By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
WWE 205 Live on the WWE Network
Aired live on February 26, 2019 from Charlotte, North Carolina at Spectrum Center
The show opened with an introduction of the tournament to determine the No. 1 contender to the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania. Drake Maverick announced this week’s first round matches as Kalisto vs. Tony Nese, and Drew Gulak vs. Brian Kendrick… The broadcast team was Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Aiden English…
Anish’s Thoughts: I especially liked that Brian Kendrick’s added motivation of having never had a match at WrestleMania was brought up to give his match higher stakes.
1. Kalisto vs. Tony Nese in a first round tournament match. The match started off with Kalisto and Nese locking up and Nese using his strength to muscle the Luchador to the ground. Kalisto didn’t let Nese’s bearhug keep him down for long however and broke away with a wristlock, although Nese kicked his arm away and hit Kalisto with an armdrag to retake control. We saw at certain points in the match that Buddy Murphy was watching from backstage in typical WWE fashion, looking at the TV sideways. Kalisto couldn’t use his strength to break away from Nese so instead chopped him and used the ropes to execute a springboard armdrag.
Nese tried to rush at Kalisto after, but Kalisto dodged with a grounded Monkey Flip and the two went dodge for dodge, flipping out of each other’s moves. Kalisto eventually connected with a head kick which knocked Nese out of the ring and followed up with a Suicide Dive. Kalisto rolled Nese back into the ring and hit a springboard cross body, but Nese kicked out of the pin attempt at two. Kalisto tried to pick Nese up but Nese kicked his legs out from under him and tried to whip him out of the ring. Kalisto reversed it and launched Nese out of the ring, prompting him to follow Nese and creating another exchange of flipping dodges, this time on the outside. Nese got the better of it this time however, catching Kalisto with a big backdrop on to the floor.
Nese rolled Kalisto into the ring and attempted a pin, but Kalisto kicked out at two and rolled out of the ring. Nese chased him outside and threw him into the barricade and then stomped on him. Nese took his time taunting between stomps and chops as well, this eventually gave Kalisto the opening to rally and try for a huracanrana, but Nese blocked it and swung Kalisto into the barricade.
Nese just couldn’t get the cover however, and in the ring Kalisto built some space and managed to hit Nese with a Head-Scissors armdrag followed by an apron kick to buy some time. Kalisto made his way to the top rope and smacked Nese with a froggy looking seated senton and head-scissors DDT combo, although it only earned a two count. Kalisto didn’t let up and quickly hit a Basement-Rana as well, but once again only enough for a two.
Nese caught Kalisto rushing in and tossed the Luchador onto the top rope. With Kalisto facing away from the ring, Nese tried for a Super-Back-Plex, but Kalisto struggled and eventually tried for a Super-Salida-Del-Sol. Nese reversed this however and hit Kalisto with a Spider German Suplex. With Kalisto down from that, Nese attempted a 450 Splash. Kalisto rolled out of the way and with nobody home, Nese crashed into the mat. Kalisto then hit a 450 Splash of his own, but Nese managed to get his foot onto the rope.
With both men down, Kalisto tried to take advantage and hit his finisher, but Nese countered and thrust Kalisto into the corner to try for the running knee wash. Kalisto dodged this and caught Nese with a kick, but once again only enough for two. The Luchador tried again for the Salida-Del-Sol, but Nese rolled away and goaded Kalisto into a monkey flip, a nice throwback to that early spot.
Both men down again and this time, Nese tried for a Pumphandle Slam to take advantage, but Kalisto reversed and the two exchanged reversals before Nese eventually got a grip and hit Kalisto with a Wheelbarrow German into the corner. This left Kalisto prone for a Running Knee Wash, which Nese hit and finally covered Kalisto for the pinfall victory.
Tony Nese defeated Kalisto to advance in the tournament.
Anish’s Thoughts: The crowd was seemingly dead throughout the entirety of this match and even Kalisto trying to rally with Lucha chants didn’t prompt much of a response. Honestly, this match was good, far better than the crowd made it seem like it was. I was disappointed that the crowd wasn’t into this at all because there were some really fun spots in that match. I guess the 205 crowds are rather hit-and-miss and although this match felt like a hit in my book, their inability to get the crowd interested in the match.
A backstage promo featured Jack Gallagher recruiting Humberto Carrillo. Gallagher explained that Carrillo could have won his match last week if he had utilized a wrist-lock rather than the high flying moves he was using…
Anish’s Thoughts: I’m glad they’re following up with this Carrillo being recruited by Gallagher and Gulak because it could be something fun for the newcomer to get involved with in the upcoming weeks.
After a break, the announcers recapped the match from last week between Mike Kanellis and Cedric Alexander. We saw a backstage segment between the Kanellis’s and Drake Maverick. Maverick didn’t take any heed of Kanellis’s complaints about having, in his mind, beaten Alexander. Instead, Maverick stated that Kanellis would be in action next week…
2. The Brian Kendrick vs. Drew Gulak in first round tournament match. As Kendrick entered, the announcers stated that Kendrick made his WWE debut 15 years ago yet still hasn’t had a match at Mania and that he only needs to win three matches to get there. Gulak and Kendrick took some time to feel each other out and exchanged some fast grappling maneuvers to start the match. The first real offense came when Gulak trapped Kendrick in an Indian Deathlock and grabbed a hold of Kendrick’s wrist as well.
Kendrick rolled to the corner and he stared Gulak down, when they got up the two went wrist lock for wrist lock, with Gulak eventually reversing and catching Kendrick in an ankle lock. Kendrick reversed into a headlock and seemed as if he would take control but Gulak got to the ropes and instead of whipping Kendrick away, allowed the referee to break them up. They locked up again and this time, Gulak went quickly to hit Kendrick with a German Suplex. He only got a two count on the bridge cover, but seamlessly transitioned to a Bow-&-Arrow hold. Kendrick muscled out and caught Gulak in a backslide, although Gulak reversed it into a Figure Four. Eventually, Kendrick rolled to the ropes and built some space.
Kendrick attempted to chop Gulak away, but Gulak retaliated with a clothesline. Gulak kept Kendrick down with an arm lock for a while, but Kendrick muscled out again and built enough space to hit Gulak with some strikes and an armdrag. Kendrick then attempted an armbar, but Gulak reversed into another leg lock.
Anish’s Thoughts: I’ll say it for certain now, this is a bad crowd. They chanted “this is boring” at a pretty fun and methodical grappling match for utterly no reason. I feel bad for Gulak and Kendrick, who are really putting thought into the moves and motivation behind them to tell a clear story.
Gulak tried to whip Kendrick, something he didn’t try earlier, but it went awry with Kendrick catching him with a roll up and then a backdrop to stop Gulak’s momentum. Kendrick couldn’t keep control for long as Gulak retaliated with a shoulder block and then a Side Suplex, but Kendrick kicked out at two. Gulak then followed up with a technical leg trap German Suplex. As devastating as it looked, Kendrick kicked out at two and clobbered a frustrated Gulak with an elbow and a Dragon Suplex. Gulak rebounded quickly however and rammed Kendrick with a clothesline to leave both men out on the mat.
Gulak made it up first and stomped on a downed Kendrick. This didn’t keep Kendrick down however and he got up to attempt Sliced Bread No. 2. In a cool counter series, Gulak reversed into a Gu-lock, before Kendrick rolled it into a Captain’s Hook. Kendrick couldn’t force Gulak to tap however, and Gulak rolled out of the Captain’s Hook to hit Kendrick with a Powerbomb. With glassy eyes, Kendrick kicked out with an inch between defeat and goaded Gulak to bring it. Gulak rushed into two big kicks, allowing Kendrick to attempt Sliced Bread No.2. Gulak reversed it again and rolled Kendrick into the Gu-lock. With Kendrick refusing to tap, Gulak choked him out and won to advance in the tournament.
Drew Gulak defeated Brian Kendrick via technical submission to advance in the tournament.
Anish’s Thoughts: I liked this match even though the live crowd apparently did not. Props to the commentators for ignoring the crowd’s jeers and treating this match like the high-stakes technical battle that it was. I thought WWE did a phenomenal job by giving the match stakes and giving viewers a reason to invest and want Kendrick to win. They also made sure that Kendrick didn’t leave the show empty handed as he didn’t give Gulak the satisfaction of tapping him out. This was a fun episode of 205 Live despite the disinterested crowd. I give props to all of the performers and the commentary team for making it seem important even if the crowd didn’t think so. I like the idea of this tourney heading into Wrestlemania 35, and I think WWE put everything into making this first round seem important. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks, the crowds will appreciate it too.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and former WWE Smackdown lead writer Alex Greenfield discussing the NXT call-ups, Stephanie McMahon’s past contributions to WWE creative, the growth of MLW, and much more.