SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JULY 10, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with a recap video on the road traveled to get to tonight’s main event championship match between Cedric Alexander and Hideo Itami.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid video as usual, but not as effective as the ones done in previous weeks. It worked to tell the story of the match tonight, but faltered a bit in terms of adding drama to that story.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. The highlighted the big fight feel in the arena and then further plugged the main event championship match between Alexander and Itami. After, the announce team made their picks for the winner of the main event match and then cued up the first match of the evening.
(1) KALISTO w/ Lucha House Party vs. TONY NESE w/ Buddy Murphy
Kalisto hit the ring first and got a small response until the lucha chants began. Those caused the audience to perk up a bit. Nese came out next and counted his abs as he walked to the ring as usual and called his abs the reason why he’s better than the audience. As he walked to the ring, Buddy Murphy came out to walk with him to the ring. The announce team discussed Murphy at this moment and highlighted last week’s match against Mustafa Ali as a reason why he is a force to be reckoned with on 205 Live.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I really liked how Murphy was framed on commentary. He was positioned as a big star and deserves that positioning after the run of matches he’s had. That said, associating with the likes of a Tony Nese level character is a step down for him. Because it’s Murphy though, this is the time to let the story run its course before applying a full judgement.
After Nese flexed in Kalisto’s face, the match began. Out of the gate, Nese went in for a couple tie ups, but Kalisto rolled away from each one. As this happened, the Lucha House Party got more lucha chants going in the audience. From there, Nese finally caught Kalisto and backed him into the corner, before Kalisto flipped out of the way. The two then exchanged counters back and forth while taunting before Kalisto finally got the upper hand with a head scissor take down. After, Kalisto went for a top rope springboard move, but Nese countered with a slam after catching him in mid air. From there, it was all Nese. He assaulted Kalisto with various strikes before locking in a leg scissor submission on Kalisto’s midsection.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nese got some decent 205 Live level heat while he applied this offense on Kalisto. Kalisto sold well and is the bigger star, but that negative reaction had to do with Nese’s work just as much as it had to do with Kalisto’s. Props to him.
As the audience clapped for him, Kalisto escaped the move, but was then kicked down again by Nese. From there, Nese got slightly distracted by the Lucha House Party on the outside of the ring. This allowed for Kalisto to gain momentum and he did so by connecting with his Mexico City Twister, a hurricanrana, and a top rope senton. He then went for the cover, but Nese kicked out at two. Out of the pin attempt, Kalisto connected with a spring board cross body and went for the pin again, but again, Nese kicked out at two. Out of that pin, both men exchanged strikes before Kalisto attempted the SDS. He couldn’t fully flip through which allowed Nese to lift him up and throw him into the turnbuckle. With Kalisto down, both Nese and Murphy were distracted by the Lucha House Party at ringside. Murphy confronted those distractions and then Nese got into the fray. Both men argued with the Lucha House Party and in turn, Kalisto hit an over the top rope slingshot onto Nese. Kalisto then rolled to the outside to toss Nese back into the ring and as he did, he yelled at Murphy to “get back.” Murphy did, but after Kalisto rolled Nese back into the ring, Murphy attacked Kalisto from behind which caused the referee to ring the bell.
WINNER: Kalisto via DQ at 6:19
-After the match, all the members of the Lucha House Party brawled with Murphy and Nese. Eventually the two sides separated and stared each other down. Buddy Murphy especially got into it with the Lucha members and had to be held back by his partner.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, the match was what it was. My larger concern is that Buddy Murphy is now embroiled in a tag team feud with Tony Nese as his partner. After what he’s done for the brand, he needs to be featured more prominently and as a singles act. The silver lining from this is even though he sat the match out, in the end, he was the focal point of the segment. Nese held him back. That tells me he should be featured as the lead heel in this new program even if Nese is at his side.
-Drake Maverick was shown in his office and welcomed Noam Dar back to the 205 Live brand. He congratulated Dar on last week’s victory. Dar said it was good to be back and that he was on the sidelines for way to long. Maverick agreed and told him things were different since he last appeared on 205 Live. From there, TJP interuppted and said that things were different, but much worse. He then called Maverick out for giving him a mystery opponent on a brand that touts its competitive spirit. He said if he had the proper time to prepare, he’d have beaten Dar without an issue. This prompted an argument between both competitors before Maverick shut it down. He then told TJP that he’d get his rematch and that it would take place next week.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I like this story for TJP. His winning streak ended too soon and out of nowhere last week, but the root between him and Maverick is still there. That is the key moving forward. Look for TJP to get the win next week to remain consistent with what he told Maverick tonight.
-After the backstage segment, the announce team debated TJP’s excuse and briefly hyped next week’s match between him and Dar. They then cued up a Hideo Itami hype video.
-In the video, Itami spoke directly at Cedric Alexander amid a flurry of previous video clips detailing how the match came to be. Itami called Alexander arrogant and said that he simply doesn’t respect him as much as he should. The video ended with Itami saying that he would become cruiserweight champion.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Unlike the video to start the show, this had hints of drama to help hype the match. It was less about the story and more about the intensity of Itami’s character. Really well done.
-Lio Rush was shown warming up backstage.
-A commercial aired for Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules on Sunday.
(2) LIO RUSH vs. COLIN DELANEY
Rush hit the ring first to a small response. He walked down the ramp with a swagger and smiled at the audience before quickly jumping in the ring. Right before the match began, Akira Tozawa’s music hit and Tozawa walked down to the ringside area. Rush stared at him and smiled as Tozawa urged him to worry about the match. From there, the bell rang and the match began.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush has an incredible presence in that ring. He’s a small guy, but carries himself larger because of his personality and charisma.
Rush started things off by rolling out of the ring and grabbing a steel chair. He set it up for Tozawa to sit on and then rolled back into the ring. As he did, Tozawa kicked the chair over as Rush got rolled up by Delaney. Right after the pin attempt, Rush destroyed Colin with quick kicks and then taunted him with springboard flips around the ring. Eventually, he landed one on Delaney which sent him to the outside. From there, Rush rolled out to toss Delaney back in the ring and as he did he talked trash to Tozawa. Rush then climbed to the top rope and talked more trash before jumping off and connected with his Final Hour finish. He then covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 1:52
Heydorn’s Analysis: Total squash match, but the interaction between Tozawa and Rush is the real story. That match is a good starting point for Rush as he makes his way to the top of the card. Rush is tremendously smooth in the ring and it will be a treat to see him in a longer match against a better opponent like Tozawa.
-After the match, Tozawa got on the mic and gushed over how good Rush was in his match. He then asked Rush what he had done on 205 Live and answered for him by saying “nothing.” Tozawa then asked Rush if he really wanted to fight him. Rush responded by saying “any time, any place” before asking for the mic. Tozawa pretended to oblige but then dropped the mic in front of Rush. This angered Rush, but before he could do anything with that anger, Drake Maverick walked out and reminded the 205 Live locker room that he makes the matches. He then signed Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa for next week.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The credibility that Maverick has built up is astonishing. He really comes across as the leader of the brand and therefore is respected as such. The crowd got a little restless and seemed peeved that they wouldn’t see Rush vs. Tozawa tonight. That reaction is an occupational hazard of booking big matches in front of a live audience that won’t see them live. 205 Live rarely books this way though so the attempt at something unique is worth it from my perspective.
-After Drake’s annoucement, the announce team cued up a recap video that highlighted last week’s main event between Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali. From there, Cedric Alexander was shown warming up backstage as Mustafa Ali looked on and pumped him up.
-A commercial aired for WWE 2K19 and Miz and Mrs.
-Out of the break, a selfie promo aired from Drew Gulak with The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher at his side. He said that he normally doesn’t approve of selfies, but regrettably understands that its the way to reach the younger generation of today.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Did Drew Gulak just provide the key ingredient as to why Vince chooses to go with this style of promo? The code has been cracked!
Gulak then said that because they have dismissed the Lucha House Party they can move on to other things and brighter prizes. He then said that they’d be paying very close attention to the winner of tonight’s championship main event.
-The announce team then ran down next week’s key matches before Hideo Itami made his entrance for the main event.
(3) HIDEO ITAMI vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER – WWE Cruiserweight Championship
As Itami walked to the ring he got a small reaction while Nigel talked up Itami’s accolades inside and outside of 205 Live. The rest of the announce team argued with him on that and said that Itami is the perfect opponent for Cedric to build his legacy off of. From there, Alexander’s music hit and he too got a small response from the crowd. Alexander walked down the ramp with an abundance of energy that seemed to pump up the crowd a bit more than his entrance music did. After Alexander jumped through the ropes, official introduction were made, and the bell rang for the match to begin.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Official intros are the perfect way to convey a big time match. Great call by WWE to use it here.
To start things off, Alexander yelled at Itami before tying up with him and pushing him toward the corner. As the referee called for the break, Alexander pushed Itami and asked him if that was all he had. The two men then tied up again and this time Itami backed Cedric into the corner and attempted to kick him as the ref called for separation. Out of that, both men exchanged mat wrestling positions before they stood up and tied up for a third time. This time, Alexander got a quick upper hand via a head lock before connecting with his springboard hurricanrana which he followed with a dropkick. Out of this, Itami rolled between the ropes while Alexander taunted him. Alexander then connected with stiff chops. From there, Alexander jumped at Itami for a move, but Itami countered it with a very stiff kick to Cedric’s chest.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Very stiff kick, but it woke the crowd up. Alexander showed a ton of fire at the start of this match and came off as a very confident champion. At the same time, he almost crossed the line into the territory of arrogance ala Roman Reigns. Almost crossing that line is what makes someone like Mustafa Ali a more over babyface.
It was all Itami from this point forward as he decimated Alexander with calculated leg and knee strikes. As this offensive onslaught ensued, Nigel again recapped Itami’s career and highlighted his championship runs in Japan. Back in the ring, Itami continued his assault while yelling “respect me” at Alexander. From there, Alexander attempted to change the momentum of the match with more chops, but Itami quickly took it back with more strikes. He then followed those strikes with a leg scissor submission. As Cedric was in the hold the crowd clapped for him to escape. Once he did, Alexander hit the ropes to try and sway the momentum again, but again, Itami was there to keep it on his side with a knee strike to the abdomen. After that strike, Itami locked in a headlock as the audience clapped for Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A very slow place, but calculated at the same time which kept the audience engaged.
Out of the head lock, Itami attempted a cover, but Alexander kicked out at two. From there, Itami locked in a second headlock to continue to inflict damage on Alexander’s neck. Eventually, Alexander countered a strike by rolling through it and into a pin attempt. Even though it only yielded a two count, Alexander followed with a dropkick which he followed with a jumping face buster through the middle ropes. This caused Itami to roll out of the ring which led to Alexander nailing Itami with his over the top rope somersault senton. He then tossed Itami back into the ring and tried to connect with his springboard clothesline. Itami saw this coming and dodged the move before lifting Alexander onto his shoulders for the GTS. Alexander countered this move and connected with his Neuralizer before covering for a two count. Out of the pin, Alexander charged at Itami in the corner, but Itami countered with a right boot to the face. Itami then hung Alexander on the top rope before jumping off the turnbuckle to connect with a top rope forearm. After the move, Itami covered, but Alexander kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Itami tried for the GTS again, but Alexander countered which led to both men exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring. Itami got the upper hand out of this and planted Alexander with a suplex before making the cover for a two count. Right after the pin, Itami removed the pad from the bottom turnbuckle like he did in his triple threat match a few weeks ago.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice to see the consistency in Itami with him attempting to win this match just like he won the triple threat a few weeks back. It’s small, but does a nice job in putting the bow on the entire package of the match.
As the ref saw this, Alexander tried for a third time to hit his top rope clothesline, but Itami countered it again which sent Alexander to the outside. Itami rolled out after him and then connected with his running dropkick with Alexander propped up on the steel steps. Itami then slowly rolled Alexander into the ring and went for the pin, but Cedric kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Itami connected with some stiff elbow strikes which left Alexander off balance in the middle of the ring. Then, as Itami hit the ropes, Alexander lifted him into the air and nailed him with the Lumbar Check for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Alexander at 15:42
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match overall and different from the type of match we saw last week between Murphy and Ali. Itami clearly has some physical limitations that keep from going into 4th and 5th gear. That said, he fills that gap with a calculated mean streak that keeps the audience’s attention in a different way. Alexander was good as always, but still is missing that intangible quality that fully connects with fans.
-After the match, Alexander celebrated with the belt as the show faded to black.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid show overall that not only setup a batch of good matches next week, but featured a big time match in its own right. You couldn’t help but compare Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali during this show. Seeing what Ali did last week and the reaction he got in the building and on social media, Alexander had a rough climb to make in order to top it. The story coming out of tonight is that he didn’t top it and I’m not sure he can. Mustafa Ali gets a bigger reaction, has had better matches, and plays his babyface role more effectively than Alexander does. Time will tell, but last week’s main event and this week’s main event paint a picture of a possible changing of the guard at the top of the division.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 7/3 WWE 205 Live Report: Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy no DQ match, Noam Dar returns, and more