SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JULY 24, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with the usual opening video which featured Drake Maverick running down the matches and storylines for the night. He highlighted each star in the number one contender fatal four-way match and hyped the match itself as the show’s main event.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Maverick stuck to discussing just the main event match in this opening, but in doing so, he had time to give quick back stories on each of the competitors in the main event. This was a nice touch and caught people up on why each of these men potentially deserve a shot at the title.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team of Vic, Nigel, and Percy welcomed the audience to the program. They hyped tonight’s main event as well and discussed potential winners before introducing Drake Maverick who was sitting with them for commentary. From there, they kicked things off with match number one.
(1) AKIRA TOZAWA vs. JACK GALLAGHER
Tozawa entered the ring first and did to a small response outside of a barely audible war chant. As he walked to the ring, Drake Maverick explained why Lio Rush wasn’t in the number one contender match despite his hot run since his debut on the brand. Maverick explained that Rush was still a newcomer to the brand and needed to prove himself outside of two matches.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That type of detail and consistency is why this show is becoming more and more watchable. You just don’t see it on Raw and SmackDown Live. Telling that story helps Rush, though. It gives him notoriety, he’s be talked about as a main event star, and it plants seeds for a future story with Maverick. Minor details can go a long way and this one certainly does here.
Jack Gallagher hit the ring next and also received a very tepid response. As he walked down the ramp, a selfie promo aired in which Gallagher said that he had been overlooked as a contender for the cruiserweight championship. Gallagher said that within his successful run as a tag team with Brian Kendrick, people forgot about his skill as a singles competitor. He said that he would remind them in his match against Tozawa and that Tozawa would taste defeat.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Short, but sweet. I’m not a huge fan of the selfie promos, but they can be effective when used properly. This was just that. Gallagher said his peace and then moved on.
Back in the ring, the bell rang, and the match was on. Tozawa cued up a war chant from the crowd, but then was taken down to the mat by Gallagher. Tozawa quickly got back to his feet, but then was immediatley taken down again with a shoulder tackle. The tides turned on a dime after that after Tozawa connected with a running PK kick on Gallagher before connecting with a running senton bomb. Tozawa then went for a pin, but Gallagher kicked out at two. From there, the two exchanged chops and strikes in the ring until Tozawa knocked Gallagher out of the ring. He then attempted an over the top rope maneuver, but Gallagher countered by tying him up in the ring apron. Gallagher owned the match from this point forward and dismantled Tozawa in the ring with body slams, submission holds, and strikes. As the match went on, Maverick debated with the commentary team in regards to why he chose who he did for the number one contender match later in the night.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Brilliant commentary work by Maverick. He perfectly told the audience why he chose the combatants for the main event and used that match to highlight why both Gallagher and Tozawa needed to win the match they were having. Well done.
Back in the match, Gallagher still owned full control. He manipulated Tozawa’s body and hands which caused a tremendous amount of pain, but each time he went for a cover, he only received a count of two. Gallagher then mocked the war chant before he kicked Tozawa directly in the chest. Eventually, Tozawa turned the momentum and connected with a running suicide dive through the second rope. He then connected with a top rope drop kick before making the cover for a two count. As he did, Maverick said that Tozawa needed this win to get into title contention. Out of the pin attempt, Tozawa locked in an octopus submission until Gallagher hit him with a sidewalk slam to break the hold. With momentum, Gallagher hit Tozawa with a powerbomb before making another two count cover. After that pin attempt, Gallagher connected with a running dropkick in the corner which he attempted to follow with a vertical suplex. Tozawa countered that and then climbed to the top rope for his Senton finish. Gallagher followed him up and worked to lock in a submission, but Tozawa pushed him off. He then connected with his top rope finisher and made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Tozawa at 7:33
Heydorn’s Analysis: This was a pretty standard A to B match. Tozawa and Gallagher were able to highlight each other’s strengths while each getting in their signature spots. The greater story here is Maverick’s commentary. Cole, Coach, and Graves need to give it a listen. In this seven minute match, he told the story of this entire brand. Not only did he back up his reasoning for entering each man into the main event later in the night, but he framed the match he was watching in a way that gave it stakes – those stakes being, the opportunity to fight for the title. It was brilliant work and another reason why this brand has become infinitely more watchable.
-After the match, Tozawa confronted Maverick and told him that he wanted a rematch with Lio Rush. Maverick said he would think it over as Tozawa walked off.
-TJP cut a promo from the backstage area while lying on a couch and gave sarcastic props to Drake Maverick for including him in the main event fatal four-way number one contender match. He said that he won’t give Maverick real points though because his inclusion was obvious. From there, he said that it’s only a matter of time before the cruiserweight championship heads home.
-After TJP’s promo, Hideo Itami was shown shadow boxing and he cut a promo as well. He spoke Japanese and then said that Cedric Alexander survived him in their first encounter. He then said that next time, he wouldn’t.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nothing special here, but effective words that help drive the story of the main event. Both men stuck to their characters and gave the audience their mission statements. Simple, but effective.
-A commercial aired for Summerslam airing live on the WWE Network on August 19th. After, a commercial ran for WWE Shop.
(2) KALISTO & LINCE DORADO vs. CHRIS ROBINSON & RYAN DELIFO
Kalisto and Dorado hit the ring to a chorus of lucha chants. As they did, a selfie promo aired in which Kalisto called out Tony Nese for not showing up to accept his own challenge. They then did the lucha chant as the video wrapped up.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The announcers addressed Nese’s absence, but didn’t it much context. Odd, given what they setup last week between him and Kalisto.
The match began with Lince Dorado getting a lucha chant started in the audience. He then connected with a hurricanrana and a superkick before tagging Kalisto into the match. As the action happened, Buddy Murphy was shown watching the match backstage in his locker room. In the end, Dorado connected with a double spring board stunner, but before he tagged Kalisto in again. Kalisto then connected with the SDS before he covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Kalisto & Dorado at 2:04
Heydorn’s Analysis: Squash match city. With Murphy watching the bout, clearly the story between him and the Lucha House Party is still simmering. This move is a step down for Murphy, but look for him to be the focal point of the feud going forward.
-After the match, Drew Gulak cut a promo as he got ready for his match. He said that the match would be a chaotic free for all and an example of what is wrong with 205 Live. From there, he said the only certainty in the match is that when someone steps to him, they will tap out. After Gulak’s promo, Mustafa Ali cut a promo in which he said that all he needs to do to get his next championship opportunity is withstand the wrath of his opponents and then climb to the top rope for his 054. He rattled off what that “wrath” was before saying it would be a piece of cake.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A typical heel promo from Gulak and a typical babyface promo from Ali. Both equally as effective. Gulak ran down his match and built in excuses for his loss, while Ali owned up to the hardships that could befall him before laying a path to victory. Pro wrestling 101, folks.
-A commercial aired for Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar’s return to Monday Night Raw next week.
-After the break, Lio Rush was shown walking backstage. He was on his phone and then was interviewed. Rush said that he had no reaction to Akira Tozawa’s challenge from earlier in the night. He said that he already beat Tozawa and that he was in a league of his own.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I really like Rush’s character. He appears to be the perfect example of a guy tapping into his own personality and turning the volume up.
(3) MUSTAFA ALI vs. HIDEO ITAMI vs. DREW GULAK vs. TJP – Number one contender match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Ali hit the ring to a small response, but the biggest response thus far in the show. Gulak came out next and also received a quiet response from the crowd. Hideo Itami was next and was followed by TJP. With all the men in the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Out of the gate, the four men carefully examined the situation before Gulak attacked Ali along with Itami. As they beat on Ali, TJP hung behind and waited for the madness to subside. Gulak and Itami saw this and went after TJP, but Ali beat them to the punch.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A slip up in the psychology and story here. Given what Gulak said about hating the fact that this match breeds chaos, he shouldn’t have been the one to begin that chaos. Switch TJP and Gulak here and you’re onto something.
From there, Ali, Gulak, and TJP had a nice sequence of offense on each other before Itami took over the match with kicks. As Itami owned all three of his opponents, Cedric Alexander was shown watching the match from the backstage area. Back in the ring, Itami was still in full control of the match and covered Ali before TJP broke up the pin attempt. This laid the groundwork for dissension between Itami and TJP. As they fought, Gulak stormed back strong into the match and laid them out before locking a submission hold on Mustafa Ali.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ali is like a punching bag in there. He’s taking everyone’s offense and using it to build sympathy for his eventual comeback. Smart psychology, but he’s paying for it and bumping like crazy.
Out of the submission, Gulak slammed Ali to the mat and covered, but TJP broke up the pin attempt again. After this, TJP pleaded his case to Gulak and Itami before the three teamed up on Ali by hitting him with a triple back body drop. From there, TJP rallied his troops and continued to coordinate a beating on Ali. He told Gulak and Itami to lift Ali for a suplex, but as they did, he rolled them up for a quick two count pin attempt. Out of the pin, the three men argued until Ali jumped off the top rope and connected with a cross body splash on all three of his opponents. Immediatley after hitting that, TJP was able to secure control of the match and locked in simultaneous submissions on Itami and Ali. Gulak saw this and broke up those holds before locking in his own headlock submission on TJP. Eventually, Gulak pressed TJP to the mat for a pin, but TJP kicked out at two. After the pin, both TJP and Gulak engaged in some string wrestling on the mat until Itami broke it up with a forearm smash on Gulak.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Nice spot between TJP and Gulak. It slowed the match down a bit which hurt the pace and timing, but was fun to watch.
After that, TJP was able to convince Itami to go after Ali again and he obliged by connecting with a kick to the chest. Eventually, Ali was able to secure some momentum after connecting with a top rope hurricanrana in which he tossed TJP into Hideo Itami. From there, Ali connected with his rolling facebuster on TJP before connecting with his tornado DDT on Gulak. After the DDT, Ali covered Gulak, but TJP was there to make the save again.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ok, am I just being trolled here? TJP has made every pinfall save up until now. Not sure what story they are trying to tell with that at this point, but it’s on my radar. Surely, it will turn out to be of no importance.
Out of that attempt, each man was down in the ring. Gulak got to his feet first and slammed Ali to the mat. From there, each men exchanged strikes on the other until all four were down again. The crowd applauded this spot and an audible cheer for Ali could be heard faintly. This time, Ali was the first up to his feet, but was immediately sent back down to the mat after colliding in midair with TJP. This left Gulak and Itami in the ring. Gulak told Itami that he respected him and asked him to shake his hand. As Itami brought his hand out, Gulak slapped him in the face. Itami then returned the slap and they both brawled from there with Itami connecting with the Falcon Arrow before covering for a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: And there is the “this is awesome” chant. The match is good, but if we’re honest, this chant for this match is a stretch.
Eventually, the brawl between Gulak and Itami led them to the outside of the ring. They continued fighting out there before Ali attempted his suicide dive. As he did though, TJP countered the move by drop kicking Ali in the knee. He then kicked Ali in the face before heading to the outside to face his other opponents. This gave Ali the opening to hit a big move and he took full advantage with a 450 splash. Right after that, Ali ran back into the ring and connected with his tornado DDT again before landing his 054 finish on TJP. As he went for the cover, Hideo Itami pulled Ali off of TJP to break the pin and then slammed his face into the steel steps. From there, Itami beat Ali senseless all around the ringside area before throwing him back into the ring. As he throw Ali back in, Drew Gulak hit Itami from behind and then dove into the ring himself to take advantage of the fallen Ali. In the ring, Gulak locked in the Gu-Lock before the referee called the match on the account of Ali being unresponsive.
WINNER: Gulak via submission at 14:52
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match, but not a great one. Certainly worth a watch, but not on the level of Murphy vs. Ali from a few weeks back. That said, it was very successful in setting each guy up for something coming out of it. Gulak obviously has his championship match, Ali and Itami will certainly go toe to toe, and TJP can continue to play the whiny heel card and say he was unjustly treated in the match thanks to Drake Maverick. Everyone wins. The match itself featured a cast with varying skill sets and styles. With four guys to feature, those styles didn’t always mesh well which led to the match being more sloppy than other recent 205 Live main events.
-After the match, Alexander was shown again looking on at his new challenger. From there, Gulak celebrated in the ring with The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher as the show faded to black.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A one match show to be sure and while that match didn’t fully live up to expectations, it provide a road map for the next few weeks on the program. Drake Maverick was amazing on this show. He has a unique ability to really tell the story of his brand. It’s working and he continues to be a reason to watch this program.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 7/17 WWE 205 Live Report: Huge number one contender match set for next week, TJP vs. Noam Dar, Rush vs. Tozawa, and more