SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
AUGUST 14, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show began with the typical 205 Live video open that featured General Manager, Drake Maverick. Maverick ran down the matches on tonight’s show which include Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander vs. Jack Gallagher. Regarding the main event, Maverick said that it was risky for Alexander to take such a hard match ahead of his title defense, but decided to because of a score he has to settle with Gallagher.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Maverick was great here as usual. He continues to provide a foundation of credibility to the show and to his role overall. Specifically, he framed Alexander’s choice to fight tough competition ahead of his championship match in a way that helped Cedric shine as a babyface. Good stuff.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the show. They also ran down the matches on tonight’s show and hyped the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on the pre-show of Summerslam this Sunday. After their promotional efforts, the cued up the first match of the evening.
(1) LIO RUSH vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
Rush hit the ring first to a very small response. He did so with a microphone in his hand and addressed the audience as he walked down the ramp. He said that the fans were lucky even though they lived in a garbage city. He said they were lucky because they had the privilege to watch him wrestle. Rush then called Tozawa one of the best cruiserweights in the world, but that unfortunately for him he was facing THE best in the world. From there, Rush said he would prove his dominance and that Tozawa would feel the Rush.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not Rush’s best promo. Though the content was fine, the delivery was choppy and seemed disorganized.
Akira Tozawa then made his entrance to a small response as well. As he walked down the ramp, the audience war chanted along with Tozawa, but that reaction was small too. After Tozawa got the ring, the bell rang right away and the match began. Out of the gate, Tozawa came at Rush hard and nailed him with strikes while he was in the corner. From there, Tozawa connected with a hurricanrana before the ref made Rush take off his jewelry. As he did, he tried to distract Tozawa with it, but Tozawa wasn’t fooled and clocked Rush in the face with a kick. This kicked knocked Rush to the ring and Rush attempted to walk to the backstage area. Tozawa followed and beat him up before throwing him back into the ring. Then, as Tozawa entered, Rush connected with a kick to gain the quick momentum. His momentum ended up being short lived as Tozawa connected with dropkick. After, he made the cover on Rush, but Lio kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Tozawa continued his dominance until Rush nailed Tozawa from behind to send him crashing into the ring post. Rush then made the cover, but Tozawa kicked out at two. Right after the pin, Tozawa locked in a rear chin lock which grounded Tozawa to the mat.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Surprised at just how much offense Akira Tozawa is getting. He certainly is positioned as a viable opponent for Rush, but Rush is the project. Tozawa working this much offense in is a double edge sword. It makes him more credible and therefore does more for Rush when Rush inevitably wins, but doesn’t showcase Rush and his flashy skill set in the best light possible. This brand needs stars. Rush tangling and going 50/50 with a habitual mid-carder doesn’t say “star” to me and at this point with Rush, anything he does needs to.
Eventually, Tozawa escaped and whipped Rush into the ropes. He followed with a Pele kick and a senton bomb, but Rush countered the second move to gain the upper hand once again. From there, Rush targeted Tozawa’s lower back which is where the damage was done via the countered Senton. Rush then transitioned those kicks into a sleeper hold. Tozawa and Rush then exchanged offense and reversals in the middle of the ring until Tozawa connected with a his flying suicide dive through the middle ropes. With Rush dazed, Tozawa tossed him back into the ring and locked in an abdominal stretch submission. Rush escaped by rolling Tozawa up, but he only received a two count. Out of the pin attempt, Rush dragged Tozawa to the corner and scaled the top rope. Tozawa woke up and followed up the ring post while doing his war chant. From there, Tozawa attempted a superplex, but Rush countered by knocking him off of the ropes. Rush then jumped off and connected with the Final Hour before covering for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 7:51
Heydorn’s Analysis: A good little match to be sure, but too much focus was paid to Tozawa. Yes, Rush got the win and that’s fine, but he also took a beating for most of the match. 205 Live needs star power and Lio Rush has potential to be just that. He needs to be better than 50/50 against Akira Tozawa.
-After the match, the announce team cued up a hype video for Drew Gulak. In the video, Gulak ran down Cedric Alexander and called himself the best submission specialist in the WWE. As workout clips of him aired, he said he would put Cedric Alexander into the Gu-Lock and make him tap out to become the new cruiserweight champion.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good video. It was serious in nature and presented Drew Gulak in a very sports-like way. Smart booking and good way to build organic interest in his match on Sunday.
-From there, Jack Gallagher was shown warming up backstage with Drew Gulak and The Brian Kendrick.
-After the backstage shot, a commercial aired for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 which airs this Saturday on the WWE Network.
-When the show returned the announce team plugged Summerslam and recapped the events of last week between Hideo Itami and Mustafa Ali. They showed Ali collapsing and then tossed the broadcast backstage for an interview with Drake Maverick. Maverick addressed the Ali situation and said that after his issues last week, Ali was examined by doctors. He said that Ali was diagnosed with severe exhaustion, but that he would make a full recovery. Maverick then said he took some of the blame for what happened and that Ali had been running too hard to get back into championship contention. Maverick said that Ali is truly the heart of 205 Live and that his matches with Buddy Murphy, Drew Gulak, and Hideo Itami prove that. From there, he said that every man has limits and that Ali found his. Because of that, Maverick decided that Mustafa Ali (for his own good) would not participate in any matches on 205 Live until he was 100 percent cleared and ready to go. Maverick then walked out of the shot and the broadcast was sent back to the team ringside.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Just a tremendous explanation. Not only did it paint Mustafa Ali as a fighting babyface, but Maverick used the fact that Ali was exhausted to elevate the championship. By telling the world that Ali hit his limit in an attempt to get back in the championship picture, that championship looks like a big deal. Great writing and great execution on the part of Maverick.
-After the interview, Hideo Itami’s music blared in the arena ahead of match number two.
(2) HIDEO ITAMI vs. TRENT NEWMAN
Itami made his entrance to a very quiet reaction from the audience. As he did, a selfie promo aired from Itami in which he spoke Japanese and said that he ended Mustafa Ali and stomped on the heart of 205 Live. After the promo, the match began. To start things off, Itami crushed Newman with kicks, punches, and chops. As he hit the offense, he yelled “respect me” at the audience. From there, Newman got a few punches in an attempted a roll-up, but was stopped and then slapped by Itami. Itami then continued his striking clinic on Newman and teased a pin, but lifted Newman’s shoulders off the mat instead. Itami then connected with a Falcon Arrow and teased a second pin, but again, lifted Newman’s shoulders off the mat. Finally, Itami connected with his Basement Dropkick twice. He went for a third attempt, but the referee got in his way to stop it and then call the match.
WINNER: Itami via KO 2:46
Heydorn’s Analysis: Your standard squash match of the evening and like usual, it was very effective. Itami looked like a dominant heel star. Itami still needs more in terms of his character. His ring work is where it needs to be, but character development will help his case as he works his way up the 205 Live ladder.
-After the match, Itami assaulted Newman and nailed him with a spinning chin breaker. He yelled “respect me” again as the audience booed loudly.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Wow. That was a relatively simple beat down, but Itami got loads of boos and the loudest reaction thus far on the show. Didn’t see that coming, but well done.
-Once Hideo Itami left the ring, a hype video for Cedric Alexander ahead of his championship match on Sunday at Summerslam. Alexander put over the Gu-Lock, but said he was ready and is always ready to take on any challengers. He said he was undefeated in 2018 and that his soul bled 205 Live. He then said that after Summerslam, the age of Alexander would continue.
Heydorn’s Analysis: If Cedric Alexander could harness what he does within these videos in real time for the live audience, he’d get over more. In the videos, he conveys a passion and confidence that is slightly missing when he is out there in a rawer live environment. Time will certainly help this weakness, but for the time being, it’s what is setting him back for being the true main player on 205 Live.
-After the video, a commercial aired for Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at Summerslam this Sunday on the WWE Network.
-Out of the commercial break, Drake Maverick welcomed Tony Nese and Buddy Murphy into his office. He congratulated them on their tag team victory last week and Nese’s victory against Kalisto from two weeks ago. Maverick then changed his tone and said that Nese won because of Buddy Murphy helping out while around the ringside area. Because of that, Maverick said that the Lucha House Party wasn’t please and to appease them, Maverick set a match for next week that pits Murphy and Nese against Lucha House Party in a Tornado Tag Team match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: More good stuff from Maverick. His decisions are logical and delivered in a way that shows the audience who is running things on the show. I’m not a fan of the Nese/Murphy pairing, but this tag team match should be something to see next week.
-When the backstage segment ended, the announce team plugged next week’s matches including the one just announced as well as TJP vs. Noam Dar. They then cued up the main event of the evening.
(3) CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. JACK GALLAGHER
Alexander hit the ring first to a small response, but the largest babyface response of the night. As he did, the announce team hyped his Summerslam championship this Sunday against Drew Gulak. After, Jack Gallagher walked out and did so alone due to the stipulation that Drake Maverick put on the match which barred Gallagher’s friends (Gulak and Kendrick) from ringside. Once Gallagher got to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Alexander pushed the action early, but Gallagher hid in the ropes to alleviate the action in a game of heelish cat and mouse. This continued until Alexander finally got some control with a school boy roll-up. It was only enough for a two count and out of that pin, both men exchanged other pin attempts that only yielded two counts. As this happened, Gulak and Kendrick were shown watching the match backstage. Out of the pin combinations, Alexander took control of the match and connected with his flipping hurricanrana and a dropkick. Those moves sent Gallagher to the outside of the ring. From there, Alexander attempted his running suicide dive, but Gallagher rolled under the ring instead. As this happened, Alexander peaked outside the ring to find Gallagher, but he was was attacked from behind. This gave Gallagher all the momentum in the match. He struck Alexander with various parts of his arm and elbow before slamming him into the steps outside of the ring. Gallagher continued to beat up Alexander around the ringside area until he rolled him back into the ring. After he did, Gallagher locked in a submission hold before going for a pin attempt which yielded a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Excellent commentary during this part of the match. As the beat down took place, the announce team highlighted the fact that Gallagher was being as ruthless as he was to soften Alexander up for Gulak on Sunday. These lines drove the story well and added intrigue to Sunday’s match. In addition, it put heat on Gulak and gave Alexander even more odds to overcome. Standard, but effective booking.
Out of the pin attempt, Gallagher kept up his offense with more strikes as the announce team discussed whether or not asking for his match was a smart move on the part of Cedric Alexander. After the strikes, Gallagher locked in a second shoulder submission, but Alexander refused to give up. The crowd responded to this hold and Alexander sold it well to yield claps and cheers for his well being. Eventually, Alexander escaped, but Gallagher attempted another two count pin attempt to keep his momentum going. Again, out of that pin attempt, Gallagher locked in a straight jacket submission that continued to target the shoulder, neck, and arms of Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I’ve been critical of Alexander’s selling in the past, but he’s turning it on perfectly here. The facial expressions and way he clutches his arm is conveying his pain well and the audience is buying it. If he’s smart, he recognizes this moment and uses good babyface selling to his advantage moving forward. The sympathy he generates will make his good guy persona more effective for him and the heels he’s slated against.
Alexander attempted to escape a few times, but each time Gallagher kept the hold in place. Finally, Cedric made the escape by connecting with an inverted atomic drop that he followed with a vertical suplex combination. On the third one, Gallagher slipped free, but was met with a spinning elbow from Alexander instead. With Gallagher dazed, Cedric captialized and connected with the Neuralizer before trying a pin for a two count. Of the pin, both men went back and forth with Alexander gaining the momentum after a top rope clothesline. From there, Cedric went for the pin attempt, but Gallagher kicked out at two. In the end, Cedric Alexander tried for a Lumbar Check, but it was countered by Gallagher via a submission hold. Alexander countered that submission with a Falcon Arrow that left both men down on the mat. When they got back to their feet, Gallagher connected with a big boot in the corner and made the pin attempt, but Cedric got his foot on the rope. Out of the pin, Gallagher hit a powerbomb and went for another big boot, but Alexander countered it into the Spanish Fly. From there, Alexander made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Alexander at 14:03
Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid match that did its job. Gallagher softened up Cedric to start a foundation for Sunday’s match, but ultimately, Alexander overcame the odds to win. Simple, but successful.
-After the match, Alexander celebrated on the ramp as the announce team hyped Summerslam. When the show was seemingly ready to go off the air, The Brian Kendrick attacked him from behind. Alexander fought off the attack, but was then surprised from behind again by Drew Gulak. Gulak proceeded to lock in the Gu-Lock before holding up the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. The show then ended and faded to black.
Heydorn’s Analysis: There’s the big heat, folks. Gulak needed this moment. Yes, Gallagher softened Alexander up and yes, that is part of the story. Drew Gulak is in the match though and while Gallagher getting heat to shine Alexander is effective, Gulak having his moment to attack Alexander to get his own heat is infinitely important to the story and specifically to the match itself on Sunday night.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Drake Maverick owned the show tonight. His segments were not only entertaining, but worth watching because of how logical they were. He is clicking on all cylinders right now and making 205 Live an easy watch. As for the final build to Summerslam, I give it a B. Nothing outrageously great, but standard A to B booking and psychology. Sometimes simple is all that’s needed and this feud is the perfect example of that fact.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 8/7 WWE 205 Live Report: Parks’s complete coverage of Itami vs. Ali, Nese & Murphy vs. Lucha House Party, and more