SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JUNE 26, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with another Drake Maverick video in which he highlighted the matches of the evening including Lio Rush’s debut, Akira Tozawa vs. Tony Nese, and the main event six man tag team elimination match pitting the Lucha House Party against Drew Gulak, The Brian Kendrick, and Jack Gallagher.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I’ve had issues with these opens the last couple weeks, but this one was better. Maverick played less of the announcer role and simply sold his show to the audience. Drastically different tone tonight and it worked much better.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. They hyped the debut of Lio Rush and then cued the show up for match number one.
(1) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. TONY NESE
Tozawa hit the ring first to a very tempered reaction from the audience. Early in his entrance he worked to get his war chant going and eventually it quietly picked up in the crowd. As Tozawa walked down the ramp, Vic Joseph introduced his counterparts and welcomed them back to the show after missing it last week. Nese walked out to the ring next and was met with a quiet reaction as well. Buddy Murphy walked him out to the ramp, but then went backstage before Nese walked to the ring. Nese counted his abs and told the camera that those eight reasons are why he would beat Tozawa in the match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The off camera ab count is a nice touch to Nese’s premiere athlete gimmick. Clearly those abs do nothing to help him win matches, but it’s classic heel psychology for him to pretend that they do.
The match began with Tozawa attempting to get the crowd on his side with a war chant. They obliged for a bit, but quickly shut it down. From there, the two tied up and Nese backed Tozawa into the corner and told him that he was the premiere athlete. In response, Tozawa did the war chant in Nese’s face and then stomped him in the corner before Nese countered with a flurry of kicks. After, Nese covered, but Tozawa kicked out at one. Out of the pin, Tozawa sold the knee, but Nese lifted him up and chopped him in the chest. Out of the chops, Tozawa was able to secure momentum with his running senton which caused Nese to roll out of the ring. At that point Tozawa attempted a dive, but Nese moved out of the way. Tozawa saw the move, stopped himself, and then jumped off the apron for a splash instead. Nese caught Tozawa in mid air and dropped him face first on the ring apron. From there, Nese rolled Tozawa into the ring and covered, but only received a two count. Out of the pin, Nese owned Tozawa on every level and connected with a beautiful second rope springboard moonsault. He went for the pin again, but again, Tozawa kicked out at two. Eventually, Nese lifted Tozawa on his shoulders for a torture rack. Tozawa writhed in pain for a few second, but then was able to escape. After the escape Tozawa connected with his offense that included a top rope dropkick and a running suicide dive through the ropes. He then made the cover, but Nese kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very smooth match thus far. The crowd hasn’t fully bought in yet, but they are coming along.
Out of the pin, Tozawa climbed to the top rope, but was knocked off by Nese. Nese then kicked Tozawa up in the air and caught him on his shoulders before planting him with a chest buster which he followed with a two count pin attempt.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Impressive move by Nese. This guy can do some freakish things in that ring that get good responses and reactions from the audience. He needs to develop his character more so audiences can care about him more. At that point, those freakish in-ring talents will shine even brighter.
After the pin, both men exchanged strikes in the middle of the ring until Tozawa gained the upperhand with a stiff dropkick. This left Nese prone in the corner and Tozawa climbed to the top rope in order to hit his top rope senton bomb. Instead, Nese crushed Tozawa with a forearm to the face and climbed up for a vertical suplex. As he was about to hit it, Tozawa countered and slammed Nese to the mat. The slam put Nese perfectly in Tozawa’s drop zone and he proceeded to fully and finally connect with his top rope senton bomb for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Tozawa at 7:35
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good opening match. Both men need some kind of story to keep progressing and to get one they need better character direction. Right now, the audience just doesn’t react to them enough to merit more than a match like this one.
-After the match, the announce team recapped the main event triple threat match from last week before sending the broadcast backstage to Drake Maverick who was in his office looking at his phone. Maverick then welcomed the WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander, into his office and asked him how he was doing.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice little pop for Alexander. Not having him on every show is truly doing wonders for his 205 Live aura and star power.
Alexander said he was fine, but that he was getting restless. He said he’s been on the sidelines for weeks and that he wanted to know when his next title match would be. Maverick responded by saying that when he figures out who the next challenger would be, he’d let Alexander know right away. Cedric wasn’t happy with that news and said he hoped that Maverick would have a better answer and that his next challenger had to be Hideo Itami. Maverick laughed that notion off as Alexander ran through Itami’s recent accomplishments. Maverick then said he understands where Cedric was coming from, but that he wouldn’t reward bad behavior with a title shot and that he was surprised that Alexander was vouching for Itami. Alexander said he wasn’t vouching for anyone, but that it was about him. He said he wasn’t concerned with Itami, but that he was concerned about growing his legacy by defeating as many great competitors as possible. Alexander then said he wants the Itami notch on his belt to which Maverick said he’d consider it. From there, Alexander said was thankful and walked out of the shot.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really great backstage promo. Maverick was perfect in his role as usual, but Alexander stood out in that he really portrayed himself as a fighting babyface champion. He walked the fine line of confidence and arrogance and did so with perfect precision.
-After the backstage segment, the announce team hyped the upcoming debut of Lio Rush.
-A commercial aired for the WWE United Kingdom Championship tournament on the WWE Network
(2) LIO RUSH vs. DEWEY JAMES
After the break, Lio Rush’s music hit and Rush made his way to the ring for his debut match. Rush slowly sauntered to the ring and smiled and he jumped through the ropes and into the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush bleeds natural charisma and has a personality that makes you want to watch him.
The match started with Rush taking his sweet time taking all of his gold jewelry off his wrists. This got a decent amount of heat from the crowd. When he was done, he walked up to Dewey and slapped him in his face. This caused James to chase Rush around the ring and Rush dodged him at every point before kicking him in the face. After, he flip kicked James off of the ropes and then rolled him through for a kick to the face. From there, Rush checked his imaginary watch and then climbed to the top rope. He then jumped off and nailed James with the Final Hour for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 1:51
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just a perfect debut. Rush slowly taking off his jewelry was a perfect touch and allowed him to get some heat even as the crowd anticipated a great debut. In the ring, he showcased enough to get interest, but didn’t give away the entire farm on the first night. Job well done all around.
-After the match, Rush was interviewed and said that the future of the cruiserweight division has arrived. He said that he can do things in the ring that his peers can only dream of doing. He said the rest of the cruiserweights are good, but they aren’t Lio Rush. He then called himself the man of the hour and that it’s his time.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice little promo. Rush has a confidence about him that should get a few more eyes on the product. Ultimately, the verbiage of this promo was heel in nature, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it.
-Cedric Alexander was shown walking backstage and then was interviewed by Renee Young. She asked him why he asked for Hideo Itami and Alexander responded by saying that he understands how dangerous Hideo is. He then said that if he is going to lead the brand, he needs to take on all comers and that he isn’t intimidated by Itami in anyway. From there, Itami interuppted and pushed Alexander. Alexander then pushed him back and the two almost brawled before they were broken apart by Maverick and WWE officials.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Alright, we’re on the Itami vs. Alexander path which is the right call. Both are hot and haven’t touched much since Itami debuted. Plus, Itami is hot enough as a heel to make Alexander shine as a babyface. He still needs help in that department which is why this feud is the right one at the right time.
-Both teams in the main event six man tag team elimination match were shown warming up backstage.
-A commercial aired for Miz and Mrs on the USA Network
-When the show came back from the break, Vic Joseph announced that next week Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy would do battle in a no disqualification match in which there must be a winner.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This match needs stakes to feel as important as possible. Right now it doesn’t which is unfortunate. That said, Murphy and Ali have great chemistry and have worked tremendous matches together. Next week is must see because of that fact.
(3) LUCHA HOUSE PARTY vs. DREW GULAK, THE BRIAN KENDRICK, and JACK GALLAGHER – Elimination Match
The Lucha House Party hit the ring first and were accompanied by their mascot Penelope.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Enough with the mascot already!
Per the norm, the audience popped with lucha chants, but not much else. Next came the heel team who walked out together to Gulak’s music. As they walked to the ring, they taunted the lucha chants which got some boos and even more lucha chants from the Lucha House Party themselves. Before the match could officially get started, all three members of the Lucha House Party dove out of the ring and onto their opponents. From there, Metalik and Gallagher started the match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Hot start and just what they needed to spike a bit of a tired crowd. Smart psychology and a perfect example of playing to the audience.
Metalik crushed Gallagher with a stiff chop before tagging Kalisto in. The tags went back and forth quick until Metalik eventually tagged back in and nailed Gallagher with a high flying top rope dive. Metalik then went for a cover, but Gallagher kicked out. Finally, Metalik climbed the top rope again for a big move, but his foot was held down by Kendrick. Metalik then dove off, but Gallagher crushed him with a headbutt in mid air that sent Metalik crashing to the ground. Gallagher then covered Metalik for the 1,2,3.
Gran Metalik eliminated.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, that was quick. Not much of a showing for Metalik here which is unfortunate. At the same time, the babyface team needed to be underdogs quickly so the match could build upon them overcoming the odds.
After the elimination, the action went back and forth between the teams that featured many tags. The momentum swung back and forth until Kendrick countered a Dorado top rope suplex. The counter grounded Dorado and the heel team was able to stay in control. Kendrick tried a cover, but Dorado kicked out at two. After, Kendrick tagged Drew Gulak into the match who locked in a submission hold on Dorado. As Dorado escaped, Gulak pulled his mask off which caused Dorado to roll out of the ring. Gulak and his team laughed at this turn of events.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Typically, I’m not a fan of heels removing the lucha masks. However, it makes sense to incorporate that here. The entire story between these teams is that the heel team disrespects Lucha House Party. Taking Dorado’s mask off plays off of that disrespect. Smart move and it got heat. Well done.
Dorado was able to get the mask back on and then went back to work, but all three heels dominated him with strikes and submissions after he did. The crowd cheered to pump Dorado up for a comeback, but each time, he was tossed back into the heel corner to some nice boos from the crowd. Finally, Dorado connected with a springboard stunner out of nowhere on Kendrick which netted him a pinfall.
The Brian Kendrick eliminated
Heydorn’s Analysis: The springboard stunner finally pinned someone? Get me a Steve-Wiser!
Right out of the fall, Gallagher and Gulak were able to keep Dorado grounded and away from his partner with well placed submission holds that focused on all body parts. As the crowd did the lucha chant, the heels promptly rolled Dorado into their corner to maintain the attack. In that very corner, Gallagher contorted Dorado’s fingers before Gulak was tagged in.
Heydorn’s Analysis: All in all, the crowd is coming along nicely for the match. The babyfaces working from behind is garnering a connection and once they hit the next gear by the way of a hot tag, a nice sized pop is waiting.
With Gulak in the ring, Dorado countered an array of strikes with a spinning heel kick to the face. The crowd did the lucha chant as Dorado crawled to his partner for the hot tag, but Kendrick came back to ringside to knock Kalisto off the apron. This caused Dorado to not make the tag and instead, Gulak locked in the Gu-Lock on Dorado to which Dorado tapped out immediatley.
Lince Dorado eliminated
With Kalisto as the final member of his team hit the ring with loads of fire. He connected with dropkicks and his patented basement-rana before the two on one advantage finally caught up to him. From there, Gallagher picked him apart with kicks and strikes before Gulak tagged in and dropped him into the top rope with a body slam. After, Gulak went for the cover, but Kalisto kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Gulak maintained momentum by crushing Kalisto with strikes which he followed with pin attempts. Eventually, Kalisto connected with his SDS while knocking Drew Gulak out of the ring. He then covered Gallagher for the 1,2,3 pin.
Jack Gallagher eliminated
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great move and execution on all fronts. This moment finally got the babyfaces on an even ground with the heels again which was an important piece of psychology setup at the beginning of the match. This move as a means to that end was effective and exciting enough to merit the spot it was given.
Right after the elimination, the final two men battled in the ring with Kalisto getting the upper hand with a springboard 450. From there, Kalisto hit a springboard cross body and followed with cover, but Gulak kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Gulak took control with clotheslines and vicious forearms to the back. The finish saw Gulak attempt to rip Kalisto’s mask off which gave him the opportunity to lock in the Gu-Lock again. Kalisto tapped out immediatley and was the final man eliminated.
WINNER: Gulak, Kendrick, and Gallagher at 16:33
Heydorn’s Analysis: Overall, from an elimination standpoint, the execution of this match was on point. The entire thing lacked some depth from a storyline perspective, but on a filler episode it more than did its job as the main event.
-After the match, Gulak ripped Penelope and threw it into the audience. The show faded to black as Gulak celebrated and taunted Kalisto from ringside.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A solid show once again. The in-ring work was good in all three matches including Lio Rush’s debut. The big takeaway from tonight though is what was started between Cedric Alexander and Hideo Itami. That’s the real main event and tonight did a nice job in putting the two of them on a logical collision course.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 6/19 WWE 205 Live Report: Huge triple threat main event, Gulak vs. Dorado, Rush’s debut announced, and more