WWE 205 Live
24th April 2018
Commentators: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson
We are only 4 days out from Oil Rumble, grapple fans, and tonight sees a 5-man gauntlet match to determine a number one contender for Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander in Saudi Arabia this Friday. If there’s a pre-show for this stadium spectacular, you can bank on this match being on it. Drake Maverick confirms the competitors: Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Kalisto, TJ Perkins and Mustafa Ali. Let’s get to it!
Vic welcomes us from ringside, with Nigel returning from paternity leave, making this the first night that all three guys have called the show together. Will it improve the presentation of the product in any way? I have my doubts.
Match 1 – Mustafa Ali vs TJ Perkins
Ali draws number 1 in this thing; can he go coast to coast to earn a WrestleMania rematch against Cedric? Lock up to start and they tussle to the ropes. The ref calls for a clean break and TJP dabs. Does that mean it was a clean break or is wasn’t? Ali works the arm in the early going, and he’s got an impressive armdrag in his arsenal. They trade roll-ups in a smooth sequence, culminating in Perkins tasting a dropkick to the back of the head. Perkins takes a walk to the outside to re-group. They jockey for position on the apron; TJP strikes with a thumb to the eye and tries to stretch Mustafa out between the ropes with the Octopus. Perkins takes control mid-ring as Dasha interviews Cedric backstage. Alexander continues to lack fire in his promos, coming across as particularly generic and scripted. Bow and arrow backbreaker from TJP as Ali looks in peril. Side Russian legsweep for a near fall from TJP. Ali is on the comeback trail with a hurracanrana takeover, followed by an X-Factor for a two count. Perkins with a back elbow and he goes up the middle turnbuckle on the inside. Ali strikes with a hard right hand and goes for a hurracanrana off the top. Perkins escapes and lands a dropkick to the knee. TJP has the kneebar locked in, but Ali manages to crawl to the bottom rope for the escape. They brawl to the corner, where Ali then strikes with the tornado DDT. 054 finishes it for Ali at 9:43.
Match rating: B- Enjoyable action from these two, and it’d be nice to see what they could do in a longer form encounter.
Match 2 – Mustafa Ali vs Drew Gulak
Ali is selling the knee as Gulak’s music hits. He’s the last guy you want to face when you’ve got a weakened body part. McGuinness likens this to having the worst hand in poker, “7/2 off suit”. As a pretty amateurish poker player myself, I can confirm Nigel does know what he’s talking about. They play cat and mouse to start as Drew stalks Mustafa around the ring, before bodyslamming him into the ropes. Ali rolls to the outside for respite. Gulak follows him but walks straight into a drop-toe-hold on the floor. Back inside and Ali goes for a cross body from the top. Gulak rolls through and locks in a half crab. Mustafa escapes, but runs straight into a hard clothesline from Drew, turning him inside out. Stump-puller applied by Gulak (shades of Doink The Clown) as we get another ad for Oil Rumble. I swear, this thing is getting even more promotion than WrestleMania at this point. More work on the left knee from Drew, as he applies a grapevine. Ali is back up and striking with forearms. Mustafa goes for a hurracanrana, but Gulak catches him and locks in another half crab. Ali fights to his feet and escapes with an enziguri (for newer grapple fans, that’s just a fancy word for ‘kick upside the head’). Ali goes to the apron and looks for the roll-through X-Factor, but Gulak catches him in mid-air and downs him with a powerbomb. Another half crab from Gulak and this time he also locks in an abdominal stretch for good measure. I thought this might be the finish, but Mustafa again fights to the ropes for the break. Gulak lifts Ali onto the top turnbuckle as he talks trash. Ali comes back with a slap to the ear, before turning Drew upside down in the corner (tree of woe style) with a half crab of his own, but he has to break as the ref puts a count on it. Gulak slides to the outside but is taken out by a flying cross body from Ali. Back in the ring and we get a picture-perfect tornado DDT from Mustafa. He goes up for the 054 but struggles to scale the turnbuckles as his left knee is spent. Gulak is back up and knocks Ali to the outside, where he strikes the steel steps face-first. Ali looks completely out of it, but Gulak brings him back in and locks in the dragon sleeper. Mustafa isn’t responding, so the ref calls it a victory for Drew at 23:44 (of the overall match).
Match rating: B+ Excellent work from both guys. I’d have finished it with the half crab/abdominal stretch combo, as it was the third half crab on the already weakened knee of Ali. He might be the ‘heart of 2015 Live’, but he’s not Superman, so his escaping that submission required a bit too much suspension of disbelief from me. Still, brilliant back and forth action, which will be hard to top as we move forward in the gauntlet.
Match 3 – Drew Gulak vs Tony Nese
Nese storms down to the ring, looking more juiced than ever, and he means business. Nese with a takedown and a barrage of left hands. Tony continues to hammer away and downs Gulak with a back-body-drop. Drew bails to the outside, but Nese takes him out with an impressive corkscrew plancha. They fight around ringside and Nese strikes with a knife edge and then an overhand chop. Tony throws Gulak over the announce table, as he looks out for revenge on his former friend. Little Naitch tries to talk them into getting back in the ring as a ringsider amusingly yells, “you tell ‘em, Charles!” Back inside and Nese goes for a springboard moonsault. Gulak gets out of dodge and again bails to the floor. Nese slides outside to meet him and strikes with a hard forearm. The crowd have been taken a bit of out of it at this point, mainly, I suspect, by Nese’s bland offense and lack of personality. Following two enjoyable cruiserweight clashes early in the gauntlet, Tony has joined us with the sort of offense you’d expect from a wrestler you’ve created on WWE 2K18 and left with the generic, default move-set. Back inside and Nese talks trash to Gulak in the corner. Drew comes back by grabbing Tony by the beard, in the best spot of this match so far. That’ll teach Nese for growing such an unnecessary, pointless beard (Siv’s Take: the same could be said for about 80% of men in the world right now, who have grown beards just cos they’re fashionable and not because, you know, it actually suits them. Seriously, when I was growing up a man had a beard cos he was manly. Nowadays you’ve got clowns growing beards that can’t even change a lightbulb). The beard grabs only serves to anger Nese, as he then strikes with a running knee to the face. Nese pulls down his knee-pad and goes for a repeat, but Drew gets out of dodge. Gulak then gets Tony in the dragon sleeper for the submission at 30:30 of the whole thing.
Match rating: C Decent enough action, with Tony being so blinded by revenge that it costed him in the end. But, man oh man, is Nese a real charisma vacuum. Horribly generic offense, a body that isn’t suited to a cruiserweight show and no character whatsoever to speak of; he really does feel out of place here. He’s the kind of worker that needs a gimmick of some kind as there’s nothing otherwise that makes him stand out.
Match 5 – Drew Gulak vs Kalisto
Nese leaves the ringside area to a “you tapped out!” chant. Gulak looks spent and far from pleased to see the Luchadore coming out to face him next. Drew bails straight to the outside before they even lock up. Gulak continues to stall on the outside, as the ref has a count on him. He gets back in, but then rolls straight to the outside again. Gulak is finally back in but is sent straight back to the floor with a dropkick. Kalisto follows him out and goes to work with right hands and a stiff kick to the head. Kalisto slides back into the ring and goes for a suicide dive through the ropes, but Gulak avoids it and sends the Luchadore crashing into the barricade. Dasha interviews Nese backstage, while the ref puts the count on Kalisto. Tony walks away without saying anything, which was probably for the best. Back in the ring and we get a snap suplex from Gulak. Chinlock from Drew, who has certainly earned his pay packet tonight. Kalisto comes back with a headscissor takeover and a superkick. Tornado DDT attempt from Kalisto, but Gulak gets out of it and locks in a dragon sleeper. Kalisto manages to escape by sending Drew crashing into the middle turnbuckle, before hitting Solida Del Sol for the pin at 40:30.
Match rating: C- Pretty weak finale to the gauntlet. Gulak’s early stalling, while it fit his character, didn’t really help. And the action, when it did come, was fairly sloppy and uninspiring. I’m starting to find Kalisto a bit of a one-dimensional, one-trick pony these days. There’s only so much inane ‘lucha!’ chanting I can stomach without seeing any kind of character development going on.
Overall gauntlet rating: B- Very strong first half, but once Tony Nese joined the fray it kinda fell off a cliff and never really recovered. I’d rather have seen Gulak win the whole thing so we could get a face vs heel match this Friday, but I suppose Kalisto winning gives them a chance to exhibit the high-flying side of the 205 Live brand in Saudi Arabia, which can’t hurt.
Cedric Alexander walks out onto the stage applauding Kalisto (while I’m applauding Ali and Gulak, who carried this whole thing). Their match at Oil Rumble should be a fun spot-fest, but they’re definitely two of the less interesting characters on the show right now.
Overall show rating: B- This was all about the action, setting up Cedric vs Kalisto for this Friday. Watch the first 25 minutes, skip the rest. And the three-man announce team formula sucked.