WWE 205 LIVE
DECEMBER 5, 2017 ON WWE NETWORK
SAN DIEGO, CA
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
– The broadcast began with video highlights of last night’s cruiserweight action on Monday Night Raw where Drew Gulak qualified as the second entrant into the number one contendership match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship next week on Raw.
– After the highlight package, the show open ran and Vic Joseph welcomed the audience to the show. He and Nigel McGuinness quickly recapped the events of SmackDown Live and then promoted the matches for tonight’s show including Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander along with Tony Nese vs. Rich Swann and Gran Metalik vs. The Brian Kendrick.
-Drew Gulak kicked the show off. The crowd was mostly flat for his entrance, but the camera did catch some “powerpoint” signs in the stands. During his entrance, Joseph promoted the fact that Gulak could be in line for a cruiserweight title shot after his number one contender match against Rich Swann next week on Raw. Gulak started his promo with a very nerdy “How. Are. You. Doing.” to the audience. He then told the crowd that he had some words to say while his leader Enzo Amore was away. He said that Amore allowed Gulak to be the captain of the Zo Train tonight in his absence. Gulak said that he will go on to fight Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight Championship. Gulak said that he was going to use Enzo’s mic to talk about leadership via his powerpoint presentation. Cedric Alexander interrupted immediately and the match between them began. When Alexander got into the ring, Gulak told him that strong leaders delegate. He said that he delegated his match tonight to Noam Dar and that Dar would win in the name of Drewtopia.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I typically like Gulak’s promos but this one was too all over the place. It wasn’t focused and I don’t think that it did its job to build up the match between him and Swann next week.
(1) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. NOAM DAR
Both guys locked up in the middle of the ring to start the match. Right away Alexander tried to get the attention of Gulak who was doing commentary. After, both locked up again and Dar got an early upper hand with a rake to the eyes. He then whipped Alexander into the ring post, but Alexander countered and then hit his standing hurricanrana. He followed that with a stiff dropkick and had control of the match. Alexander hit a couple more kicks and tried to pump up the crowd before attempting to connect with his neuralizer maneuver. Dar ran outside the ring to avoid the move, but Alexander followed. While on the outside Dar connected with a stiff kick to Alexander’s chest. This gave the Dar the upper hand once again. After the move, Dar rolled Alexander into the ring and covered for a two count. After the pin he locked in an armbar. Alexander freed himself from the hold but was hit with a vicious European uppercut for his troubles. Dar worked to further gain momentum, but was kicked in the face by Alexander. With Dar reeling, Alexander hit a springboard clothesline. He covered, but only received a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Clunky match thus far. Alexander has some really great athletic ability but his character and overall charisma continue to hinder him in the ring. Dar doesn’t help as he has similar deficiencies.
After the pin attempt, Cedric lifted Dar up for a back drop, but Dar was able to counter with stiff punches to the face. Dar went to the top rope but Drew Gulak stopped him from doing so because he hates people going to the top rope. Gulak yelled out many times that “no high flying” is part of Drewtopia. Dar took Gulak’s advice, climbed down, and went for Alexander on the mat. Alexander countered with a backslide for a two count. Alexander than hit a neuralizer and a lumbar check on Dar. After he covered for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Alexander at 5:42
Heydorn’s Analysis: The overall goal of this match was to feature Drew Gulak as he will be a featured guy in a prominent cruiserweight match on Raw. That was achieved. Aside from that, the match was not good. It was messy and unorganized and didn’t have a story that the audience could follow.
-After the match, Vic and Nigel promoted the first ever 205 Live tour which will take place starting the second weekend of January. They promoted that tickets go on sale soon.
-Backstage, Akira Tozawa, Rich Swann, and Mustafa Ali were talking about the 205 Live tour. Then Rich Swann was interviewed. Swann said that he knows Drew Gulak can’t handle him. He said because of that Gulak wants Nese to fight him later in an effort to soften him up before their Raw match next week. He said that the Zo Train can continue to look like fools, but he will go out and do what he does best which is to “stay classy San Diego.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Alright, the ending of the promo made absolutely no sense. It’s as if someone said “hey remember that Anchorman line? Say it now.” There was no reason for it and it sounded silly. That said, this promo was important because it finally started the build for Swann vs. Gulak directly. Sidebar – why do guys have to use their entrance music lyrics as a play on words in promos? Gulak can’t handle him? Eye roll …
-A commercial aired for WWE week next weekend on the USA Network
(2) THE BRIAN KENDRICK vs. GRAN METALIK
Kendrick made his way to the ring first with Jack Gallagher. As he did, a recap video was shown of him destroying Kalisto on last week’s 205 Live show. They then showed an earlier interview where Kendrick said he was motivated to attack Kalisto because he came in and got title shots right away which Kendrick didn’t like. He then went on to say that in his time on 205 Live he was never afforded easy opportunities like that. In that interview Jack Gallagher alluded to the fact that Kalisto wasn’t in San Diego and could just stay gone from 205 Live permanently. Gran Metalik made his way to the ring next. Metalik got next to zero reaction. A backstage interview aired with Metalik where he said that he was going to make Kendrick and Gallagher his personal piñata. The bell rang and the match started with Kendrick kicking the legs of Metalik to ground him. Kendrick then whipped him into the ropes but Metalik bounced off and flipped in midair to gain momentum. Metalik then hit a high flying arm drag off the top rope. This sent Kendrick to the outside of the ring, but Metalik kept his offense up with a suicide dive through the ropes. On that move, Metalik hit Gallagher instead of Kendrick. Metalik then crawled back into the ring to try and keep the momentum against his real opponent. Kendrick rolled to the other side of the ring and as Metalik ran over after him, Kendrick crushed him with an elbow to the face. This gave Kendrick the upper hand and he took advantage by beating up Metalik all around the ringside area. Kendrick had momentum for quite a bit before Metalik hit a jumping hurricanrana over the barricade. After, Gran Metalik rolled Kendrick into the ring, but as he followed Gallagher pulled him off the ropes which send his face crashing into the ring apron. Kendrick had the momentum from there. He beat Metalik down again with punches and kicks before rolling him back into the ring. Kendrick pounced once they were in the ring and continued to injure the legs of Metalik. Kendrick then locked in a crossface submission hold.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Kendrick is getting a bit of a showcase match here which I like. Metalik looks good, but the psychology and structure of the match is for Kendrick which is good to see.
Kendrick released the hold on his own and pushed Metalik into the corner where he destroyed him with chops. Metalik attempted to fight back, but Kendrick kept the upper hand with more chops. The two traded strikes before Metalik hit a school boy pin attempt to start the shift of momentum. The two continued to battle and from there Kendrick went for Sliced Bread #2 which was countered by Metalik. Since it was countered, Metalik was in the corner and Kendrick kicked Metalik’s body into the metal ring post. From there, Kendrick rolled Metalik into the middle of the ring and then locked in the Captain’s Hook submission. Gran Metalik passed out soon after the move was implemented.
WINNER: Kendrick via submission at 6:03
Heydorn’s Analysis: I love the fact that The Brian Kendrick is getting some hype time. This match was for him to shine and I thought he did a fine job. He is good in his heel role and this match positions him in a good place where he can continue his feud with Kalisto once he returns to the show next week. Gallagher was a bit of a non-factor in this. Jack Gallagher needs to be a part of most 205 Live shows in a significant way but I’m willing to let that slide here because Kendrick was featured so well.
-After the match was over the video of Enzo and Nia Jaxx was shown from Monday Night Raw.
-After the video, Tony Nese, Noam Dar, and Ariya Daivari were shown backstage and Drew Gulak walked in to address them. He said that Enzo placed him in charge because Enzo wants him to beat Swann next week. Daivari challenged his leadership and Gulak said he could take it up with Amore. Gulak compared the Zo Train to the Justice League and said Enzo was Superman and he was Batman. He then called Daivari Wonder Woman. He told Daivari not to talk back to him again and then said for everyone to do their part in helping Nese win the match tonight against Rich Swann.
-A commercial aired for WWE Straight to the Source with Roman Reigns
-After the commercial aired Vic Joseph promoted recent Rolling Stone coverage of MGK being the musical guest for WWE’s Tribute to the Troops. After that promo a video aired for the debut of Hideo Itami.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Itami needs to be on the 205 Live roster once their test tour begins. For that to come to fruition, it could be presumed we’ll see his debut soon. Nothing official yet, but my guess is the end game of this Gulak/Swann/Amore number one contender story will lead to Itami.
(3) TONY NESE vs. RICH SWANN
Nese made his way to the ring first and cut his usual entrance promo. The crowd had no visible or audible reaction to Nese. Swann hit the ring next to a reaction that was just a smidge bigger than Nese’s.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The lack of reaction for Tony Nese is one thing. Rich Swann getting the same lack of reaction is another. It’s frustrating. For better or for worse, Swann is the main babyface on the show. He needs to be getting better reactions. Or, should I say, any reactions at all. Yes, he isn’t a big star by any means, but the show still should be able to write him in a way that gets him more cheers than a guy like Tony Nese. It gets draining to watch a show where every guy that comes out to wrestle is responded to in the same way.
Swann was accompanied to the ring by Cedric Alexander. The match began with Nese kneeling to the ground and flexing his enormous muscles. Swann laughed that off and then the two tied up in the middle of the ring. Nese got the momentum first by chopping Swann in the corner. Nese then whipped Swann who bounced off the ropes and connected with a hurricanrana. Nese popped up quickly after that move and rolled to the outside. Both fought on the outside and showcased flips, cartwheels, and brawling until Swann got the momentum by hitting a flipping senton on Nese from the top rope. Gulak tried to get involved but that was halted by Alexander. The two made their way back into the ring and exchanged more chops. Nese took Swann to the mat and covered him for a quick one count. From there, he locked in a body scissors. Swann rolled his weight back to attempt a pin but only got a two count. This did not cause Nese to release the hold. Swann did that again but to the same result
Heydorn’s Analysis: Swann had the crowd while in the submission. He sold it perfectly which caused the crowd to be active for him. Swann typically is a great seller, but this was especially effective.
On the third attempt, Swann escaped but Nese quickly got control back with a massive clothesline. Nese covered Swann for two. After the pin, Nese hung Swann in the tree or woe position and did the ab crunches into kicks. He then pulled Swann off and went for the cover but only received the count of two. After the pin attempt, Swann worked to fight back. He connected with punches and chops until Nese took Swann down once again. While Swann was down, Nese went for a moonsault but Swann moved out of the way. It was all Rich Swann from there. He hit spinning kicks and a top rope hurricanrana on Nese for a two count amongst a variety of other moves. Swann worked to get more offense in, but Nese stopped him and hit an impactful pump handle powerslam. After, he immediately went for a cover and got a near fall two count. From there, both guys made their way to their feet in the middle of the ring and exchanged strikes. Eventually Swann connected with two very stiff kicks. He then climbed to the top rope and hit his Phoenix Splash. Swann then covered for the 1,2,3.
-After the match, Gulak played a siren and the Zo Train made their way to ringside. The Zo Train surrounded the ring with Swann and Alexander inside of it. Dar, Daivari, Gulak, and Nese were about to attack before Tozawa and Ali hit the ring to help the babyfaces. All eight guys battled in and around the ring. The team of babyfaces cleared the area and sent the heels reeling.
WINNER: Swann at 8:03
Heydorn’s Analysis: This was a solid match and the best of the night. Much respect needs to be given to Swann for his performance as he was able to take a crowd that was completely uninterested and force them to invest. The match was good enough and the story between Swann and Gulak for their match coming on Monday night grew because of it.
-The show concluded with Joseph and McGuinness promoting the big number one contender match next week on Raw for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
FINAL THOUGHTS: 205 Live lacks star power to begin with. Tonight, the show had less stars than it usually does with Kalisto and Enzo Amore not available. This hurt. That said, for a second week in a row they kept the title propped up as the most important thing on the show which I believe is the right strategy. The build for Swann vs. Gulak on Raw was framed as a big deal and the match should be able to deliver. Given the circumstances, I say thumbs up for this show as the mission was accomplished on all fronts. With that said, the WWE needs Hideo Itami and probably another NXT star. Too many guys are being reacted to in the same way by audiences around the country. Adding two or more big names to the list will help alleviate that trend.