WWE 205 Live – 31st July 2018

WWE 205 Live

31st July 2018

Tampa, Florida

Commentators: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson

It’s a good time to follow cruiserweights, grapple fans, as Drew Gulak is now the number one contender to Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali and Hideo Itami have unfinished business and Lio Rush and Akira Tozawa are set to clash again.  Strong characters, highly-proficient workers and well-told stories; 205 Live is a brand worth watching these days.  Tonight we’ll see Cedric Alexander tussle with The Brian Kendrick and Kalisto battles Tony Nese.  Let’s get to it!

IT’S BOOKED!  The Cruiserweight Title match, between Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak, will take place at SummerSlam*.  Tonight, we’re promised footage from their contract signing (lucky us!).

*Pre-show

 

Kalisto vs Tony Nese

These two squared off three weeks ago and it went to a DQ finish due to outside interference.  Therefore, tonight, we’ve got no Lucha House Party or Buddy Murphy at ringside.  Thank goodness for that; no moronic, brain-dead waving of maracas by the masked morons at ringside.  Nese looks as ripped as ever, further evidence that mandatory drug testing has lapsed somewhat in recent times.  They lock up to start and Nese shows his strength advantage, tossing Kalisto into the ropes.  They lock up again; repeat process.  Kicks and strikes from Kalisto, but he tastes a hard back elbow to the jaw.  Hard Irish whip from Nese as Buddy Murphy is watching the match on a monitor backstage.  Knife edge chop from Tony and another hard Irish whip as he’s slowed the match down to his pace.  Kalisto goes for a cross body but gets caught and hung in a tree of woe, from where Tony stomps away.  Nese locks Kalisto in a bearhug on the mat as the crowd are dead as a dodo.  Kalisto is back into it with some elbows and a jawbreaker, before being downed by a combination of spin kicks and a legsweep from his muscular adversary.  Nese locks in another bearhug as I think I might need a double espresso to get through this snoozefest.

Kalisto strikes back with a boot to the face and a springboard crossbody for a near fall.  Kalisto goes for a basement rana, but Tony has it scouted, hoists the Luchadore on his shoulders and connects with a gutbuster for a two count.  Kalisto slips out of a suplex and gets a near fall off a rollup.  Springboard moonsault from Nese misses, giving Kalisto an opening to hit a basement rana.  The masked man tries to rally the crowd with some “Lucha!” chants and goes for Solida Del Sol.  Nese escapes and devastates his foe with a buckle bomb for a very near fall.  Tony beefs with the ref over the speed of the count, before trying to pull Kalisto back up.  Solida Del Sol out of nowhere from the Luchadore for the pinfall victory at 7:29.

Match rating: D  Very disappointing effort from these two.  Considering the “everyone is barred from ringside” stip, I’d have expected a match with far more intensity and excitement.  What we got instead was essentially a house show match and not a particularly good one at that.  When the fans have sat through a two-hour SmackDown, these guys need to be working overtime to try and hold their attention, not just going through the motions.  Nese really serves little purpose on 205 Live, whilst Kalisto hasn’t developed his character one iota in years.  I could keep on ranting about how much of a misfire this match was, but I think you get the point.

Post-match, Buddy Murphy comes down to confront Kalisto in the aisle way.  Buddy bench presses Kalisto, but Lince Dorado runs down for the save.  Double superkick from both masked men downs Buddy.  Still no sign of Gran Metalik.  So you know what that means…

Where’s Gran?

 

Earlier today, Drake Maverick holds a contract signing backstage with Drew Gulak and Cedric Alexander for their Cruiserweight title match at SummerSlam.  Gulak congratulates Cedric on his long title reign, while taking the time to point out that he’s barely defended the strap.  Alexander tells us he’s put the title on the line around the world, whilst Drew suggests the champ has been taking it easy as the likes of Gulak have been working hard every week to build up the brand.  Drew concludes by describing Cedric as the “Brock Lesnar of 205 Live”.  By the numbers segment, boosted by Gulak’s usual charisma.  Uninteresting performance from Alexander, but that’s par for the course with the champion in segments of this nature.

 

Lio Rush vs Ricky Martinez

Lio comes out, mike in hand, to explain why he hasn’t given Akira Tozawa a rematch yet.  He tells us he’s a high commodity and suggests the jobber he’s about to face is far worthier of a shot against the ’23 year old piece of gold’ than Tozawa.  Early offense from Martinez with a spin kick but he misses a clothesline and falls victim to a succession of strikes from Rush.  The jobber roles to the outside, but tastes a tope suicida from Lio.  Back inside and the Final Hour (frog splash) wins it for Rush at 1:11.

Match rating: D+  Dominant squash with some nice mike work from Lio before the bell.

As Lio celebrates, Akira Tozawa’s music hits and the Japanese grappler stomps down to the ring.  Lio bails out of the ring as Tozawa wants to make it physical.  Rush heads to the back as another match between these two can’t be far away.

 

Drew Gulak is hyping up The Brian Kendrick backstage for his main event match against Cedric Alexander tonight, as that is coming up NEXT!

 

The Brian Kendrick vs Cedric Alexander

Kendrick has no back up tonight; he wants to do it on his own.  One of the idiots at the booth talks up Cedric, saying “he’s no fraud, he defends the title”; right after the bell has rung for a non-title match!  Armbar from Kendrick early before Cedric works a headlock.  A headlock of his own from Kendrick, who the announcers have noted is a 20 year veteran (just think, he was trained by Michaels during Shawn’s first retirement; feels a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?).  Beautiful armdrag takeover into an armbar from the champion.  They trade shoves, with Cedric’s putting Brian down on his keister.  A succession of knife edge chops from Cedric reddens the chest of his opponent.  Headscissor takeover from Alexander and a picture-perfect dropkick.  Drew Gulak struts down to ringside, badmouthing Cedric as he does.  Meanwhile, Kendrick has slid out of the ring and hides under the squared circle; shades of Doink The Clown.  Cedric tries to pull him back out, but Brian sends him chest first into the ring apron, before throwing the champion into the steel steps.  Back inside and Kendrick is on offense, as Gulak joins us for guest commentary at ringside.  Brian has an armbar applied as something that sounds like a “this is boring!” chant has broken out.  I won’t argue there; fairly laboured, uninteresting action thus far.  Both men trade forearms and Cedric gets the better of it.  Alexander goes for a springboard clothesline, but Kendrick cuts his legs out from under him.  Brian goes for Sliced Bread Number 2, only for Cedric to slip out of it and shove Kendrick over the top and to the floor.  Cedric goes aerial with a picturesque somersault plancha; few do it better.

Back in the squared circle and Alexander strikes with a series of back elbows before connecting with a spin kick, a shoulder thrust and a kick upside the head.  A springboard clothesline culminates the offensive sequence, but only gets a two count.  Backslide from Brian gets two, before Cedric comes back with a hard back elbow and the Neuraliser (handspring into a kick to the head, worth describing as Cedric rarely wrestles on TV).  He can’t get the cover though, as Kendrick rolls out onto the apron.  Brian pulls Alexander over the top and to the outside, while he recuperates center-ring.  Cedric looks to come back in and strike, but gets locked into the Captain’s Hook.  Cedric manages to fight, struggle and squirm his way to the ropes for the break.  Brian smells blood and looks to lock in the Captain’s Hook again, only for Alexander to flip out of it and land a wicked Michinoku Driver for a near fall.  Both guys are recovering in opposite corners.  Cedric charges across the ring and hits an uppercut.  Alexander goes for another Michinoku Driver, only for Brian to turn it through into a small package for two.  Superkick from Kendrick who then goes for Sliced Bread Number 2.  Alexander escapes and connects with the Lumbar Check (belly-to-back suplex into a backstabber) for the 1-2-3 at 12:21.

Match rating: B-  Reasonable main event which got better as it went along.  However it’s still glaringly obvious to regular viewers that Cedric is not the star of 205 Live at all; he’s not even the top babyface.  Mustafa Ali, Drew Gulak and Buddy Murphy have been the top acts of the show for some time and Alexander just hasn’t been showing the necessary improvements to keep up of late.  Kendrick, as a high profile ‘jobber to the stars’, played his role most proficiently here.

 

After the match Drew Gulak loses the announcer’s headset and climbs up the steps to eyeball the champion.  From out of nowhere, Jack Gallagher storms the ring and downs Cedric with a headbutt.  Gulak enters the ring and removes his jacket with evil intentions.  Before he can do any damage, Drake Maverick and a swarm of referees run to the ring to restore law and order.  Drew bails from the ring as Maverick barks “you’re out of the match if you touch him!”, suggesting Gulak would be putting his SummerSlam title opportunity at risk by assaulting Cedric The Sports Entertainer.

 

Overall show rating: C  For all my crowing at the start about 205’s exciting new direction, this episode felt like a throwback to more underwhelming times.  Kalisto’s act has pretty much run its course, whilst Cedric and Kendrick couldn’t hold a candle to Ali and Murphy.  Drew, Mustafa and Buddy have been the heart of the show in 2018 and their absence from in-ring action this week only served to highlight that.  Skippable episode, but better days should be coming soon.