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WWE 205 LIVE
JANUARY 2, 2018 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 teamed with Goldust to take on and defeat the Zo Train. It also highlighted the fact that Enzo Amore was unable to defend his WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Alexander due to being ill with the flu.
-After the highlight package, the show open ran and Vic Joseph welcomed the audience to the program. He and Nigel McGuinness quickly recapped the events of SmackDown Live and then promoted the matches for tonight’s show which included a rematch from last week between Jack Gallagher and Hideo Itami. Joseph also highlighted the Enzo sickness from last night and let the audience know that he wouldn’t be on the show tonight either.
(1) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. TJP
This match was billed as an open challenge match that was created by Kurt Angle. Tozawa made his way to the ring first and got a slight reaction from the audience with a few of the Tozawa war chants sprinkled in. TJP came out second as the surprise open challenge opponent to a very limited reaction. The announcers made his return feel like a big deal, but the reaction in the arena did not match what they were selling.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Same ‘ol story for TJP. Personally, I think this guy has something, but getting the response he did today after be gone for months is not an encouraging sign and shows that my instinct could be wrong on this one. It’s too bad, but he just doesn’t connect. It’s on him to tweak and change something about his character, but he never has and it hurts him.
Both tied up to start the match with upper hand changing back and forth. TJP was certainly the heel as he ran from Tozawa quite a bit at the beginning. The crowd reacted to TJP during this and even chanted his name a bit which was surprising given the poor reaction to his entrance. Tozawa finally got the momentum by hitting TJP with cross bodies, drop kicks, and then a straight right hand to the face. He then stomped TJP in the corner and the crowd chanting along with war chants with each stomp. Tozawa then kept up the pace with a senton bomb. Because of the impact, TJP rolled to the outside of the ring and Tozawa went for a suicide dive. TJP was able to counter with an uppercut to Tozawa’s face. He then destroyed Tozawa outside the ring by slamming his shoulder into numerous objects and the ring apron. TJP then rolled Tozawa back into the ring and continued to work over the shoulder with kicks and a one arm body slam that put all of Tozawa’s weight on the injured shoulder. TJP went for the cover but just received a two count. After the pin, TJP locked in armbar. Tozawa was able to escape, but TJP slammed him down to the mat and locked in a special surfboard submission that continued to injure the shoulder.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Throughout this beat down of Tozawa, the announcers sold his past shoulder injuries which I thought was very effective. It made the dismantling of the shoulder appear even worse and helped position TJP as a ruthless heel.
After, TJP continued to work the shoulder of Tozawa by slamming it directly into the ring post. TJP whipped Tozawa into the corner and Tozawa countered and then rolled TJP up for two count pin. Immediately after the kick out, TJP clotheslined Tozawa back to the ground and locked in a chin lock. The crowd was with Tozawa at this point and did his war chant to will him on. As the chants got louder, Tozawa got to his feet to free himself. TJP stopped him with a vicious clothesline that kept the momentum with him. He then kept Tozawa down with a stretch submission to the shoulder. From there, Tozawa worked to escape again and did successfully. He capped off his escape with a boot right to the face of TJP. Tozawa sold a ton of shoulder pain after the move. After, they each attempted to strike each other before Tozawa finally got the upper hand and suplexed TJP. TJP rolled to the outside and Tozawa connected with a suicide dive. Right after, Tozawa tossed TJP back in the ring for a cover, but only received a two count. Tozawa still sold the shoulder as he picked TJP up. As he did, TJP kicked the arm and attempted a move, Tozawa countered with a whirlwind kick. From there, Tozawa went to the top rope for his senton bomb finish, but TJP rolled underneath the bottom rope. From there, TJP reached up and connected with an illegal thumb to the eye on Tozawa. With Tozawa unable to see, TJP slammed his face into the ring post which sent him falling off the top rope. TJP then connected with the detonation kick and won the match.
WINNER: TJP at 9:56
Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid match. TJP didn’t return with as much fanfare as he would have liked, but he showed that he could still have an entertaining match. I enjoyed him working over Tozawa’s shoulder and liked the consistency of that story be woven throughout the whole match. TJP and Tozawa don’t appear to be having a long program after this which leads to the question of what’s next for TJP. I’d like to see him feud with Hideo Itami as I think the two could have some really great matches. Lastly, it will be interesting to see where this open challenge element goes. Was it a one night only thing to bring TJP back or will they be doing it more going forward?
-Backstage, Cedric Alexander was shown getting ready for his match. Goldust walked in and said that him and Cedric had a lot to accomplish as partners. Cedric said he was excited about the partnership and reminded Goldust that he was over 205 pounds. Goldust said he knew that fact and then told Cedric that they are friends. He said that when a friend needs his help, he helps all the way through. He then said he was there to help Cedric on his quest for gold and that they were a team now. Alexander then said this would be the start of a great friendship. Goldust did his bark breath and the two walked away together.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nope. Not liking this Goldust involvement on 205 Live one bit. This show is still growing and establishing itself. Worse, it needs to constantly work extra hard to be a viable show due to the fact that it severely lacks star power. Adding a loser character like Goldust to the mix doesn’t help.
-A commercial aired for WWE’s Mix Match Challenge on Facebook that will air in two weeks’ time
(2) JACK GALLAGHER vs. HIDEO ITAMI
Gallagher made his way to the ring first to no reaction from the audience. As he did he cut a promo in which he said that last week he learned that Itami is only on 205 Live to maim opponents. He then had production cue up a clip of Itami injuring The Brian Kendrick a few weeks ago on Monday Night Raw. Gallagher went on to say that he watched the footage repeatedly. After, he demanded to see the injury in slow motion. After that aired he said he doesn’t feel empathy, but that he feels inspired. Inspired to painfully dissect Itami. He finished by saying that in their match, he would make Itami suffer. Itami came out to the ring next and was yelling “respect me” as he did. The crowd seemed to pop for him a bit and responded to him as he made his way down the ramp. Before the match began, Jack Gallagher tried to attack Itami with his umbrella. Itami saw it and ducked before connecting with a backhand strike. He went for his patented dropkick and as he did Gallagher countered with shot to the chest of Itami with a steel pipe. From there, Gallagher beat Itami down in the middle of the ring with the steel pipe. As the attack kept up, officials hit the ring to stop it and check on Itami. Gallagher then rolled out of the ring and smiled as he wrapped his pipe back up in his umbrella.
WINNER: No contest as the match never officially began
Heydorn’s Analysis: Loved this. This is storytelling and 205 Live needs more of it on a regular basis. Gallagher and Itami now have a reason to really dislike each other that will culminate in a match. Booking 101 folks.
-Backstage, Gulak and Daivari were interviewed. They said that they asked for their rematch because they weren’t ready for their match Monday night. Gulak then said they suffered a major injustice on Raw. Gulak said they weren’t prepared for Goldust and meant they’d take a challenge from anyone on the 205 roster, not the Raw roster when they allowed for Cedric to have a tag team partner yesterday. Gulak then said now that Enzo wasn’t with them, they’d dedicate their victory to their personal best friend. As he finished that sentence, Goldust appeared and did the bark breath into Gulak. Gulak then did the same to Goldust and walked away. Goldust looked disgusted by Gulak’s breath.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ugh. Goldust just isn’t a serious competitor anymore. He is a comedy act that is now involved in 205 Live’s main storyline. It makes no sense and this segment lost its way because of it.
-A promo aired for the return of The Miz next week on Monday Night Raw
(3) DREW GULAK & ARIYA DAIVARI vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & GOLDUST
Gulak and Daivari hit the ring first followed by Alexander and then Goldust. Goldust received a decent pop from the audience. Joseph highlighted that this was the first time a non-cruiserweight star competed on 205 Live. Alexander and Daivari started things off by tying up in the middle of the ring. Alexander backed him into a corner and then backed off per the referee’s instructions. They tied up again and Alexander was able to lock in an armbar. Daivari countered and then Alexander countered before Daivari slammed Alexander to the map. Cedric then connected with a drop kick and a hurricanrana to gain the momentum. He went for a cover but just received a count of one. Alexander then immediately locked in an armbar. The crowd chanted “we want Goldust” and Alexander tagged him in.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Goldust being tagged into the match got the biggest pop and audience reaction on the show. This should tell the WWE something about 205 Live.
From there, Daivari tagged in Gulak. It didn’t matter as Goldust kept up the offense and kept momentum on Gulak too. He barked at Gulak which sent Gulak flying toward the mat. Gulak then tagged Daivari in again. They did a nice rope run spot and then Goldust stopped mid run to catch his breath. The crowd laughed quite a bit at this.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Sure, this got some laughs, but in a way it also poked fun at the cruiserweight style. If a top star did that on 205 Live, it could be seen as that star showing respect for the cruiserweights and what they do. Because it was Goldust, a comedy act, the style was presented in a comedic fashion. Why would the WWE want to do that on the cruiserweight show? I don’t get it.
After Goldust caught his breath he barked in Daivari’s face. Daivari then kicked Goldust in the chest and tagged in Gulak. Gulak was able to secure momentum by positioning Goldust near their corner. He connected with stomps, punches, and clotheslines before tagging in Daivari again. Daivari went for a big move and flipped Goldust over his head. Because of that he was able to tag Alexander. Alexander came in hot and hit a flying clothesline on Daivari. He then hit a couple dropkicks. From there he attempted a springboard clothesline but Daivari was able to knock him off the top rope. Cedric took a sick bump and the momentum was back on the side of the Zo Train. Daivari tagged in Gulak and they once again cut the ring in half. Gulak connected with a suplex and then went for a pin, but only received a two count. From there, he stomped Cedric in the corner before tagging in Daivari. Alexander attempted to tag Goldust multiple times, but the strategy by the Zo Train made it impossible. Daivari then locked in a sleeper hold before tossing Alexander to the outside of the ring. Daivari followed and then slammed Alexander into the ring steps. After, he rolled him back into the ring and went for a cover, but only received a two count. From there, he locked in a sleeper hold once again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The announcers did a nice job of laying the foundation as to the reason why it’s important for the Zo Train to win this match. They played up Amore’s hold over these guys and it worked in giving a base point to the audience for why they wanted to win.
Alexander escaped the hold and went for the tag. It was stopped by Daivari who whipped Alexander into the ropes. Alexander countered with the Neuralizer and then finally made the tag to Goldust. The crowd popped big and Goldust entered with a flurry of clotheslines and a bulldog on Gulak who had been tagged into the match as well. He followed with a powerslam on both Gulak and Daivari. He then went to the top rope much to the crowd’s delight. From there, he decided not to do a top rope move and hit his patented knee drop punch to the face on both opponents. He then attempted a suplex but it was countered. Alexander made a blind tag during that and entered the match with a springboard clothesline on both Gulak and Daivari. Both opponents fell to the outside and Alexander then hit a move in which he flipped over Goldust and slammed into Gulak and Daivari on the outside of the ring. From there, Alexander rolled Gulak back into the ring, hit the Lumbar Check, and covered for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Alexander and Goldust at 11:55
Heydorn’s Analysis: I don’t like Goldust’s involvement in this story and with the top cruiserweight contender. It would be one thing if he was a respectable star at the moment, but he isn’t. He’s an afterthought. Alexander needs to be on his own and working to find his character that can get over with the crowd. Being saddled with Goldust hinders that progress. It’s important that Cedric won, but the Goldust addition is a major turn off.
-After the match, Goldust and Alexander celebrated in the ring and the show ended with Vic Joseph commenting on how much momentum Alexander had for his upcoming match with Amore for the championship at “some point in the future.”
FINAL THOUGHTS: I understand that the WWE was thrown a curveball because of the sickness to Enzo Amore. Clearly that altered plans for this show and the cruiserweight segment on Raw this week. That said, Goldust certainly is not the answer. For one thing, he is not a true cruiserweight due to his weight. Second, he is a guy that has been defined down for eons within the WWE. He is a nice throwback character but is accepted by the audience as a loser. The 205 Live brand can’t thrive and grow when its bogged down by this type of bad legacy star. If guys outside of the division are going to come on the show, they need to be major players so that the brand is perceived to be must-see. Goldust got a decent reaction tonight, but there is nothing “must-see” about him. That said, I like how the show is still revolving around the WWE Cruiserweight Championship and the fact that a match between Enzo Amore and Cedric Alexander will take place at some point. This is the third week in a row that Alexander has ended the show in victorious fashion and he continues to be built up nicely for that match. It would be encouraging to see his pops get a little bigger along with this push. That flaw will fix itself if he can develop any semblance of a character.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 12/26 WWE 205 Live Report: Enzo-Jax date rumors, Itami vs. Gallagher, Nese vs. Tozawa, Ali & Cedric vs. Gulak & Daivari