SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JULY 17, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with the standard 205 Live intro video from Drake Maverick in which he ran down the events from last week’s main event championship match between Hideo Itami and Cedric Alexander. Maverick then teased a new number one contender for Alexander before highlighting the show’s matches including Akira Tozawa vs. Lio Rush and TJP vs. Noam Dar.
Heydorn’s Analysis: These videos continue to be mini state of the state addresses for 205 Live. It fits Maverick’s character and aura as the GM and also fits the show’s sports like feel.
-After the video the show open ran Vic, Nigel, and Percy welcomed the audience to the program. They too ran down the upcoming matches before TJP’s music hit and the first match started. The announce team also discussed whether or not Lio Rush deserves to be main eventing shows this early in his career.
(1) TJP vs. NOAM DAR
TJP walked out to a very small response from the audience and immediatley started talking on the microphone as he made his way to the ring. He mocked the audience and sarcastically said that it was such a treat for Drake Maverick to actually tell him who is opponent would be. TJP kept on and said it was like Christmas backstage and that he wants the next shot at cruiserweight title. From there, TJP concluded that Maverick wouldn’t allow that to happen and wouldn’t listen because he prefers TJP to be a curtain-jerker. He then berated the fans for being from Wilkes-Barre before saying that he would make Noam Dar’s comeback story just a sense. He then said that he was the constant on 205 Live and that he was the best wrestler in the game.
Heydorn’s Analysis: TJP has come a long way with his promos. He seems totally comfortable and at home as a heel. That said, they are getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger on something serious with Maverick which should give him an additional boost to the top of this card – especially if the championship is involved. Like most stuff TJP has touched in the last few months, this was effective and entertaining.
Dar hit the ring after TJP’s promo and got a quiet response just like TJP did. From there, the match began right away and TJP attempted to crush Dar with a punch right out of the gate. Dar dodged it and went for his superkick finish, but TJP saw this and rolled out of the ring. Dar followed him to the outside and the two brawled there before he tossed TJP back into the ring and attempted a cover for a two count. Out of the pin, both men exchanged take downs on each other before TJP gained the momentum by connecting with a slingshot kick over the top rope before hammering Dar with punches and chops in the corner. As this beating occurred, Drake Maverick was shown watching the match backstage in an effort to scout a potential number one contender for Cedric Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Brilliant usage of Maverick backstage. Raw and SmackDown show this type of shot regularly, but without meaning. This shot had plenty of meaning. It gave the illusion that Maverick watches all of these matches to make decisions on future opportunities for his stars. Further, it plays right into the sports like feel of the show as stars should want to win any match due to the fact that Maverick may be watching with an opportunity on the line.
Back in the ring, TJP continued to dismantle Dar by connecting with a northern lights suplex and following that with a shoulder submission. From there, Dar crawled to the ropes which forced TJP to release the hold. After the escape, Dar took TJP down for a quick pin, but TJP rolled through it and locked in another submission that continued to focus on Dar’s arm. TJP broke the submission his own and proceeded to connect with a pair of suplexes before attempting a pin. He only received a two count, but was able to keep momentum by locking in another shoulder submission move. Eventually, Dar rolled TJP up for a two count which caused TJP to break the hold. Dar then had the momentum and capitalized on it by crushing TJP with headbutts before striking him with a vicious uppercut. After that, Dar connected with an overhead suplex before covering for a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Dar pulled TJP to his feet, but was then lifted by TJP for a detonator kick. Dar countered the move successfully before hitting TJP to the mat instead. From there, both men traded offensive sequence until Dar knocked TJP out of the ring with a running dropkick. Again, Dar followed TJP to the outside to inflict more damage. As he did, TJP slammed Dar’s injured shoulder into the ring barricade. With Dar dazed, TJP went to work again. This time, TJP targeted Dar’s knee and hit with a variety of stomps and moves including the standard chop block.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great facial work during this mean streak. Well done.
Again, as this assault took place, Drake Maverick was shown watching the match. From there, TJP continued to pound on Dar’s knee before locking in his Knee Bar submission finisher. Quickly after applying the hold, Dar tapped out.
WINNER: TJP via submission at 10:36
Heydorn’s Analysis: A pretty standard match, but an effective one. TJP came off as the bigger star and was effective in being the cocky heel. Dar needs more maturation as a babyface. His look still screams heel to me and even with TJP decimating his knee, Dar didn’t fully convey the pain well enough to transfer all the heat possible onto his opponent.
-After the match, TJP celebrated in the ring and gloated to the crowd as the announce team recapped the match. The announce team then cued up a recap video on last week’s WWE Cruiserweight Championship match between Hideo Itami and Cedric Alexander. Then, Lio Rush was shown warming up backstage ahead of his upcoming match against Akira Tozawa.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Those Rush warm ups are impressive. Even in just a four second warm-up clip, he’s still able to convey a sense of star power for himself. Bravo.
-From there, a Mustafa Ali promo aired in which Ali recapped his own win against Buddy Murphy. He said he was one man who fights for a million others and that he would be cruiserweight champion.
(2) DREW GULAK vs. DANNY GARCIA
After the Ali promo, Gulak walked out to the ring with The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher. Garcia was already in the ring. From there, the bell rang and the match began with Gulak immediatley clotheslining Garcia to the mat. Gulak then crushed Garcia with a devastating suplex before locking in the Gu-Lock. Garcia then tapped out immediatley to end the match.
WINNER: Gulak via submission at :29
-After the match, Gulak quoted a Rolling Stones song and said that the 205 Live audience had been subjected to unworthy champions. He then said that in due time, they’d have the champion they need in himself. From there, Drew Gulak pointed at Garcia and said that if anyone steps to them, they would tap out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just an ultimate squash match followed by a standard Gulak promo. For what it was it worked, but could have gone deeper into the Gulak story on why he wanted and needed to be a champion for the brand.
-When Gulak was done talking, the announce team cued up a recap video from last week which highlighted the Buddy Murphy/Tony Nese and Lucha House Party situation from last week. After the video, Murphy and Nese were interviewed backstage. Murphy said he hated losing and that last week the Lucha’s were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He then said that he didn’t regret what he did, but that he was sorry the world didn’t get to see Nese pick up the win last week. This prompted Nese to speak and he said that he would have won his match last week had it not been for a ringside distraction. From there, Nese challenged Kalisto to a rematch next week before walking out of the shot.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Cross your fingers that this is a one time partnership between Nese and Murphy. Murphy clearly has done better things for this show and deserves a higher spot than being Nese’s babysitter. His matches prove that alone. More to come on his front, but being relegated to a second tier tag team after main eventing in possibly the best 205 Live match ever certainly isn’t a step in the right direction for Murphy.
-Akira Tozawa was shown warming up backstage as he did his war chant.
-A commercial aired for next week’s Miz and Mrs premiere on the USA Network.
(3) LIO RUSH vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
After the commercial break, Rush hit the ring to a small reaction. Per the norm, Rush slowly walked to the ring and smiled to the audience as he did so. From there, Akira Tozawa made his entrance and got a small dose of his war chant as he walked to the ringside area.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush continues to have an incredible presence. Plus, we all know he’s tremendous in the right. That is a perfect combination for what this show needs right now.
After the bell rang, the audience chanted the war chant loudly as both competitors felt each other out in the center of the ring. Within this, Tozawa attempted a handful of tie ups, but Rush maneuvered out of them with his quickness. Then, as Tozawa backed off, Rush jumped in and locked in a head lock before quickly dashing around the ring and connecting with a springboard hurricanrana. After, Rush laid out on the top rope and smiled to a chorus of boos. From there, the action spilled to the outside with Tozawa chasing after Rush. The chase got back into the ring and when it did, Tozawa crushed Rush with a kick to the chest. Tozawa then mocked Rush by laying out on the top rope like Rush did. This got a nice cheer from the crowd. After, Tozawa rolled to the outside apron to attempt a springboard move, but Rush kicked him off that apron with a flipping kick. At this point, Rush owned the match and decimated Tozawa with vertical suplexes, kicks, and other strikes.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great work by Rush here. He’s tactfully able to convey aggression and arrogance all at the same time. That skill will prove to be very helpful as he continues to rise up the ranks on the WWE main roster.
Eventually, Tozawa battled back and the two exchanged strikes in the middle of the ring. Again, Rush got the upperhand with his and followed it up by connecting with two back to back elbow drops. Out of this, Rush attempted a pin, but Tozawa kicked out at two. Rush then locked in a sleeper hold, but it was quickly countered by Tozawa. After the counter, Tozawa and Rush exchanged more strikes in the ring before Tozawa hit is running suicide dive through the second rope. After that move, Tozawa rolled Rush back into the ring and then climbed to the top rope before leaping off it for a top rope dropkick on Rush. Tozawa then made another cover, but again, Rush kicked out at two. In the end, Tozawa battled to the outside of the ring again before Tozawa took momentum and rolled Rush back into the ring. From there, Tozawa climbed to the top rope for his top rope senton finisher, but Rush knocked his legs out from under him in a way that made his neck hit the turnbuckle. After, Rush climbed to the top and connected with his Final Hour before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 9:00
Heydorn’s Analysis: Rush looked good in this match which obviously was the goal. That said, he and Tozawa lacked chemistry. Their timing was off and the entire thing from start to finish looked discombobulated.
-After the match, Drake Maverick was shown watching Lio Rush’s in-ring celebration on a monitor backstage. Soon after the shot started, Cedric Alexander walked into Drake’s office and wanted to know if Maverick had setup a number on contender yet. Maverick responded by saying that next week Drew Gulak, Hideo Itami, TJP, and Mustafa Ali would compete in a fatal four-way match with the winner getting the next shot at Alexander’s championship. Alexander responded and said that he liked the move and “may the best man win.”
-From there, Alexander left the room as the show faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This move makes sense. With Alexander taking out Itami last week, a clear cut number one contender hadn’t been naturally defined within the storylines. This match allows for everyone who would possibly be considered for that spot a chance to earn it. The booking aligns with the essence of the show’s sports like feel while also creating what is sure to be a good match next week on the show. Well done.
FINAL THOUGHTS: For the most part, this was a filler episode to get us to next week and into a smooth story that surrounds the championship. 205 Live doesn’t run PPV’s or WWE Network specials so there is bound to be lulls in the booking like the main roster faces coming out of big events. Last week’s championship match main event was the “big event” and they reloaded tonight. That said, Alexander’s insistence on defending his championship is a smart layer to add into the program as it naturally gives everyone a purpose on the show.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 7/10 WWE 205 Live Report: Cedric Alexander vs. Hideo Itami for the cruiserweight championship, Kalisto vs. Nese, and more