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WWE 205 LIVE
JANUARY 23, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
-The show began with Daniel Bryan delivering a statement backstage. He informed the audience that Enzo Amore had abdicated the WWE Cruiserweight Championship and would no longer be a part of 205 Live. He then said that he wanted to be the one to address the title situation given how much he believes in what the cruiserweights can do. Bryan then said that next week on 205 Live a brand new general manager would be named for the show and that that person would decide the fate of the WWE Cruiserweight Title. He closed by saying that whoever is chosen for the GM role will be up to the task in providing the breathtaking cruiserweight action to the fans while giving the show the direction that it needs.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This type of statement was the best the WWE could do given the situation. The made the right move in dismissing Enzo Amore and the words that Daniel Bryan said were the only way to go about moving forward. In addition to addressing the title situation, they also planted the next big story for 205 Live which is the new general manager.
-From there the show open ran and Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuiness welcomed everyone to the program. Both played up the major announcement by Bryan regarding 205 Live getting a general manager. They then promoted the matches of the evening including Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali and Jack Gallagher vs. Hideo Itami.
(1) KALISTO & GRAN METALIK, & LINCE DORADO vs. TJP & ARIYA DAIVARI, & TONY NESE
The team of Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado made their way to the ring first. Each of them had similar pops that were virtually nonexistent. The commentators discussed the new 205 Live GM as they made their way to the ring which signaled just how little the match meant. The heel team came out next to no reaction as well. Nese did his off mic promo which is effective. The ab counting has its place as well and could be a gimmick that gets over. The match began with TJP and Dorado tying up in the middle of the ring. Dorado locked in a quick headlock but TJP escaped with ease. They then exchanged arm drags before TJP connected with a head scissor takedown. Dorado countered with a takedown of his own and then connected with a jumping fireman’s carry. He followed with another arm drag and then a standing moonsault. After he covered for a two count. After the pin attempt, TJP tagged in Tony Nese. At the same time Dorado tagged Metalik. Both had a very impressive spot where they ran the ropes and dodged each other’s moves before Metalik got the upper hand with an arm drag of his own. He celebrated in the ring with lucha chants and went for a flying splash but Nese countered with a stiff clothesline. After, he tagged in Daivari who kept up the momentum for the team. He whipped Metalik into the ring post, but Metalik jumped and hit a twisting splash from the top rope. After he went for a pin attempt, but just got a one count. From there, Metalik tagged in Kalisto who worked to keep the momentum. Upon entering the match he connected with kicks, a spinning roundhouse, and a springboard cross body splash. He went for a move in the corner and then was kicked off the top rope to the outside of the ring after being distracted by Tony Nese. Ariya Daivari tossed Kalisto back into the ring and went for a cover, but only got a one count. Nese dragged Kalisto to their corner and then tagged in TJP. TJP proceed to stomp Kalisto in his corner and also pressed his foot under Kalisto’s chin. TJP then hit a nice vertical suplex/belly to back combo. He covered after and got a two count. After the cover, TJP kept up the offense by locking in a front headlock. He looked for another suplex, but Kalisto countered with a rollup pin. TJP kicked out and then quickly got to his feet and clotheslined Kalisto.
Heydorn’s Analysis: From a technical standpoint, this match is on pace to be a good one. That said, it doesn’t have enough heat or drama behind it to be truly significant.
With Kalisto down, TJP tagged in Tony Nese. Nese struck Kalisto with some stiff shots and then tagged in Daivari who entered the match and immediately locked in a sleeper hold. Kalisto quickly escaped and attempted to reach his corner. As he did, Daivari slammed him to the mat. As he went for more offense, Kalisto kicked him in the face and went for the hot tag. Daivari stopped him, but then got an enziguri to the face. After that the hot tag was made and Kailsto tagged in Dorado and Daivari tagged in TJP. Dorado hit all the offense with spring boards, cross body’s, kicks, and a flying moonsault form the top rope. After that move, he covered for two. After the count, both Kalisto and Metalik hit stereo dropkicks and then suicide dives to their opponents. In the ring, Dorado missed a 450 splash and TJP tried to capitalize with a detonator. As he did his own team got in his way which made him stop to address them. With his back turned, Dorado hit a springboard stunner for the 1, 2, 3 win.
-After the match, TJP threw a fit to his team and yelled at them. Tony Nese slapped him in the face which surprised TJP and then walked off yelling that it was TJP’s fault that the team lost the match.
WINNER: Kalisto, Metalik, and Dorado at 9:12
Heydorn’s Analysis: Overall, the match was good. It had some nice spots, but most importantly it progressed the TJP storyline. Throughout the last few weeks he’s gotten quite a bit of heat from the audience during his temper tantrums after losses. Tonight was no different. If the WWE can milk this for a couple more weeks, the heat will get louder and louder. I’m hoping he takes the heat he’s getting and channels it into a new and darker version of his character.
-A recorded segment with Drew Gulak aired in which he was in front of a podium with an American flag behind him. He introduced himself and said that he stands for a better 205 Live. He said at the center of his vision is authority and he supports a new GM. He said that it needs to be someone with the right values that will put an end to the high flying and yelling on 205 Live. He said that needs a GM that will turn 205 Live into a Drewtopia.
Heydorn’s Analysis: With these types of promos, it’s hard not to like Drew Gulak. The content of Gulak’s promo wasn’t outstanding, but the delivery was perfect. I’ve been saying for months that Gulak has something with “Drewtopia.” With the show in need of star power, he may just get the opportunity to fully run with it.
-A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble which is live this Sunday on the WWE Network.
-After the commercial, Vic Joseph promoted the Royal Rumble as Jack Gallagher’s music hit.
(2) HIDEO ITAMI vs. JACK GALLAGHER
Gallagher was the first to enter the ring. He did so with this umbrella as usual. Itami came to the ring next and was recognized by the audience. As he made his way to the ring, a pre-taped interview aired in which Itami said that in the WWE injuries happen. He went on to say that what happened to The Brian Kendrick was an accident. He said he would never do it on purpose and that he respects Kendrick. He ended by saying he doesn’t respect Jack Gallagher. The match began with Itami crushing Gallagher with a strike. From there, he tossed Gallagher into the ropes and then hit him with a knee to the stomach. Gallagher slowed Itami down with a headlock. Itami got to his feet and pushed Gallagher to the corner. From there, he whipped Gallagher who did his corner head stand. Itami ran at him and after Gallagher flipped away, Itami connected with a left cross kick to the chest. After, he whipped Gallagher to the corner, but Gallagher countered which led to a trading offensive sequence near the ropes. From there, with Gallagher caught up in the ropes, Itami hit a flying knee to Gallagher’s forehead. Gallagher rolled out of the ring after the move and went under the ring. With Itami distracted, he attacked from behind with punches and submissions. He locked in an arm bar and also torqued Itami’s fingers.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I’ve always liked the intensity of Hideo Itami. He had a ton of that at this point in the match. Gallagher sold that intensity well which further pushed the crowd to Itami’s side.
Gallagher then kept up the attack on the arm and fingers. The crowd chanted boring throughout this attack which egged Gallagher on. He twisted Itami even further and locked in a back hammer submission. Itami escaped briefly but was halted by a Gallagher knee to the body. From there, Gallagher elbowed Itami in the shoulder and then taunted the crowd. After the taunt, he locked in an arm submission again, but Itami struck his way out with kicks, clotheslines, and a release fisherman suplex. Itami then tossed Gallagher into the corner and charged at him with a double knee strike. This sent Gallagher stumbling to the middle of the ring. Itami climbed to the top rope and hit a flying clothesline. After, he covered for a two count. Both men got back to their feet and Itami lined Gallagher up for a series of strikes. He connected with two uppercuts, but as he went for his spinning elbow, Gallagher countered and pushed him near the ref. Itami almost ran into the ref which distracted him and allowed Gallagher to roll him up for a two count. After the pin attempt, Gallagher went for a strike of his own but was countered by Itami who then did connect with this spinning elbow. Gallagher collapsed into a corner and Itami connected with his running dropkick. Itami then connected with a dragon sleeper for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Itami at 6:23
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another good match Given how the finish went down, this could be the ending of the Itami/Gallagher feud for the time being. Maybe it was supposed to end tonight, maybe not. Either way, It was a short feud that was entertaining to see play out. The issue is that I don’t believe that Itami or Gallagher are any hotter with the audience now than they were before this feud began.
-A backstage interview aired of Akira Tozawa videoing himself being a “good” boss by fake firing someone in the backstage area.
-A commercial aired for NXT Takeover: Philadelphia which will air Saturday on the WWE Network
-After the commercial, Nigel promoted the event further and Cedric Alexander’s music hit for the main event to begin.
(3) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Heydorn’s Analysis: Right out of the gate, I like the idea of this match as its 100 percent anti-Enzo. It’s the polar opposite of Enzo Amore. Smart move by the WWE to frame this show that way given all that’s gone on.
Alexander hit the ring first and while the crowd reaction wasn’t there for him, because of his booking throughout the last five weeks, he felt like the big star of the show. On his way to the ring, a backstage selfie video was shown where Alexander said that in wrestling it’s all about timing. He said with the championship being abdicated, his moment won’t be a the Royal Rumble as he planned. He finished by saying that the mission is still the same and that in 2018 he will be the WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Ali hit the ring next to a tepid response as well. As Ali made his way to the ring, a tweet that Ali made earlier in the day was shown in which he said that he was pulling for Alexander to win at the Royal Rumble, but that every time HE walks down the aisle for a match, he does so to win. The match began with both guys shaking hands in the middle of the ring. Alexander pulled in a little closer and had some words for Ali. They then tied up and circled around the ring until Ali pushed Alexander into a corner. Ali then broke the hold. From there they tied up again and went into another corner. Both separated as good sports. After, they tied up again and proceed to have incredibly quick exchanges of flipping counters that really hooked the crowd.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The crowd is buying what Alexander and Ali are selling. The two did a great job to setup the fact that they are friends, but that they both want to win equally as bad. The psychology of the beginning quarter laid in with that setup and the crowd loved it. Again, it feels as if these guys are wrestling for and in the way of how they want cruiserweights to be on the show and in WWE moving forward.
They tied up again and pushed each other to yet another corner. Tempers started to flare with both Alexander and Ali getting frustrated at their lack of progress. Alexander then pushed Ali and connected with a dropkick to the jaw. He covered Ali, but just got a two count. After the pin attempt, Alexander locked in an armbar submission hold. Ali got to his feet and whipped Alexander off the ropes. Alexander countered but Ali connected with his push apart dropkick. This time, Ali covered, but got a one count. After, he locked in his own armbar. This grounded Alexander for a while until he escaped by whipping Ali into the ropes. Ali bounced off and hit a kick to the face on Alexander. Ali then went for a high risk springboard move, but Alexander countered by pushing him in midair. Because of the counter, Ali slammed his face on the ring apron. Alexander then went to the outside and tossed Ali back in and covered for a two count. After the two count, Alexander locked in a choke hold.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Both Alexander and Ali are such crisp workers and they have chemistry with each other tonight too. They are finishing the sentences of one another out there and it’s been beautiful to watch. The audience seems on the edge of their seat not just because of the cool moves but because of the story behind them.
Alexander released the hold himself by kicking Ali. The two then exchanged uppercuts before Alexander got the upperhand again and stomped Ali. Alexander kept up the offense by connecting with vicious chops before whipping him into a corner. With Ali in the corner, Alexander ran at him for a splash, but Ali rolled out of the way which sent Alexander face first into the second rope. Ali had the momentum at this point and capitalized with chops and a kick to the face. From there, he somersaulted into the ring and hit a face buster on Alexander. Ali covered, but then got a two count. After the pin, Ali picked Alexander up but Alexander pushed him into the corner. From there, Ali went for a top rope Tornado DDT but Alexander caught him in mid-air. Ali attempted to maintain a headlock during this, but Alexander lifted him up for a suplex. Ali was able to counter that by kneeing Alexander in the face. From there, Ali pushed Alexander into a corner and ran at him, but Alexander landed a dropkick to his knees which sent him face first into the turnbuckle. Alexander then connected with a springboard flatliner and then covered for a two count. Alexander was perplexed that he didn’t get the win and then tossed his elbow pad off. He lifted Ali up who slapped his arm out of the way and then slapped Alexander in the face. Alexander returned the favor with a slap of his own and the two proceeded to exchange a fury of punches to the face. Alexander got the upperhand out of these strikes with a vicious elbow to the face. He then ran to hit the ropes, but Ali held onto the tights to prevent that from happening. As Alexander attempted a kick to shake Ali, Ali connected with his own spinning heel kick to Alexander’s face. With Alexander dazed, Ali ran into the ropes and connected with a very impressive Spanish fly. The audience popped big for the move.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Huge pop for the Spanish fly. It’s certainly an impressive maneuver and though the crowd was into the match fully before it, it took the entire match to another level once it was done.
Both men were down in the ring and Joseph pointed out that Ali was unable to take advantage of his big Spanish Fly move. Alexander was first to his feet and immediately attempted a lumbar check which was countered with a splash pin attempt by Ali. Alexander kicked out a two and Ali attempted to throw him into the corner. Alexander countered in a way that sent himself to the ring apron in time for him to kick Ali in the face after charging to the corner. From there, Alexander attempted a springboard move, but Ali pushed Alexander to make him lose his balance. Ali then connected with an impressive looking spinning DDT. He covered, but Alexander kicked out a two. This started a this is awesome chant from the crowd. After the pin attempt, he dragged Alexander to the corner and attempted his 054 top rope finisher only for Alexander to move out of the way. This sent Ali directly into the mat. Alexander got up and hit a Neuralizer followed by the Lumbar Check for the 1,2,3 win.
-After the match, Alexander picked Ali up of the mat and raised his arms in the air.
WINNER: Alexander at 11:49
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great match. I’m telling you, these guys wrestled this one with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. They succeeded in proving everything. The match was quick paced, crisp, and exciting. It really showcased how great cruiserweight wrestling can be and was a big FU to the Enzo Amore character. I really enjoyed the babyface/babyface dynamic in the main event between Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander and would love to see these two get even more time on a preshow sometime with the title on the line. This type of match and work rate needs to be featured on this show more. With a new champion and a new GM, hopefully that’s the narrative that’s continued to be pushed.
-The show ended with Cedric Alexander celebrating his victory in the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a really good show and, given the circumstances with Enzo Amore, it needed to be. With Amore not on the program for good reason, the star power was obviously lower. That said, the wrestlers on the show performed like they had something to prove. They clearly had passion tonight and as a viewer you could feel it. Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali put on a cruiserweight clinic and directly showcased what matches on this show should be like week in and week out. From a storyline perspective, everything revolved around the new GM who will debut next week. That was the right call and the announcers made a special point in every match to say how important it was to impress the new boss. In addition, we got closure in the Gallagher/Itami feud and progression in TJP’s whiny story. Those story points with two good matches and one great match made it one of the better shows of the last couple weeks.
OVERALL GRADE – A-
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 1/16 WWE 205 Live Report: TJP vs. Gran Metalik, Goldust vs. Zo Train, plus Cedrick, Enzo, Gallagher