WWE 205 Live
10th April 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana
Commentators: Vic Joseph and Percy Watson
If you don’t think you’ve had quite enough wrestling this week, grapple fans, then read on as I recap the first episode of 205 Live post-WrestleMania. We’ll hear from the new Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander, and Mark Andrews is set to do battle with Drew Gulak.
The show opens with a video highlight package of Cedric Alexander besting Mustafa Ali for the Cruiserweight Championship in the tournament final on the WM34 pre-show. For those who didn’t see the match and wanted to know how it went – decent back and forth, highflying action, which saw both guys get in the majority of their spots and it was a nice showcase of the 205 Live brand. I’d gave the match a B rating, as at approximately 12 minutes in length it could never quite have that epic feel that a tournament final needs. Oh, and Ali’s tornado DDT remains one of the most impressive moves in WWE.
After the standard opening graphics (which could do with a refresh; Austin Aries is still in it) Vic welcomes us to the show. Nigel McGuinness is off for a couple of weeks but, never fear, Percy Watson is here in his stead. In fact, Vic tells us Percy is now a permanent fixture at the booth for 205; oh, joy.
Kalisto vs Akira Tozawa
Pre-match, Kalisto delivers a backstage selfi-promo, hyping a tornado tag-team match for next week, presumably set to be Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik taking on Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami. Tozawa counters with a selfi-promo of his own, delivering his “you’re fired!” catchphrase. It’s no “indeed!”, but it does have potential. Both guys trade waistlocks and wristlocks to start, as neither really gets the better of it. Side headlock from Kalisto and then he takes over Tozawa with a head-scissors. They grapple to the ropes and we get a clean break, before Tozawa tries to rally the crowd. Both guys try for pinfalls and miss kick attempts, before Akira lands a sucker punch to the jaw. Kalisto is down in the corner and Tozawa strikes with a succession of stomps to the gut; shades of Stone Cold. Senton splash from Akira for the first near fall, before applying a reverse chinlock. Knife edge chops and more stomps in the corner from Tozawa but Kalisto strikes back with an enziguri and a springboard, spinning shoulderblock. Basement rana from the masked grappler gets his first near fall. Watson jabbers away at the booth, telling us there’s “American style”, “Lucha style” and “strong style”. What exactly is American style? Kicking out of four F5s? Kalisto sits Tozawa up top and looks ready to hit a hurracanrana from upstairs. They both jockey for position, which sees Kalisto get knocked to the floor. Kalisto is back up though, kicks Akira upside the head and takes Tozawa down to the mat with the Spanish Fly (not as scary as the one from Charlotte and Asuka on Sunday night).
Both combatants are back up and trading forearms. Tozawa hits an enziguri for a near fall. Superkick from Kalisto and a Death Valley driver. A series of boots to the chest from the Luchadore. He charges out of the corner looking for another kick, but Tozawa monkey flips him into the opposite corner in a nice spot. The crowd seem particularly dead during this. But can you blame them? If you count just WWE programming alone, we’re entering the 16th hour of in-ring action in the last 4 days – and that’s without factoring in the Hall of Fame! I enjoy reviewing these shows, but maybe a recap show and week off for the boys would have been ideal? Kalisto rolls to the outside but Tozawa strikes with a baseball slide followed by a dive through the middle rope. Tozawa rolls Kalisto back in and looks determined to finish him. Akira goes up to the top but misses a senton splash. The announcers claim Kalisto caught him with his knees, but I didn’t see much contact. Several pin attempts culminates with a nice, old school bridge up into a backslide, but Tozawa flips out of it, only to taste Solida Del Sol, giving Kalisto the pin at 11:20.
Match rating: B- Enjoyable effort from these two, with some nice showing of personality from both guys. The right man won as Kalisto is higher up the totem pole at the minute, but Tozawa got to show plenty of spirit. I was surprised not to see any run-ins from Hideo Itami, Lince Dorado or Gran Metalik, to further cement the reasoning behind their tornado tag match next week, but at least that meant we got a clean finish. Post-match, the commentators confirm that next week’s match will indeed pit Dorado and Metalik against Itami and Tozawa.
Tony Nese gives Mark Andrews a brief pep-talk backstage, encouraging him to kick Drew Gulak’s ass.
An ad for WrestleMania 35, coming to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey next year. ‘New York Groove’ seems to be the official theme. It’s a cover by a modern band I don’t know of (answers in the comments, please!). I’m not so keen on it, I’m a sucker for the original Hello version. Siv’s Take: they’re already hyping next year’s show?! Please, can we just get the word ‘WrestleMania’ off TV for a few months? I feel like I’ve been battered over the head with that word to the point I’m now subject to concussion protocol.
Speaking of WrestleMania, we get a still-image highlight package of the pre-show and main show happenings, closing out with a shot of a smiling Ronda Rousey. I’m still staggered she managed to walk away with ‘Match of the Night’ honours.
Drew Gulak vs Mark Andrews
Gulak grabs the mike pre-match, suggesting he’ll give the crowd his Powerpoint presentation. This wakes up the ringsiders, as a “Powerpoint!” chant breaks out. Drew swerves us however, saying now is not the time, as he’s set to tap out Mark Andrews. Andrews bops down to the ring, in serious need of a shave. He no doubt possesses the dodgiest beard in the grap game. Tie up to begin, shortly after which Andrews gets the upper hand with a hurracanrana takeover and a series of armdrags. Gulak bails outside early to regroup. Drew is back in, but Andrews catches him with some kicks to the ankle. Gulak manages to gain the advantage with a wristlock, as he takes the match to the ground, where he’s more comfortable. Andrews flips out of the wristlock, slides to the apron and comes back in with a bulldog. Both guys fight out onto the apron and Mark looks to try for a hurracanrana. Mark jumps out of it but gets shoved straight into the ringpost before falling to the floor on the outside. Gulak goes back inside as the ref starts the count, but Andrews is back in. Drew stomps away on Mark on the mat, as Andrews appeared to hurt his back and neck on the collision with the ringpost. Andrews flips out of a chinlock but runs straight into a back elbow to the jaw. Two back-breakers from Gulak for a near fall, before Drew applies a chinlock.
More dominance from Gulak as he locks in a chicken-wing. Andrews escapes but Drew disrespectfully slaps him in the head before applying a reverse chinlock. I appreciate the story they’re telling in there, with Drew keeping the match on the mat, but it’s hardly proving compelling viewing for a live crowd that must be beyond burned out at the conclusion of a long WrestleMania weekend. Andrews escapes with a jaw-breaker and a boot to the side of Drew’s head. 619 from Andrews, followed by a springboard cross body as the Welshman starts to build a head of steam. Standing corkscrew moonsault from Andrews for a near fall. Crucifix from Mark for an even nearer fall. Hard clothesline to the back of the head from Gulak as the crowd are distracting themselves, perhaps with a beach ball? Drew pulls Mark up by his beard (another reason for Andrews to have a much-needed shave) and both guys trade open-handed chops as the intensity rises. Mark goes for a tornado DDT. Drew stiffens up and won’t go down though, before trying for a vertical suplex, but Andrews turns through into Stundog Millionaire. Good sequence there. Andrews up the top turnbuckle, but Gulak rolls to the opposite side of the ring. Mark stalks over for an attack, but Drew sends him face first into the turnbuckle and gets the submission win with a dragon sleeper at 12:30.
Match rating: B- Steady action here, but the crowd’s lack of investment brought it down a bit. This would probably have been better aired last week, as originally intended, when the pro wrestling audience wasn’t quite so burned out. Gulak attacks Andrews post-match and locks in the dragon sleeper again, only for Tony Nese to run in for the save. These former best-friends look set for a rivalry, which is okay by me.
Drake Maverick is backstage as Jack Gallagher and the returning The Brian Kendrick want to form a new tag team. Drake wants assurances that Kendrick won’t hold a vendetta against Hideo Itami (who injured him) and both Jack and Brian assure us that won’t be the case. Seeing as this is pro wrestling, expect quite the opposite.
An ad for the super-show in Saudi Arabia on Friday 27th April, i.e. the 67th attempt at a Roman Reigns coronation. I’m actually looking forward to this, for no other reason than being a British citizen means I’m only 2hrs behind the Saudis, so I can see a WWE live show at a respectable time of day for a change.
Drake Maverick, typically suited and booted, comes down to welcome out the new Cruiserweight Champion, Cedrick Alexander. Before doing so, he tries to hype this as having been the ‘greatest weekend in the history of WWE’, which doesn’t really get much of a cheer from the New Orleans faithful. Drew tells us how Cedric and Mustafa ‘tore the house down’ at WrestleMania (not exactly) as he watched on from ringside. Alexander comes down, title belt in hand (not wearing it round his waist or over his shoulder, I must note. A pet peeve of my mind; it’s a prestigious championship, not a cup of coffee). Like he read my mind, when Alexander gets in the ring he slings the strap over his shoulder, before sinking in a “you deserve it!” chant. Alexander thanks the fans before harping back to 2 years ago when the fans chanted “please sign Cedric!” and then putting over his win at WrestleMania. Cedric, on behalf of himself and his family, continues to thank the fans, before we get an interruption from Mustafa Ali. Ali comes down to the ring, notably lacking his normal cheesy grin.
Ali, mike in hand, takes in some “Mustafa!” and “one more match!” chants from the ringsiders before telling Cedric he earned the title on Sunday. He then, quite predictably, proceeds to throw his hat in the ring for a future title shot. Buddy Murphy’s music then hits. As everyone’s heads turn to the entrance way, Buddy slides in the ring from the other side and downs Cedric with Murphy’s Law, before bailing back out and smirking at ringside. If that was a heel turn from Murphy, and I’ll assume it was, it’s a good move. While this suggests a triple threat match is imminent, I would very much like to see a Cedric vs Mustafa rematch at their earliest convenience – 20 minutes on 205 Live would be more effective than 12 minutes on the WrestleMania pre-show.
Overall rating: B While I’d have preferred a recap show as I think we’ve all seen quite enough wrestling for one week, this was a good effort. Decent action in the ring and a nice, surprise heel turn from Buddy Murphy made this a pleasant enough 51 minutes to sit through. Percy Watson added nothing of note at the booth however, and his addition to what will be a three-man announce team moving forward looks ill-advised. I don’t see the point of the guy. A good colour commentator should either be a respectable ex-wrestler, funny, insightful, a strong heel-sympathiser or any combination of the above. He doesn’t tick any of the boxes and just doesn’t bring any credibility to the table whatsoever.