WWE 205 Live
6th March 2018
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Commentators: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
This week we wrap-up the quarter-finals, grapple fans, as Buddy Murphy is set to take on Mustafa Ali in what could be a captivating face vs face match and Mark Andrews meets Drew Gulak in a clash of styles. An interesting evening of cruiserweighting awaits.
We’re reminded of last week’s results, as ‘tournament favourite, Cedric Alexander’ (WWE’s words, so that’s as good a sign as any that he’s not winning this thing) defeated TJ Perkins and Roderick Strong overcame Kalisto. Solid action last week; more of the same tonight wouldn’t go amiss.
Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness welcome us to “the most exciting hour on television”; you wouldn’t have thought so looking out at the lukewarm crowd though. It continues to flabbergast me that WWE puts on these Network shows after their flagship broadcasts, expecting their audience to risk missing the last buses and trains after they’ve already watched what they came to see. It’s all the more baffling when you’d consider that an hour of cruiserweight action would be the perfect way to get a crowd energised before a live, prime-time TV show. But I digress..
Cruiserweight Title Tournament, quarter-final match
Mark Andrews vs Drew Gulak
Andrews bops his way down to the ring, announced as being from Cardiff (a real sh*thole, for those that aren’t familiar the Welsh capital). Gulak cuts a promo backstage and amusingly references Microsoft Office, but immediately undermines it with a ghastly ‘WrestleMania Moment’ mention. Seriously, does anyone think Andre The Giant was marking out backstage at WrestleMania 3 talking about the ‘WrestleMania Moment’ he was about to have? Gulak is out next and he’s from Philadelphia. Help me out, American grapple fans; is Philly a sh*thole too?
Stiff slap from Drew to start. Technical skills serve Gulak well early, but Andrews shows his own prowess with some nice armdrags and a dropkick to the face. After a headlock from Andrews, Drew takes over with a hammerlock. It’s been all ground action so far, which should play to Gulak’s strengths. Mark tries to fight back, but Gulak still has that hammerlock applied. Andrews manages to escape and sends Drew through the ropes and to the outside with a hurracanrana. Both guys jockey for position by the announce table and Andrews takes Drew down with an Asai moonsault off the furniture. Back inside and a bulldog from Mark gives the Welshman some breathing room. Double knee from Andrews followed by a roll through into a double stomp; good combo of offense. Andrews with a standing corkscrew moonsault for a close near fall. Stiff kicks from Andrews, but he telegraphs one and Gulak hoists him on his shoulders and drops him down with a fallaway slam. Chops and stomps in the corner from Drew, but Andrews fights back with some chops and forearms of his own. Gulak is out on the apron and Andrews takes him tumbling down to the outside with a hurracanrana. Really even match so far, this could go either way.
Andrews goes to the top, points moronically to the WrestleMania sign, and then takes Gulak out on the floor with a picture-perfect moonsault. Back in the ring and Andrews gets a near fall with a crucifix. Mark looks to come off the top with some aerial offense, but Gulak nearly takes his head off with a clothesline. Drew hits two more clotheslines and looks to go for a falcon arrow, but Andrews reverses it with a stunner (Stun-Dog Millionaire, to be exact); good spot there. Shooting star press attempt from Andrews, but he gets knees to the gut for his troubles. Dragon sleeper applied by Gulak and that’s it for the win and a semi-final spot for Drew in 12:10.
Match rating: B Best quarter-final match thus far. Good quality work from both and the right guy went over, as we’re assured of one heel in the semi-finals. I’d like to see Gulak go all the way to the finals, as a solid face/heel dynamic in the final would be an ideal way to start the WrestleMania kick-off show. On that subject, could the WrestleMania sign on this show be replaced by a WrestleMania Kick-Off sign? It’s almost a shame that these guys keep pointing to the sign like they’re actually making the main show. Anyway, these two had excellent chemistry in there and I’d love to see them on a house show with 5-10 more minutes and a crowd that aren’t half-asleep.
Drake Maverick is watching something on his I-pad before telling Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa that they’re in tag-team action tonight. Tozawa does a Vince impression, threatening to fire Maverick and cracks out an eerie smile; that could get over. A 2018 version of ‘indeed’, if you will.
Mustafa Ali is hyping up his impending quarter-final tussle with Buddy Murphy. No selfi this time, it seems he found a friend to hold the camera for him.
Hideo Itami & Akira Tozawa vs Nemeth Alexander & Scott James
Vic Joseph reminds us that Itami has competed at WrestleMania previously. Cheers Vic, I’ve been trying to erase his Andre The Giant Battle Royal appearance from my memory. Forearms to start from Tozawa to Alexander and a senton splash. Nemeth comes back with some forearms of his own but a belly-to-back suplex puts Tozawa back in control. Itami is in and hits a fisherman buster. Dragon sleeper attempt but the jobber gets to the ropes and tags out. Jobber #2 fares no better than his partner, as Itami takes him out with a clothesline from the top. Dropkick to the face from Itami and Tozawa finishes it with a senton splash from the top at 2:55.
Match rating: D By the numbers squash here to establish Itami and Tozawa as a new team. I’d rather see either guy get a strong singles push, but at least this new arrangement keeps them in the spotlight.
Joseph and McGuinness review the brackets, as next week we get our first semi-final match, with Cedric Alexander going one-on-one with Roderick Strong.
Strong is on hype mode at the performance centre, throwing some punch-bags around. Cedric counters with a backstage promo, telling us ‘nothing is gonna go wrong’ in his quest to win the Cruiserweight title at WrestleMania*.
Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali are both warming up backstage, as we round out the quarter-finals NEXT.
Ad for nXt tomorrow night as the Dusty Rhodes Classic tag-team tournament kicks off with The Authors of Pain taking on TM61. My money’s on the Authors to send TM61 to Area 51.
Ad for Fast Lane, possibly the least intriguing PPV in wrestling history. That said, I’m hoping the six-pack challenge main event could be a sleeper for match of the year. Highly unlikely, but the talent involved could pull a rabbit out of the hat.
Cruiserweight title tournament, quarter-final match
Mustafa Ali vs Buddy Murphy
Mustafa is out first and Nigel McGuinness waffles on about how Ali doesn’t want to be ‘judged’ or ‘labelled’. Erm, what? Is this the Oscars? Hardly a way to get a babyface over, associating him with SJW nonsense. I’d rather hear about how he wants to win wrestling matches. We get a flashback to Buddy’s pre-match weigh-in. Drake Maverick fluffs his lines at the beginning and has to do them over; staggeringly it wasn’t edited out, they just left it in, presumably as a rib on Maverick. Seriously, could WWE get any more unprofessional? Whoever decided to leave that in should be fired. Murphy is bang-on 197lbs this week, for those keeping track. If he keeps losing weight at this rate, by WrestleMania we’ll have to file a ‘missing persons’ report.
The bell’s gone and Ali immediately points to the WrestleMania sign like a dip-sh*t. Murphy looks ripped; when were those scales last quality checked? Both guys trade headlocks and shoulderblocks to start; this one is a real pick-‘em. They both flip out of back suplex attempts and Murphy hits a shoulder tackle. Joseph again calls Buddy the ‘best kept secret’; erm, not really true if you keep telling us, is it? The pace quickens and Ali sends Murphy out with a hurracanrana, but Buddy nips straight back in before Mustafa can try a dive. Dropkick to the face from Ali and then both goons take turns looking at the WrestleMania sign. This is really getting out of hand; just get on with wrestling! Ali offers a handshake; Murphy accepts but then turns Mustafa inside out with a wicked clothesline.
Murphy in control and hoists Mustafa onto the top turnbuckle. Buddy goes for a superplex but Ali fights out and hits a 450 to the left arm of Murphy. Seemed a lot of effort when a stomp would have done the job just as well, but it looked pretty. Murphy then misses a shoulder tackle into the corner and crashes into the ringpost. Ali hits a forward roll into an X-Factor (complete with a scary looking head-first bump from Murphy) for a near fall. Tornado DDT attempt from Mustafa, but Buddy doesn’t go down and throws Ali over the top and to the outside. Somersault plancha from Buddy, waking up some of the ringsiders. Back inside and flying knees from the top gets a near fall for Murphy. We re-set as both men are slow to get back up. Murphy goes for a samoan drop, but Ali slips out the back door, pushes Buddy into the corner and then nearly obliterates him with a reverses hurracanrana. Buddy again takes a risky looking head-first bump onto the mat. If he wants to be a fully-functioning husband to Alexa Bliss (and wouldn’t we all), he should probably take it a bit easier in there. Tornado DDT from Ali gets a very near fall, the first true sign that Murphy might just be going over. Hard kicks to the shoulder from Ali and a stiff forearm to the face. Buddy comes back with a series of strikes and goes for a spin kick, but Ali blocks it and hits a beautiful spinning heel kick; shades of Savio Vega. Murphy comes back and goes for Murphy’s Law but his arm gives out. Backslide from Murphy, but that does more damage to his arm, leading to Ali rolling him up for the pin at 11:05.
Match rating: B Strong match; I’d have gone with a higher rating but for some inconsistent selling of the arm from both guys. Murphy’s at least played into the finish though, so it’s a minor quibble. Surprising result as I had Murphy winning this; it seemed to be the way the match was flowing and his recent repackaging suggested he might go further in the tournament. Still, a surprise finish is always welcome, particularly in such an even encounter. Murphy should blame the announcers – he tried to be the ‘best kept secret’, but Vic Joseph’s constant mentioning of the fact meant he was bound to get rumbled in the end. Mustafa Ali is a good choice for a long run in this thing; he’s got a good look, he’s improved in the ring and his Tornado DDT is an awesome signature move. Really, that move looks so good it should have been the finish.
Overall rating: B Best week of action for a while, with the quarter-finals being rounded off with two strong matches, and the Itami/Tozawa partnership got off to a solid start. This week’s episode is worth checking out, and next week can’t come quickly enough, with an intriguing Cedric Alexander vs Roderick Strong semi-final to look forward to. Two elementary things this show does really well:
- No ads during the matches
- Replays are given to moves that warrant them
It’s the little things that can enhance a show, and it’s refreshing to watch a wrestling show where I actually see all the wrestling, and don’t get replays for basic sh*t like a clothesline.
See you next week, grapple fans!