By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Taped January 8, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida at Veteran’s Memorial Arena
The show started with 205 Live general manager Drake Maverick giving a recap of the first two qualifying matches for the Fatal 4-way Cruiserweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble. He then previewed this week’s match between Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami, making sure to mention Ariya Daivari’s newfound alliance with Itami…
1. Tony Nese vs. Noam Dar. Both men immediately wrestled for control of each other’s backs, Nese pushed Dar into a corner and taunted him, but Dar caught him in a chicken wing and pulled him to the ground in a headlock. Nese broke out and the two go back and forth on the ground before Nese builds some space and attempted a moonsault which Dar dodged and countered with a leg trip.
Dar used this space taunt Nese and goad him into his spinning unprettier maneuver into a backslide, which got him a two-count. Nese rolled to the outside, but was quickly followed and thrown back in. As Dar attempted to re-enter, Nese smacked him with a knee and a running back-elbow to ground the Scott. Nese applied a body-scissors to wear Dar down, and although Dar fought back with strikes, Nese countered with some kicks of his own and his strength won out.
As Nese continued to try and wear Dar down with repeated strong strikes and simple locks, Dar broke Nese’s momentum by dropping limp to the floor to avoid a running cross body. Nese tried to recover by heading to the top rope, but Dar kicked his feet our from the middle rope and used his agility to rush Nese with strikes. Dar eventually caught Nese in a guillotine, but Nese was too strong to be held and forced the rope break. Nese then quickly hit Dar with a hotshot and moonsault combo but only got a two count.
Nese then tried to put Dar away with a German suplex, but Dar dropped down to counter him and hit him with a series of up-kicks. Dar and Nese then exchanged strikes with Dar managing to lock in a guillotine for the second time. Nese tried to force the rope break, but Dar cleverly blocked using his foot, it was all for nought eventually however, as Nese broke the hold by converting it into a northern-lights suplex.
Dar kicked out of the bridged pin at two and got right up to kick Nese’s shin. Dar tried to take advantage of a recovering Nese but got caught by Nese who hit a pump-handle slam. Nese then dragged Dar to the corner to try for a top rope maneuver, but Dar rolled him up out of nowhere and got the pinfall victory.
Noam Dar defeated Tony Nese by pinfall.
Anish’s Thoughts: Fun opening match that did its job and got both men over, especially Dar who looked smart and crafty in this win. Nese looked strong as well and had a great showing, pulling off some impressive moves, especially a pretty good looking moonsault. Dar and Nese could be a fun second-tier feud going forward, and I like the chemistry that they both have, with both being rather snarky characters with Dar being more of a face and Nese being more of a heel. Fun stuff that I hope they keep going in the near future.
A couple of backstage segments were up next, the first being The Brian Kendrick reading a message from Akira Tozawa who was ‘in Japan honing his skills.’ Kendrick stated that he still owes Tozawa something, whatever that means…
We then saw Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher speaking with Drake Maverick, handing the GM some binders on people to look up to, before quickly leaving. Mike and Maria Kanellis then entered and berated Drake Maverick for not putting Mike in a match for the past five weeks, stating that they wanted opportunities and were ready to fight for them, especially if it means taking on the new cruiserweights that Maverick said would be coming soon…
Anish’s Thoughts: Whatever you say about how Mike and Maria have been used, this promo highlighted Maria’s prowess on the mic and really made me think that the Kanellis’s should be in a better role, if for nothing than for Maria’s promo skills.
Finally, we went to break and came back to a selfie promo by Lio Rush. He stated that he should be in the title match at the Royal Rumble, but because his opportunity was denied by Lucha House Party, he would be targeting them…
2. Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami for a spot in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Itami and Alexander both started the match by playing to the crowd, with Itami telling them to shut up and Alexander rallying his fans. Alexander quickly wrestled Itami to the ground and started working on his left arm. Itami broke Alexander’s grip by making it to the ropes and hitting Alexander on the break. The two went back and forth with chops and forearms, with Itami tossing a few kicks in there as well.
Alexander countered and managed to hit Itami with some offense to build space, and while he had Itami down, he was visibly clutching his chest and the commentators played up the power of Itami’s kicks to his chest. The action spilled to the outside, where Ariya Daivari caught Alexander with a clothesline as the referee was distracted by Itami.
Itami rolled Alexander back into the ring and continued to assault Alexander’s torso with kicks to the back and chest. Alexander was able to get a few runs in on Itami, but the Japanese wrestler cut them off by taking advantage of the damage done to Alexander’s chest. At this point Alexander was visibly selling difficulty breathing and the commentators did well to pick up on this and draw attention to Alexander’s trouble here.
Itami then brought the action to a halt with a chin lock, but Alexander drove himself out with the help of the crowd and kicked Itami to the corner where he hit his ‘get over here’ flatliner from the ropes. Only a two count though, and Alexander continued to sell his fatigue due to the damage done to his chest.
Alexander and Itami then went back and forth with strikes, with Itami managing to hit Alexander as his went for a handspring maneuver. He then kicked Alexander to the corner before hitting a fisherman suplex to get a two count. The two then battled around the ropes, where Itami caught Alexander with a diving axe handle. Itami attempted a dragon suplex, but Alexander slipped out and chose to go strike for strike with Itami. This turned out to be bad, as although he hit Itami with some strong kicks and even the handspring neutralizer, Itami popped some chest kicks off, sapping Alexander’s strength and restricting him to a two count.
Alexander tried to follow up with a Lumbar-check, but Daivari pulled Itami out of the ring, forcing Alexander to hit a tope to take them both out. Alexander tried to follow up with a springboard move, but got distracted by Daivari, allowing Itami to catch him with an uppercut. Itami then slapped Alexander on the apron and landed a devastating looking falcon arrow from the apron to the floor (that looked like it stung).
There was a really awesome false finish here where Alexander made it back into the ring with less than a second to go. Itami tried to capitalize with a quick dropkick, but Alexander dodged and went for a roll-up. Itami kicked out and caught Alexander with his falling knee strike finisher to get the three count.
Hideo Itami defeated Cedric Alexander by pinfall to earn a spot in the four-way for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
After the match, we saw Buddy Murphy backstage. Murphy congratulated Itami before stating that all these contenders were just fighting for the number two spot at best. He then set out an open challenge to face him next week, although it will be a non-title match… essentially he just stated that he will have a match next week. We have that to look forward to, and a tight episode of 205 Live came to an end…
Anish’s Thoughts: Another nice match, with a few really sick spots and exchanges in there, the best of which being that falcon arrow to the floor. Itami and Alexander added another nice chapter to their history on 205 Live, and it feels like WWE is building their rivalry as a longstanding one for this division. On the downside, Itami’s finisher still looks really strange. Otherwise, this was very interesting storytelling, I especially liked the story of Itami’s kicks being the factor that wore Alexander down. Daivari’s interference also meant that Alexander didn’t look too weak either and I think he looked pretty good in this defeat anyway as the crowd were behind him the whole time.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and Brian Fritz discussing the formation of All Elite Wrestling and their launch rally.