SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
APRIL 10, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
NEW ORLEANS, LA
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph and Percy Watson
-The show began with a fantastic highlight video package for the WWE cruiserweight championship between Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander at WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: 205 Live has been on point with their promo videos since its relaunch. This one was fantastic and excellently highlighted Alexander and Ali as babyfaces while addressing what made them different in their quest for the title.
-From there, the show open ran and Vic Joseph welcomed the audience to the broadcast. He said that Nigel McGuinness was unavailable for the show, but that Percy Watson was on hand to fill in. He then revealed that Watson would be a permanent fixture of the 205 Live broadcast team before running down the planned events of tonight’s show.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Watson is a decent addition to the broadcast team. That said, with McGuinness being the talker that he is, he may find it difficult to get a word in.
(1) KALISTO vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
Kalisto hit the ring first and got some nice lucha chants from the audience. As he walked to the ring, a selfie video aired in which he said that Tozawa would get a taste of what it’s like to be a part of the lucha house party during their match. Tozawa hit the next to a very quiet crowd response initially. The war chants picked up as he was out there but were never significant in nature. As he walked into the ring, his own selfie promo aired with him and his tag team partner, Hideo Itami. In it, Tozawa said that the Lucha House Party disrespected his tag team partner whom he respects very much. He said for that, after he beats all of them, they’d be fired.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I just don’t understand the “you’re fired” gimmick with Tozawa. He isn’t the general manager and has no avenue to actually fire anyone. I guess its supposed to be funny, but I find it distracting and contradictory to his character.
The match began with the crowd doing the war chant and the competitors tying up in the middle of the ring. They traded submission holds to the arms before Kalisto got the upper hand with a hurricanrana. After, he ignited the lucha chants which seemed to frustrate Tozawa. From there, they tied up again and Tozawa pushed Kalisto into the corner where he was able to connect with kicks. After, he whipped Kalisto to the opposite corner. It was all Tozawa from there. He connected with elbows and a soccer kick to Kalisto’s chest before hitting a running senton bomb. After the senton, Tozawa covered, but just received a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: During this momentum gathering run, Tozawa got a nice reaction from the audience. This is unusual for him and I attribute it to a crowd who just likes to chant stuff rather than him actually getting more over. We’ll see for sure next week, but the reaction was so out of the blue that the red flag has to go up at this point in time.
After the pin attempt, Tozawa continued to lay in strikes before Kalisto was able to utilize his quickness and connect with kicks, a basement-rana, and a springboard clothesline. After the ‘rana, Kalisto went for the cover, but Tozawa kicked out a two. Out of the pin attempt, Kalisto kept up his offense and lifted Tozawa to the top rope. On the top rope, the two exchanged punches before Kalisto fell off into the drop zone. Quickly, Kalisto bounced back to his feet and climbed to meet Tozawa again. From there, they exchanged more strikes before Kalisto connected with a very impressive springboard Spanish Fly. After hitting the move, Kalisto went for the pin but only received a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very cool spot. They laid the foundation for a big top rope moment in the beginning of the match and successfully cashed in on that with this Spanish Fly. Nice psychology that certainly made the match more interesting to watch.
After the pin attempt, both guys were slow to get to their feet. Once they did, they traded a flurry of strikes before Tozawa gained momentum. He went for another pin attempt, but got a two count. From there, Kalisto rolled to the corner. Tozawa ran at him, but Kalisto countered with a boot to the face. This gave Kalisto the momentum in the match. He smashed Tozawa with kicks and then was monkey flipped into the turnbuckle. This left Kalisto in Tozawa’s drop zone and Tozawa climbed to the top rope to take advantage. Once again, Kalisto was able to move out of the way but then was knocked to the outside of the ring. Tozawa capitalized by connecting with a suicide dive that sent him into the announce table.
From there, Tozawa tossed Kalisto back into the ring and climbed to the top rope again. He attempted his top rope senton bomb, but Kalisto was able to counter by getting his knees up. Both men were down for a quite sometime before Kalisto got to his feet. He ran at Kalisto but was caught by Tozawa. They then exchanged impressive pin attempts before Kalisto landed his SDL for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Kalisto at 11:18
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another good match here within the feud between these two teams that’s now nearly a month old. This story has been a simple one, but its worked as a low mid-card story. This type of storyline was missing in the previous iteration of this show and its existence makes the product more watchable.
-After the match, Vic Joseph announced that next week Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado would face the team of Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa in a tornado tag team match next week.
-Backstage, Mark Andrews was shown warming up as Tony Nese walked into the locker room to confront him. Nese said that Drew Gulak was his friend but that he’s turned into a sadistic egomaniac. He said that if anyone should get vengeance it should be him. From there, he said “but go out there and kick his ass” before walking out of the shot.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nese talked like an actual person here. He had emotion and didn’t come across as a terminator robot. Nese is one of the most athletic guys on the roster. If he can get his character figured out, the rest will come together fine for him. This moment wasn’t a game changer in that regard, but a very tiny step forward.
-A commercial aired for WrestleMania 35 next year in New York’s Metlife Stadium.
(2) DREW GULAK vs. MARK ANDREWS
Gulak hit the ring first and was decked out in new entrance gear that made him look like a 70’s boxer. The crowd still reacted quietly. Once Gulak got to the ring, he grabbed the microphone for a promo and said that he was a man of the people. He said he’s heard their concerns and that what better time than now for a PowerPoint presentation. The crowd cheered at this annoucement and chanted “PowerPoint.” He then said the answer to that question was any time but now. He said said there was a time for presentations and it wasn’t seconds before he annihilated Mark Andrews. From there, Gulak said the audience was looking at the best submission specialist in WWE and that if anyone steps to him, they will tap out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I thought for a second that Gulak was really going to go back to the PowerPoint gimmick and I almost tossed my computer out the window because of it. I loved the swerve with that line and happy that he’s leaving it out. Gulak is on a nice run right now and adding that comedy back into him will set that nice run on fire.
Andrews hit the ring next to a very quiet response. He then ran down to the ring and hopped over the top ropes for his match. Joseph keenly said that the smile never breaks from the face of Mark Andrews.
The match began with a tie up before Andrews was able to gather the early momentum with a hurricanrana and a series of arm drag take downs. Those sent Gulak to the outside of the ring, where Gulak recharged his battery. As he got back into the ring, Andrews waited for a few kicks to his legs. Eventually, Gulak caught on of the legs of Andrews and took him down to the mat. Andrews was able to escape, but Gulak immediatley got back on top with a stiff body slam. After the slam, Gulak went for the pin but just received a two count. Eventually, Andrews got the momentum back in the match with a series of high impact moves which sent Gulak to the outside. From there, Andrews went for a vertical suplex, but Gulak countered by pushing him neck first into the ring post from the ring apron. Once Andrews was able to make the ten count and get back into the ring, Gulak was waiting with vicious assault that included submissions and strikes.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This offensive onslaught is why you keep the comedy far away from Gulak. He plays the serious character so well and can work a style in the ring that corresponds correctly with that seriousness. Throwing comedy in messes with that cohesion.
Gulak’s assault on Andrews continued with intermittent pin attempts along the way. Gulak got closer and closer to three count each time, but each time Andrews kicked out at two. The commentary team said Gulak effectively grounded Mark Andrews and that Gulak was executing a perfect game plan. From there, Gulak kept the assault going and locked in an array of submission moves. Finally, Andrews was able to counter Gulak’s sleeper hold. He did so with a chin breaker and then connected with his own version of the 619. He then hit a beautiful corkscrew moonsault and covered for a count of two. After the pin, Andrews nailed his crucifix circle. He then immediatley went for a pin, but Gulak kicked out at two. Out of that pin, Gulak stole the momentum back with chops and open palm strikes to to Gulak’s chest. He then kicked Gulak but got his foot caught. From there, Andrews countered that into his Stundog Millionaire stunner. After, he rolled to the outside to climb to the top rope. Andrews appeared to be going for his Shooting Star Press and was about to jump until he saw that Drew Gulak had rolled to the corner way across the ring. Andrews jumped down and ran at Gulak, but Gulak sent him face first into the ring post. From there, Gulak locked in his Gu-Lock submission and Andrews tapped out.
WINNER: Gulak at 10:30 via submission
-After the match, Gulak maniacally looked at Andrews before locking in the Gu-Lock again. This post-match attack prompted Tony Nese to hit the ring for the save. Nese dove on Gulak in the ring and then connected with a flipping suicide dive over the top rope. Gulak then sheepishly walked up the ramp and to the backstage area.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice match for Gulak as it was a bit of a showcase for him and his newly found aggression. Mark Andrews can sell wonderfully and was the perfect opponent for Gulak to take on because he could effectively convey danger. The Nese save firmly supplants him as a babyface for now.
-Drake Maverick was shown talking to Jack Gallagher and the returning Brian Kendrick. Maverick said he had reservations, but that he would allow them to compete as a tag team next week. Maverick said he was happy that Kendrick was back but that after what happened between him and Hideo Itami he wanted to make sure there would be no vendetta or score to settle with him and Itami. Gallagher chimed in and said a vendetta with Itami was beneath them. Kendrick then said that he was happy to be back on 205 Live and to consider the situation with Itami water under the bridge. Kendrick then walked away as Maverick looked concerned.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great to see Kendrick back on 205 Live. His injury certainly didn’t hurt his promo ability. Kendrick was great as he brilliantly said the right things to Maverick while telling the audience something different with his body language.
-A commercial aired for the Greatest Royal Rumble Ever in Saudi Arabia on April 27th.
-Out of the commercial break, Drake Maverick’s music hit and he walked to the ring for Cedric Alexander’s title celebration. When he got to the ring, Maverick grabbed the microphone and asked the crowd if it’s been the best weekend for the WWE. The crowd agreed and cheered. From there, Maverick said that nothing made him prouder than when he was given the job of the 205 Live General Manager. The crowd cheered for that as well. Maverick then said at WrestleMania he watched the heart and soul of 205 Live battle it out and they tore the house down. From there, he introduced Cedric Alexander who got a better than usual pop from the audience.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Maverick is just fantastic. I’ve been saying it for weeks, but its true. He is a major part of the revival of this brand because he’s so good at selling it. When he talks about 205 Live, you believe that its the biggest thing in the world and that gets credited to Maverick. He’s genuine and people respond well to that trait.
Alexander then joined Maverick in the ring and took the microphone. The crowd cheered loudly and chanted “you deserve it” as Alexander looked on to soak it in. He then thanked the audience and said that two years ago at the cruiserweight classic the audience chanted “please sign Cedric.” He then said with the audience’s continued support, he was able to make it all the way to WrestleMania to win the WWE Cruiserweight Champion. He then thanked the audience again to which the crowd cheered.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This was Cedric’s best promo yet. Period. He was articulate and concise while giving off the aura of a superstar. He’s been very robotic while talking in the past, but this came across as from the heart. As champion, he needs to remember this night and build off it.
As the crowd finished their cheer, Mustafa Ali’s music hit and he seriously walked to the ring to confront Alexander. The crowd chanted for Ali as well as the two stared each other down. Ali said that he came out to tell Cedric something face to face. He said that Alexander didn’t just deserve the win, but that he earned it. Ali then said that he knows there is a long line competitors backstage waiting for an opportunity at the cruiserweight title. Ali paused after as the crowd chanted “one more match” to him and Cedric. Once Ali was able to talk again, he told Alexander not to forget that he was in that line.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Six months ago you wouldn’t have said Ali would be a main event talent on 205 Live, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s found himself on the microphone and is the babyface yin to Alexander’s babyface yang.
As Ali finished talking, Buddy Murphy’s music hit. Alexander, Ali, and Maverick all stared at the ramp waiting his arrival, but Murphy slid into the ring behind them to hit Murphy’s Law on Alexander. This incensed Ali and Maverick who proceeded to yell at Murphy as he walked to the back. Murphy signaled for the title as the show went of the air with Vic Joseph saying that new cruiserweight champion was on notice.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great segment overall. Each participant came out of it looking good and Alexander really played the part of a big star. Plus, we have a story now that is centered around the championship. The nonsensical booking of 205 Live truly is no more it seems and that’s a great feeling.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Alexander coming out as the new champion in the main event segment really positioned him as a big star and the promo he delivered was his best yet. Plus, the audience reacted stronger than ever to him in that lead babyface role on the show. On the flip side, Mustafa Ali looked great as the gracious loser and Murphy looked equally as good as the moment ruining heel. Couple that with the other storylines progressing and you get a really nice show that flowed well and was exciting. Drake Maverick is the beacon of hope for this show. He’s able to sell this brand in incredible fashion and that sell job is doing wonders for everyone he goes near on the program.
OVERALL GRADE – B+