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WWE 205 LIVE
FEBRUARY 20, 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 Mark Andrews vs. Akira Tozawa and Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese. In addition, promo videos aired for tonight’s matches including Mustafa Ali vs. Jack Gallagher and Buddy Murphy vs. Ariya Daivari.
-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 further highlighted the final round one tournament matches that would be taking place on tonight’s show.
(1) ARIYA DAIVARI vs. BUDDY MURPHY
Daivari made his way to the ring first to a nothing response from the audience. The announcers played up his privileged gimmick and as he made his way to the ring a taped promo aired. In it Daivari questioned Buddy Murphy’s weight cut to 205 pounds. He said that this wasn’t the Biggest Loser competition and that Murphy wouldn’t steal his WrestleMania moment of winning the cruiserweight title. Murphy hit the ring next and got a relatively good sized pop from the audience. Murphy looked like a million bucks and walked to the ring with a purpose. As he made his way to the ring, a video aired of him doing his weekly 205 pound weigh-in.
Heydorn’s Analysis: They weigh-in weekly now? Good to know. This is a detail that I thought the show should have used for a while as it can serve as a baseline story whenever someone needs it. If they brought it up in a way that was out of nowhere, I’d be a little critical, but because it was in conjunction with the Murphy character and this new era of 205 Live, the timing is perfect for it and I’m glad its cleared up.
The match began with a quick tie up and shoulder tackle from Murphy on Daivari. Daivari then locked in a quick headlock but was pushed to the corner. From there, Murphy connected with another shoulder tackle. He then connected with a hurricanrana which sent Daivari to the outside of the ring. Murphy sprinted to the outside to get him and attempted to toss him back into the ring. Daivari dodged it and was able to plant Murphy with a sidewalk slam on the ring apron. With Murphy stunned, Daivari pushed him into the steel steps. After, Daivari rolled Murphy into the ring and got a one count cover. From there, he lifted Murphy up to his feet and connected with a handful of chops to the chest before whipping him into the corner. Daivari got some nice heat out of this and a mini Murphy chanted began in the audience. After more chops in the corner, Daivari gave Murphy a hip toss into the ring post before covering for a two count. Out of the pin attempt, he locked in a chin lock. The audience was on Murphy’s side and cheered him on as he worked to escape the hold.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Six months ago, who would have thought Buddy Murphy would be getting cheers and chants on WWE programming? This is Murphy’s moment and he’s running with it.
Murphy slowly got to his feet and connected with a chin breaker to escape the hold. That stunned Daivari who attempted to lock the hold in again but was hit with a kick to the face by Murphy. From there, Murphy got into the groove by connecting with a top rope dropkick and a variety of clotheslines before a kip up. From there, he ran at Daivari and connected with a second kick to the face. After, he went to the top rope for a high risk move before Daivari rolled to the outside of the ring again. Instead, Murphy hit a flipping senton bomb to Daivari on the outside. He immediately rolled Daivari back into the ring and hit a double knee stomp from the top rope before going for a cover and a two count. Out of the cover, Daivari laid in some strikes and after a stiff forearm, went to the top rope for his lion splash. He connected and covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Daivari connected with a major clothesline and hammerlock lariat. Once again, Daivari covered, but only received a two count. At this point, the audience was fully on Murphy’s side. From there, Daivari lifted Murphy up and Murphy countered with strikes including a massive knee to the face and a very impactful twisting pump handle slam. After, he covered for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Murphy at 7:46
Heydorn’s Analysis: Move to move and hold to hold this match wasn’t anything special or out of the ordinary. However, it did an incredible job of showcasing Buddy Murphy to the 205 Live audience. He had really nice spots with big moves and came out looking fantastic. The crowd was cheering him as well. Clearly there is something there with Murphy and it will be exciting to watch that something unfold as the cruiserweight championship tournament continues on.
-After the match, Nigel talked up the 205 Live newcomers and commended Drake Maverick on finding great talent for the brand. The announce team then kicked the broadcast backstage to 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick. Maverick said that as the first round of the tournament comes to a close, he was proud to present the quarterfinal bracket. From there he highlighted the bracket and analyzed the quarterfinal round including Roderick Strong vs. Kalisto and TJP vs. Cedric Alexander next week. As he finished, TJP and Cedric Alexander walked into the shot and TJP talked down to Alexander. He said that in case he hasn’t been paying attention for the last two years, this quarterfinal round is where Alexander falls short. Alexander countered by saying that TJP’s dirty tactics won’t save him. He said that TJP was standing between him and WrestleMania and because of that he wouldn’t hesitate to put him in a back brace.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Finally we get to see an actual bracket. As Maverick read Roderick Strong’s name the crowd cheered loudly for him. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t have as big of a reaction for Cedric Alexander.
-A commercial aired for Sunday’s Elimination Chamber event and Nigel gave special thanks to Will Roush for providing the soundtrack to the Elimination Chamber event.
(2) GRAN METALIK & LINCE DORADO vs. EVAN DANIELS & HORAZON DEGADO
Metalik and Dorado made their way to the ring first to a good reaction thanks to Kalisto’s music calling for the lucha chants. During the entrance, Kalisto was filmed talking with the announce team and the announce team relayed that Kalisto told his quarterfinal opponent, Roderick Strong, that speed kills. From there, the tag match began. Dorado started things off against Daniels and took Daniels down with ease. He then lifted Daniels up and locked in a head lock. Daniels pushed him into the ropes, but Dorado countered with a dropkick and hurricanrana. From there, Dorado hit a standing moonsault before locking in an armbar. Out of the armbar, Daniels connected with a forearm to the face before tagging in Degado. At the same time, Dorado was able to secure a tag to Metalik who maintain momentum against his opponent. He connected with a flap jack and a flying clothesline from the second rope. After, Metalik was distracted by Daniels at ringside which allowed for Degado to get the upper hand. Daniels then tagged into the match and taunted the crowd with his own slow lucha chant. Daniels then tossed Metalik into the ropes and Metalik countered with a dropkick. This allowed for Metalik to make the hot tag to Dorado. Dorado came into the match on fire and connected with an X-factor on Degado which he followed with a splash from the top rope. He went for a cover, bu it was broken up by Daniels at two. Out of that, Dorado connected with a double springboard stunner, and then Metalik along with Dorado connected with stereo suicide dives. From there, Dorado landed a shooting star press off the top rope for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Metalik & Dorado
Heydorn’s Analysis: This felt a little out of place. It wasn’t bad or anything, but on a show that never features squash matches, to have this in now within the tournament action felt off. That said, the match was fine for what it was and the lucha group is pretty over on the 205 Live scale.
-Backstage, Drew Gulak was featured on a “selfie promo” in which he acknowledged that people had told him he may have went too far in first round tournament match against Tony Nese from last week. He said that winners don’t go too far and that only losers say that to make themselves feel better. From there he addressed his quarterfinal opponent and said that for as good as Mark Andrews is he’s all flash. He said that none of that flash would help when he is on the ground tapping out.
-Mark Andrews was then featured on a “selfie promo” as well. He said that he’s psyched about advancing in the tournament but not psyched about what Gulak had to say about him. He then said that if Gulak wants to put him in a no fly zone, he’ll be happy to fly his way into WrestleMania instead.
-Mustafa Ali and Jack Gallagher were shown warming up backstage for their main event match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I love the sports like feel of backstage warm-up shots. It makes the upcoming match feel bigger and more important.
-A commercial aired for Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas this week on NXT.
(3) JACK GALLAGHER vs. MUSTAFA ALI
Gallagher made his way to the ring first and was wearing his wrestling ring attire per last week’s demand by Drake Maverick. Gallagher received a nice response from the crowd on the 205 Live scale. Ali hit the ring next to another nice pop from the crowd. Ali looked very focused and felt like a relatively big star as he made his way down the ramp. The match began with Gallagher and Ali circling each other in the ring. Gallagher kick started the action by backing Ali into the ropes. The two then stared each other down as Gallagher backed off. From there, Ali and Gallagher locked up again and traded wrist holds. Finally, Gallagher took Ali down and worked over Ali’s wrist and elbow. From there, Ali was able to make his way to his feet and then reverse the hold before Gallagher took him down again with a similar move.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very slow pace to start, but the reversing of the holds is mesmerizing due to the effectiveness at which Gallagher executes them. Ali’s sell job within the holds undoubtedly brings the audience in as well. It’s slow, but it’s interesting.
As Gallagher kept the hold locked in, Buddy Murphy was shown watching the action backstage. Ali kipped up to escape the hold but was immediately sent back down to the mat. Gallagher then locked in a headlock before giving Ali a shoulder tackle. Ali got back up quick but was immediately knocked back down with an atomic drop that forced pressure on Ali’s arm. Out of that, Gallagher backed up and allowed Ali up. From there, Ali locked in a headlock on Gallagher for his first offense of the night. Out of the headlock, Ali worked to quicken the pace with a rope run before locking in a half crab submission of his own. Gallagher escaped and did his headstand in the corner. Ali took the bait and charged in on Gallagher. Gallagher moved and then the two ran the ropes with Ali flipping out of Gallagher’s grasp. From there, Gallagher went for a rollup pin but got a two count. Out of that, Ali and Gallagher exchanged a series of ten plus pin attempts for two counts.Heydorn’s Analysis: Nine times out of ten I would say that a crazy pin fest is unnecessary. In this case, it made a lot of sense as most of the match thus far has been reversals. This spot built off of those previous reversals spots. It clicked nicely and the audience responded with “we love wrestling” chants.
After the pin series, they locked up again and Gallagher backed Ali into the corner. From there, Ali pushed Gallagher out of the way and Gallagher countered back with strikes. Ali caught the leg and then nailed an enziguri. From there, Ali went for a high flying move to the outside, but Gallagher used the ring apron to his advantage by trapping Ali in it and beating him down with fists to the back. After, Gallagher went into the ring and the ref started the count. Ali made it back in at seven before Gallagher crushed him with a forearm to the face. He then went for a pin, but got a two count. After the pin, Gallagher connected with a snap suplex and two elbow drops.
Heydorn’s Analysis: And here come the Rusev Day chants. Gallagher and Ali had the audience, but lost them. Hard to pinpoint where exactly as the action has been solid, but something clearly isn’t connecting and the crowd seems restless.
Out of the elbow drops, Gallagher attempted a pin but got at two count. From there, Gallagher lifted Ali to his feet and then sent him into the ropes. Ali countered with a standing dropkick followed by a kick to the chest. He then connected with a hurricanrana to take Gallagher down to the mat. He then covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Ali connected with a rolling facebuster before scaling the top rope. As he got up, Gallagher punched Ali which made him lose his balance. From there, Gallagher climbed up with Ali and then jumped off while slamming Ali’s arm into the ring post. After, he immediately crushed Ali’s arm into a second post. After that, Gallagher went for the pin, but got a two count. Ali sold his arm injury after the pin attempt and the selling got even better as Gallagher locked in a shoulder submission to make the pain even worse.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ali’s selling during the assault on the arm is priceless. It’s making the match and setting a storyline in place which he may or may not be able to overcome in the end. His facial expression and well timed screams are perfect.
From there, Gallagher stalked Ali and was relentless in working over his arm. He did this with a hammerlock slam and a variety of submission holds that included two count covers. Ali was able to escape the hold and send Gallagher flying to the outside of the ring. After, the one armed Ali attempted a corkscrew dive, but couldn’t get full rotation because of his arm injury. This caused him to crash to the mat instead of on top of Gallagher who moved out of the way. From there, Gallagher rolled into the ring and the ref counted once again for Ali. He made it back in at the count of nine, but was met with immediate strikes and offense from Gallagher. Gallagher backed him into the corner which Ali countered with a kick to the midsection. Ali then hit a splash on Gallagher which Gallagher transitioned into an armbar with full pressure on the Ali’s injured arm and shoulder. Ali escaped and went for another high risk move, but was put into the same arm submission again. After writhing in pain, Ali finally made it to the ropes. After the rope break. Ali rolled to the apron and worked to climb the top rope. Gallagher met him there and locked in his arm bar on the top rope. Ali was able to escape which sent Gallagher down to the mat. From there, Gallagher ran and dropkicked Ali off the turnbuckle causing him to crash full speed into the guardrail. After the scary bump, Gallagher kept up the attack by slamming Ali into the barrier on the outside. From there, Gallagher rolled Ali back into the ring and continued his assault on the arm.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ouch. That bump had to hurt and on top of that it was dangerous. That said, it fully refocused the audience on the match and made the crowd extremely sympathetic towards Ali. In true master heel fashion, Gallagher exploited that sympathy by attacking him as the ref was checking on him. Brilliant work all around and a job well done as the crowd is now buying the match once again.
From there, Gallagher went for a pin attempt, but Ali kicked out a two. Out of the pin Gallagher transitioned to another arm bar and then laid in a series of elbows to Ali’s arm and neck. Again, Gallagher went for the pin, but just got the two count. After, Gallagher lifted Ali to his feet and propped him up on the top rope. Gallagher followed up and went for a back suplex. Ali landed on his feet and super kicked Gallagher in the face. From there, he hit his rotating tornado DDT and then his 054 inverted 450 splash for the 1,2,3 victory.
WINNER: Ali at 17:08
Heydorn’s Analysis: I really enjoyed this match. It had an easy story to understand but was told in a meaningful way. The selling was tremendous as was the heel work by Gallagher. The finish came a bit out of the blue for me, but I see that as personal preference type of point. All in, it was a great way to end round one of the tournament.
-The show ended with Mustafa Ali celebrating in the ring and Vic Joseph highlighting the tournament bracket while promoting the quarterfinal matches next week that will feature TJP vs. Cedric Alexander and Roderick Strong vs. Kalisto.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A wrestling heavy show once again. Clearly they are doubling down on the wrestling nature of the brand and it’s working. The main event between Jack Gallagher and Mustafa Ali wasn’t true to the cruiserweight formula as it involved many submission holds and less high flying, but it was a true wrestling match in every sense of the word that featured a story and psychology from the wrestlers. Gallagher showed a relentlessness to him that is hard not to buy and Ali played into that and sold well. Like previous tournament matches, this one is worth going out of your way to see. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but for as good as the main event was, the star of the show was Buddy Murphy. He looked like a million bucks and brought a new intensity to the show and tournament. In addition, he delivered some really cool moves and spots in the ring including a fantastic looking finisher.
OVERALL GRADE – B+
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 2/13 WWE 205 Live Report: Tozawa vs. Mark Andrews with a shockingly slow start, Nese vs. Gulak, another show focused on wrestling