By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on The WWE Network
Aired live from New Orleans, Louisiana at Smoothie King Center
The show stared off with a highlight video recapping Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali at WrestleMania for the vacant Cruiserweight Championship. The 205 Live intro aired…
Vic Joseph checked in on commentary from New Orleans. He said his contractually obligated line of calling 205 Live “The most exciting hour in television”. Joseph noted that Nigel McGuinness would not be joining him tonight and would be gone for two weeks (how exact?). There was no reason given. Joseph introduced their permanent third commentator, “Showtime” Percy Watson. Before the opening match, Kalisto cut a selfie promo with Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik behind him. He was excited to be in New Orleans and more excited to be a part of the Tornado Tag match next week. Akira Tozawa also cut a promo backstage saying that he dislikes how people are disrespecting something he really looks up to, Hideo Itami. Akira Tozawa said Lucha House Party was fired (to continue with his strange but somewhat charming Vince McMahon impersonation) …
John’s Thoughts: I like the framing of Tozawa being the respectful babyface who is trying to honor his Hideo Itami senpai due to Itami being an inspiration for him despite Itami being a heel. This either sets up Tozawa to turn, but most likely it will lead to Itami backstabbing Tozawa which will lead to a great program.
1. Kalisto vs. Akira Tozawa. Kalisto was serious while Tozawa pointed out that a portion of the crowd was chanting his name. Kalisto fought his way into a headlock. Kalisto used a handstand to land a huracanrana on Tozawa. Kalisto did his Lucha Things. The two men had a serious of counters until Tozawa landed his fakeout punch on Kalisto. The two men entered a stretch where they were fairly even.
Kalisto landed a nice sitting top rope Spanish Fly on Tozawa. Some fast-paced counters ensued. Kalisto surprised Tozawa with a superkick and penalty kick. Kalisto ran at Tozawa but Tozawa used a monkey flip on him. Kalisto rolled to ringside and hit a baseball slid, suicide dive, and cannonball in rapid succession. Kalisto blocked Tozawa’s diving senton with his knees but the senton did damage to his own knees in addition to Toazwa. Both men had rapid fire pin attempts. Out of the scuffle Kalisto hit the Salida Del Soul out of nowhere for the win.
Kalisto defeated Akira Tozawa via pinfall in 11:20.
Watson said he’s liking this 205 Live right here. Kalisto did a one-armed Lucha thing due to his left arm hurting. Vic Joseph said he was getting breaking news from Drake Maverick (even though Kalisto told us in the selfie promo already). The news was that next week we were getting a Tornado Tag between Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado vs. Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa.
John’s Thoughts: The match was a bit disappointing given the talents involved and slow pace to start but both men really picked it up by the end to make the match end on a positive note. Part of my high expectations came from Kalisto’s show stealing match last week but you can’t have them all be show stealers. This feud is in danger of spinning its wheels but thankfully they keep finding unique ways to change up the matches. As for Percy Watson, he’s just like he is on NXT. He’s not harmful and shows good emotion, but he tends to fade into the background and Nigel is just so much better. One thing Watson has to work on is not leaving extended moments of dead air when he’s supposed to offer color. I’m also not looking forward to this becoming a three-man booth since 205 Live stood out in a positive way with the vintage two-man setup.
Mark Andrews was hyping himself up in the Locker Room. Tony Nese walked in and told Andrews that Drew Gulak used to be his friend but he’s transformed himself into an egomaniac. Nese said if anyone was going to get revenge on Gulak it should be Nese. Nese then inspired Mark Andrews to go out there and Kick Gulak’s ass… [C]
WrestleMania still shots were shown. Drew Gulak made his entrance wearing a boxer’s silken robe. Gulak said he’s nothing but a man of the people and he’s heard the concerned of the people. He then did his corny but famous “POWERPOINT PRESENTATION” catchphrase. Gulak’s face then changed from comedic to serious and he said the time for a presentation is any time but now which drew boos from the crowd. Gulak said there’s a time for presentations but it’s not when he’s about to annihilate that “punk rock dimwit Mark Andrews” (I think Gulak meant Pop Punk, but I get what he’s going for). Gulak said the “children” are not looking at Microsoft Office aficionado Drew Gualk, but they are looking at the best submission specialist in the WWE. Mark Andrews came out dancing to his personalized theme song like he usually does…
John’s Thoughts: Some people may not like that Gulak’s referencing his old cornball character, but I like that he’s making it come off less like a retcon and more like a natural character shift. This is also a smart way to phase out the corny and phase in the serious while maintaining continuity. As for Andrews, would it hurt for him to take this grudge match a bit more seriously? This was a problem he exhibited in the TNA X Division as well.
2. Drew Gulak vs. Mark Andrews. Andrews had the upper hand early on with the Lucha armdrags and agility. Gulak rolled to ringside to end the rally of Andrews. Gulak gave Andrews a gut check with his shoulder but Andrews retaliated with a series of kicks. Gulak responded with a wristlock takedown. Gulak almost converted a body slam into the Gu Lock but Andrews rolled through. Andrews reversed a back suplex into a bulldog. Andrews escaped an apron bomb but Gulak went resourceful in simply shoving Andrews into the hard ringpost. Gulak yelled “check this punk!” as he gave Andrews some stomps. Gulak then trapped Andrews in a standing cravate.
Andrews tried to use his agility to escape Gulak’s holds but Gulak was just too powerful. Gulak utilized a unique chickenwing chinlock. Gulak followed up with a plethora of ground holds and palm strikes. Andrews landed a few clean strikes on Drew as well as a Tiger Feint Kick to Drew’s gut. Andrews nailed Gulak with a corkscrew standing moonsault. Andrews got a nearfall after a crucifix driver. I think a beachball appeared. Dammit. The crowd was paying attention to something not in the ring. Andrews and Gulak regained some of the crowd’s attention with an exchange of stiff palm strikes and chops. Gulak used his core to block a tornado DDT. Andrews reversed the suplex into the stundog millionaire. Andrews went for the Shooting Star which he is now calling the “Fall to Pieces”. Gulak moved away and shoved the head of Andrews into the second turnbuckle when Andrews was grounded. Gulak locked in the Gu Lock to pick up the quick submission win.
Drew Gulak defeated Mark Andrews via submission in 10:33.
Gulak went back to Andrews after the match and locked in the Gu Lock. Tony Nese’s theme played as Nese ran in for the save. He put the ground and pound on Gulak followed by a corkscrew Tope Con Hilo. Gulak made a retreat as Nese dared Gulak to reenter the ring…
John’s Thoughts: I’m a huge proponent of this three-person feud that doesn’t need to be about the title. Nese and Andrews are on a revenge tale trying to fight back against the bully Drew Gulak. Gulak is on the quest to become known as the best submission artist not just in 205 Live, but in all of WWE. Andrews was never damaged to begin with, but this feud is doing a solid job in repairing the damage done to Tony Nese and Drew Gulak that was done over most of this show’s horrid run. I was about to criticize Gulak for taking so long to dispatch Andrews but it worked in that he wanted to prove that his ground game was superior in every way to the flying of Andrews.
Drake Maverick was talking to a tag team off camera about booking them into a match next week. The camera panned to show that he was talking to Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick. Maverick said he hopes that Gallagher and Kendrick don’t hold a vendetta against Hideo Itami for busting up the orbital bone of Kendrick. Gallager and Kendrick told Maverick not to worry and that it was water under the bridge. Maverick’s face sold that he thinks that Gallagher and Kendrick are insincere. Percy Watson hyped up the Age of Alexander segment for after the break… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Here’s hoping they get things right this time with Kendrick and Gallagher instead of having them be glorified enhancement wrestlers. Kendrick used to pick up wins but Gallagher kept losing and even Kendrick would be fed to Cedric Alexander in every meaningful match. I’m interested to see where this goes now that Itami has been acting more heelish? A heel vs. heel thing that usually doesn’t end well, or might we get a trios alliance between Gallagher, Kendrick, and Itami?
Drake Maverick came out to the single’s theme of Xavier Woods. Maverick told the fans if this has been the best WWE weekend or what. Maverick said nothing made him prouder than becoming the 205 Live General Manager. Maverick noted that he sat on the right side, while John Cena for some reason was sitting on the left. Maverick talked about how the Heart and Soul of 205 Live tore the house down. Cedric Alexander made his entrance wearing a dress shirt and slacks. He had a purple shirt to match is purple title. The crowd did what they did to everyone else and that was tell Alexander “You deserve it”.
Cedric Alexander told the crowd thank you. Alexander reminded the fans how they chanted “please sign Cedric” two years ago and how their love and support brought him to WrestleMania. Alexander said he was able to walk out of the “Grandest stage of them all” as the Cruiserweight Champion. The crowd chanted “yes you did”. Alexander said from the bottom of his heart and from his family “Thank you”. Cedric Alexander was interrupted by Mustafa Ali who came to the ring dressed all in black. Percy noted that Ali looks a bit salty.
The crowd built themselves into a decent “Mustafa” chant. Ali said he wanted to tell Cedric something to his face. He said as a member of the roster and as a friend Cedric didn’t deserve it, “homie, you earned it”. Ali brought up the line of wrestlers who want a shot at the title. The crowd chanted “one more match”. Ali reminded Alexander that he was in that line. Buddy Murphy’s theme interrupted the promo. Murphy appeared from behind in his ring gear as he hit Cedric Alexander with the Murphy’s Law. Maverick jawed with Murphy but Murphy motioned that he was coming after the title. The commentators talked about how Murphy ruined Alexander’s moment. 205 Live ended…
John’s Thoughts: This was more your traditional WWE promo segment but all the players did well and it was produced correctly. Spud-Maverick is money on the mic and can sell a match and brand just by speaking. Cedric was good in his short promo time. It was smart and clever of WWE to have Ali cut him off which is what WWE usually does with people like Roman Reigns or Rey Mysterio who have a hard time carrying a promo. I’m interested to see where they go with Murphy as I thought he made a great heel at that live event I attended. I just hope that he doesn’t go back to boring in-ring to match the heel shift. Or he can be an edgy babyface, that can work too.
Overall, this was one of the weaker episodes of the 205 Live reboot, but I’ll chalk it up to being the tail end a long WrestleMania weekend. Next week’s episode should be really good with some anticipated tag team matches coming up. The return of Brian Kendrick along with a tornado tag team match which has been built up over the past few months. Here’s hoping they do some work from the production end to built to whatever they are going to do between Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander. While not must-see, If you haven’t been watching 205 Live, I would recommend binging the entire reboot starting with the week that Enzo Amore was fired (the purgatory week where Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali tore the house down). Remember, I was a supporter of what Enzo could have brought to the table but Drake Maverick has been a huge upgrade and this show has turned from awful to appointment viewing. The best part is that they are running multiple storylines on this show and they are all pretty fun to watch. I’ll be by later today with my Audio Review of the show.