SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
FEBRUARY 6, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
KANSAS CITY, MO
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
-A recap video aired of last week’s historic announcement of the first ever 205 Live General Manager and the reveal of the 16-man cruiserweight tournament to crown a new WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
-From there, the show open ran and Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuiness welcomed everyone to the program. They quickly recapped the events of SmackDown Live and then highlighted the tournament matches that would be taking place on tonight’s show including Lince Dorado vs. Kalisto and Hideo Itami vs. Roderick Strong. Throughout the open, they highlighted how well Drake Maverick did last week in his first night as GM.
(1) KALISTO vs. LINCE DORADO
Kalisto made his way to the ring first and got a relatively nice pop due to the lucha chants. As he made his entrance, a selfie video from Instagram aired in which Kalisto outlined his quest to become the new cruiserweight champion. Kalisto told Dorado to let the best man win. Dorado hit the ring next and got a smaller pop compared to Kalisto. The match began with a stare down in the middle of the ring and then a handshake between two the two opponents who are also friends. From there, they circled and then locked up. Dorado got the first takedown, but Kalisto was quick to get back to his feet. Dorado then worked to kick Kalisto but Kalisto countered. After that, the two hit an array of lucha style moves including stereo dropkicks and kip ups. After the sequence, they starred each other down again as the crowd cheered. Kalisto further got the crowd going with lucha chants and then was back on offense. He hit a jumping clothesline and then some stiff kicks before connecting with a hurricanrana and a suicide dive through the ropes.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The fast paced nature of this match hooked the crowd from the very beginning. Both Lince Dorado and Kalisto looked very crisp with their offense and though a limited amount of selling was being done, the match didn’t suffer because of the speed they brought to the table.
Drake Maverick was shown backstage as Kalisto rolled Dorado back into the ring for the cover and two count. After the pin, Dorado finally got the upper hand with a stiff kick that sent Kalisto to the outside of the ring. From there, Dorado hit a flying somersault through the ropes and onto Kalisto. The crowd chanted “this is awesome.” On the outside, Dorado chopped Kalisto and then rolled him back into the ring for a cover of two. After the kickout, he covered again for two count and then locked in a rear chin lock. Kalisto got to his feet, but was tossed to the outside once again. Dorado followed and then aggressively pounded on Kalisto’s back. Dorado rolled Kalisto back into the ring again, but got a two count pin fall. After the pin, Dorado stuck with the submission holds and locked in a sleeper. The crowd clapped to get Kalisto up and out of the hold and Kalisto obliged. He worked to separate and did, but as he ran at Dorado, he was planted with a spinning face buster. Then, Dorado climbed the top rope to attempt a shooting star press, but Kalisto moved out of the way. He then connected with a kick to Dorado and climbed to the top rope himself. Dorado followed and punched Kalisto while on the top rope and scaled it with him. From there, Dorado then hit a super-ranna which the crowd really popped for and that both guys sold really well.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The audience loved that move and gave it a huge pop. One month ago, neither of these guys would have been getting any reaction in a match due to their characters living outside of their element. This match placed them right back into their element and where they belong.
Both Dorado and Kalisto were down after the move and Nigel highlighted the fact that Dorado could not follow-up on the high risk win. Both used each other to get to their feet and exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. After, they exchanged chops until Kalisto got the momentum with kicks followed by a spinning elbow attack. From there, he hit a basement-ranna. Out of that, Dorado was able to hook a rollup pin attempt for a two count. Dorado then scaled the top rope again and once again Kalisto followed. Dorado head-butted Kalisto and Kalisto returned the favor with a kick to head. Kalisto then climbed the top rope with Dorado in his arms and hit a top rope flipping pinfall attempt that Nigel McGuinness couldn’t name, but only got a two count. Again, both guys used each other to get to their feet. Kalisto got up first and got the crowd going. He went for his SDS but Dorado countered and pushed him into the corner. Kalisto bounced off the ring post and went for his rolling kick, but Dorado grabbed his leg for the reversal. Out of the reverse, Dorado hit the springboard stunner and followed with a shooting star press. As Dorado went for the cover, Kalisto rolled out of the ring which prevented Dorado’s opportunity to go for the win. Dorado then went to the outside to toss Kalisto back into the ring. As he went for the pin, Kalisto countered out of it and hit the SDS. As he went for the pin, the ref counted to three as Dorado grabbed the rope. Immediately, the ref called the count off and kept the match going.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The ref spot was an interesting call that was unnecessary. At that point in time, but guys had kicked out of big finisher-like moves to show they were evenly matched. This alone did the job to protect both guys. That spot was put in solely to convey that Kalisto was a mere seconds away from winning. That emotion was already noted and conveyed in a variety of ways. Adding the ref to it was overkill.
After the referee shenanigans, Kalisto quickly went for the SDS again, but Dorado countered it with a pinfall attempt for a two count. After the pin attempt, Dorado whipped Kalisto into the ropes but Kalisto countered and sent Dorado into them. From there, Kalisto hit a reverse hurricanrana and followed that with a second SDS for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Kalisto at 11:36
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very good match. Quick paced and everything a cruiserweight match should be. Both guys utilized some unique offense and the crowd was engaged throughout it. The ref spot wasn’t needed, but didn’t outright detract from the story of the match. The right guy went over here as well. Kalisto is a former champion and it makes perfect sense for him to be the guy that moves on in the tournament.
-As Kalisto was celebrating in the ring, Drake Maverick was shown backstage watching the action.
-Vic and Nigel cued up a hype video for Roderick Strong. This video aired in NXT many times before.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I could watch this hype video 1,000 times and be entertained each time. It’s a beautiful piece by the WWE and sets Strong’s character up perfectly.
-A commercial aired for next week’s fatal-four-way match on Raw for the final spot in the men’s Elimination Chamber match.
-A backstage selfie promo aired with Cedric Alexander and he said he is one step closer to becoming the cruiserweight champion after his win last week. As he was highlighting what he would do in round two, Mustafa Ali jumped up from behind him and jokingly said that he’ll need to watch out for an 054. Alexander responded to him by saying not to mess around or else he might feel the pain of a lumbar check
Heydorn’s Analysis: I liked Ali here, but Alexander just didn’t pull it off well. Ali appeared natural in joking with his friend, but with Alexander it looked forced. That is a theme with him and his personality. In the ring, he’s flawless, but he’s forcing his personality too much. Yes, he needs to find that personality, but it needs to be in a more natural way.
-From there, TJP cut a promo backstage. He checked Twitter and read some negative comments from fans on how he won his first round match last week. He then said it sucked to dedicate 20 years of life to something only to get booed for succeeding. He said that in the CWC, he lived and died on the fact that he gave fans something to believe in. He then said he needs to ignore that and he did what he had to do to win. He said that this time he isn’t doing it for the fans, but doing it for himself.
Heydorn’s Analysis: So this is what a true heel promo looks like huh? Nice work from TJP. He owned his cheating ways from last week and blamed those ways on the fans. Heel 101 and it worked. Sometimes simple is best and that couldn’t be more true here.
-The broadcast was tossed back to ringside and Nigel and Vic promoted next week’s first round match-up between Akira Tozawa and Mark Andrews. From there, a hype video aired highlighting Mark Andrews and his path to the WWE.
-A backstage selfie promo aired from Akira Tozawa. He said that next week he’ll face Mark Andrews and that he is a good talent, but he can’t beat him. He asked a stagehand who would win and as the guy answered “Mark Andrews”, Tozawa interrupted him by saying that was incorrect and that he would win. He then told the stagehand that after his victory next week, he’d tell him “You’re Fired.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not sure I get this. It’s shades of the old 205 Live and does Tozawa a disservice as he looks like a comedic goofball instead of a serious competitor that wants to win a title.
-Hideo Itami was shown backstage warming up and the camera cut to Roderick Strong who was doing the same thing
-A commercial aired for NXT that highlighted this week’s NXT tag title match between Sanity and the Undisputed Era.
-Out of the commercial, Drake Maverick was shown backstage. Drew Gulak and Tony Nese walked in and immediately Gulak wondered if Maverick wanted to discuss his plans for a better 205 Live. Maverick said kind of and then asked Gulak what happened to him. He said he used to be the most rugged grappler on the show. He then said now all he sees is PowerPoint presentations. From there, he asked him when he became such a goof. Nese laughed and Maverick called him out as well. He told them both they have the most wasted potential. Maverick then said that that train is over and announced that Nese and Gulak would go one on one next week in the first round of the tournament. The segment ended with Maverick asking Gulak and Nese who would step up and threw them both out of his office.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great segment for Maverick. He looked like the boss and commanded the screen like a boss. The guy really knows how to work a mic and conveyed legitimacy with every word that he said. Maverick has that “it” factor and showed it in this segment.
(2) HIDEO ITAMI vs. RODERICK STRONG
Itami hit the ring first to a small but noticeable reaction. As he made his way down the ramp, a backstage promo by Itami aired in which he said that Roderick Strong is a great cruiserweight, but that this is his tournament. He said that Strong doesn’t belong on his show and that he would be the one going to WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Itami needs to work on his promos. Yikes was that bad. The entire thing was too choppy and not delivered with any real emotion. If he’s going to maintain his presence on the main roster and realize the potential he still has left, he needs to up his game in the promo arena.
Roderick Strong was up next and got a better pop from the audience than Itami did. The bell rang and the match began with the crowd chanting Roddy. The two locked up and Itami locked in a head scissors to start things off. Strong worked to escape and finally did by bending Itami with a modified bow and arrow submission. Itami broke the hold with a pin attempt and the two locked up again. Itami got the upperhand again with a wristlock, but Strong eventually countered with one of his own. Itami kipped up to escape and taunted a bit with some hand motions. Then, both guys tied up again and this time Strong got the momentum. Itami tossed Strong into the ropes and then locked in a headlock.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I love the smooth and steady pace that they are going with. Not too slow and not too fast, but just right. This was a smart psychology decision given the fact that 15 minutes earlier, the crowd already watched a match with flipping and flying. This setup is a way to counter that while being different and entertaining.
The crowd clapped for Strong who escaped the hold and then whipped Itami into the ropes. Out of that, Itami connected with a shoulder tackle but Strong got up and connected with his own dropkick on Itami who had hit the ropes again. Strong covered, but only got a two count. Strong then continued his offense with loud chops and then attempted a running splash. Itami countered and then lit Strong up with kicks and a flying knee to the back of the neck from the second rope. Itami covered, but only received a two count. From there, Itami picked Strong up, whipped him into the ropes, and connected with a knee to the gut. Then, Itami struck Strong with strikes. Itami gloated a bit and then continued his striking assault on Strong in the corner. From there, Itami lifted Strong up and attempted a tornado DDT, but Strong countered with a gut buster. He then went for a cover, but got a two count. Out of the pin, Strong stomped Itami and continued to chop him. From there, he bashed Itami’s face into the ring post and then again connected with a chop. Strong suplexed Itami and covered, but only received a two count. After the pin, he locked in a sitting stretch submission. Itami punched his way out, but Strong held on and connected with a pump handle back breaker. Again, Strong covered, but only received a two count. With Itami dazed, Strong talked trash and told him to get up. As he did, Strong punched him in the face and the two exchanged punches and forearms in the middle of the ring. Itami then ran at Strong, but Strong was waiting with a stiff dropkick to the face. Strong covered, but got a two count. Right after, Strong kept up the ground game with a stretch submission again. The crowd clapped to get Itami out and he tried hard as they did so. Eventually, he hit Strong with an inverted atomic drop nd as Strong ran at him, he moved which sent Strong into the ropes. Itami capitalized with a DDT and then connected with a series of strikes and clotheslines. Itami then hit a fisherman suplex and followed with a boot to the face. From there, he hit a top rope clothesline and covered for a two count. Out of the pin, he hit strikes, but Strong countered with a boot to the face and a version of the angle slam. He covered, but Itami kicked out a two. Strong appeared frustrated after that pin attempt, but quickly went to Itami who was on the ring apron. They exchanged punches out there until Itami kicked Strong off the ring apron and to the floor. Itami went for another kick, but Strong caught the leg. They were then both on the floor where they proceeded exchange chops and strikes once again. From there, Strong was able to lift Itami up and smash him into the apron.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Strong’s chops are just out of this world loud. The guy could throw a good chop since his early days in Ring Of Honor. It’s nice to see him utilize that big move on the big WWE stage. The crowd certainly enjoys seeing it.
Strong then rolled Itami into the ring and went for the cover, but Itami kicked out again at two. Strong kept the pressure on and as he went for another back breaker, Itami countered. Strong connected with more chops, but Itami lifted him for a vertical suplex. Itami then covered for a two count. From there, Itami went for a jumping knee, but Strong caught him and tried for a Boston crab stronghold submission. Itami escaped and the two exchanged punches again. Out of that sequence, Itami hit his new Rings Of Saturn submission finisher, but Strong got to the ropes quickly. As Strong rose to his feet, Itami kicked him and then hit the jumping knee. He covered, but just got a count of two. After, Itami worked to hit a reverse DDT, but Strong countered with a gut buster. He followed with a knee to the face and a cloud nine. Strong covered, but got a two count again. After the pin, Strong lifted Itami to the top rope as the crowd chanted “this is awesome.” Itami was able to escape from the top and then kicked Strong who was now there alone. Then, Itami scaled it to meet him and connected with a top rope super falcon arrow. He then covered, but only for a count of two. Both men were down in the middle of the ring and punched each other as they got to their feet. Itami landed the bigger right hand, dodged a knee, and connected with a spinning back fist. He then hit his jumping basement dropkick in the corner before going for a reverse DDT. Strong countered, connected with his own jumping knee, and then landed his End Of Heartache back breaker for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Strong at 17:04
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another good match. Is it a classic? No. It’s not even better than the Bate/TJP match from last week. That said, Itami and Strong took a different take on cruiserweight wrestling. Instead of the high flying, they went for high impact and intensity. I like the call and had more been on the line in this match or if it took place later in the tournament, it would have gotten a better response.
-The show ended with Strong celebrating his victory in the ring and Vic Joseph promoting next week’s first round matches as the program faded to black.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Clearly, we are in a totally new era of 205 Live. I’m not a fan of the “this is awesome” chants, but the last four matches on 205 Live all got them. That couldn’t be said a month ago and is a significant development. This show was 100% focused around wrestling and wrestling alone. Backstage segments and selfie promos were utilized and featured, but only as a means to convey messaging of wrestlers that detailed their mission to win the cruiserweight tournament. This format is working. It allows these cruiserweights to do what they do best which is having good matches. Week two of Drake Maverick as GM was a hit and Rockstar Spud looks like a rock star in his new role. They are onto something with this format and it will be intriguing to see how far they go with it in the coming weeks.
OVERALL GRADE – B
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 1/30 WWE 205 Live Report: Rockstar Spud debuts as new G.M. with a new name, 16-man tournament announced for vacated Cruiserweight Title