By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Live in Orlando, Florida at the Amway Center
Drake Maverick opened 205 Live as usual running through and hyping up the matches on this show. There was some cool filters and background music included in the highlight package. The 205 Live theme aired…
Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson checked in on commentary. Vic Joseph mentioned his contractually obligated line of calling 205 Live “The most exciting hour on television”. Nigel McGuinness reminded viewers how Drew Gulak put his title shot in jeopardy by attacking Cedric Alexander last week and said the viewers will get to hear from Gulak and Alexander on this episode. The commentators hyped the Mustafa Ali vs. Hideo Itami main event…
The Lucha House Party opened the show. Gran Metalik was back, which means he must have fixed his aforementioned visa issues…
1. “Lucha House Party” Kalisto and Lince Dorado (w/Gran Metalik) vs. Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese. Murphy and Dorado started the match off. Murphy gained the upper hand to trap Drado in his corner for Nese to pummel. Dorado escaped with a huracanrana and dropkick. Kalisto and Murphy tagged in. Kalisto went for a tornado DDT but Murphy blocked it with his core. Kalisto escaped and hit Murphy with a listo kick and frankendriver. Nese made the blind tag and them pulled Kalisto’s face onto the apron.
Nese worked on Kalisto with methodical offense and clubbing blows. Nese and Murphy traded quick tags for tandem offense. Kalisto tried to use a series of roundhouse kicks. Murphy prevented Kalisto from reaching his corner by chucking him to the opposite side which allowed Nese to hit Kalisto with a lionsault. Nese got a couple of nearfalls on Kalisto. Murphy tagged in and hit Kalisto with a few kicks. Murphy locked in a prolonged headlock. Kalisto escaped with a jawbreaker and overhead kick.
Kalisto also hit Nese with an overhead kick. Kalisto got a rollup on Murphy after a springboard. This cleared a path to his corner. Nese tried to intercept Kalisto but was tossed outside. Kalisto made it to his corner but Nese pulled Dorado off the apron before the tag. Nese tagged in. Kalisto blocked a double suplex attempt. Kalisto kicked Nese into Murphy which gave him the clear path to Dorado. Dorado made the hot tag and kicked both opponents. Dorado did a kick flip off Murphy and hit Nese with a moonsault. That was cool.
Dorado caught Nese with a superkick and Bronco Buster. Dorado hit Nese with a sitout front suplex. Murphy broke up the pin. Dorado and Murphy yelled at each other. Dorado hit both Nese and Murphy with a Lethal Injection. Lucha House Party hit their opponents with stereo Tope Con Hilos. Murphy used raw strength to shove Dorado outside. Nese blocked an SDS attempt. Murphy distracted Kalisto from the outside. Nese rolled up Kalisto with a hand full of trunks for the victory.
Tony Nese and Buddy Murphy defeated Lucha House Party via pinfall in 10:37.
John’s Thoughts: An okay TV match, but I’m not into this feud just yet. Murphy isn’t shining as bright now that he’s back in a tag team. This is also too similar to the last feud LHP had where they were feuding with opponents just because their opponents cheat and are disrespectful. This also is a huge step down for Murphy who was number three on the 205 Live depth chart (behind Ali and Alexander) just a few months ago. It’s also odd that there are these tag team feuds with no tag team goal (I would rather see all these men in singles feuds and not bring in tag titles). One positive, Murphy does stand out as a bigger deal and different person compared to his Blake and Murphy days so, perception-wise, that’s good.
Vic Joseph cut to a Mustafa Ali twitter photo where he was sitting on a hospital bed wearing a patient gown. They didn’t mention what injury he (kayfabe?) has. The tweet said, “fear not, I always kick out at 2”. Mustafa Ali was taping his wrist in the locker room and was approached by Drake Maverick. Ali assured Maverick that the doctors told him he was good to go. Maverick said the doctors told Maverick that Ali has been “overdoing it” in the ring and Ali was in the hospital last week. Ali said last week was a speed bump. Ali said the doctors told him to slow down and he agreed. Ali said he wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to take out Itami. Maverick walked away but got nervous and walked back to sit next to Ali. Maverick said Ali doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. Ali said Maverick has to worry about Itami more than Ali…
John’s Thoughts: He doesn’t have much to work with, but Spud’s (Maverick) MO has always been to make the best out of a mediocre situation (he’s had practice at that being in the Impact X Division). My fingers are still crossed that they unleash this guy as the underdog in the heavyweight division. They can throw him on the mess known as Raw and I’m confident that he’ll find a way to make it work somehow (unless they just don’t allow him to do anything).
Hideo Itami was shown shadow boxing in the shadows. Itami said a few words in Japanese (and some disrespectful fans in the crowd gave him the what treatment? ugh). Itami said Mustafa Ali should have shown him respect… [c]
John’s Thoughts: The last three weeks of Itami backstage promos have been great! He’s doing the duo Japanese and English thing and it allows him to be more comfortable. The icing on the cake is that they are putting him in these dark shadowboxing settings which emphasize his badassness. My view of Itami the last few weeks has been looking up.
Vic Joseph cut to a Noam Dar vignette. Dar talked about how he’s invincible at 24 years old. Sound bites of Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves were played. Noam Dar talked about how he tore up his meniscus in his left knee after a dropkick on Raw ten months ago. Dar said that showed him how everything can be taken away from him. Dar was shown at the Performance Center where their head medical lady, Tara Halaby, was shown working on Dar’s leg. Dar was then shown getting ripped as hell. Dar was pumping iron. Dar talked about how TJP tried to get in his head and re-injure him. Dar said he’s not going to let that happen again because he’s a supernova. Dar said he’s going to show why number 11 is a star player…
Back to the show, Noam Dar made his entrance to the arena. His opponent got entrance music. It was NXT’s resident lightweight enhancement wrestler, Sean Maluta. Greg Hamilton and Vic Joseph pronounced it “Moo-la-ta”. Joseph talked about how Maluta was in the Cruiserweight Classic. Percy Watson went over some of Maluta’s background info including how he was trained by Afa the Wild Samoan…
John’s Thoughts: Have we all just been pronouncing his name wrong for two years or was that a screw up?
2. Noam Dar vs. Sean Maluta. Joseph talked about how Dar is due a UK title shot (already taped) and how Dar has put in a lot of work in the weight room. Dar won the early chain wrestling sequence. Maluta caught Dar with a back thrust kick. Maluta caught Dar’s knee and targeted the injured left knee of Dar. Dar came back with a series of forearms. Dar dodged a Maluta crossbody with a simple fall to the mat. Simple and effective. Dar hit Maluta with an European Uppercut combo. TJP was shown watching the match at a perpendicular angle and also acting dismissive. Dar tripped up Maluta with a PK to the leg. Dar hit Maluta with his signature running enzuigiri to pick up the win.
Noam Dar defeated Sean Maluta via pinfall in 2:23.
Dar banged on his leg to show the crowd that it was fine…
John’s Thoughts: I wasn’t fully behind the Noam Dar face turn because the guy was so entertaining during his “Alicia Foxxxxx” run, but I like that they are taking the approach they did with a lot of characters on this show and reboot them with an edge (someone do this to Tony Nese). Dar also does deserve credit for getting ripped. Maybe periodic breaks aren’t the worst thing for a wrestler if Noam Dar and Tommaso Ciampa are to look at. On the other side, Sean Maluta has been in enough NXT squash matches so it wouldn’t be bad to sign him to this thin 205 Live roster.
Vic Joseph transitioned to talking about last week’s main event where Drew Gulak led a three on one attack on Cedric Alexander with Jack Gallagher and Brian Kendrick. The show cut to a high-quality selfie promo from Cedric Alexander. Alexander talked about how Jack Gallagher being on standby proves that Gulak had no confidence in Brian Kendrick while also not being confident in beating Alexander. Alexander challenged Jack Gallagher to a match next week.
The show cut to Drew Gulak standing at a podium with Kendrick and Gallagher flanking him a step below. Gulak accepted the match on Gallagher’s behalf. Gulak said he’s focusing on the bigger picture. Gulak cut a political (but serious) promo. Gulak called Cedric more flash and substance while Gulak said he sees the cruiserweight division as the last bastion of pure wrestling in WWE today. Gulak said Alexander and Gulak can create a better 205 Live. Gulak denounced Alexander’s allegations. Gulak said he doesn’t need anyone to do his dirty work. Gulak said at Summerslam the plan is simple. When you step in the ring with Gulak you will tap out… [c]
A Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black aired for the following day’s NXT…
Nigel McGuinness thanked Flo Rida for providing the music for Summerslam (how many Summerslam and WrestleMania themes can Flo Rida give to WWE?). The commentators debated over Gulak’s political promo. They also hyped Alexander vs. Gallagher for next week in a non-title match. They also advertised Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa in a rematch per Tozawa’s request…
Mustafa Ali made his entrance with around 20 minutes left in the show…
3. Mustafa Ali vs. Hideo Itami. Mustafa has been wrestling without his chest protector in his past few matches (which makes him look like a brown Seth Rollins). Itami tested Ali with a few footsie kicks. Ali went for the single leg takedown and then went to the headlock. Itami escaped. Ali dodged an Itami face wash. Ali flipped out of the corner and hit Itami with a dropkick. Ali decided to not cover Itami and go for the ground and pound. Itami missed a back-knife strike. Ali used a somersault to dodge an Itami roundhouse. Ali hit Itami with a spinning heel kick.
To the outside, Ali caught Itami with an ugly looking (in a good way?) Tope Con Hilo in which Ali caught Itami with a flying axe kick. Nigel McGuinness also noticed the ugly landing. Ali caught Itami with a high crossbody. Ali paused to sell a back injury. This allowed Itami to get back and pummel Ali to the ground. Itami yelled “respect me” several times as he usually does. Ali fought out of the ropes with forearms. Itami ended that rally with a knee to the gut of Ali. Ali came back with a front kick. Itami tossed Ali outside. Ali pulled Itami outside and hit Itami with a chop. Itami came back with a quick snap roundhouse. Itami then pummeled Ali with some sick looking Kenta roundhouse kicks. Ouch (and nice in my opinion).
Itami broke up the ten count and continued to pummel Ali with stiff kicks. Ali fought his way to the ring apron to trade forearms with Itami. Itami then executed a shotgun dropkick sending Ali into the LED ring post which Ali sold like a selling god. Itami stomped Ali’s head into the solid LED ring apron. Itami toyed with Ali using his feet. Itami yelled “you don’t respect!” at Ali. Itami caught Ali with a running knee. Itami locked in an aggressive headlock. McGuinness said Itami’s anger comes from how he was treated as a Young Boy (kohai) in Japan. Itami ended another Ali rally with a running knee.
Vic Joseph focused his commentary on Ali’s stay in the hospital (without mentioning the injury again). Itami dared Ali to come at him. Ali came at him with forearms again but Itami used his kickboxing to kick Ali down to size. This is great. Ali slipped in a crucifix rollup attempt. Ali landed a few clean chops and made his comeback attempt. Ali caught Itami with a high roundhouse. Itami blocked Ali’s X-Factor with a slicing Roundhouse to the head. Ali kicked out of the pin attempt at 2. Nigel McGuinness said Ali seems a bit off. Ali escaped out of a GTS (?) attempt. Ali managed to get a window of opportunity with a dropkick.
Ali hit Itami with a series of lariats. With the same setup as before, but this time it was successful, Ali hit Itami with the rolling X-Factor. Itami kicked out at 2. Ali hit Itami with a superkick to the back of his head and Itami fell into an aggressive knife strike to chop down Ali. This drew a standing ovation from the tired crowd. Ali blocked a rollup. Itami blocked a tornado DDT and hit Ali with a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Nigel went back to talking about how Ali seems off physical-wise. Itami took Ali to the top rope for a Superplex. Ali blocked it with a front suplex. Ali rolled through with a deadlift sunset flip powerbomb for a nearfall.
Itami tried to hit his unnamed (and lame) finisher on Ali but Ali escaped. Itami stomped on Ali’s head and was bleeding from the mouth. Itami tossed Ali with a release belly to belly. Ali kicked out of a few pin attempts and Nigel continued to point out that Ali seems a bit off. Itami tried to and missed the sandwich head to stairs dropkick on Ali. Ali went to the top rope and hit Itami with a tornado DDT from the top rope to the ringside floor. Ali had Itami in position for the inverted 450 but then sold a concussion on the top rope by losing his balance. This allowed Itami to put Ali in the Tree of Woe. Itami put insult to injury by dropkicking Ali three times in the head (in actuality it was the chest, but Ali sells the head to sell the concussion angle). Itami picked up the clean pinfall.
Hideo Itami defeated Mustafa Ali via pinfall in 16:29.
Highlights from the match were shown. Percy Watson and Nigel McGuinness went over again, how Ali was a step off the entire match. Itami bragged about his win off-mic up the ramp while also bleeding from the mouth still. Ali stood up and then stumbled to the bottom rope. The referee then rushed to Ali to run a concussion impact test by asking Ali things like “where are we?” or “what year is it?”. Ali said it was 2018. The referee insisted that Ali stop moving his head. This was all kayfabe due to more referees and Drake Maverick running out to help with the impact test (and there was no “X” sign and medics so Thank God!). Drake Maverick yelled for a medic. 205 Live closed with Maverick holding Ali’s hand…
John’s Thoughts: Mixed thoughts with the ending sequence there, but I’m leaning positive with intrigue as to where this angle is leading to. Before I talk about the controversial angle, I’ll talk about the match. That was my favorite 205 Live match in months and I’m including the epic Buddy Murphy matches (I’ll have to look back at the Roderick Strong matches to see if I can find a better one). Kenta is back, at least for the last two weeks. We’re getting everything I’ve been asking from Hideo Itami for the past year. He showed this late in his NXT run. He’s kickboxing, and not just doing standard pro wrestling. The guy also brings that brutal mentality to the ring and it looks like he’s looking to beat up someone for reals rather than do acrobatics. Ali, on the other side, is the “new” Dolph Ziggler in WWE and is more so Dolph Ziggler done right because the guy has a ton of in ring credibility.
Now the closing angle and running thread throughout the show on CTE and concussions had me nauseous for a bit, but I do like that they are touching on real-life issues and issues that Raw and Smackdown would be afraid to touch upon due to the controversial nature. What I hope, is that there is a positive message that’s trying to be derived from this. I haven’t seen WWE do a kayfabe concussion sell like this since Curtis Axel got that main event push years ago and they were having Axel give Triple H concussions in consecutive weeks.
Professional wrestling is a medium of storytelling and we see issues controversial issues tackled in artistic ways in TV serials and cinema. I praised Lucha Underground two years ago when they dared to tackle the issue of rape and molestation on their show with the female victim coming out in the end as the hero while also telling other women to “say no!” to such violence. It’s all about how WWE is going to handle this, but I like the balls that WWE has here, maybe (unless this is some weird backstage politic thing I’m not aware of). Hopefully they do this right, because this is a slippery slope to take, but Ali and Drake Maverick are two good hands who can do the job if done right. I’ll have more thoughts for the Dot Net Members in my members exclusive audio review.