3/27 WWE 205 Live Report: Alexander and Ali face-off ahead of WrestleMania, Murphy shines in fatal four-way main event

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

WWE 205 LIVE
MARCH 27, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
PITTSBURGH, PA
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness

-The show began with a pre-produced video package highlighting the combatants for tonight’s fatal four-way main event match. The video featured, Akira Tozawa, Kalisto, TJP, and Buddy Murphy cutting brief promos within the larger package that told the audience why they would be winning the match.

-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 that the tournament final was set and that the world would be hearing from the finalists tonight on the show. Joseph then introduced 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick, who was sitting at the commentary table. Maverick said that the fatal four-way match later in the show wasn’t designed for the stars to impress him, but for them to impress the WWE Universe. He finished and said that the best cruiserweight competition in the world takes place on 205 Live.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Maverick continues to be a shining light on this show. His straightforward boss-like presentation is refreshing and gives the show credibility. 

(1) MARK ANDREWS vs. TONY NESE

Andrews hit the ring first to a very small response from the audience. He was full of energy as he did his entrance and on commentary, Maverick told the world that he regularly scours the entire world for potential 205 Live talent. He said he didn’t have to look far to find someone like Andrews. From there, Maverick went on to say that Andrews came to him to request a match with Drew Gulak so he could get some retribution from when Gulak cheap-shotted him at the end of their tournament match a few weeks back.

Tony Nese made his entrance next and counted his abs as usual. As Nese made his way to the ring, the commentary team talked about his beef with Drew Gulak as well and said he too asked for a match. Maverick then chimed in and said that in the spirit of competition he set this match up with the winner potentially getting a shot a Drew Gulak in the future.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Maverick gave this match purpose by revealing that both guys wanted a shot at Gulak and to get it, they had to win. Prior to Maverick and the relaunch, the show was riddled with pointless matches. Maverick ending that practice is a smart move because it will naturally lead to better storylines and characters that aren’t defined down to a filler role. 

The match started with a tie up in the middle of the ring. Out of the grapple, Nese easily pushed Andrews to the mat. They tied up again after and this time, Andrews was able to get the upper hand with a headlock take down. As the action took place, Maverick detailed how excited he was about the cruiserweight championship tournament final at WrestleMania. Eventually, Nese escaped the hold and connected with a round of clotheslines on Andrews. From there, Andrews caught Nese with an arm drag takedown. The takedown was short lived as Nese backed his opponent into the corner. From there, Nese attempted a moonsault and missed when Andrews moved out of the way. From there it was all Andrews who proceeded to connect with dropkicks and chops. He then connected with a hurricanrana off the top rope. This sent Nese to the outside of the ring and as Andrews went for a high risk suicide dive, Nese dove back into the ring to clothesline him. Nese then went for a cover, but only received a two count.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Nese has a presence about him due to his size and build. In matches, he hasn’t been able to use that to his advantage. With this spot, he did.

Out of the two count, Nese dominated the match with intense striking and submissions. With a leg scissor submission locked in, Maverick discussed the on-screen interview that would take place later in the show between Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a huge fan of promoting another match within a match, but this tournament final at WrestleMania is big enough to do it with. Maverick was also able to finesse it in a way that didn’t overshadow the in-ring action.

Back in the ring, Nese switched his submission from a leg scissor to a bear hug. Finally, Andrews escaped and battled back with a kicks to Nese’s midsection. He then connected with a kick to the face before laying in a 619-esque move which he parlayed into a bull dog. From there, Andrews went for a moonsault of his own, but was caught by Nese. Nese attempted a powerslam out of that, but it was countered into a DDT by Andrews. This sent Nese to the outside of the ring. Andrews proceeded to connect with a top rope moonsault from the second rope to the outside of the ring.

After, Nese rolled back into the ring and Andrews went back to the top rope for another high risk move. Andrews flew, but Nese caught him in mid air and connected with a side back breaker. From there, he tossed Andrews off the ropes and connected with a sidewinder slam. Out of that, the two traded punches. Nese got the momentum from them and sent Andrews to the outside. From there, Nese connected with a viciously stiff forearm to the face. They then brawled at ringside before Nese rolled Andrews back into the ring. Nese then went for a moonsault, missed, and Andrews gained the momentum back with a series of chops. Nese countered with another forearm to the face. That didn’t phase Andrews too much as he was able to immediatley connect with a double foot stomp to Nese who was lying on the mat. The finish saw Nese pick up Andrews for a powerslam and instead of hitting it, Andrews countered into his Stun Dog Millionaire finish. Out of that he connected with a top rope shooting star press before making the cover for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Andrews at 11:20

Heydorn’s Analysis: This was a nice match, but nothing out of the ordinary as far as ring work went. Both Nese and Andrews did their thing and had some nice chemistry together. This match having stakes was an important shift in 205 Live philosophy. These guys had a purpose for fighting and it not only made the match more interesting, it setup a match for next week involving Drew Gulak. 

-After the match, Mark Andrews walked over to Maverick at the announce table and reiterated that he wanted a match with Drew Gulak. Maverick granted his wish and made the match for 205 Live next week.

-With Andrews walking up the ramp, Drew Gulak was shown watching the action backstage. He was then approached for comments and said that Andrews was a tremendous high flyer. He said he realized he might have hurt the feelings of Andrews when he applied his submission too long, but he was trying to make a statement. He then made a statement to all of 205 Live and called himself the best submission specialist in the WWE. He said if anyone steps to him, they will tap out.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A serious Drew Gulak is better than the comedic one. Hands down. Clearly, Gulak is a funny guy and can play that role, but this character is more natural. He comes across as real and he is undoubtedly more credible because of it. 

-Buddy Murphy and TJP were shown prepping backstage for their fatal four-way main event later in the show. True to character, Murphy was shown working out while TJP was shown relaxing.

-A hype video for Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania aired.

-After the video, Nigel and Vic cued up a special backstage face to face interview with Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander. This was mediated by Drake Maverick.

-The backstage segment began with Maverick introducing both competitors who were sitting face to face with the WWE Cruiserweight Championship between them. Maverick said he knows the two of them are friends, but asked them their thoughts on competing at WrestleMania. Alexander started and said that it was crazy how far they came in one year. He said last year they watched WrestleMania from a skybox and now they would wrestle on the grandest stage of all. Ali was next and said that he thought it was crazy as well. He then said it would be an honor to fight Alexander for the title at WrestleMania. From there, Maverick picked back up again and asked that while both guys were 205 Live originals, did they ever see this for themselves. Alexander responded first by saying that he always believed he would compete at WrestleMania. He said the surprising part was that it was so soon. He then said he plans on winning the title and making his family proud. Ali then interjected by saying that Alexander’s previous title opportunities didn’t go very well. He said that he meant no disrespect but that Alexander has been writing his story for too long and each time he tries to finish it, his pen runs out of ink. From there Ali said he’s writing his own story now. He brought up his daughter and said that he has his own dreams. He said at WrestleMania he sees the two of them tearing the house down, but the story ends with him holding the championship over his head. He finished by asking Cedric what he plans on doing to change that. Alexander said that he is willing to sacrifice everything to walk out as champion and that even if he has to stomp the heart out of 205 Live to do it, so be it. Ali grinned, stared a hole at Cedric and said, “that’s exactly what you’ll have to do.” The two then shook hands as the video faded to black.

Heydorn’s Analysis: This was extremely well done. For one thing, the staging and presentation was right. Maverick mediating the discussion gave it a sense of importance beyond the title and painted both Alexander and Ali as stars of the brand. The content was spot on as well. Both guys laid out why the match and a victory within it was important to them, but they did so in a respectful way that was consistent with their babyface character. At the same time, they didn’t ignore each other’s shortcomings. With one week left to go in this build, a face to face contract signing next week would be the perfect cap off heading in to WrestleMania. 

-Kalisto and Tozawa were shown warming up backstage ahead of their main event match.

-A commercial aired for this week’s NXT episode on the WWE Network featuring AOP vs. Street Profits.

-A commercial aired for the WrestleMania go-home Raw episode next week.

(2) KALISTO vs. TJP vs. AKIRA TOZAWA vs. BUDDY MURPHY

Kalisto hit the ring first and was able to get a nice reaction with lucha chants. Tozawa hit the ring next to a next to nothing crowd response. He worked to get his war chant going, but couldn’t. TJP’s music cued up next and the announcers discussed his lack of prep ahead of the match as he walked down the ramp. Lastly, Buddy Murphy came out to a quiet response as well. As he made his slow entrance, Nigel and Vic reminded the audience that he did make the 205 weight cut ahead of the match.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Ahhh consistency. How I love thee. The weigh-in detail within Murphy’s character is an intriguing one. Very smart of the announcers to keep it as a central piece of his presentation. 

The match started with the crowd finally doing the war chant for Tozawa. From there, Kalisto aggressively attacked Tozawa until Buddy Murphy easily dispatched him from the ring. The action carried to the outside for all except TJP as Kalisto hit a 450 splash on Tozawa and Murphy who were out near the ringside area. TJP laid down in the ring and laughed. That only lasted for a little while as Murphy eventually saw this in the ring and attacked.

Eventually, all participants were back in the ring and as Murphy was beating up on them all, TJP tried to strike a partnership with him. He then got Murphy on board who went to hit a vertical suplex on Kalisto. As he did, TJP hit him from behind. This gave TJP the momentum of the match.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Murphy looked really strong here. He has a nice character right now, but he needs to be defined as a babyface or a heel. He’s in no mans land right now which won’t help his growth as an attraction for the brand. 

TJP was able to dispatch Murphy from the ring and then locked in a standing Indian deathlock on both Kalisto and Tozawa. Kalisto broke free by striking TJP. This stunned TJP, but he still kept the hold locked in on Tozawa. Finally, with the hold still in place, TJP hit Kalisto with a northern lights suplex. He then went for a pin on Kalisto, but only got a two count. Out of the pin, Murphy was back in the ring. Looking scared, TJP tried to get on his good side again, but Murphy punched him in the face for good measure instead. From there, it was all Murphy. He destroyed each combatant all around ringside until Tozawa and Kalisto threw him into the ring barrier.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Another big moment for Murphy. Clearly, they are positioning him for big things post-WrestleMania.

Out of that, Tozawa and Kalisto played off their history and argued again. This allowed TJP to get the momentum back. In the ring, he locked Tozawa and Kalisto in a simultaneous submission hold again. Tozawa tried to escape, but TJP locked in a Texas Cloverleaf on him. As Tozawa was about to tap, Murphy broke the hold. After this, all four men were down in the middle of the ring.

TJP was the first to get to his feet and did so by leveraging the ring post. The crowd did the Tozawa war chant which lifted him up. He responded to those chants by hitting a suicide dive on TJP who had rolled to the outside. Kalisto followed with a dive of his own and Murphy followed after him with his specialty dive. This left all four guys laying on the ground on the outside of the ring. From there, Murphy got to his feet first and tossed Kalisto back into the ring. Murphy then climbed to the top rope for a big move, but was pushed off by Tozawa. In the ring, Kalisto got to his feet and knocked Tozawa down. Kalisto then climbed the top rope with him. TJP followed and planted himself underneath Kalisto. From there, he yanked Kalisto’s leg and pulled him off the turnbuckle. Out of that, he locked in a bow and arrow submission on Kalisto. Murphy attempted to pin within the submission hold but the entire thing was stopped when Tozawa hit his top rope bomb on all three of them.

Heydorn’s Analysis: And here come the “this is awesome” chants. Deserved ones too. The match has been fast-paced, hard-hitting, and unique. Each guy in it looks really good as well. 

All four men were down again after that major top rope move. Tozawa and Murphy got up first and the two exchanged chops in the middle of the ring. They then exchanged a variety of strikes before Kalisto hit the SDS on TJP, off of Murphy. Tozawa immediately connected with a shining wizard on Kalisto and covered TJP himself. Kalisto stopped the pin and the two argued. From there, Murphy tossed both arguers out of the ring. This left him and TJP alone and TJP locked in his knee bar submission hold. Seeing this, Kalisto and Tozawa stopped fighting on the outside and pulled TJP off of Murphy. This gave Murphy time to recover and he capitalized by connecting with an over the top rope corkscrew dive onto the other three guys. From there, he tossed TJP back into the ring. TJP baited him and attempted to connect with his detonation kick. Instead, Murphy countered with Murphy’s Law and covered TJP for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Murphy at 13:38

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good match. Every guy got their spots in and delivered when they were supposed to shine. Buddy Murphy especially. Much of the match was designed to make him look like a monster and it succeeded in doing so. The action delivered and there were spots involved that I hadn’t seen before. Great work on all accounts.

-After the match, Buddy Murphy celebrated in the ring as Tozawa and Kalisto stared each other down.

-The show ended with Vic Joseph declaring that Murphy has put himself into cruiserweight title contention with this win.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Going into this show, I was interested to see how it would perform with the tournament essentially being over. Since the relaunch, the brand had the tournament as a crutch to lean on as it figured itself out and tonight that crutch was removed. A home-run was hit. Yes, the show lacks an audience reaction which is a problem. However, the foundation continues to grow. Tonight, they promoted the major title match and also began other stories with logical progression. The Gulak/Andrews/Nese program got direction, within the main event four-way, Kalisto and Tozawa fueled their rivalry, and Buddy Murphy got a significant victory that he can build off of to potentially chase the title post-WrestleMania. The pieces were put on the board. Plus, the in-ring work across the show was stellar as well.

OVERALL GRADE – A-


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 3/20 WWE 205 Live Report: Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak in the cruiserweight championship tournament semifinals

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