WWE 205 LIVE
DECEMBER 12, 2017 ON WWE NETWORK
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 Cedric Alexander qualified in a second chance fatal four-way match 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 the return of Kalisto against Jack Gallagher.
-After the opening, Drew Gulak’s music hit and Gulak walked to the ring in a suit alongside Ariya Daivari. Daivari had his ribs bandaged up to sell the damage Alexander did to him in the match on Raw. Gulak grabbed a mic for a promo as soon as he got to the ring. Gulak introduced himself to the audience and said that from day one on the show his dream was to cultivate a better 205 Live. He said he would be one step closer to that goal when he beats Cedric Alexander to become the number one contender for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. He then said that his buddy Daivari isn’t in a Christmas mood and that Alexander stole his second chance opportunity like the Grinch.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Gulak lost his way with the promo. It was on the right track for a while, but it appeared as if he forgot his lines halfway through. He did a decent job with the recovery but the pacing of delivery was off after it. Still, it did the job in promoting his match next week against Cedric Alexander.
-Gulak then said that he had bad news surrounding Noam Dar and said that Dar injured his knee. He said to help his fellow Zo Train member, he created a powerpoint presentation to instruct Dar on how to recover best. As usual, the presentation was stopped by Cedric Alexander who was Daivari’s opponent for the night.
(1) ARIYA DAIVARI vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Alexander got a nothing pop like usual. The match began with a tie up in the middle of the ring. Daivari slapped Alexander and yelled at him in his foreign tongue. They tied up again and as they did the crowd started a mini chant for Cedric. Alexander got the upper hand first with a hurricanrana and a dropkick. Throughout this, Gulak was on the outside of the ring yelling into a megaphone. Meanwhile, in the ring, Alexander had an armbar locked in to ground his opponent. Once again, the chants for Alexander were very noticeable in the audience.
Heydorn’s Analysis: You could easily tell that most of the chanting was from the kids left in the audience. That’s not a bad thing for Alexander as any chant for him is a good one at this point. He needs to acknowledge it more than he does to show the audience and the kids chanting that when they do that it helps him. At the very least, that would set a better foundation for the audience to connect with him better which is something he desperately needs at this point. This is a start as he typically doesn’t get any reaction at all.
From there, Alexander began crushing Daivari with chops the chest that really got the crowd on his side. After, he tossed Daivari to the corner to go for a big high flying move. Daivari rolled out of the ring and Alexander went to run against the ropes for a suicide dive. Gulak stopped him by yelling “no top rope” into the megaphone. This distracted Alexander and Daivari was able to get the momentum in the match. Daivari retaliated with punches, kicks, and chops before he tossed Alexander outside the ring. While he was out there, Gulak interfered with a vicious clothesline. Gulak then rolled him back in the ring and Daivari covered for a two count. After the pin attempt, Daivari locked in rear chin lock. Alexander escaped and worked some punches but was immediately taken back down by Daivari with a running bulldog. He went for another cover, but just got two. After the cover, he locked in the chin lock again. Alexander escaped relatively quickly with a chin buster. He then hit Daivari with a drop toe hold which planted his opponent into the ring post. From there, Alexander taunted Gulak a bit and then hit a flying clothesline from the top rope. He went for a pin attempt but got a two count. Out of the pin, Alexander went for a lumbar check but it was countered by Daivari. Alexander maintained the momentum still and was able to set Daivari up for his neuralizer finisher. Daivari countered that with a spine buster and then went to the top rope. While he was up there, Gulak told him to get down but Daivari ignored that advice and hit a splash followed by a two count pin attempt. Daivari sold his damage ribs which took the brunt of the impact on his splash. Gulak looked visibly upset and Daivari noticed. Because of that miscommunication, Alexander was able to hit his Neuralizer and then the Lumbar Check for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Alexander at 8:07
Heydorn’s Analysis: I enjoyed the match quite a bit and it was useful in building up Alexander vs. Gulak next week. Gulak looked like the slimy heel and Alexander shined with his big moves. Thumbs up all around for all involved. Sidebar – I love the Lumbar Check finisher. Beautiful move that the audience pops for.
-After the match the show went to a commercial for NXT live on the USA Network as part of WWE Week on Wednesday.
-After the commercial, Nigel and Vic promoted Clash Of Champions and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship number one contendership match on Raw next week. They then cued up a recap of what happened between Enzo Amore and Drew Gulak from last night on Raw including the interaction between Amore and Nia Jax.
-Backstage, Enzo addressed his Zo Train members who were gathered around Drew Gulak and said that he didn’t recall calling a team meeting. Gulak said that he was giving Daivari pointers and Enzo said that he is not in a position to give pointers. Gulak said that Enzo had a lot on his mind with Nia Jax and that he was wrong to make jokes about winning the Cruiserweight Championship. Gulak then said that it is plausible that he could become champion. From there, Amore dressed Gulak down and said that he couldn’t even hold his microphone let alone the title. Nese then intervened on Gulak’s behalf and Amore dressed him down like he was doing to Gulak. Amore then ranted about how he saved 205 Live and called Nese and Gulak ungrateful. Amore then had a zen moment and said sometimes you have to look in the mirror, recognize your faults, and work on yourself. Amore then said to be the best leader is to lead by example. He then demanded that they all be at ringside for his match tonight against, Tony Nese. The Zo Train looked shocked as Amore walked away.
Heydorn’s Analysis: While on 205 Live, Amore still has the superstar aura surrounding him. When he walked into the shot, the segment simply felt bigger. He isn’t the best wrestler (not even close), but the superstar aura that he gives off is important. It’s especially important for 205 Live which is in drastic need of stars at the moment. Gulak seemed to have some sympathy within the segment. The way Amore talked down to him made you feel a bit sorry for him while also wanting to see him rise up. It was smart to plant that seed.
(2) JACK GALLAGHER vs. KALISTO
Gallagher came out to the ring first and was accompanied by The Brian Kendrick. As he made his way to the ring, a recap video was shown from when Kendrick and Gallagher destroyed Kalisto two weeks ago. Gallagher got a better reaction that he usually does when his music hit. In the ring, Kendrick cut a promo and said that over a year ago his cruiserweight championship was taken from him. He said that every day for the last 19 years of the his life his dream was to be a champion in the WWE. He said that that dream was taken from him. He then said that since he lost the belt, he has not gotten a rematch. He said Kalisto was gifted repeated opportunities while he sat on the sideline. Even worse, he said Kalisto squandered the opportunities that he was handed. Gallagher then got on the mic next and made fun of some crowd members. He then told Kalisto to stay backstage or else he’ll be spring-boarding into a spiders nest.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good promo by Kendrick. I like how he gave a reason for the Kalisto beat down. Too often we don’t get that and it was nice to be able to connect the dots here. The delivery was on point as well.
Kalisto ignored Gallagher’s advice and got a decent pop of lucha chants as he made his way to the ring. Just lucha chants though as usual. The match began with a tie up that Gallagher won. Gallagher then took Kalisto down with a headlock. Kalisto worked to get back to his feet but Gallagher raked at his wrist and took him back down to the mat. This allowed for a quick pin attempt for a one count. Kalisto popped up after the pin attempt and used a unique escape move to get out of the hold. Kalisto ran the ropes and connected with a hurricanrana before heading to the rope to hit a swinging arm drag. This launched Gallagher out of the ring. Kalisto looked to go for a dive to the outside but stopped when he saw that Gallagher moved. Instead he hit a Listo kick on him. Kalisto went for a second Listo kick on Gallagher but missed and hit The Brian Kendrick at ringside. Kalisto attempted another offensive kick after but was stopped by Gallagher. Gallagher caught his kick and slammed it into the ring post. Kalisto then fell to the outside of the ring. The referee began the count but Kalisto made it back into the ring at nine. Gallagher maintained all control from this point on by using submission holds, strikes, and stretch maneuvers. After a top rope submission, Gallagher went for the cover but only received a two count. The announcers played up how smart it was for Gallagher to target the legs as much as he did. Kalisto showed flickers of gaining momentum, but each time, Gallagher cinched in a different move to Kalisto’s lower body. Finally, Kalisto kicked himself free, but Gallagher continued his assault with kicks and then mocked Kalisto’s lucha chant. After this, Kalisto rolled into the ropes and was pursued by Gallagher. They exchanged punches and once again Gallagher took the upper hand with a horse-collar submission.
Heydorn’s Analysis: With Kalisto as his opponent, Jack Gallagher is able to showcase some really nice submission moves. Kalisto’s selling is helping put them over. With the sell, Kalisto is working hard to make Gallagher look really good. Almost too good.
From there, Kalisto was able to roll through the hold and connect with a Listo kick to escape. Gallagher ran at him to further his momentum but flew out of the ring. Kalisto looked for a kick but it was caught by Gallagher. Kalisto then pushed Gallagher into the turnbuckle. To capitalize, Kalisto hit a top rope moonsault. He sold his lower body injury throughout this and Nigel highlighted that with his commentary. After, Kalisto hit his low hurricanrana and went for a pin. Gallagher kicked out at two. Soon after and in the end, Kalisto rolled Gallagher up out of nowhere for the 1,2,3 win.
-After the match, Kendrick attacked Kalisto’s already injured legs. As he was going to do more damage, Gran Metalik made the save by hitting a double drop kick on Gallagher and Kendrick followed by a swinging arm drag on Kendrick. To clear the ring, Kalisto hit a SDS on Gallagher. Kalisto and Metalik then celebrated in the ring.
WINNER: Kalisto at 8:53
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just way too many cooks in this program’s kitchen right now. Look, I liked the psychology of this entire thing. Gallagher worked the leg the entire match and Kalisto was able to overcome. Then with Kalisto still selling his injuries the dirty heel in Kendrick was able to get some nice heat on himself by attacking Kalisto from behind. That was very effective in building up the Kalisto/Kendrick intensity. I see absolutely no need for the involvement of Gran Metalik. This feud is simmering nicely as a one on one program between Kalisto and Kendrick. By adding Metalik, the program is downgraded a bit because Metalik isn’t at all represented as a relevant player.
-Backstage, Drew Gulak tried to convince Enzo Amore to not fight Tony Nese. Amore said that he wasn’t going to fight, but that he was going to wrestle as he’s the best cruiserweight in the world. He then compared himself to Dean Malenko. Before walking off, Amore said that in the match everyone will learn something.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More sympathy for Gulak here. Face turn? It’s hilarious that Amore compared himself to Dean Malenko. It shows how well Enzo understands his character’s place with the fans. He pulled the right stings with that comment and got the heat he was looking for.
-The show cut to a commercial for Tribute To The Troops on Thursday night and Joseph then thanked everyone for their support on WWE week while plugging NXT tomorrownight on the USA Network.
-After the WWE Week promotion, a video was shown for 205 Live’s new signee, Hideo Itami. This time, he was promoted to debut next week.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Big news. Itami getting the call to 205 Live will give the brand another name with star power which it desperately needs.
(3) TONY NESE vs. ENZO AMORE
Tony Nese entered the ring first and looked very dejected as he did. He didn’t do his typical promo at the top of the stage either. Joseph commented on his body language as well by saying he doesn’t look focused and isn’t even showing his body. Enzo Amore made his way to the ring next. He got the pop of the night for sure. As he made his way to the ring, he cut his typical promo which the crowd chanted along with. He walked to the ring with Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Amore has to stop this entrance. It is a babyface entrance and he’s a heel. When the heel turn was decided on, how did this openly babyface element stick in the game plan? It’s mind numbing because as the heel Enzo has to work so much harder to get the crowd against him after they cheer and sing along with his entrance. The entire thing is counterproductive to the character. Amore still looked the part of a star, but the entrance isn’t needed to keep that going.
The crowd chanted how you doin, and Enzo said the Zo Train is doing great. He commented on 205 Live going on the road led by his Zo Train which was an unbreakable unit. The bell rang for the match and Enzo took his time taking off his entrance wardrobe. Amore yelled across the ring at Nese and then asked the crowd if they wanted to see a technical spectacle. He then asked Nese to look at how fast his feet are. Nese begged Amore to stop. Amore then slapped Nese in the face and continued to berate him by yelling at him in the ring. Nese got visibly more angry as this round of berating went on. Nese started to slowly walk near Enzo which Enzo seemed to fear. As he got closer, Daivari came in from behind Tony and hit him. Then Amore and Daivari beat him down. Drew Gulak looked on with much concern but did not intervene. Gulak looked to be shaken up while on the outside. In the ring, Amore picked up Nese and continued to berate him. He told Nese to know his place and then called Gulak into the ring to prove his worth to Amore. Gulak didn’t want to do it but Amore insisted. Gulak slowly climbed into the ring but looked disgusted with his boss. Then Gulak started to talk back to Amore by saying what they were doing wasn’t right. Amore yelled at Gulak to do something and Gulak got in his face and asked Amore if he wanted to get hurt. Gulak then turned to Nese and clocked him in the face. He then proceeded to further destroy Nese. The crowd was chanting this is boring throughout this beat down.]
Heydorn’s Analysis: This had some nice heat and interest at the beginning but went too long. As it dragged on, the crowd got restless and then turned against the entire thing by chanting “delete” and “boring”. It’s too bad because there is a lot of good going on that is being glossed over.
Amore then put on his robe on again and picked up his championship. Daivari then picked up Nese and Amore told him that he learned something as promised. Amore then hit Nese with his JAWdonZo finisher.
WINNER: Nese via DQ
-The show went off the air with Joseph and McGuinness plugging the number one contender match for Raw next week while Amore stood over a decimated Tony Nese in the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I liked the idea of the segment a lot. Amore got some nice heat on him and the Zo Train while Gulak was able to show some range with his character as well. It worked. Amore pulled off the outrageously demanding heel, Nese sold the beat down well, and Drew Gulak was able to convey his uncertainty with his decision. In addition, I like that seeds were planted for a Gulak turn on Amore down the road.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was interesting to see Drew Gulak carry this show. In a way it was a shining moment for him and he did well with it. Overall, the show was about a B+ on the 205 Live grading chart. The matches were decent, but what stood out was the storyline and character development. Enzo fully entrenched himself as the bad heel, Alexander further solidified himself as the valiant babyface, and Drew Gulak is somewhere in the middle it seems. Throughout the show, sympathy was built up for him at various points during his interaction with Amore and a power struggle between the two was teased. Gulak squashed it all at the end, but it was out there to see and feel. It made you think babyface turn for Gulak. For the future of 205 Live, that was a smart seed for WWE to plant. In addition, It begs the good question of what will happen between Gulak and Amore if Gulak is victorious Monday night and becomes number one contender. That’s a story that writes itself if WWE wants to go there. I think they will play it safe and go with Alexander, but the seeds are there for Gulak and based on tonight’s performance, he could certainly make a babyface turn work opposite Amore.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS REPORT: 12/5 WWE 205 Live Report: Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar, Kendrick vs. Metalik, Tony Nese vs. Rich Swann