In shocking news from Sunday’s PPV, we have what amounts to an actual storyline of substance for our cruiserweights, as Adrian Neville returned, destroyed Rich Swann, and put the entire division on notice. Let’s see what happens…..tonight!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
WWE 205 Live – 12/20/16
Video package recapping Sunday’s match; GODDAMN, that Neville beatdown was awesome. I hope they put the title on him right away. Highlights air from Raw last night as well, with Neville’s promise to obliterate the division and our setup for tonight’s main event. Neville is already more interesting than anyone else on this show, which could be considered supercool or really, really sad, depending on how you look at it.
We are LIVE from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan! Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves, and Austin Aries (complete with Santa hat!). Tonight in our main event, TJ Perkins and Rich Swann will battle Adrian Neville and Brian Kendrick!
But up first, it’s the music of one Ariya Daivari! Quick highlight shows us Jack Gallagher interfering in Ariya’s match 2 weeks ago on Raw in a gentlemanly fashion. They’ve still got an issue, those boys. Yes they do. And now, it’s the music of Lince Dorado! Let’s watch some fisticuffs!
Ariya Daivari vs Lince Dorado
Handshake is accepted. Lockup, and Daivari controls with a wristlock. Dorado handstands out of an armwringer attempt, then a few front flips to back Ariya off. Dorado gets an armwringer and a wristlock of his own now, reversed to a hammerlock by Daivari, Dorado snapmares Ariya over to break. Lince off the ropes, snaps off a ‘rana. Lince goes up and lands on his feet after Daivari moves, but Ariya yanks him down by the mask. Jumping neckbreaker by Daivari gets 1 and a half. Daivari mounts and throws punches, then covers for two. Yawn. I typed yawn to indicate that this match is relatively boring so far. Dorado fires back with rights and goes for a corner dropkick, Ariya moves but Dorado lands on his feet. Hammerlock by Daivari into a clothesline for two. Jumping knee off the ropes to the back of Lince gets 1. Daivari keeps trying for the pin, I’ll give him that. Rear chinlock by Ariya to slow down this barnburner we’ve got here. He covers for one, then back to the chinlock. Dorado fights up, off the ropes, go-behind by Daivari, he sends Dorado to the corner but misses a splash when Lince moves. Right hands and a running forearm by Dorado, slaps and kicks by Lince, Irish whip is reversed by Ariya, but Dorado does a handstand off the ropes and comes back with a stunner! Daivari rolls out to think it over, Dorado gets a running start, tope over the top rope by Lince to Daivari! He damn near killed himself there, Ariya had to get in position to make sure he didn’t go headfirst to the ground. Back in, Dorado off the top with a bodypress! 1,2, NO! Crowd is so into this, they chant for Austin Aries. Dorado with a springboard ‘rana for two. Lince with a step-up kick to Ariya in the corner and he sets Daivari on top. Daivari shoves Dorado off the top rope, Lince lands on his feet after a flip, but he eats a boot from Daivari on a blind charge. Daivari comes off the top with a frog splash! 1,2,3. (Ariya Daivari over Lince Dorado, pinfall, 5:39)
WORTH WATCHING? – The match wasn’t much to write home about. The beginning was a snoozer, as neither of these guys are great at keeping chain sequences all that interesting, and Dorado nearly killing himself on that tope was not fun to watch. NO on this one, as they continue to hype up how many different styles there are in the division, yet they all use the same transitions and kicks with no discernible differences; the idea of a clash of styles could be fun if they, you know, actually let that occur. But hey, Dorado did a few moves off the top, so that makes him TOTALLY different than everyone else, right?
Post-match, Daivari gets some mic time, telling the crowd that they turn a blind eye to Jack Gallagher because he’s entertaining. He embarrasses all of his opponents! Jack Gallagher is NOT a gentleman (OH SHIT, IT’S GONNA HIT THE FAN NOW!), he’s a SCOUNDREL! (OH MY GOD! To Jack, that’s probably the equivalent of calling him a motherfucker or something).
Aries joins in, calling Gallagher a dirty, rotten scoundrel! My word.
In the back, Adrian Neville is having himself a stretch, before being joined by “The” Brian Kendrick! Kendrick is so proud to have Neville on 205 Live, he’s proud to call him his partner, he thinks they’re going to do great things together…..Neville cuts him off. He respects Kendrick’s accomplishments; they put the foundation of this division together! But as far as tonight is concerned, he’s his partner, but they’re not friends, and on 205 Live, there’s only room for one king on 205 Live, and it’s going to be him
Back to the desk, where Aries opines that no one can be trusted, least of all himself. Graves throws us to a video package on Tajiri, and I’m so excited he’s coming back, I can barely contain it. I love Tajiri, and I don’t give a shit how old he is.
Ad for NXT. Tomorrow night, the #1 contender for Nakamura will be decided! Man, it’s weird seeing Roderick Strong in NXT. I still can’t process it.
Speaking of former ROH alumi, we’re back to the music of Cedric Alexander! He’s out with Alicia Fox, as we replay footage from Raw and Cedric’s match with Noam Dar. Now, I’m warming up to Dar a little bit, as he’s playing this obnoxious creeper role with Alicia remarkably well; I just wish I liked him more in the ring, because Eurotrash sleazeball is fitting his actual character just fine right now, and as stupid as it may be, at least there’s an actual reason that he’s feuding with Cedric, which is more than I can say for a lot of guys on this show. And here comes Drew Gulak! But he’s without his ring robe, which is just sad, ’cause that robe is bitchin’.
Cedric Alexander (w/ Alicia Fox) vs Drew Gulak
Handshake is accepted. Gulak rushes Cedric to start and takes him down with a go-behind, Cedric turns that into a wristlock, Gulak kicks him off and we reset. Drew misses a right and Alexander fires a chop, then hits a European uppercut and takes Gulak down with a hammerlock on the mat, trapping the other arm and cradling Drew for two. Cedric puts Drew against the ropes with uppercuts, but tries to run the ropes and Gulak follows him with a straight forearm to stagger Alexander, Cedric returns the favor with one of his own when Drew tries to come off. Alexander with a strike again off the ropes, then more right hands. Ref backs him off, and Gulak jumps him and tosses him into the middle rope to take over. Drew with stomps, then a forearm and a shot to the chest of Cedric, Alexander tries a sunset flip but can’t get Drew over, as Gulak drops a knee to the head of Cedric. Drew with a double chinlock, then rolls Cedric over for one. Cross-corner whip by Gulak, but Cedric drops him with a double foot on Drew’s charge. Clothesline by Cedric, back elbow by Cedric, off the ropes, handstand reverse kick by Cedric to Drew! Cedric springs off the top with a flying clothesline to Gulak! 1,2, no! Belly-to-back attempt by Cedric, Gulak lands on his feet, they trade waistlocks and Gulak elbows Cedric in the face. Suplex attempt by Gulak is blocked, they back towards the ropes, Cedric SUPLEXES GULAK OVER THE TOP ROPE! Both guys hit the floor. That was, as the kids say, nifty. Both guys stagger to their feet and Drew shoves Cedric…..right into Alicia. Whoops. Cedric is less than pleased, and Gulak takes advantage, rolling him into the ring and hitting him in the ribs, then laying in stomps in the corner. Meanwhile, Noam Dar comes out to help out Alicia Fox, just out of the kindness of his heart. What a gentleman! Perhaps I was wrong about this young lad. Cedric with a reverse kick to Drew, but he sees Dar helping out Alicia and gets rolled up for two. Dar lifts Alicia up to carry her to the back as Alexander gets the LUMBAR CHECK~! in the ring to pick up the pinfall. (Cedric Alexander over Drew Gulak, pinfall, 5:33)
WORTH WATCHING? – Gulak brought some fire in the beginning of this one, as he and Cedric were really moving fast out there. I’m half-hearted, as most of this was angle stuff with Fox, but there was a sneaky good little match in there before they rushed to the finish. I’ll give it a YES, but barely, as I’m a homer for Cedric and the match moved really well, plus the suplex spot was awesome. If you skip it, you’re not really missing much, to be brutally honest.
Post-match, Cedric doesn’t even bother to get his hand raised, as he rushes the back to see what happened with Noam and Alicia after Dar carried her to the back. It’s like the Megapowers all over again, except not really at all!
The commentators start to talk about something, but now Gulak is getting some interview time instead. “What went wrong out here tonight? Alicia Fox is what went wrong tonight!” This is a man’s world, and women don’t belong out here on 205 Live! Okay, got it. Back to the commentators, and they do a bit of patter and throw us to a video package on Jack Gallagher.
We’re in the back now, as Alicia has ice on her ankle as Dar looks on, with Cedric running in. She just twisted her ankle, but it’s okay! She’s just lucky that Noam came! Cedric thanks Dar, but says that he’s got it from here. Dar tells Alicia that if she ever, ever needs help again, he’ll be there. He gives Alexander a shit-eating grin behind her back and exits, and it’s kind of awesome.
Royal Rumble promo.
Main event time! Evil Neville’s music hits, and here he comes, making sure to stop and glare at some kids in the front row. Attaboy. “Man with a plan” starts up, and here comes Brian Kendrick. TJ Perkins is out next, and that only leaves Rich Swann, as the champ enters. Let’s do this thing!
Adrian Neville & “The” Brian Kendrick vs TJ Perkins & Rich Swann
Neville, bless his heart, has to be held back by the ref as he tries to attack Swann while the champ is dancing. Yeah! Jesse Ventura would be proud.
No handshake. Neville and Swann start us off, and the crowd chants for Neville. Adrian clobbers Swann to knock him down, then stomps away. He takes Rich to the corner and chokes him, then chops him. Snapmare and a dropkick to the back of Rich’s head. Back to the corner now, and Neville stomps him in the head, grabs him by the hair to trash talk for a second, then drops a knee to the head. Neville is awesome. Chinlock, then a transition to one with a knee in the back of Rich as Adrian really yanks back on it. Rich fights up, so Neville just levels him with a right to put him back down. Delayed vertical suplex by Neville gets two. Vicious running forearm in the corner as Neville continues to dominate. Elbows to the top of the head by Neville, then a cover for two. Neville rakes Swann across the face, runs him into the buckles, then chokes Swann with his boot in the corner. Rich fires a right hand to free up some space, and TJ makes a blind tag.
Neville sends Swann off the ropes and drops him with a forearm, but TJ is legal now and comes off the top with a crossbody onto Adrian, mounting him with rights afterwards. Adrian catches him in front facelock, though, and backs into his own corner to tag in Kendrick. Brian in with forearms, but Neville isn’t pleased that he was tagged out of the match. He gets out of the ring, though, and Kendrick chokes TJ with his boot against the ropes. Corey Graves says that they’ll figure out a way to work together, though, because the winner’s purse is much more lucrative than the loser’s purse! Holy SHIT, they’re acknowledging that wins and losses matter on this show? There is hope! Kendrick with a headlock on TJ now, Perkins shoots him off and they run the ropes, spinkick by TJ! Kendrick gets his boot up on a blind charge to drop TJ and goes for Sliced Bread #2, but TJ hangs him up on the top rope in the Tree of Woe, delayed dropkick by TJ! 1, 2, no! Slam by TJ and he does the Eddy Guerrero senton into the ring on Kendrick for two. Suplex by TJ, he pops the hips and tries to transition to the belly-to-back, but Brian lands on his feet and drops Perkins with a leg lariat.
TJ rolls to the corner and Rich tags back in, but he gets rushed by Kendrick and dropped with an axehandle and forearms. Stomps by Brian as Swann tries to fight up, while the commentators correctly speculate that Rich tagged back in too quickly after the beating he took in the first part of the match. Swann manages to get back to his feet trading rights, and avoids a clothesline from Brian and gets one of his own. Another! Reverse thrust kick to the gut from Swann, but he goes for a double-stomp and gets caught with a nasty Flatliner from Kendrick. Rich got spiked there. Kendrick tags out to Neville, who comes back in with a brutal delayed German suplex to Rich. 1, 2, no! Adrian measures Rich now, but Swann gets a boot up when Neville charges him in the corner to drop Neville for the first time. Right hands with nothing behind them from Rich (noted by the commentators) and he sends Adrian to the corner, Neville somersaults over the top of a charging Swann, but turns as he lands right into a superkick from Rich! 1, 2, NO! Rich tries to get Neville to his feet, but Adrian turns him inside-out with a clothesline when he does! I’m not at all ashamed to say that I’m enjoying the hell out of this match.
Both guys make tags now, and Perkins comes in and hits shots on Brian as Kendrick misses wildly. Spinning back kick by TJ, then the double underhook into the double knees from TJ! 1, 2, no! Fireman’s carry by TJ, Kendrick elbows out and goes for a full-nelson, TJ gets back to the fireman’s carry now, Benadryller by TJ! TJ locks in the kneebar now, but Neville comes in with a basement dropkick to put a stop to that. Swann tags himself back in now, and he gets a kick to the head of Neville, as it’s breaking loose in Detroit! Belly-to-back attempt by Kendrick, but Rich lands on his feet and it’s a double superkick from Swann and Perkins to Brian! Rich covers, 1, 2, Kendrick gets his foot on the ropes! Neville gets back on the apron, but gets sent back to the floor via a TJP dropkick. Perkins goes up, but misses the slingshot dropkick and Neville takes him out with a kick on the apron. Kendrick snaps Swann’s head against the middle buckle, then hits Sliced Bread #2! He locks Rich in the Captain’s Hook as Neville holds TJ back, but Perkins breaks free just before Swann taps and breaks up the hold! Neville tosses the punk to the floor, then tags into the match proper.
Adrian stomps Swann, then hits him with the worst of it all, the bad-mouth, as he yells in Swann’s face “Is this it? Is this the cruiserweight divison?!” Neville off the ropes, but Swann pops him with a right hand! Swann off the ropes, and he eats a spinning back kick from Neville that had me wincing. Rich tags in TJ, who springs off the top…..right into an enzuigiri by Neville! Exquisite timing there by Adrian. Meanwhile, Kendrick takes out Swann with a tope across the ring as Adrian goes up, Red Arrow hits TJ! 1, 2, 3! (Adrian Neville & Brian Kendrick over TJ Perkins & Rich Swann, pinfall, 14:10)
WORTH WATCHING? – I bow to the God that is Adrian Neville. YES, this was all that and a bag of chips. The match structure was so well-planned, as Neville just beat the HELL out of Swann in the opening part of the match, giving Rich a good underdog vibe for his comebacks later in the match. Kendrick wasn’t much to write home about, but both he and TJ did their jobs admirably; they were there to showcase Neville and keep the match flowing, and they did. Swann got his spots in and didn’t take the fall, which was the right call here as I wouldn’t have beaten the champ either; wait until later and do that when he faces Adrian, because there’s just no earthly reason that they should wait to put the title on Neville at this point. His mannerisms and work were just fantastic, and he’d be a great heel to chase. Good, good match for the main this week.
Post-match, Neville glowers as Kendrick celebrates as Swann and Perkins lie dead on the outside, and we’re done for the week here on 205.
FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Last week in the comments section, C Fraracci and Phrederic both had thoughts I wanted to reprint here.
As much as I love the cruiserweights, I don’t think 205 is long for the world. The biggest problem is a majority of the high spots are done by everyone on the main roster. There is very little to differentiate the cruisers from the others. At least in WCW you didn’t have everyone else busting out dives through/over the ropes, flips, moonsaults, etc. Now everyone does it and it’s not special at all, the only standout is Gallagher and he’s heading into the Santino/Sandow area of comedy, and that is not where he should be. I really don’t think this division will make it to the summer before crashing and burning, which sucks.
Yeah, what is a cruiserweight these days anymore?
You have Seth Rollins doing Phoenix Splashes.
Cesaro does springboard uppercuts.
AJ Styles does springboard 450s.
Hell, even Kevin Owens can do a moonsault.
And everybody ever does a suicide dive.
What is Cedric Alexander compared to that? What is a Rich Swann? A TJP?
I think that both of them are right on a certain level, and that’s that there’s just no identity to being a cruiserweight outside of weight limit anymore. Almost all the main eventers, hell some of the mid-carders, in the WWE do all the moves that used to be exclusive to this class of workers.
But more to the point, at least to me, is the other difference to notice is that the regular WWE ‘style’, especially with the transition work that the wrestlers do, is starting to bleed into and homogenize itself into the Cruiserweight division, and that isn’t helping the situation of allowing these guys to stand out at all. Mauro especially tonight was going on about the ‘clashes of styles’ that we were seeing, as guys were doing the same armwringers and kick transitions that we’d just seen in the previous match, or even on Smackdown!
That’s one of the reasons that I’m sure as hell hoping that they can start putting together some decent stories and compelling stuff for these guys to work with. Now, Brian Kendrick’s story wasn’t all that compelling past the tournament, because the tournament was his endgame, as he won a job back, but they kept going with it as it got more and more boring – one could certainly also argue that his ringwork isn’t as strong as the rest of the division, and I think one would probably be right. But still, my honest to God hope is that badass heel Adrian Neville burning the division to the ground because he’s just that much better than everyone else is going to pick this thing up. Because he’s awesome and I sure want it to.
Hell, I’ll even take Noam Dar getting some time to get over, whether it works or not, because random matches like Daivari/Dorado aren’t going to do it, and I want this show to work.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter