SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JULY 31, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with the standard opening video package that we’ve seen on 205 Live for the last couple months. This time, it didn’t feature 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick. It recapped last week’s fatal four-way number one contender match and hyped the upcoming Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak championship match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Interesting call to not feature Maverick in this. Maverick doing the recap added a layer of credibility to the video to start the show and told the audience who was in control. It’s not a huge deal, but his absence in this one hurt the impact that these videos have had since they began.
-From there, the show open ran and Vic, Nigel, and Percy welcomed the audience to the show. They also highlighted last week’s main event match and hyped that the big Alexander vs. Gulak championship match would take place at Summerslam. They then promoted the nights matches and segments including Alexander vs. Kendrick and highlights from the Alexander/Gulak contract signing for Summerslam. After that, they cued up the opening match.
(1) KALISTO vs. TONY NESE
Kalisto his the ring first and got his standard response of lucha chants. As he walked to the ring, the announce team discussed the mini feud between Kalisto and Nese. From there, Nese made his entrance to a minimal reaction from the crowd. The match began with both men locking up in the middle of the ring. Out of the gate, Nese whipped Kalisto to the mat and tied up with again before shoving him to the ground. As this opening action took place, Nigel and Percy discussed how important it was for Nese to have Buddy Murphy on his side as he battled the Lucha House Party. As that happened, Murphy was shown watching the screen from the backstage area.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Coming off of the successful run in the main event picture with Cedric Alexander, this feud has defined Murphy down a bit. He needs to take ownership of that and make these segments and matches feel bigger because of his involvement.
Back in the ring, Nese was still fully in control of the match. He whipped Kalisto in the corner and then posed to the audience as he stood over a fallen Kalisto. With Kalisto down, Nese mocked the lucha chant and then chopped Kalisto again before whipping him into the corner. Kalisto attempted to turn the tide with a top rope cross body, but he was caught in mid air by Nese. From there, Nese drove his knee into Kalisto midsection before locking in a back submission.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Kalisto’s selling is bothering me. If you compare his sell job to the one Rollins gave for Drew McIntyre last night, its a night and day comparison. Both attacks and dominance were the same, but Kalisto just isn’t making the crowd care about him getting beat up. Because of that, they aren’t buying Nese’s dominance either.
Eventually, Kalisto battled out of the submission hold and gained separation with a chin breaker. That momentum was short lived as Nese jumped him again, attempted a pin, and then locked in the same back submission again after Kalisto made the kick out. Out of the pin, Kalisto finally gained momentum in the match. He connected with kicks and then finally hit his top rope cross body. After, Kalisto hit Nese with a dropkick before attempting his basement-rana. As he went for that move, Nese countered and slammed him to the mat with a powerbomb. Nese then made the cover, but Kalisto kicked out. Out of the pin, Nese attempted a moonsault, but tweaked his knee on the landing when Kalisto moved out of the way. Sensing Nese was hurt, Kalisto looked to capitalize and connected with the basement-rana. From there, Kalisto covered, but Nese kicked out at two. Both men were slow to get up out of the pin, but Kalisto made it to his feet first. He cued up lucha chants and went for the SDS, but Nese countered by slamming him into the corner. Nese made the cover, but Kalisto kicked out again. Nese then worked to pick Kalisto up off the mat with a move, but Kalisto parlayed that into the SDS. Kalisto then covered for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Kalisto at 7:28
-After the match, Buddy Murphy halted Kalisto’s celebration and tried to attack him at ringside. Lince Dorado then made the save. Him and Kalisto then hit a double superkick on Murphy before walking up the ramp.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not a great match. Kalisto’s psychology and selling were off and it derailed the story of the match. The post-match angle made sense and clearly we’re setup for a tag team match between both sides next week. Ultimately, the Lucha House Party needs to bring more to the table for their programs. They’re fine in the ring, but don’t have a sense of purpose right now. In turn, anyone who works with them has that same flailing sense of purpose as well.
-When the segment was over, footage aired from the official contract signing for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match at Summerslam between Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak. Drake Maverick mediated the signing and welcomed both men to the table. From there, he called Summerslam one of the biggest events on the WWE calendar. Maverick then invited Drew Gulak to sign the contract first. Gulak was about to sign, but then tried to addressed Alexander. Cedric was having none of that and interuppted Gulak. He then took the contract from him and signed it himself after saying that he didn’t have time for PowerPoint presentations or talking. After he signed, he handed the contract back to Gulak and told him to simply sign it. With a flabbergasted look on his face Gulak said he only wanted to congratulate Cedric on his title win. Gulak said it was incredible for Alexander to have an undefeated record in 2018. From there, Gulak asked him what he’s done since WrestleMania.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Umm. Drew, you answered your own question just seconds earlier. He was, you know, undefeated? It would be one thing to dismiss that record as a heel, but Gulak owned it for Alexander just a few seconds ago. A small, but also a rare inconsistency for this brand these days.
Alexander responded by saying that he’s defended the title all over the world. Gulak then asked where Alexander was when he didn’t have the belt. He said that Cedric was resting and taking nights off while he himself was pushing 205 Live to new heights. This angered Alexander who said he didn’t want to listen to nonsense any longer and that Gulak needed to get to the point. Gulak then said that Alexander would be forever known as the Brock Lesnar of 205 Live before signing the contract himself. Then, before Gulak could get up, Alexander told him that Kendrick would be in for a world of hurt later in the show.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Overall, this worked really well. It put some heat between these guys and defined a story in addition to the championship. Well done. At some point, Gulak needs to give the audience a clear reason why he wants to be champion. With weeks left to go before Summerslam, he still has time to convey that message in a heelish way.
-After the contract footage, a commercial aired for WWE Summerslam on the WWE Network. Then, a spot aired for WWE Shop.
-Out of the break, Lio Rush’s music hit and Rush made his way to the ring. As he walked down, Rush addressed the audience and said that people were upset that he didn’t give Akira Tozawa a rematch. He then called himself a hot commodity as the audience booed him. He said he tempted to give a rematch, but said he found someone more qualified instead. Rush then entered the ring and sarcastically talked about (and ran down) his opponent. From there, the match began.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good promo from Rush. He’s excellent at selling his character because it appears as if its an extension of his personality. After he get’s past this Tozawa program, it’s not hard to envision him in main events for this brand.
(2) LIO RUSH vs. RICKY MARTINEZ
The match began with Rush attempting a flying clothesline but missing. Martinez then got some quick offense in before Rush reversed that offense into quick kicks of his own. Rush then connected with a suicide dive before slapping Martinez in the face. Rush then climbed to the top rope and connected with the Final Hour before making the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 1:11
-After the match, Akira Tozawa hit the ring as Rush laughed him off. As Tozawa got in the ring, Rush backed off and rolled through the ropes before walking off.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A squash match and showcase match for Rush. As usual, he came off very well. His feud with Tozawa clearly has another match looming and it should be a good one. Within it, they’ve told a good story that well help get Rush more over. Well done as that is the main goal.
-The Brian Kendrick was shown warming up backstage. Drew Gulak was there pumping him up before the shot went to Cedric Alexander warming up as well. From there, the show went to commercial break.
-A commercial aired for the Walk With Elias special on the WWE Network.
(3) THE BRIAN KENDRICK vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER
Out of the break, Kendrick hit the ring alone to a small reaction from the audience. After Kendrick, Alexander walked out to the biggest reaction of the night (though it was still small). As he made his entrance, the announce team framed the match as an opportunity for Kendrick to rough up Alexander ahead of Gulak’s match at Summerslam.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That commentary was thick. Something has to be brewing here as far as an interference from Gulak goes.
From there, the match began with Kendrick taunting Alexander and then running away. Eventually, both men tied up before Alexander took Kendrick down to the mat. After the take down, Alexander locked in a side headlock that Kendrick escaped quickly. Both men then tied up again and once again, Alexander got the upper hand. As the action ensued, the announce team discussed Alexander’s title run and said he’s been on a historic run.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great commentary on Alexander. It positioned him as a successful fighting champion, but not in an annoying way. Smart.
Back in the ring, Alexander still had full control. Again, both men tied up and this time Alexander continued his dominance with a series of vicious chops to Kendrick’s chest. He then pulled Kendrick into a corner and continued the chops and kicks before connecting with his hurricanrana takedown. Right after that, he connected with a dropkick and then tried for a cover, but Kendrick kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Drew Gulak walked out to the ring. Alexander was distracted and as this happened, Kendrick rolled underneath the ring. Once Alexander dismissed Gulak as a threat, he rolled to the outside of the ring to look for Kendrick and was hit by Kendrick from underneath the ring. This gave Kendrick his first momentum shift in the match and capitalized by throwing Alexander into the steel steps. As this happened, Gulak joined the announcers.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That was a quirky and unique way for Kendrick to gain his momentum. Sure, it was a little too cute, but I enjoyed the creativity.
At this point, Kendrick owned the match. He hit Alexander with a handful of dropkicks before he made the two count cover. Out of the pin, the audience appeared to get restless and chanted boring as Alexander battled back.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Boo birds. Not what you want if you’re Cedric Alexander. He simply has not connected in the same way as someone like Mustafa Ali since the relaunch of the brand. It’s an it factor thing that Cedric needs to find if he’s going to stay on top.
From there, Alexander attempted a springboard clothesline, but Kendrick pushed him off. Kendrick then went for Sliced Bread #2, but Alexander countered. The counter caused Kendrick to roll to the outside, but Alexander immediatley connected with his over the top rope flipping suicide dive. Alexander then rolled Kendrick back into the ring and kept his attack up with a spring board clothesline. After the move, he made the cover, but Kendrick kicked out at two. Gulak was brilliant on commentary at this point and said that in his match he would eliminate all high flying as he was planning to take Alexander down to the mat in their match in order to ground him.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More mart commentary. Gulak gave the audience his road map to victory. Their match has a foundational story now, plus Gulak can get heat and stick to his gimmick by working to ground a high flyer.
Back in the ring, Alexander was on a roll after connecting with the Neuralizer. Again, that move sent Kendrick to the outside which prompted Cedric to toss him back in. After he did and as he went to continue his attack, Kendrick locked in the Captain’s Hook submission. Eventually, Alexander escaped and was able to try a pin, but only got a two count. In the end, Alexander countered the Slice Bread #2 into the Lumbar Check for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Alexander at 12:21
-After the match, Alexander celebrated in the ring and stared down Gulak who had climbed up onto the ring apron. While he was distracted by Gulak, Jack Gallagher nailed Cedric from behind with a headbutt. From there Gulak took his jacket off and attempted a beatdown on Alexander. The attack was stopped before it started as Drake Maverick ran to the ring with a slew of referees to break up the fight. Maverick yelled that if Gulak touched Alexander, he would lose his shot at the title.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This match lacked third and fourth gear. It was fine in the first two gears, but just didn’t live up the previous run of good 205 Live main events. As for the post match angle, again, it started the story between these two men. With that goal in mind, the angle succeeded. Still, Alexander needs to show more as the show’s lead babyface.
-From there, the show faded to black as Gulak smiled at a fallen Alexander from the the ramp.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Very much a filler episode. That said, the Gulak vs. Alexander story began and was started in a very effective manner. The “boring” chants in the main event are troubling. This show needs to be anything but boring. That said, it should show Cedric Alexander that he needs to step up his game. This was his main event to carry and it fell flat. With guys like Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy having buzz worthy main events, Alexander needs to elevate his work to mirror their effort. Tonight, he failed in that regard. If he keeps failing, WWE will focus attention elsewhere.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 7/24 WWE 205 Live Report: Fatal four-way number one contender match, Tozawa vs. Gallagher, and more