By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Taped December 29, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at The PPG Paints Arena
The show started with Drake Maverick ushering 205 Live to 2019 and announcing there would be two matches. Maverick stated that Buddy Murphy would be defending his championship in a Fatal 4-Way at the Royal Rumble, and that there would be qualifying matches tonight. The first would be between Lio Rush and Kalisto, while the second would be a main event qualifier between Akira Tozawa and Drew Gulak…
1. Kalisto (w/Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado) vs. Lio Rush in a qualifier for the four-way WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Kalisto and Lio Rush had an intense staredown to set the tone for the match. The crowd very quickly got behind Kalisto and the first flurry of moves saw Rush dodging Kalisto’s offense, but the Luchador relentlessly moving forward to try and catch Rush. Kalisto chased Rush to the outside, but couldn’t catch him as Rush zipped around the outside of the ring and eventually caught Kalisto with a knee back in the ring, he tried to follow up with a whip and a drop down, but Kalisto hit him with a dropkick.
Kalisto tried to follow up with a whip of his own, but Rush reversed it and sent Kalisto tumbling over the apron, where he got caught by a handspring kick to the back of the head. This knocked Kalisto to the outside, where Rush chased him with a suicide dive and tossed him back into the ring. Rush worked on Kalisto in the corner before hitting him with a snapping suplex and an uppercut to the back of the head, but only got a two count.
Rush kept Kalisto grounded with a chin lock and a knee in his back, but not for long as Kalistro grabbed a roll up to get some space. He wasn’t able to capitalize however as Rush rolled right out and smacked him with a clothesline and mounted Kalisto’s back where he attempted to rip the mask of Kalisto. Very insightful commentary here from Nigel McGuinness, who noted that Lio Rush wasn’t making the best use of his time, trying to act like a ground technician instead of the high flyer that he is.
Kalisto kept trying to gain some momentum and stop Rush, but the luchador kept getting caught with clotheslines and sent right back down to the mat where Rush used arm locks and facelocks to wear him down. Kalisto got up and forced Rush to use some quick strikes to knock him to the corner, here Kalisto dodged a running Lio Rush and kicked him off the apron and followed up with a springboard senton on his knees to Rush on the outside.
Kalisto spent a little too much time celebrating, allowing Rush to get back in the ring and recover as well as catch Kalisto with a couple of kicks to the head when Rush reentered. Rush saw Kalisto down by the turnbuckle and headed to the top rope, but Kalisto hit him with an impressive up kick from the mat to knock him off balance. Kalisto used the imbalance of Rush to reverse the high risk maneuver attempt and hit Rush with a super fallaway slam.
With both men down, Kalisto tried to use the crowd’s support to get his energy up and attempt his finisher, but Rush reversed it into a spinning unprettier. Nice near fall here, where Kalisto kicked out on the brink of three. Rush measured Kalisto for a series of short arm strikes, but Kalisto reversed one and used the space to hit a springboard corkscrew on Rush. Kalisto and Rush then exchanged running kicks as they jockeyed for position, with Rush coming out on top by catching Kalisto in a fireman’s carry and tossing him over and out of the ring. Another nice near fall as Kalisto almost doesn’t make the count but gets in the ring at the referee’s nine count.
Rush knocked Kalisto down and went to the top rope to finish a fatigued Kalisto, but got distracted by the Lucha House Party’s antics on the outside, kicking their noisemakers out of their hands. All this time that Rush wasted, allowed Kalisto to catch him off guard with the Salida Del Sol and got the pinfall victory…
Kalisto defeated Lio Rush by pinfall.
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a really fun match to kick off the show. I think 205 does very well at making sure that their TV matches are entertaining without being absolutely crazy all of the time. Rush and Kalisto didn’t let everything out of their respective bags of tricks and could certainly have a match again in the near future. The story was enhanced by commentary tonight, I liked how they questioned Rush’s strategy of not using his agility the whole match. This can’t always be said about WWE commentary so I’ll give them props tonight.
We then saw a recap of the tag team street fight between Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher and Brian Kendrick and Akira Tozawa. Kayla Braxton then caught up with Gulak and Gallagher backstage and asked him if he is the underdog in tonight’s match. Gulak stated that they got lucky in their street fight victory and that in a wrestling match, he would tap Tozawa out…
We went to break and came back to a promo from Drake Maverick where he stated that this will be an exciting year for 205 Live, and directly stated that there would be some new faces coming to 205 Live very soon…
2. Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak in a qualifier for the four-way WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Tozawa and Gulak started the match circling each other and going to the ground to try and grab control of each other, as this happened the commentators mentioned that Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher had been banned from ringside. Tozawa and Gulak started exchanging control of each other’s backs, with both of their grappling attempts being reversed. They then shot each other to the ropes where Gulak at one point caught Tozawa in an impressive roll up while Tozawa was trying to leapfrog him, but this only resulted in a two count.
Tozawa caught Gulak with a surprise punch during a grappling exchange which allowed him to slam and senton him, forcing Gulak to head to the outside. Tozawa chased him outside, but Gulak managed to lay on the apron and kick Tozawa into the barricade. Gulak found himself in control and used his position to scoop slam Tozawa on the outside before rolling him back into the ring. Gulak now transitioned to executing his submission gameplan, wrenching Tozawa’s shoulders back and using stomps and quick slams to keep Tozawa grounded
Gulak attempted to hit Tozawa with a running shoulder block, but Tozawa used the space to catch Gulak with a couple of spinning kicks, before Gulak caught an ankle and tried to stack Tozawa up. The Japanese superstar lifted himself up into a powerbomb position and rana whipped Gulak out of the ring, and attempted to follow up with a suicide dive, but Gulak ran right back in and the two exchanged a flurry of running offense, ending with Tozawa kicking Gulak down. Tozawa attempted to head to the top rope, but Gulak rolled to the apron before Tozawa could hit his finisher. They struggled on the apron, where Tozawa pushed Gulak between the second and top rope and hit him with a rope hung leg drop for a two count.
Tozawa attempted to quickly follow up on his success, but Gulak used his grappling prowess to catch Tozawa in the Gu-lock in the corner. Tozawa attempted to backflip over Gulak and pin him, but Gulak powered out and rammed Tozawa with a strong clothesline. Tozawa and Gulak maintained the pace, with Tozawa kicking out of a pin attempt and attempting a rolling senton, with Gulak catching him and hitting a powerbomb. As the pace of the match slowed, Gulak and Tozawa went strike for strike with Tozawa getting the better of the exchange and rocking Gulak before locking in an octopus stretch.
Gulak however used an impressive feat of grappling to reverse the octopus stretch into a submission of his own with Tozawa still wrapped around him. Gulak caught Tozawa in a horse collar submission, (modified Brock lock,) and while this was impressive, Tozawa made it to the ropes. A fatigued Gulak tried to catch Tozawa in another submission, but Tozawa tripped him into the bottom turnbuckle and then hit a Saito suplex on Gulak. Tozawa then went straight to the top rope and jumped for a senton, but Gulak shifted his body and wrenched Tozawa in the Gu-lock.
Thought Tozawa might have tapped here as he sold really well, but eventually he rolled all the way out of the ring to break up the hold. The two started striking on the outside now, and while Gulak got the better of it and threw Tozawa back in the ring, he was too tired to follow in immediately, allowing Tozawa to hit a suicide dive and toss Gulak into the ring, setting him up for a senton. Gulak swept his legs out from under him however, and left Tozawa on the top rope. Gulak then went up to the top rope himself, and tried to hit Tozawa with a superplex. However his inexperience at the top rope allowed Tozawa to block it and push him off, before ramming Gulak with his finishing senton splash and getting the pinfall victory…
Akira Tozawa defeated Drew Gulak by pinfall.
After the match, it was announced that next week Cedric Alexander will take on Hideo Itami in a qualifying match. The show ended with two promos from Alexander and Itami, who was accompanied by Ariya Daivari. Daivari taunted Alexander for not being able to beat Itami and because his friend Mustafa Ali ditched him to go to Smackdown Live. Itami also stated in Japanese that next week, Alexander’s career would be over.
Anish’s Thoughts: Another great match to close the first 205 Live of the year. This was a fun show that was all centered around the cruiserweight championship. Tozawa and Gulak put on a great showcase of both their abilities, and Gulak’s loss due to inexperience with hight risk maneuvers is a smart one as it doesn’t mean that Tozawa beat him due to a pure wrestling advantage, but rather through exploiting his weakness.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Nick Perkins discussing the McMahon family’s vow to make changes to WWE television shows.