SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
APRIL 3, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness
-The show began with a promo video hyping tonight’s action including Hideo Itami & Akira Tozawa vs. Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado, Kalisto vs. Buddy Murphy, and a final confrontation between tournament finalists, Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: As I always say, WWE has the market cornered on well executed and effective hype videos. This one was no different.
-From there, the show open ran and Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness welcomed the audience to the program and briefly ran down the events of SmackDown Live. Joseph plugged the big tournament final match to crown a new cruiserweight champion at WrestleMania this Sunday.
(1) HIDEO ITAMI & AKIRA TOZAWA vs. GRAN METALIK & LINCE DORADO
Itami and Tozawa hit the ring first to a very tempered reaction from the audience. The crowd participated in Tozawa’s war chant a little bit, but not as much as usual. Metalik and Dorado came out next as Joseph and Nigel pumped up the match with stakes being which team is the most dominant on 205 Live.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Once again, the fact that stakes were laid out in an otherwise meaningless match is important. This is a concerted effort to make more things mean something. Sure, its small stakes in wanting to “be the most dominant,” but something is better than nothing.
Itami and Metalik started the match with a tie-up in the middle of the ring. Itami took Metalik down right away and kept him down as Metalik struggled to get to his feet. With Metalik down, Itami yelled “respect me” to the audience and jawed with Dorado who was in his team’s corner. From there, Itami tossed Metalik into the corner and tried to follow with a clothesline but was super kicked in the face. Metalik then hit a Sling Bade followed by a springboard moonsault before he covered for a two count. Metalik then made the tag to Dorado who proceeded to keep up the offense for his team. He hit a standing moonsault and covered for a two count before tagging Metalik in again. Out of the pin, Tozawa made a blind tag on Itami who had hit the ropes. With Tozawa in the match, he secured the momentum for his team.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Itami essentially turned his team heel here. The way he yelled “respect me” to the crowd and their response to it solidified that. With Itami performing the way he is with limited interest, playing a heel is the only way to go for him. Tozawa will have to be the one to shift gears.
With the momentum, Tozawa hit various splashes and bombs before he tagged in Itami once again. Itami kept up the offense with strikes and then quickly tagged in Tozawa. Tozawa kept pace with Itami and delivered stiff punches to Metalik’s face before tagging in Itami again. Itami taunted Dorado in his corner again as he laid in thick strikes. Finally, Metalik answered the offense against and connected with a dropkick on Itami. This allowed Metalik to make the tag to Dorado who promptly hit the ring and took over the momentum of the match with various moonsaults, a spinning heel kick, and slaps the face on Itami.
Eventually, Dorado connected with a springboard stunner on Itami which sent him out of the ring. Dorado capitalized by hitting a suicide dive and Tozawa immediatley followed to take out Dorado. Finally, Metalik took out everyone with his suicide dive. From there, Metalik tossed Itami into the ring and took him down to the mat. Dorado then climbed in and attempted a cover, but just got a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Dorado was tagged in. He proceeded to attempt a Dorado driver, but Itami countered by trying to remove Dorado’s lucha mask. This got some heat from the crowd and loads of it from Nigel McGuinness who said ” you don’t mess with a lucha mask.” From there, both teams feverishly brawled and the referee ended the match.
WINNER: No contest at 7:30
-After the match ended, the two teams continued to brawl with Tozawa and Itami getting the upperhand. Itami took out Dorado’s knee which got boos and negative reaction from the audience. As Itami and Tozawa walked off, McGuinness told the audience that another battle between these teams would certainly be in the cards.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The meat of this match was what it was and setup a larger story between the two teams. The finish which saw Itami try to remove Metalik’s mask got some nice heat and added a layer to his character. WWE has a lot of directions to go here. Will Tozawa react to Itami’s heelish antics? How is Gran Metalik’s knee? This certainly isn’t the best narrative in the world, but each of those are questions that can be answered in the mid card slot on future 205 Live shows.
-From there, the broadcast was thrown to Joseph and McGuinness at ringside. They said that 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick, was forced to postpone this week’s match between Drew Gulak and Mark Andrews until next week. The announce team then sent the show backstage where Gulak was standing by.
-On camera, Gulak confirmed that his match with Mark Andrews had been postponed. He said the reason behind the match being move was because of his request. Gulak said that people assumed he was playing mind games but that they were wrong and he just wants a better 205 Live. He said that he just wants Mark Andrews to be 100 percent when he faces him. He then said he wants there to be no excuses when he “utterly annihilates” him. Gulak said he originally planned on preparing a PowerPoint presentation to detail his destruction of Andrews but said he really only needed one slide to do that. From there, the television he was standing in front of showed a graphic that said “because I could.” Gulak said the battles in the ring are won on the mat and that he is the best submission specialist in the WWE. He said if you step to him, you will tap out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Serious Drew Gulak is clicking on all cylinders. I thought he was going to get silly with the PowerPoint reference, but instead he used it to put over his new character. Smart stuff.
-From there, a selfie promo from Andrews aired in which he responded to Gulak. Andrews asked Gulak if he thought he was the only one that could use the ring to prove a point. He said he flew across the world to come to 205 Live to prove his own point. He said Gulak crossed the line in their last match. He said when they face off next week it isn’t about submissions vs. high flying but about him against Gulak. He then said that next week Gulak would wish he didn’t underestimate him as an underdog and that he would never disrespect him again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Andrews is a little too cheesy for me right now. He needs to do a better job in the limited time that he has to show the audience why to care about him. He tries to tell them by calling himself an underdog, but he isn’t connecting and the audience isn’t investing. He needs to take his gimmick a step further.
-A commercial aired for Ronda Rousey and her upcoming WrestleMania match with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
(2) TONY NESE vs. JONATHAN PIERCE
Nese entered the ring while his opponent waited for him. He counted his abs and talked to the camera to cut a mini promo as he typically does. His crowd reaction was non existent and as he walked down the ramp a video from earlier in the day aired in which he was talking with Drake Maverick.
In the video, Maverick said he understood that his match last week didn’t go as he liked. Maverick then looked at Nese and said he had an incredible amount of potential and that he wanted him to go out later in the night and remind everyone in the world why he is the premiere athlete.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Once again, Drake Maverick came off looking great here. Nese didn’t have to say a word and by listening to Maverick its easy to feel that Nese has the makings of star. Maverick simply is the best sales rep 205 Live has now and it should be that way given the fact that he’s running the show.
Back in the ring, the match began with both guys tying up. Pierce flexed to the crowd as Nese looked on and implied that his abs were “way better.” Nese then tossed Pierce into the corner. The crowd enjoyed that spot. From there, the two exchanged chops and strikes before Nese connected with a sidekick that sent Pierce to the mat. Nese then kept up the chops and whipped Pierce into the ropes. Pierce then rolled out of the ring and Nese followed with a stiff forearm to the face. The crowd loved that spot and popped for it. From there, Nese tossed Pierce back into the ring and connected with a moonsault. Pierce got some momentum by hitting a hangman on the rope. He then took too long to climb the top rope and Nese knocked him off with a kick to the face. Nese then connected with the Flying Nese in the corner and covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Nese at 2:56
Heydorn’s Analysis: This is the third week in a row that squashes are being used. Like the others, this one was effective.
-Backstage, Lince Dorado was being tended to by Kalisto and Gran Metalik. Kalisto ran off for his match but ran into Buddy Murphy. Murphy told him that he said tonight wouldn’t be personal between them. He said he came to 205 Live for one reason which was to become cruiserweight champion. He then said that Kalisto was standing in his way. Murphy then said he would make short work of Kalisto so he could get back to his friends and then walked off the screen.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Since Murphy’s debut on 205 Live, he’s had some great in-ring performances, but not many opportunities on the mic. He did well here. He defined his mission in being on the brand and locked in his heel character.
-A commercial aired for NXT Takeover: New Orleans.
(3) BUDDY MURPHY vs. KALISTO
Murphy made his way to the ring first to a very small response from the audience. Joseph and Nigel played up Murphy’s NXT history and then promoted WrestleMania. Kalisto hit the ring next and received some decent lucha chants from the crowd. The match began with both guys circling each other before their tie up. Murphy pushed Kalisto into the corner and then laughed as he backed off.
Heydorn’s Analysis: In the first few seconds of the match, Vic Joseph told the audience that Murphy made his weigh-in earlier in the day. Once again, its smart to make that element part of the Murphy gimmick as there is a story down the road waiting for the WWE when he doesn’t make weight.
The two tied up again and then exchanged take downs and pin attempts before staring each other down from their knees. The crowd popped a little for this interaction. From there, Murphy took Kalisto down again. He then pounced on top of Kalisto and bent his fingers on his hand. From there, he looked to have connected with a hurricanrana but Kalisto rolled through it. Kalisto then locked in a head scissor takedown, but Murphy rolled through. After this, the crowd popped again as the two stared each other down.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The crowd is IN on this match. During the stare down, they popped big which has to make Kalisto and Murphy pretty hyped given the fact that the match just started. The moves are good here, but its both guy’s reactions to the moves that are the icing on the cake. Those reactions are driving the crowd response.
After the second stare down, Kalisto took over. He connected with a corkscrew arm drag from the top rope and then attempted a pin but only got a two count. This prompted the audience to chant “205.” Kalisto then did the lucha chant in Murphy’s face and Murphy responded by punching Kalisto right in the mouth. From there, Murphy pounded on Kalisto in the corner before methodically picking him apart in the middle of the ring. Murphy then locked in the abdominal stretch before Kalisto escaped and locked in a sleeper hold. Murphy broke the hold by backing him into the corner and then connected with a kick to the face that sent Kalisto out to the ring apron. Murphy walked over but was kicked by Kalisto. From there, Kalisto connected with a spinning DDT before attempting a two count cover. Out of the pin attempt, Kalisto moved to the outside to keep his momentum, but ended up receiving a release vertical suplex on the apron.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Wow. That was a dangerous bump to be sure. It was scary but it worked within the confines of the match. The audience popped huge and have further bought in because of this spot.
From there, Murphy tossed Kalisto back into the ring and covered but only received a two count. After the pin attempt, Murphy sold his rib injury and decimated Kalisto with punches to the face. He then stiffly whipped Kalisto into the ring post. Murphy whipped Kalisto again into the ring post and then followed for a clothesline. Instead of hitting that, Kalisto countered with a spinning heel kick to Murphy’s face. When both got back to their feet, they exchanged punches before Kalisto attempted a reverse hurricanrana. He didn’t quite get all of it, but it still sent Murphy to the outside. From there, Kalisto hit a running suicide dive before tossing Murphy back in and connecting with a basement-rana. After, Kalisto attempted a pin, but Murphy kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The pace of the action has built throughout the match and is firing on all cylinders right now. Neither guy is missing a step either. Both Murphy and Kalisto have nice chemistry and its helping tremendously.
Out of the pin attempt, both guys rolled to the outside and Murphy monkey flipped Kalisto onto the announce table that knocked out all three of their monitors. With the referee counting, Murphy made it in and Kalisto soon followed at nine. Back in the ring, Murphy further decimated Kalisto with punches to the face. Kalisto battled back with his own strikes and Murphy returned the favor. From there, Kalisto attempted a top rope hurricanrana but Murphy caught him and power bombed him into the mat. Murphy went for the cover, but Kalisto kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: What a fun match. The false finishes are all exciting and the crowd buying in early in the action helped put the match on the right track. Crowd reactions are regularly an issue for this show, but not in this match tonight. The “this is awesome,” “fight forever,” and “205” chants are loud and for good reason.
Out of the pin attempt, Murphy lifted Kalisto to the top rope. From there, Kalisto attempted to powerbomb Murphy, but Murphy countered. Instead, Kalisto connected with his rolling kick and then attempted yet another pin. Still, Murphy kicked out at two. With the crowd chanting “this is awesome” Kalisto did his lucha chant and attempted his SDS. Murphy countered and hit Murphy’s Law instead. From there, Murphy covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Murphy at 14:50
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great, great match. One of the best to take place on this program since its inception. It had everything you need in a cruiserweight match from a technical standpoint. It was fast paced, featured high flying moves and spots, and also told a good story. Murphy was a star as well. His look and intensity is unique to the brand and will take him far as clearly he is being groomed for a big push once WrestleMania is in the rear view mirror.
-After the match, Drake Maverick was shown backstage in front of the camera. He congratulated Buddy Murphy, but said he wanted to take a few moments to reflect on what has happened to the 205 Live brand over the last three months. He highlighted the championship tournament and then thanked the fans for their support. He said he was proud of both Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander for being finalists. From there, Maverick got a bit emotional and gave a message to the WWE Universe. He said that no matter where they would be at on Sunday, to get to their WrestleMania spot early. He said he wanted them to feel every emotion and every roller coaster ride. He then promoted the entire card which included mentioning Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, and Ronda Rousey. He then said that the match everyone would be talking about after WrestleMania would be Ali vs. Alexander. He finished by saying that watching a new cruiserweight champion crowned would be a WrestleMania moment.
Heydorn’s Analysis: What a slam dunk for Drake Maverick. Yes, he’s a bit preposterous in believing that his featured match at WrestleMania will be talked about more than Roman Reigns. I get that. That said, on 205 Live, its his job to sell the fact that everything happening on it is the biggest and most important. He made his case here and made it well. Even if I don’t fully believe him, he presented his argument in a way that at the very least, made me respect him and his authority.
-After Maverick’s segment, a commercial aired for Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at WrestleMania on Sunday.
-Out of the commercial, Joseph and McGuinness cued up a special hype video for Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali at WrestleMania. The video highlighted the path’s of both Ali and Alexander to show how they each got to the final match. The video also featured new interviews with both Ali and Alexander.
-The show faded to black as the video did as well.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This hype video was well put together, but I believe that a face to face segment between Alexander and Ali was needed to grow the match hype. Also, it would have been good experience for them as performers to have the go-home moment for their big match. This certainly won’t be anything that will ruin the match, but it is a missed opportunity on the part of WWE.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a really solid go-home episode of 205 Live. The Murphy vs. Kalisto match carried the show and outside of Ali vs. Alexander from earlier this year, it absolutely is the best match to take place on the program. After winning tonight, Murphy is clearly the unofficial number one contender to the championship after WrestleMania. He’s come a long way since he debuted on the show and continues to impress. If he can keep having matches like he did tonight, he’ll quickly become a staple of the show. I was very surprised that there wasn’t an in-ring confrontation between Ali and Alexander heading into their big match at WrestleMania on Sunday. All of the talk, Maverick’s interview, and the hype videos were good, but I believe the audience needed to see Ali and Alexander in living color so both guys had an opportunity to make a larger connection and get people to watch.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 3/27 WWE 205 Live Report: Alexander and Ali face-off ahead of WrestleMania, Murphy shines in fatal four-way main event