By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live in Evansville, Indiana at the Ford Center
After the Drake Maverick introductory teaser, the 205 Live theme aired…
Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Vic Joseph hyped the fatal four way main event. Nigel McGuinness said that if it’s a longer match then it will favor the submission based Drew Gulak but someone like Mustafa Ali will try to end the match quick. Percy Watson picked Mustafa Ali as his favorite. Vic Joseph welcomed Drake Maverick to the commentary table who was sitting at the end of the table. Akira Tozawa made his entrance for the upcoming matchup. His opponent is Jack Gallagher. A Gallagher and Kendrick selfie promo aired where Gallagher talked about being an elite singles competitior and how he and Kendrick are the most dominant tag team in 205 Live (but they lose all the time even after cheating)…
John’s Thoughts: While this 205 Live creative team has turned this show into a watchable and fun show, one of their few missteps is Jack Gallagher who seems to be one of the few characters threading water. Before the shift they were allowing Gallagher to cut strong heel promos and before that Gallagher was a charismatic babyface. He looked great in the Cruiserweight tournament but ever since then he’s just been a boring heel that doesn’t win or speak anything of note.
1. Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher. Gallagher started off the match with a knee into the joint manipulation. Gallagher caught Tozawa flying. Tozawa ended up into his signature running senton and PK. Gallagher caught the leg of Tozawa into a judo takedown into a ground and pound. Tozawa recovered and punched Gallagher with his signature fakeout punch. Gallagher trapped Tozawa in the ring apron and pummeled the trapped Tozawa. Gallagher initiated his methodical offense. Drake Maverick ran through the accolades of the wrestlers in the main event of this show. Nigel McGuinness asked Maverick why Buddy Murphy wasn’t in the match. Maverick ran through the series of losses that Murphy has been on.
John’s Thoughts: A nice touch by this show, having wins and losses matter.
Gallagher was in the middle of his joint manipulation. Gallagher and Tozawa started to Ah at each other. Tozawa took down Gallagher with a kick and set up Gallagher for his finisher but Gallagher rolled away. Tozawa then hit Gallagher with the second best suicide dive in pro wrestling (I still defend AAA’s Fantasma as the best). Tozawa caught Gallagher with a missile dropkick. Gallagher went back for the joint manipulation but Tozawa hit Gallagher with a huracanrana and octopus stretch. Gallagher reversed the move into a spinning side slam. Gallagher planted Tozawa with a deadlift power bomb.
Gallagher missed a corner dropkick but landed on his feet. Tozawa escaped a corner suplex. Tozawa hit Gallagher with a shining wizard. Gallagher punched Tozawa on the top rope to prevent Tozawa from going for his finish. Tozawa front suplexed Gallagher off the top rope. Tozawa hit his finisher senton for the victory.
Akira Tozawa defeated Jack Gallagher via pinfall in 7:32.
Drake Maverick noted that Tozawa was back to his winning ways. Akira Tozawa confronted Drake Maverick at the commentary table. (off-mic) Tozawa demanded a rematch against Lio Rush. Drake Maverick nodded to show that he was considering it…
John’s Thoughts: A very fun match that was taken down due to Gallagher’s lack of on-air credibility. As Drake Maverick mentioned on commentary, wins and losses matter and Gallagher is booked to look like a guy who can’t beat anyone even when cheating at times. I am happy to see that Lio Rush and Akira Tozawa will still be able to continue and they can tell a story where Rush is ducking out on Tozawa for several weeks.
TJP was shown sleeping on a couch in the locker room (Why this random leather couch is set up in the dead center of a locker room is beyond me). TJP said Drake Maverick finally got things right by putting him in the main event. TJP said Maverick should have figured out that the main event always belongs to TJP. TJP called himself the best technical wrestler in the world and said he was going to outclass the “loserweights” just like how he tore out Noam Dar’s knee. The show cut to Hideo Itami who was shadow kickboxing. Itami spoke in Japanese for a few sentences. Itami said Cedric Alexander survived their first match but next time he won’t… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Another great piece of promo work from TJP, who has cut the best promos of his career in the past three months or so. Perkins always had that next-level in ring but was always awkward on the mic. Even his corny lines are clicking due to his confident delivery. Hideo Itami has looked good in backstage segments the past few weeks which focused on his kickboxing training. Unlike Aleister Black, who brings the kickboxing into the ring, Hideo Itami is a fairly pedestrian wrestler compared to the good work he was doing in NXT at the end of his run there. Itami’s number one goal in his matches seems to be to take off the turnbuckle pads (so he’s a serious Toru Yano?).
Lucha House Party members Kalisto and Lince Dorado made their entrance. A Lucha House Party selfie promo aired. They wanted to know where Tony [Nese] was at so they can finish what they were starting. Their opponents were two generic enhancement wrestlers who looked like the result of a Pete Dunne De-Fusion after taking off the Potara earrings. Vic Joseph mentioned that this was supposed to be Kalisto vs. Tony Nese without their partners at ringside, but outside circumstances prevented Tony Nese from making this show. Joseph also mentioned that Gran Metalik was also away fixing up some visa issues. Kalisto and Doardo had new Kid n’ Play themed shirts…
2. “Lucha House Party” Kalisto and Lince Dorado vs. Ryan DePolo and Chris Robinson. I got the name of these enhancement guys via the power of copy and pasting from YouTube. Lince Dorado teased a test of strength against one of the enhancement guys to do Kalisto’s lucha thing. This enhancement wrestler had the name “Justin” on his tights so I couldn’t figure out who he was (a running joke in 205 Live is how the enhancement wrestlers are given names that aren’t their indie name so their gear has different names on it).
Kalisto did the noisemaker in front of the Justin guy. Lince Dorado hit him with a bronco buster. Kalisto tagged in and hit a rocket launcher splash on the guy. Buddy Murphy was shown watching the match from a monitor. The Lucha House Party traded quick tags for tandem offense. The singlet guy tagged in and was dominated. Lince Dorado hit both opponents with the Lethal Injection. Lince Dorado hit the guy on the outside with a flip dive while Kalisto hit the other guy with the SDS for the win.
Lucha House Party defeated Ryan DePolo and Chris Robinson via pinfall in 2:06.
The replay showed that Lince Dorado did a mid-air tag during his flip dive to set up the finish. Kalisto and Lince Dorado did their lucha things with the crowd after the match…
Drew Gulak was shown lacing up backstage. Gulak said he expected a “chaotic free-for-all” in the main event which is emblematic about the real problem with 205 Live. Gulak said matches like this are unpredictable. Gulak said the one sure thing is the fate of his opponents because when you step in the ring with Drew Gulak you will tap out…
Mustafa Ali was shown in a dark room all by himself. Ali said all he has to do to regain his WrestleMania rematch is eat a few rib-breaking kicks from Hideo Itami, have his leg turned inside out by TJP, and get tortured by Drew Gulak. Ali talked about how he’ll hit his finisher in the end and that it’ll be a piece of cake…
John’s Thoughts: WWE should just give up on the selfie style promos because it makes them come off more low budget than that time when Impact Wrestling would regularly air bootleg indie matches (random aside, Impact Wrestling is doing some good work now and may be doing better backstage production than WWE’s main roster segments). Two good promo segments that are similar to the way that NXT would do backstage promos as opposed to the WWE main roster prom backdrop in every segment.
Speaking of Impact, during the Brock Lesnar part of the Raw ad, WWE was playing the Slammiversary theme song from this year’s PPV (I would know this because they kept playing it all Sunday). I’m assuming it’s just Royalty-Free music, but they did this before by using Pentagon Jr’s theme during the Raw commercials…
Lio Rush was strolling around on his phone backstage. Dasha Fuentes caught up to Rush for his thoughts on Tozawa’s rematch request. Rush said he doesn’t have a reaction. Rush said he wants Dasha to ask him what he thinks so Dasha asked Rush. Rush said he thinks that he already beat Akira Tozawa and the man of the hour is in a league of his own. Rush said Tozawa should keep his name out of his mouth…
3. Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak vs. Hideo Itami vs. TJP in a Fatal Four Way match for a WWE Cruiserweight Championship title shot. Nigel McGuinness reiterated his point from earlier that the Fatal Four Way format favors high flyers early on. Gulak and Itami put the boots to Ali. TJP was just chilling at the opposite turnbuckle. Gulak and Itami noticed this and started to turn on TJP. Ali escaped the corner and took down Itami and Perkins. Multi-person madness ensued. Itami singled out Ali for a sequence. Ali went for a dive but Itami caught him with a pinpoint single leg dropkick. Great sell from Ali as usual.
Cedric Alexander was shown watching the TV at a 90 degree angle. TJP broke up a Hideo Itami pin attempt. TJP’s strategy was to let Gulak and Itami do the dirty work while he hangs out at ringside. Ali took down Itami with a spinning heel kick and Gulak ran through Ali with a stiff lariat. Gulak went for a pin on Ali and TJP continued his plan on breaking up the pins. Instead of things breaking up with the heels, Gulak proposed that they “beat up Ali” first before anything. The heels hit a triple team backdrop. TJP gave out orders to Gulak and Itami which they agreed to. TJP then tried to steal the win by rolling up Gulak during a suplex attempt. This caused Itami and Gulak to turn on TJP.
The bickering allowed Mustafa Ali to hit all three heels with a fling crossbody. TJP caught Itami and Ali in a one-man double octopus hold. Drew Gulak broke up the hold and locked TJP iwn a modified Gory special. Gulak turned the Gory Special into several pin attempts. Perkins and Gulak traded pin attempts. Gulak and Perkins then traded some quick and technical chain wrestling moves to land at a stalemate which drew cheers from the crowd. Itami took down TJP and Gulak. Perkins begged Itami to go to Ali instead which Itami agreed to do. Ali shoved Itami into the turnbuckle to crotch Perkins on the top rope.
Mustafa Ali hit TJP with a frankensteiner sending the body of Perkins into Drew Gulak. Ali hit a flurry of offense on Hideo. Ali hit Perkins with the rolling X-Factor. Ali caught Gulak with a tornado DDT. All four men were left lying. Gulak hit Ali with a flapjack. TJP hit Gulak with a Rolling Sobat. Itami hit TJP with a high thrust kick. Ali hit Itami with a superkick. All four men were prone again and the crowd gave them a good ovation. Ali escaped a Detonation kick attempt and both men took each other out with a flying crossbody.
Gulak yelled at Itami and said he respects Itami. Gulak asked for a handshake from Itami. Gulak turned it into a slap. Both men then had a Strong Style strike exchange. Itami hit a series of boots on Gulak but Gulak wouldn’t relent. Gulak reversed an Itami suplex and got a nearfall.
John’s Thoughts: More of that from Itami please?
Itami used his boot to block a suplex attempt. Itami hit Gulak with a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall. Itami and Gulak went back to the strong style from the kneeling position. Itami and Gulak then traded guard positions. Gulak and Itami brawled to ringside. Itami hit Gulak with a loud roundhouse. TJP hit Ali with a wrecking ball kick around the apron. Itami and Gulak dragged TJP to their world and slammed him into the barricade.
John’s Thoughts: Random side note, if Gulak could continue to play this strong style monster long enough, he can be the 205 Live version of Minoru Suzuki. Do we call his stable with Kendrick and Gallagher Gulak-gun?
Ali went to the top rope and took down Itami and Gulak with a seated senton to ringside. Ali set up TJP for the Inverted 450. Ali hit his finisher but Itami yanked Ali away and slammed his head into the steps. Itami fired up and hit Mustafa Ali’s head with a dropkick against the metal ring steps (that should be his new finisher). Itami then tossed Ali into the LED ringpost which Ali sold like a champ. Gulak tossed Itami into the ringpost. Drew Gulak quickly locked in the Gu-Lock (dragon sleeper) on Ali. The referee quickly noticed that Ali wasn’t moving so he called for the bell and awarded Gulak the victory.
Drew Gulak defeated Mustafa Ali, Hideo Itami, and TJP via ref stoppage in 16:52 to earn a title shot for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Nigel McGuinness said that Drew Gulak is the biggest threat to Cedric Alexander’s Cruiserweight Championship. Nigel McGuinness pointed out how Itami did all of the damage and Gulak was opportunistic. Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick appeared in the ring to celebrate with Drew Gulak to close out the show…
John’s Thoughts: The match was a bit clunky to start with Itami and Gulak looking a bit dopey for falling for TJP’s antics. Other than that, this was a fun and well-booked match. I like how they kept TJP away from the finish to continue his rise up the card. They can easily go to Hideo Itami vs. Mustafa Ali if they want based off the ending sequence. I wouldn’t mind seeing more Itami vs. Gulak with all of the Japanese Strong Style they were pulling out. Speaking of such, this was Hideo Itami’s best showing on 205 Live because he got a chance to show off his MMA and kickboxing as opposed to having his opponent carry him. I hope that they build this Alexander vs. Gulak match to SummerSlam. Not by having Cedric Alexander beat Brian Kendrick one week and Jack Gallagher the next, that would be some boring main roster holding pattern stuff. They can build this up with training vignettes, press conferences, and interviews which is what NXT would do. I also see Drew Gulak being the biggest threat to Cedric’s title reign because it looks like WWE is grooming him to become the next big heel champion.
A fun episode of 205 Live as usual with some good wrestling. I’m assuming Gallagher vs. Tozawa was a last minute add due to Tony Nese not being able to make it (the middle portion of the show is usually the spot for their weekly enhancement match which Kalisto got pushed to). One thing this show is missing is an energized crowd. The crowds want to cheer and do so for the good work done by the cruiserweights. The problem is they are tired as hell after dark matches and Smackdown. This show would come off better if filmed in Full Sail or maybe they can do a delayed taping schedule. I’ll be by later today with my 205 Live Audio Review.