SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
MAY 2, 2017
FRESNO, CALIF. AT SAVE MART CENTER
REPORTBY JOEY GALIZIA (@RamJam89), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Tom Philips, Corey Graves
JG here. This review don’t want none… NO… it don’t want none.
Show opens with highlights from Payback where Neville got himself disqualified in order to keep his Cruiserweight Championship in his match against Austin Aries. The next night on Raw T.J. Perkins confronted his “mentor” about underestimating A.A. and wondered what it would mean if he continued to listen to Neville’s tutelage. Neville promised T.J. that he would eventually get a shot at the gold, but he would first have to get through Aries. Aries would win the Raw match, but T.J.P. attacked him after and did some damage to his leg.
“Hail the Crown.” (Opening video package was so well edited that the song seemed bearable today.)
Graves and Philips welcome us to the most exciting hour on television, and run down the full evenings card. T.J. Perkins will face-off against Lince Dorado, Mustafa Ali gets his hands on Drew Gulak, and Rich Swann and Noam Dar settle their differences over ALICCCIAAAA FOOXXXXXXXX. (FINALLY.)
The 8-bit music hits which means T.J. Perkins match is first. Followed by the Golden Links! (Can’t remember the last time he’s been on the show. Gran Metalik needs to come back also.)
(1) T.J. Perkins vs. Lince Dorado
Tie-up. They trade arm-drags and both match with a kip-up. Perkins dabs. Lince wins the next exchange and mocks T.J. with a dab of his own. (Dab contest. Where we’re all winners.) Lince hits a frankensteiner that sends Perkins to the outside. Superkick from the apron before Lince lands an Asai Moonsault. (Missed Dorado. He’s very solid in the ring.)
Back inside Lince works over Perkins by slamming his head off the turnbuckle. He goes up for a ten-count punch but Perkins picks his leg and Dorado slams hard off the turnbuckle.
In control, Perkins works over Dorado’s head and neck. Up on the top rope and T.J. tries to rip off Dorado’s mask! (OH HELL NO. THAT’S TRADITION.) Lince knocks him off and then hits a MOONSAULT DOUBLE-STOMP AND IT LOOKED VICIOUS. Cross-body by Dorado with a pin! Only two.
Hard knife-edge chops by Dorado. Goes for a spring-board stunner but Perkins catches him with a vicious right-hook. Perkins bounces off the ropes and walks right into a SWEET superkick. Both dudes are down.
Sunset flip from the top rope by Lince, but T.J. grabs at the mask again. While Lince tries to adjust Perkins locks on his knee-bar and gets the Golden Links to tap out.
WINNER: T.J. Perkins by submission in 8:03
Commercial break for Backlash hyping Shinsuke Nakamura. (This video is absolutely breathtaking and gives me goosebumps everytime.)
Back from break and Graves shows a video of an interview he did with The Brian Kendrick. Corey asks why Kendrick’s feud with Tozawa has grown so personal. Brian says that he’s know Akira for a long time, and that he’s tried to be a mentor because that’s what a friend does for a friend. He believes Tozawa is too fully focused on his love for the industry, and his love for the WWE Universe. He says that the point of being here is to win matches. WOAH. Akira nails Brian from out of NOWHERE! Jumping front kick to Kendricks face. Akira looks at Graves and takes Brian’s seat. “Lesson #5. Always end an interview with IMPACT.” (Well that was awesome.)
Ad for “Table for 3” with Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle, followed by a promo for Total Divas.
When we return to the show Mustafa Ali is on his way to the ring. Highlights are shown of Drew Gulak costing Ali his match against Tony Nese from last week’s 205. If you missed it, Ali would attack him afterwards with a top rope plancha. This not only hurt Gulak, but also insulted him since his gimmick the past few weeks has been to limit the high-risk move-set to avoid injuries for the 205 roster.
Gulak comes out next with his megaphone and declares Fresno a No Fly Zone. (This dude is so much better than this.)
(2) Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak
Tie-up and Gulak immediately takes down Ali. He snags in a side headlock and holds on as Ali tries to roll through several times. He eventually escapes but Gulak runs right through him with a shoulder bump, followed by a vicious Irish-whip into the corner.
Corey reminds us that Gulak has quite an expansive ground attack, and we shouldn’t be fooled by his suit and tie. Ali mounts a comeback, but as soon as he goes up for a high-risk move Gulak flees the ring to kill his momentum. (At least the psychology makes sense.)
Mustafa dodges a bull rush, but then gets LEVELED with a lariat. Camel-cluth by Gulak and now he’s in full control. Mustafa finally escapes and lands several clotheslines, and then a dropkick. He dodges another bull-rush, hits a crescent kick, and than his signature roll-through neckbreaker. Mustafa goes for his inverted 450 but Gulak grabs his foot. Mustafa kicks him and goes up again but this time goes for a frog-splash. Gulak gets the knees up and rolls up Ali with a cradle for the win.
WINNER: Drew Gulak in 6 minutes
Philips and Graves both agree that Ali was out of his comfort zone due to Gulak’s avoidance of his high-flying spots.
Post match Gulak is interviewed in the ring. He says that it’s the audiences fault that Mustafa Ali lost. They asked him to go to the top, so he did and it cost him the match. He refuses to put himself at risk, especially when he wins matches without such antics. (I guess technically, he’s not wrong.)
Commercial for tomorrow’s NXT showcasing Hideo Itami. (I’m going to Takeover Chicago and I’m so excited I may vomit. AWW MAN I JUST VOMITED.)
As we return Graves and Philips gets us ready for the main event. A video package makes us revisit the ODD relationship between Noam Dar and Alicia Fox, and of course, the mind games of Rich Swann who sabotaged the relationship because of his friend Cedric Alexander. (I like high school drama as much as the next guy, but this whole angle is petty. TOM PETTY.)
The highlight video finally ends (THANK GOD) and Rich Swann dances his way to the ring. Tom Philips informs the WWE Universe that Backlash is produced by Rocket League! (I challenge any PW Torch reader/employee to a match in Rocket League.)
Noam comes out as well. LET’S FINISH THIS THING.
(3) Rich Swann vs. Noam Dar
Dar charges Swann but gets caught in side headlock. Noam attempts to escape several times but Swann shifts his weight and holds it in. (Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah the previous match.) Dar gets tossed to the outside and Swann attempts a suicide dive but Noam runs to cut him off. No wait. Swann surprises him with a chop-block. (That looked weird. Noam was going for a superkick but their timing was off.)
Another headlock. Dar coutners with headscissors. STANDING DROPKICK BY SWANN. Headlock. Seriously this match has been 80 percent this rest hold.
Dar lifts up Swann and drops him testacles first on the top rope. (At least he broke the hold.) Dar then hits a second rope clothesline to knock Swann to the outside.
In control Dar repeatedly kicks Dar in the back of the head and works over his neck. Swann attempts to comeback with knife-edge chops but Dar sweeps his legs with a kick and is back on the offense. Butterfly suplex with a cover. Two count.
Dar hits a series of back-suplexes, and sets up for his finishing shining Wizard. Swann dodges it, does a standing 450 for no reason, and ends up on the apron. Dar hits a soccer kick to the shin sending Rich hard to the outside floor. Both guys exchange fists on the floor and barely beat the ten count.
Momentum takes Dar out to the other side and surprises him with a tope suicido. He drops Noam onto the barricade. He pushes Noam back in the ring and lands his Phoenix Splash. He doesn’t immediately execute the cover because he hurt his arm. Noam kicks out. Seeing that Swann’s arm was hurt Noam takes advantage and wretches it over the ropes. Super crescent kick by Swann. He goes for a springboard but gets caught in an armbar! A struggle but he makes it to the ropes.
Graves commends Swann on not tapping considering the damage done. Meanwhile Dar is upset and tries to injure Swann further. Swann moves and lands a superkick. He goes up for another Phoenix Splash but Dar kicks his leg out again and again he lands hard on the mat. Shining Wizard and Dar gets the W.
WINNER: Noam Dar in 14:14
As Noam celebrates in the ring, Alicia Fox comes out. (OH GOD CRAZY IS BACK.) She’s got a big smile on her face and wants to congratulate Noam on his victory. At first he is reluctant, but Noam jumps into Alicia’s arms and they stand together to end the show.
JG FINAL ANALYSIS: Tonight’s 205 was exactly how I’ve been describing this show to people who don’t watch it. Bipolar. There were plenty of things to compliment; there were plenty of things to criticize. It began hot, with a terrific matchup between T.J. Perkins and Lince Dorado that told a good story and that the crowd was really into. Following that was a fantastic interview segment that continues to build on the “life lessons” angle between Kendrick and Tozawa. I admit I was not originally a fan of this conflict, but WWE has gone so far beyond their norms that it’s morphed into solid sports entertainment. More importantly, Kendrick clearly identified the core reason this feud even exists, and that’s just good storytelling even if it did take them nearly two months to get there.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the angles that followed after. Ali like Perkins is a fun in-ring talent, but his character isn’t very fleshed out. Gulak’s character is now fleshed out, but the gimmick isn’t really doing anything for me or the live audience, and his great MMA style ground-game is being overshadowed by said gimmick. Swann and Dar worked a fine main event, but the Fresno Crowd (which had been one of the best WWE’s had in the last few months for television) had grown tired and uninterested. Who could blame them. This ridiculous love triangle had the opposite effect than the Tozawa angle. NOBODY WANTED MORE OF THIS. I hope, for the love of all that is holy, that this was the end. 6 out of 10. However, if next week Dar and Swann still have beef….3 out of 10.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 4/25 205 LIVE REPORT: Gallagher vs. Neville, Kendrick & Dar vs. Tozawa & Swan, Ali vs. Nese