long and unmic’d entrance routine…
1. Mark Andrews vs. Tony Nese. Tony Nese started off the match by showing off his biceps. The two men then traded ground submissions. Andrews tried to escape the headscissors with a handstand but Nese turned it into a mini-pile driver. After trading some dodges, Andrews laid in an armbar after a armdrag. Nese powered to the corner for the rope break. Nese showed off some of his impressive agility followed by a kickboxing sequence. Andrews used his agility and a flip into a dropkick to get a two count. Nigel McGuinness compared Mark Andrews’ fighting style to a young X-Pac (Sean Waltman).
John’s Thoughts: You know Triple H is truly in charge when the man behind the headset is putting over Sean Waltman heavy. I kid, I kid. I like the comparison as I’ve been making similar allusions given the Lucha Libre influenced style of Andrews.
Mark Andrews went for a Tope to the outside but Nese rushed back in the ring for a running axe handle stike. Nese worked on the lower back of Andrews with an Irish Whip and body scissors. Andrews tried to get a pinfall attempt in order to pry open the legs of Nese. Once Andrews escaped, Nese came right back with a running knee and reverse bear hug to continue the pressure on the lower back and abdominal of Andrews. Nese was staggered with a high roundhouse and a Tiger Feint Kick. Andrews reversed a side suplex into a bulldog. Andrews went for a moonsault but was caught by Nese. Andrews adjusted into a tornado DDT.
Nese rolled to ringside to recover. Andrews hit Nese with a Golden Triangle Moonsault. Andrews went for the Shooting Star but was crotched on the top rope. Nese gave Andrews a punt kick to the gut which sent him flying into the air into a knee gutbuster. That spot drew a nice and audible gasp from the crowd. Nese went for a few quick pin attempts after quick power strikes. Nese blocked the ring entry of Andrews with high-low kick combo. Nese maintained pursuit with a running haymaker. Nese went for a springboard moonsault but got nothing.
Andrews laid in a loud slap to the chest of Nese. Andrews fired up with an angry flurry of chest slaps. Nese tried to slow down the rally with a forearm. Andrews came back with a running dropkick. Nese went for a pin into a powerbomb. Andrews reversed into a victory roll into a double stomp. Nese used the pumphandle to get Andrews into power slam position. Andrews used the positioning to hit the Stun-dog Millionaire. Andrews hit his Shooting Star Press finisher for the victory.
Mark Andrews defeated Tony Nese via pinfall in 11:18.
After the replay analysis, Mark Andrews went to the commentary table to chat with Drake Maverick. Maverick granted Andrews a match against Drew Gulak for next week. During the match, Maverick alluded to both Nese and Andrews wanting revenge against Gulak for eliminating and being overly-aggressive against them during the tournament…
John’s Thoughts: This was a really fun match and it’s nice to see Tony Nese shift away from the boring formula WWE undercard match and show off his nice mix of power and agility. Mark Andrews is a great in-ring storyteller and I love the creative ways that he gets into his Stundog Millionaire and finishing sequences. Hopefully we’ll see a character shift for Nese down the road but I do understand keeping him in the established jobber role if they are going to utilize him to get over other wrestlers. Nese is the Sin Cara of 205 Live, he’s a really talented guy with an inherited bad character (inherited from the previous creative team).
Dasha Fuentes interviewed Drew Gulak about his rematch against Mark Andrews. Gulak said that Andrews was a tremendous high flyer but questioned why he was even on 205 Live. Gulak said he may have hurt the feelings of Andrews by holding the submission for longer than he had to. Gulak said he held on longer to make a statement to Andrews and the rest of 205 Live. Gulak said he’s the best submission specialist in the WWE. Gulak said it’s not about defeat. It’s about giving up and submitting. Gulak said when you go against him you will give up and tap out…
Buddy Murphy was shown exercising with resistance bands. TJP was shown reading his smartphone on a stairwell… [C]
John’s Thoughts: So far so good with Drew Gulak’s character shift. They’ve turned the entertaining dorky comedy figure into a feared brute. His submission style and promo style reminds me a bit of the heel “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. Here’s where the NXT influence is coming in, they are telling continuous stories. The opening match was not a time filler or place holder as most of 205 Live was for it’s entire run in non-Neville segments. The opening match had a purpose and stakes which was that all roads lead to Drew Gulak.
Vic Joseph cut to the pre-taped Drake Maverick interview with Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander. Cedric talked about how excited he was this year compared to last year when he and Ali watched WrestleMania from a sky box. Ali talked about how it was special wrestling against a friend. Maverick talked about both men having similar journeys and being 205 Live originals. Alexander reiterated the end of his post-match promo where he talked about wrestling for his daughter. Cedric said he was going to walk out of WrestleMania making his family proud.
Ali brought up the rhetorical question of how Cedric’s championship quests usually end without Cedric as Champion. Ali said he supports Cedric for this beautiful story. Ali said the end of the story, every time for Alexander, ends with Alexander’s pen being empty on ink. Ali said he is writing his own story, with his own daughter, and his own dreams. Ali said at WrestleMania they will be wrestling in front of their loved ones, supporters and doubters. Ali said they will tear the house down with blood sweat and tears in the ring. Ali said Ali’s story will end with the Title held high over his head. Ali said that’s how his story ends and Cedric needs to ask himself how he’s going to change that story. Cedric Alexander said he’s going to have to stomp out the heart of 205 Live. Ali dared Alexander that stomping out the heart is exactly what Cedric has to do to win. The segment ended with a tense handshake…
Kalisto was shown boxing with Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik. Hideo Itami was pumping up Akira Tozawa by yelling at him…
John’s Thoughts: The interview started off a bit rough. Cedric is not the best promo in the world and he was relying a bit too much on that strong spur of the moment promo he cut post-match about his daughter. Luckily on the other side of the interview he was verbally sparring with someone who has proven to be a surprisingly great promo. By the end of the interview, Ali managed to get Cedric to improve in a similar way to how Daniel Bryan did on Talking Smack when he would pressure people he was interviewing. This promo segment has me very intrigued at the post Mania fallout. Ali was either altruistic in trying to get the best out of his opponent or he was being a bit condescending. This could lead to Alexander trying to prove Ali wrong or end up losing and having a heel turn. I can see one of both men turning or staying the same alignment. It’s a good problem to have when there are so many endgames.
2. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa vs. TJP vs. Buddy Murphy. No taped weigh-in for Buddy Murphy this week but Nigel McGuinness told the viewers that Murphy is now clocking in as 203 pounds. The crowd choose Tozawa’s “Ah” chants early on. TJP stood aside while the three babyfaces brawled with each other. Kalisto sent Tozawa outside and hit a springboard senton on Tozawa. TJP jokingly sat in the middle of the ring. Murphy tried to take advantage of it but TJP grounded Murphy with a headscissors takedown. Murphy tried to dive on TJP outside but was intercepted by a Kalisto corkscrew forearm.
Tozawa interjected himself and hit his senton sequence on Kalisto. Buddy Murphy came back into the fray and TJP tried to start a temporary alliance with Murphy. Murphy was reluctant and allowed TJP to set him up for moves. TJP quickly backstabbed Murphy and put the boots to Murphy. TJP sent Murphy into the ringpost. TJP did a dab while holding Tozawa in a standing Indian Deathlock. TJP saw Kalisto coming and simultaneously locked Kalisto in a body stretch. Kalisto escaped but Tozawa was still locked. Kalisto kept punching TJP which caused Tozawa to get pain during the bumps. Tozawa kept yelling at Kalisto to stop making Perkins fall down. Perkins hit Kalisto with a Northern Lights for a nearfall. Tozawa escaped after the kickout.
Nigel pointed out that TJP was trained in the New Japan/Inoki Dojo in Santa Monica, Ca. Murphy landed a series of strikes and did a kip up. Murphy caught Kalisto and tossed him into the barricade. Murphy tossed around all three opponents at ringside. Joseph noted that Murphy was beating up three former Cruiserweight Champions. Tozawa and Kalisto hit a tandem hip toss on Murphy. They both yelled at each other “what are you doing?” due to their heat. TJP took advantage in the ring by locking Tozawa in a Gory Special while Kalisto was locked in a swinging baby cradle hold. Tozawa tried to escape but he rolled into a Texas Cloverleaf.
Kalisto recovered and hit the Rey Horus pop-up tornado DDT. Akira popped up and hit a windmill enziguri to leave all men lying. The crowd tried to power up Tozawa with “ah” chants. Tozawa cleaned house and then hit TJP with one of his signature topes. Kalisto followed up with a springboard corkscrew senton. Murphy hit all three men with a flip dive to the outside. Tozawa pushed off Murphy from doing a top rope move on Kalisto. Kalisto crotched Tozawa on the top rope and brawled with him. Perkins tried to start a tower of doom but Kalisto punched Perkins away.
Perkins pulled off Kalisto from the top buckle and then locked him in a surfboard. Murphy tried to cleverly get the pin by pushing the shoulders of Perkins to the mat. In an impressive move, Tozawa hit his finisher on Kalisto, the diving senton, to break everyone’s’ holds. Almost too cute but, well done. Tozawa gave Murphy a few chops and then a fakeout punch. Murphy grounded Tozawa with a CQC combination. Kalisto ran on Murphy’s body and hit Perkins with the Selida Del Sol. Tozawa hit Kalisto with a Busaiku Knee to try to pin Perkins but Kalisto ran in and broke up the pin. Kalisto got pissed and yelled at Tozawa for stealing his pin. Murphy took advantage by tossing both men out.
Perkins slipped in and grapvined Murphy in a kneebar. Kalisto and Tozawa reluctantly pulled Perkins off of the pin. Murphy hit Tozawa and Kalisto with a corkscrew plancha senton. Yes, the big Murphy guy hit a corkscrew plancha senton. Perkins went for a victory roll on Murphy after a detonation kick attempt to no avail. Murphy caught a flying TJP into his beautiful looking Murphy’s Law finisher to pick up the win.
Buddy Murphy defeated TJP, Kalisto, and Akira Tozawa via pinfall in 13:38.
Kalisto and Tozawa kept their eyes locked on each other while Buddy Murphy celebrated his win to close the show…
John’s Thoughts: A very fun spotfest where all four men got a chance to shine. 205 Live, throughout its run even though it was absolutely horrid at one point, always handled the multi-man matches very well. TJ Perkins in particular (not to mention Mark Andrews, Rockstar Spud, and even Tony Nese at points) have been no stranger pointless “look at that move!” spotfests in TNA where they got too cute and homogeneous. Not to mention, Impact X Division spotfests usually run about six minutes or less in their weekly iteration. This match told a great story with all four men. Perkins continues to put together a string of high quality matches where he integrates his submission style into his high flying. He also added a bit of nuance by adding some good heel mannerisms throughout. Tozawa and Kalisto did a great job with their offense while also not forgetting to forward their budding feud.
Buddy Murphy, I’m so happy for this guy after seeing him chewed up at live events after that run with Wesley Blake ended when Alexa Bliss’s powerful character buried both men. The guy was pretty generic in the ring to my recollection and I thought the money was in his solid heel mic work that I’ve seen him perform at live events, but who knew that this heavyweight looking dude can do some smooth high-flying moves? The Murphy’s Law is also a great and clever name for a finisher. This was the first episode of 205 Live without any tournament matches and it shined without having that tournament crutch so, bravo. Here’s hoping down the road for consistency. I’m not sure if this show is going to sustain quality if they go balls to the wall every week. The key right there is to mix up the storylines so good on them for setting up Andrews vs. Gulak and Hideo Itami vs. Lince Dorado very seamlessly. I’ll be by later on today with my 205 Live Audio Review for the Dot Net Members.
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