By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
WWE 205 Live Hits
Buddy Murphy vs. Tony Nese: Over 22 minutes of match. Given Cedric’s track record with keeping up the pace in the longer matches, this one did not drag a bit, even during the chinlock sequences to start the match. Things really picked up when the two men had a unique Tae Kwon Do demo sequence in the middle of the sequence, which is something you don’t see too often. While other matches appeal more to me (matches that come off more like stiff brawls or sport fighting), I was still entertained and it looked like the crowd was invested in Cedric enough to make this have the right amount of energy. Kudos for the finish circumventing expectations. Cedric’s Lumbar Check is one of the most protected finishers in the business, which made Vic Joseph’s version of the Vince McMahon cliche false finish call work in a rare case when Nese kicked out. The finish was made better when Cedric didn’t kick out of the Running Nese because of the false finish indie cliche.
Cedric Alexander, Buddy Murphy, and Tony Nese backstage segment: A bit of a detractor here in that I thought this segment or a similar type of segment should have happened either earlier in the year or earlier in the tournament to plant some seeds of dissension between Nese and Murphy. Beggars can’t be choosers in this case because I thought it was a good move to finally get to this and build some pathos behind Nese (although a bit later than they should). Murphy in particular gained here because he got to look a bit more heelish and paranoid than he usually does.
Mike Kanellis vs. Akira Tozawa: A strong opening match and nice first win (in a long time) for Mr. Bennett. Mike has been putting in good performances lately in 205 Live and it making the most out of this slump storyline. I still suspect that Mike and Maria are running down their contracts (which might have a lot of time on it due to Maria missing a ton of time). I really liked the finishing sequence where Tozawa regained control after Mike hit him with a Super Miracle in Progress. Just as Tozawa was about to finish things, Maria did her signature Maria distractions and both Mike and Tozawa needing to adjust their ring location to accommodate for the distraction. Good stuff. I wonder if it’s time to give Mike Bennett his last name back because Mike Kanellis in WWE has been a total flop?
Maria Kanellis: Mike continues to put in good ring work, but it’s Maria who continues to prove that she’s one of the best talkers in the business despite being unfortunately sidetracked on the male cruiserweight show (But hey! I would rather be a standout on 205 Live than trapped in the Impact Wrestling “Undead Realm” division. Ya’ll know how much I hate that part of Impact). Maria’s pre-match promo reminded me of why she won me over as one of the best in the world during her 2016 Impact Wrestling stint. There are a lot of Paul Heyman similarities by making Mike her Brock Lesnar while also using strategic language to antagonize everybody she talks about from the crowd, her feuds, and Mike’s opponents. During the match, I liked her distraction because it reminded me of both her New Japan distractions and her old ditzy WWE character back in the day.
WWE 205 Live Misses
None: Two good matches and non-frustrating stuff around it. 205 Live is almost too compact a show to commit much error (but if you remember my old era 205 reviews, you know that Vince McMahon’s booking would find a way to make an episode have many Misses. I will never forget the night when “Cruiserweight” Goldust beat the entire heel roster of the show cleanly). Looking ahead, while Nese may not be the sexiest pick to headline the WrestleMania pre-show, this story made sense. It’s a bit of WWE’s fault for booking one-off PPV matches which hindered storyline development. Nese has been on-fire since appearing in NXT against Johnny Gargano, so there might be some hope with him matching up against Buddy Murphy (I kinda hope he doesn’t just shave the beard because he might just end up looking like a jacked up Jay White. Kinda like how Dolph Ziggler became Matt Sydal after getting black hair).
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Eric Bischoff discussing whether there are similarities in Vince McMahon’s WWE booking and Verne Gagne’s booking of the AWA during its dying days, a network shakeup that could potentially be an issue for All Elite Wrestling, Eric’s upcoming shows with Tony Schiavone and Conrad Thompson in Chicago and New York, and much more.