WWE 205 LIVE
FEBRUARY 13, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
-A recap video aired of last week’s WWE Cruiserweight Championship tournament action including highlights from Lince Dorado vs. Kalisto and Hideo Itami vs. Roderick Strong.
-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 Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese and Akira Tozawa vs. Mark Andrews. Nigel went deep on Gulak and Nese by detailing the words that General Manager, Drake Maverick, had for them both on last week’s show.
(1) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. MARK ANDREWS
Tozawa hit the ring first and initially got no response from the audience. During his entrance he started the war chant which livened them up. From there, the broadcast cut backstage where Mark Andrews was being interviewed before his entrance. Andrews said that he was excited because people all around the world have been talking about the tournament. He said that the tournament gives him the chance to stage dive all the way to WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down Mr. Andrews. That promo was executed and delivered way to fast. So much so that it was hard to understand and certainly hard to get behind. I like the idea of a quick promo before heading down to the ring for a match, but it needs to be effective. Andrews rushed through it and negated its significance to the match.
Andrews made his to the ring next and popped the crowd a bit due to his entrance song. Nigel went into great detail on the history of Andrews as he made his way to the ring. The match began with Tozawa working the war chant from the audience. From there, the two circled and then wrapped up in the middle of the ring. Andrews took Tozawa down with a headlock that was quickly countered in to a one count pin attempt by Tozawa. After both stood back up, Andrews locked in an ankle lock submission. As he did this Drake Maverick was shown backstage watching the action. Back in the ring, Andrews kept the focus and attention on the ankle and leg of Tozawa. Tozawa got to his feet and was able to reverse the move into an arm submission of his own. The crowd was very dead throughout this segment of the match and began chanting boring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I’m a fan of submission wrestling, but not all wrestlers have the clout with the audience to pull it off properly. Tozawa and Andrews appear to be guys that don’t as the crowd was chanting boring through most of it. Look, I appreciate their attempt, but they gave themselves too much credit in terms of how the crowd would appreciate them. Tozawa and Andrews needed to come out fast and furious to hook the crowd first.
Andrews eventually escaped the hold and was able to lock in a deep octopus stretch. After, he picked up the pace and connected with a couple clotheslines. Tozawa returned the favor and landed strikes before Andrews connected with a dropkick. Andrews went for the pin but only received a two count. Both Tozawa and Andrews were quick to their feet and proceed to exchange chops to the chest. After 5 in a row, Tozawa switched it up and landed a jab to the face. This rocked Andrews and gave Tozawa the momentum of the match. He connected with more strikes and then a series of stomps in the corner. From there, he locked in a armbar and followed that hold up with more stomps after Andrews escaped. After the escape, Tozawa followed him to the corner and connected with chops and axe handle smashes. This sent Andrews down to the mat which allowed Tozawa to lock in his armbar submission again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More boos from the audience. Change it up fellas! The submission story just isn’t working.
Andrews got to his feet to escape the hold and threw a series of punches at Tozawa to attempt to gain momentum. From there, Andrews finally connected with some significant offense with a 619 and top rope splash. Andrews covered after but only received a count of two. As soon as Tozawa kicked out, Andrews went to work with submissions again by locking in an Indian deathlock. Andrews transitioned out of that hold and into another octopus stretch maneuver. After being in the hold for just seconds, Tozawa escaped and got the momentum back with a hurricanrana followed by a shining wizard. From there, he climbed to the top rope and went for his signature bomb finish before Andrews rolled out of the ring. Instead, Tozawa hit Andrews with a dive and rolled him back into the ring for a two count cover. After the pin attempt, Tozawa dragged Andrews to the corner and again tried for his bomb finish. Andrews moved again and capitalized on Tozawa’s miss with a northern lights suplex and a corkscrew splash. From there he covered, but just for a two count. Out of the pin, Andrews went for more submission moves but Tozawa countered with a backdrop driver. Tozawa then went for a pin, but only received a count of two. Both men were slow to get up with Tozawa making it first. He lifted Andrews up and hit him with a series of forearms to the face. He then yelled and got kicked twice in the head. Tozawa then kicked Andrews in the head. Out of that move, Tozawa attempted a tornado DDT, but Andrews countered into a slum dog millionaire stunner. Andrews then covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Andrews hoisted Tozawa to the tope rope and tried for a super hurricanrana. Tozawa countered initially, but Andrews forced the moved which sent Tozawa crashing to the mat. Andrews covered, but just got a two count. Andrews then climbed the ropes himself and went for a shooting star press. Tozawa rolled out of the way and Andrews landed on his feet but was then clocked with a kick to the face. Tozawa went for the cover, but Andrews used his own momentum against him to move Tozawa into his own pin which netted him the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Andrews at 12:28
Heydorn’s Analysis: After a shockingly slow start to the match, it finished on a high note. Clearly, many people in the arena didn’t make it to that high note because Andrews and Tozawa missed the boat early with their submission clinic. If this exact match was performed by two guys who were more over with the audience, it would have gone over much better. These two just simply don’t have enough equity built up to go and have the match that they did. On a different note, this is the second quick pin they did in the tournament. Crossing my fingers that that doesn’t become a go to finish for other rounds in this thing.
-Backstage, Jack Gallagher was interviewed. Regarding his tournament match next week against Mustafa Ali, Gallagher said he was excited before being interrupted by Drake Maverick. Maverick told Gallagher he had a nice suit and asked him if he thought that was proper attire for the cruiserweight division. Maverick then told him straight up that it wasn’t appropriate. From there, he told Gallagher that next week in his match he expects Gallagher to show up wearing wrestling attire. He said that Gallagher was one of the best talents they have on the brand, but that he needs to sort himself out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another really nice promo from Maverick. He establishes himself with these short promos and is able to convey the notion of what he says goes on 205 Live. I like these a lot and hope they keep them up in order to further solidify Maverick as the boss on the show.
-A commercial aired for this week’s NXT episode which features Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship
-After the commercial break Nigel and Vic were shown discussing Andrews winning his first round match. They then announced a new first round match for next week pitting Buddy Murphy against Ariya Daivari. They then cued a hype video package for Buddy Murphy.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Interesting move here to include Murphy in the tournament. He’s a bit of an out of left field choice, but I like the fact that they gave him proper hype and promotion. Showing him cut weight was nice touch and a sports like approach which was effective.
-Drew Gulak was shown warming up backstage and looked incredibly serious in doing so. From there, Nese was shown as well, except he was checking out his abs.
-A commercial aired for the Elimination Chamber on February 25th.
(2) DREW GULAK vs. TONY NESE
Drew Gulak made his way to the ring first and looked incredibly focused. He didn’t address the audience at all and was very serious in his demeanor. The crowd was dead for his entrance. Nese came out next and worked through his typical entrance in which he talked to the camera and counted his abs.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Gulak and Nese’s entrances alone were a contrast in listening to their GM. Gulak seemed to take Maverick’s words from last week seriously and appeared focused while Nese was still doing his ab gimmick.
Nese didn’t get much of a reaction either. The match started with Gulak attempting to shake the hand of Nese. Nese kicked it away in anger which the crowd booed. From there, they locked up. Quickly after the first lock up, Nese dropped to one knee to do his pose. The two circled again and tied up with Gulak gaining the early upper hand. He took Nese down with a chin lock and avoided letting Nese escape. Eventually, Nese was able to grab the leg of Gulak for a single leg takedown. Nese kept up the punishment on the leg, but Gulak worked to ease pressure by going for a pin attempt. He got a one count and then both got to their feet. From there, they whipped each other into the ropes and Gulak connected with a knee to the chest. Gulak then whipped Nese the other way and Nese countered by back flipping off the top rope. Nese then connected with a blow to Gulak and went for a cover, but only received a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Nese secured a full nelson-esque submission. Gulak rolled Nese into a pin and got a two count which broke the hold. After the pin, they went to the outside of the ring. Out there, Nese planted Gulak with a forearm shot and attempted to head back into the ring. Gulak stopped him and connected with a belly to back suplex on the outside mats. Gulak then rolled into the ring and Nese was almost counted out with the ref getting to an eight count. After the roll-in, Gulak went for a cover, but got a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Gulak stomped Nese in the corner and then went right into a left arm submission.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Gulak built on the seriousness of his entrance within the match. He appeared focused and more aggressive than he has in months. Given that Nigel and Vic continuously pointed that aggressiveness out on commentary, it’s an important story to monitor going forward.
Nese got to his feet and punched Gulak in the stomach to break the hold. From there, he connected with a running stand up splash that put Gulak down to the mat. Both men were down after the move and got up at the same time. They exchanged punches before Nese hit a running boot and a spinning heel kick. He then connected with a flying clothesline. After, Nese went for the pin, but Gulak kicked out at two. After the pin, Nese attempted to lock in another submission, but Gulak hit him with an elbow. Gulak worked to get momentum, but Nese countered. From there, Gulak attempted a mount but Nese countered that too. Out of the counter, Nese lifted Gulak up into the air and connected with a chest buster. He then went for the pin, but only got a two count. After, Nese appeared frustrated as he ran into the ropes to attempt a big offensive move. Instead of hitting it, Gulak countered and hit a dropkick.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Is that considered high flying? Vic Joseph certainly thought so and pointed it out five times. Now, not only is Drew Gulak acting more serious, but he may be taking on an entirely new gimmick throughout the coming weeks as he makes his way further into the tournament.
After the dropkick, Gulak connected with a German suplex followed by a pin attempt in which he got a count of two. From there, he worked to stay on Nese, but Nese connected with forearms to the face. He then hit a series of kicks to head and chest. Nese yelled at Gulak throughout this and as he got in his face, Gulak grabbed Nese’s beard and slapped him multiple times. He then lifted Nese up for and electric chair drop and pinned him with a bridge for a two count. After the pin, Gulak locked in a guillotine submission with a scissor hold on the body. Nese worked to reach his arm to the rope, but was stopped by Gulak. Instead, Nese lifted Gulak over the ropes which broke the hold. This sent Gulak to the outside of the ring and Nese capitalized with a flying and flipping dive. From there, Nese rolled Gulak back into the ring and went for a 450 splash, but Gulak rolled out of the way. This sent Nese crashing to the mat. Both men were down again, but Nese was able to get to his feet first. He proceeded to connect with a pump handle driver. After, Nese covered for a count of two. Both men were slow to get up again and again they did it at the same time. They then exchanged strikes before Nese slammed Gulak’s face on the turnbuckle. Out of this, Nese went for a cover and then deadlifted Gulak into the air and tossed him into a second turnbuckle. Nese appeared exhausted after the move and couldn’t go for the pin fall. Instead, he moved toward his opponent and went for a running knee, but Gulak rolled out of the ring to avoid it. Nese followed and destroyed Gulak with slaps and punches. He then rolled Gulak back into the ring. As Gulak rolled in he had a manically aggressive look on his face which prompted him to run into Nese who was following him. This sent Nese flying into the announce tables at ringside. After, Gulak rolled out of the ring to grab Nese and throw him into the announce table for a second time. He then did it a third time before rolling Nese back into the ring. In the ring, Nese was turned inside out by a Gulak clothesline. Instead of going for the pin, Gulak power bombed Nese two times in a row. Gulak then yelled and Joseph said that he snapped. After, Gulak locked in his dragon sleeper which prompted the referee to call for the bell and give the win to Drew Gulak.
WINNER: Gulak at 16:10
Heydorn’s Analysis: This match wasn’t a four star match like last week’s main event. That said, it had some nice spots, but I really liked the story and character development of Drew Gulak within the match. The match showed that he took Drake Maverick’s words seriously and it helped him win. This has to be the beginning of a babyface turn for Gulak as well. As for Nese, he was simply a prop for Gulak to utilize in order to tell his transformation story. Drew Gulak was one of the only guys who got semi over organically on 205 Live. He has skills and this newfound seriousness will allow the WWE to place him in higher profiled spots that aren’t centered around comedic relief.
-The show ended with Gulak holding up the WWE Cruiserweight Championship and Vic Joseph promoting the final first round matches which will take place next week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was yet another episode that solely revolved around and focused on the in-ring action of the cruiserweight championship tournament. That is three weeks in a row which now makes this format the new normal. Every element of the show from backstage promos, hype videos, and interviews are done to promote the matches and the in-ring product. Even though this format is in its infancy, I believe it can grow the 205 Live brand into something watchable. That said, as a whole, tonight’s matches were underwhelming in terms of star power an execution. Akira Tozawa, Mark Andrews, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese just don’t have the same clout as Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami. I did like what they did with Gulak’s victory. The guy has tremendous in-ring skills that were overshadowed by dorky character traits in the previous era of the show. Tonight he shredded that image and set himself up for big things down the road that are above the filler spots that he’s used to.
OVERALL GRADE – B-
NOW CHEK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 2/6 WWE 205 Live Report: Roderick Strong debuts vs. HIdeo Itami, Mark Andrews video, Kalisto vs. Dorado