WWE 205 LIVE
MAY 22, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with a hype video for tonight’s main event between Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa. The video showcased some quotes from notable WWE stars like Triple H, Big E, and more. It also featured special interview notes from Itami himself who said that he didn’t understand why he needed a tag partner and that he hated being in a tag team with Tozawa.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another great hype video to start the show. Two weeks in a row now. This package helped build the intensity of this feud and made it seem like a true main event on the 205 Live level.
-From there, the show open ran and Vic, Nigel, and Percy welcomed the audience into the program. Per the norm, the announcers further hyped the main event match between Itami and Tozawa. In addition, they plugged the fact that the world would hear from both Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy ahead of their championship match next week.
(1) DREW GULAK vs. GRAN METALIK
Out of the open, Drew Gulak’s music hit and he walked to the ring to a very small reaction. As he walked to the ring, Vic Joseph noted that Gulak was making it his mission to rid 205 Live of the high flyers like the Lucha House Party. From there, a backstage promo aired in which Gulak said he would beat another member of LHP and become a step closer to grounding all the cruiserweights on 205 Live. He then said those guys could flip or dive, but if they stepped to him, they would tap out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A nice little promo from Drew Gulak here. Short and sweet, but effective. Gulak obviously isn’t involved in the title picture right now, but him vs. the flying cruiserweights is a solid story that he is essentially driving himself. Good stuff.
After Gulak, Gran Metalik’s music hit and walked to the ring with Lince Dorado and Kalisto. Because of Kalisto’s presence, the audience reacted with a handful of lucha chants, but nothing of significance. Then, before the ref could ring the bell, Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick walked to the ring for commentary.
The match began with Gulak immediatley taking down Metalik with a headlock takedown. He then got a quick pin attempt, but Metalik kicked out at one. After the pin, the two ran the ropes with each other and Metalik connected with a top rope arm drag that caused Gulak to roll out of the ring. From there, Metalik went for a high risk dive, but Gulak ran into the ring before he could connect. Metalik then kicked Gulak with a springboard dropkick and covered for a two count. Out of that pin, Metalik climbed to the top rope, but Gulak followed and knocked him off. With Metalik in the tree of whoa position, Gulak stomped away on him and then tossed him to the outside of the ring. On commentary, Gallagher and Kendrick complained that their requests have fallen on deaf ears with 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick.
Heydorn’s Analysis: At first I was confused as to why Kendrick and Gallagher were out at ringside for this match. It seemed like overkill. However, with how they spoke about Drake Maverick, it appears that something may be in the cards between them and him. Kendrick, Gallagher, and Maverick battling on the microphone would be a nice treat.
Back in the ring, Gulak controlled Metalik with a standing armbar and then took him down again with a second headlock. Metalik battled and worked to escape with strikes, but only got free when Gulak slammed his knee into Metalik’s face. This cause Metalik to hit the ropes and bounced off to deck Gulak with a forearm. From there, Metalik climbed to the top rope and hit a top rope dropkick on Gulak. Then, with Metalik on the outside of the ring ropes, he slapped Gulak in the face which infuriated him. His anger made him run directly at Metalik and Metalik jumped in the air and bounced off the ropes as Gulak slid to the outside. Metalik then flipped off the ropes into a moonsault on Gulak. Metalik immediatley tossed Gulak back into the ring and covered, but only got a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very cool rope walk. It got the pop it was going for, but Kendrick pointing out that “he could have just walked over there to dropkick him” was equally as cool. He’s not necessarily wrong, but that’s what a true heel would say. Well done.
Out of the pin, both men exchanged strikes with Metalik getting the upper hand. With Gulak and him in opposite corners, Metalik roped walk toward him on the top rope and then connected with a third drop kick. Metalik then attempted a cover, but Gulak kicked out at two. Out of the pin, the two exchanged a round of pinning combinations before Metalik hit the ropes again for a high risk moonsault. This time though, Gulak countered the move by lifting his knees into the air. From there, Gulak locked in the Gu-Lock and Metalik tapped almost instantly.
WINNER: Gulak via submission at 8:13
Heydorn’s Analysis: Other than Drew Gulak winning and continuing his streak of destroying high flying cruiserweights, the match was pretty forgettable. Yes, the rope walk spot was fun, but overall, the audience just didn’t react to much of it.
-After the match, Kendrick and Gallagher were applauding Drew Gulak as he celebrated in the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Interesting. Do we have a potential stable forming here? The commentary of Gallagher and Kendrick mirrored up with Gulak’s “no fly zone” gimmick. Could be something to watch for in the coming weeks.
-A hype video aired for Buddy Murphy. In it, he said he would beat Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Champion. The video ended with him saying that you can’t stop the unstoppable.
-A commercial aired for this week’s NXT TV show on the WWE Network which features Ricochet and Velveteen Dream vs. Lars Sullivan.
(2) TJP vs. CHRISTOPHER GUY
TJP hit the ring first with Guy in already waiting for him. As he walked to the ring, Nigel and Vic cued up a tweet from over the weekend in which TJP asked Paige if he could be called up to the main roster since he wasn’t being used enough on 205 Live.
The match began with both guys locking up in the middle of the ring. TJP got the momentum first with a headlock takedown on Guy. TJP released the hold on his own accord and showboated a little. From there, TJP grounded Guy again and locked in more submission holds to the arm. TJP then lifted Guy onto his feet and dismantled him with stiff uppercuts to the face. TJP then connected with a vertical suplex and a back suplex before hitting a springboard senton over the top rope. After the senton, TJP covered, but Guy kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Guy got a bit of offense in before TJP owned the match again. He twisted Guy up into a pretzel and stomped him to the mat before connecting with the Detonation Kick and covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: TJP at 2:29
-After the match, TJP was interviewed and said that he was the best cruiserweight champion, the best technical wrestler in the world, and that he carried 205 Live on his back. He then said its crystal clear based on his opponent tonight how 205 Live management thinks of him.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Another well timed squash match. TJP looked really good in this match and they setup a nice story for him surrounding his booking on 205 Live moving forward. He needed something he could sink his teeth into and with him not in the title picture, a story like this one is perfect.
-Joseph and Percy highlighted the cruiserweight action from last week’s European tour. The tour featured a series of great matches between Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander.
-A sit down interviewed air between Cedric Alexander and Vic Joseph. Joseph thanked Alexander for his time and then said that Alexander was on an all-time roll. He then asked Cedric how he was dealing with the pressures that come with being champion. Alexander said that he takes everything one day at a time. He said that pressure means nothing to him now. He then said he would not fail in his championship match against Buddy Murphy in his hometown next week. From there, Alexander talked about Murphy. Alexander said he knows what its like to cut weight like Murphy does. He then said that it can ruin stamina and if Murphy isn’t aware of that, he’ll exploit that deficiency. Alexander then said that there is a reason he’s the champion. He said he’s the most well rounded competitor on the roster and that he would remind Murphy next week that he Murphy is living in the age of Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A solid interview that was effective in building next week’s championship match main event. Alexander didn’t come off too scripted, but it was clear that he was the star of the show. His answer on the weight cutting was sport like in nature and made sense in the context of Murphy having to regularly cut weight to be on the show.
-A commercial aired for Money In The Bank on June 17th on the WWE Network
(3) HIDEO ITAMI vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
After the commercial break, Hideo Itami hit the ring to a very quiet crowd response. From there, Tozawa was interviewed backstage ahead of his entrance. He called Itami a legend, but said that Itami didn’t respect him. He then said that if Itami didn’t like him as a partner, he’d like him even less as an opponent. After the interview, Tozawa’s music played and the crowd reacted very quietly except for a few Tozawa war chants.
The match began with both guys connecting with big boots to the face. Out of those strikes, they engaged in some mat wrestling before they both got to the feet. The crowd reacted to that segment with claps and the reaction got even bigger as Tozawa started the war chants. From there, both guys exchanged a series of stiff chops to the chest a the crowd cheered along.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This match started at a blazing pace. During ring entrances, the audience didn’t seem to care about the match at all, but after the first opening sequence and especially after the chops, they were invested. Great psychology here to hook the crowd.
Finally, Tozawa jabbed Itami in the face which caused him to finally go down to the mat. Tozawa then capitalized with a running senton bomb which he followed with a kick to the face. Out of those moves, he got a loud war chant going and then lifted Itami up for a body slam. After the slam, Tozawa covered for a two count. From the pin attempt, Tozawa locked in a sleeper hold which grounded Itami. From there, Itami escaped with a chin breaker, but Tozawa stayed on his with additional chops to the chest. After the chops, Tozawa tossed Itami into the corner, but Itami countered by lifting Tozawa over the ropes. He then crushed Tozawa with stiff kicks as he yelled “respect me” to the audience.
Heydorn’s Analysis: There is something so heelish about Itami yelling “respect me” at everyone. There has been a lot wrong with Itami’s work thus far on 205 Live. This “respect me” gimmick is the one thing that feels right.
Out of the kicks, Itami controlled all momentum in the match. He worked over specific body parts on Tozawa and then battled with him on the outside of the ring. From there, he rolled Tozawa back into the ring for a cover, but Tozawa kicked out at two. After the pin, Itami locked in his own sleeper hold as the crowd did the war chant to cheer Tozawa on. Eventually, Tozawa escaped and climbed to the top rope. As he jumped off for a splash, Itami crushed him with another kick to the midsection. Then, Itami further worked the midsection by tossing Tozawa into the ropes and connecting with a running knee. Itami then taunted the war chants before striking Tozawa once again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More great heel work from Itami here. His beatdown was vicious and allowed for Tozawa to gain the sympathy he needed as a babyface.
After the taunts, Tozawa worked to connect on some offense, but was immediatley stalled by a vicious DDT from Itami. Out of the move, Itami went for the cover, but just got a two count. Finally, Tozawa connected with a running hurricanrana which got him the momentum back. He then climbed to the top rope as the crowd did the war chant. Seeing this, Itami rolled out of the ring, but Tozawa jumped off anyway and connected with a flipping senton bomb to the outside of the ring. From there, Tozawa rolled Itami back into the ring and covered for a two count. Out of the pin, Tozawa lifted Itami up for a move, but he countered with elbows to the back of the head. Itami escaped and then dropped Tozawa throat first on the top rope. From there, Itami connected with a top rope forearm smash before covering for a two count. After the pin, Itami lifted Tozawa to his feet so he could strike him, but Tozawa countered. Tozawa then went for a quick small package roll-up, but only got a count of two. This left Itami in Tozawa’s drop zone. Seeing this, Tozawa climbed to the top rope, but Itami followed and suplexed him from the top. Immediatley, Itami covered, but Tozawa kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Itami connected with a running kick and covered again for a two count. From there, Itami lifted Tozawa up, but Tozawa locked in a stretch submission. This caused Itami to roll to the outside and Tozawa took advantage with a running suicide dive through the ropes. He then tossed Itami back into the ring for a cover, but Itami kicked out at two. Again, this left Itami in Tozawa’s drop zone. Tozawa then climbed to the top rope and jumped off for his Senton Bomb finisher. Itami rolled out of the way and connected with two running corner dropkicks before connecting with his knee strike finisher for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Itami at 15:18
Heydorn’s Analysis: This was a solid grudge match that appears to have ended the feud. Without a shenanigan-esqe finish, there isn’t too many directions to take this feud now. Itami is clearly positioned better than Tozawa right now and with Alexander needing heels to work with as the champion, Itami is a prime guy to look at for that spot.
-The show ended with Itami celebrating in the ring and Vic Joseph plugging next week’s main event championship match between Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A ton happened on this show today. Itami and Tozawa wrapped up their feud together, hype segments were featured between both competitors in next week’s main event, TJP progressed his story with 205 Live management, and Drew Gulak kept up on his mission of destroying high flyers. All in one hour. Are we sure this is WWE programming? All jokes aside, this was a very tight show tonight that was effective on many levels. The ring works was great too leading to an all around good night for WWE’s fourth brand.
OVERALL GRADE – B+
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 5/15 WWE 205 Live Report: Big championship match announced, WWE’s UK division goes head to head with WWE’s cruiserweights, and more