SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show opened with the standard 205 Live recap video promo from Drake Maverick. He ran down the matches of the evening that included Gran Metalik vs. Buddy Murphy as well as Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher vs. Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander.
Heydorn’s Analysis: We’ve seen opening promo videos with infinitely more drama from Drake Maverick. That said, I’m glad he toned that drama down when the matches he was hyping didn’t merit it. Yes, Maverick sold his matches, but wasn’t over the top about it. In acting that way, he has equity he can cash-in when it comes time to really hype a major match on the show. Smart writing.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. They hyped the tag team main event and the fact that Cedric Alexander would have a shot to finally gain revenge against Drew Gulak. In addition, they talked about what roles Tozawa and Gallagher would play in that match as well. They then cued up the first match of the evening as Buddy Murphy’s music hit.
Heydorn’s Analysis: In a matter of three minutes, the announce team have discussed the roles of Tozawa and Gallagher within the main event tag team match. Usually, this isn’t an accident and it could be a clue as to a potential storyline development coming out of that match.
(1) BUDDY MURPHY vs. GRAN METALIK
Murphy got a tepid response, but used the tepid reaction to further portray his heel persona. As he walked to the ring, the announce team plugged his upcoming cruiserweight championship match against Cedric Alexander at Super Show Down in Australia. Metalik walked out next and was accompanied by the rest of the Lucha House Party. His music started a faint lucha chant, but it faded quickly. Once Metalik got down to the ring, the bell rang and the match began. Just like last week, the announce team revealed that Tony Nese and other members of the Lucha House Party were barred from ringside during this match.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That stipulation is a good one and guarantees a solid match with a winner. 205 Live needs that to differentiate itself from other brands. In this match in particular it’s an even better stipulation because Buddy Murphy has stolen the show the last few times in the ring and seeing him in what will be a true match without shenanigans is always a treat.
To start things off, Metalik and Murphy circled each other in the ring. As they did, the announcers talked about the origin of the name Metalik as parts of the audience chanted for Buddy Murphy. Back in the ring both men countered each other’s moves until Metalik finally took Murphy to the mat with a hurricanrana. From there, he attempted a suicide dive, but Murphy countered. After the counter, Murphy beat up Metalik all around the ringside area before tossing him back into the ring. Right after he did, Murphy taunted the crowd which gave Metalik the chance to kick Murphy in the face. He then connected with a top rope moonsault onto the floor which slammed Murphy to the mat. After, he tossed Murphy back into the ring and covered for a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Gran Metalik has his issues, but that moonsault isn’t one of them. One of the best in the game.
Out of the pin attempt, Metalik tried to keep momentum, but it was halted after Murphy slammed his face into the ring post. From there, Murphy made the cover, but Metalik kicked out at one. After the pin, Murphy chopped Metalik a few times before locking in a reverse chin lock. With the hold firmly in place, the announce team hyped Murphy’s match against Cedric Alexander for the title.
Heydorn’s Analysis: If you just heard that commentary and hadn’t seen Buddy Murphy, you’d thing he was a beloved babyface. I know he has a hometown title match coming up, but that can just be … that. This type of commentary contradicts his character and makes it harder for him to do his job.
Finally, Gran Metalik created some separation by backing Murphy into the corner to break the hold. He was successful in breaking that hold, but Murphy still kept momentum by striking Metalik and lifting him to the top rope. Up top, both men traded more strikes until Metalik took over and hit a sunset powerbomb off the third turnbuckle. Metalik then made the cover, but Murphy kicked out at two. Out of the pin, it was all Metalik. He connected with his fast paced offense and nailed Murphy with a springboard elbow before making another cover. Again, Murphy kicked out at two. Out of that pin, Metalik connected with a superkick and followed that with a moonsault. After he hit it, Metalik climbed to the top rope again. This time, Murphy knocked him off balance which left him prone and sitting on the top rope. Murphy followed him up, but Metalik jumped off to avoid him. Metalik then attempted a middle rope springboard dropkick, but Murphy caught him in mid air and power bombed him. Right out of it, he connected with a second one and then covered for a two count.
Heydorn’s Analysis: If you wanted that perfect example of why Murphy has gotten over so well on this show, that spot was it.
Out of the pin, both men exchanged kicks in the middle of the ring. They then exchanged clotheslines until Gran Metalik hit Murphy with the Metalik Driver. Metalik then made the pin, but Murphy kicked out again. Right after the pin, Murphy rolled Metalik out of the ring. Metalik took advantage and attempted some high impact offense, but Murphy moved out of the ring. In turn, Metalik landed on his leg wrong which caused it to buckle. Murphy saw this and targeted it. In the end, Murphy landed Murphy’s Law and made the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Murphy at 10:47
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not one of Murphy’s best 205 Live matches, but better than most opening matches in recent weeks. Murphy has a crispness about him that resonates on this show. In longer matches he can showcase it excellently. This was a nice taste.
-After the match, Murphy cut a promo in the ring. He said that you can’t stop the unstoppable. He said he was the biggest, fastest, and strongest cruiserweight in the division and that he would be the next cruiserweight champion.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ehh. Wanted a little more from Murphy here. It was short, but Murphy appeared to lose himself a bit and seemed to be actively trying to remember lines. It took the audience out of the moment.
-The announce team revealed that Mustafa Ali had been cleared for action and would compete in a match tonight. They then cued up the highlights that told the story of why Ali had been out of action for weeks on end.
-After the video, Mustafa Ali was shown warming up backstage. He was then confronted by Cedric Alexander who told him that 205 Live hadn’t been the same without him. Ali responded by saying he’s been losing his mind, but he’s fine and ready to go. He then said he wishes he could be tagging with Alexander in the main event. Cedric told him not to worry about it and that he was happy with his tag partner. The shot then panned to Tozawa who was warming up as well. Both Ali and Alexander stared at him before waving as Tozawa smiled. Tozawa then did his war chant and Ali walked off after telling Alexander that he was in good hands.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Is the Monday Night Raw crew producing this show tonight or something? Backstage segments on 205 Live have been logical and spot on in recent months. This was two large steps backwards. Tozawa was presumably just hanging out directly next to Ali, but quiet until the camera got on him? C’mon. This show works when it’s presented in the most sports-like way possible. This was not that.
-A commercial aired for Hell In A Cell coming up on Sunday on the WWE Network.
(2) MUSTAFA ALI vs. MICHAEL THOMPSON
Ali hit the ring first and got a nice 205 Live level reaction from the audience. The announce team talked about his recovery and questioned whether or not he was ready to go. Ali’s opponent had already made his entrance. From there, the match was about to start, but Hideo Itami’s music hit. Itami then walked to the ramp and addressed Ali before the bell for the match rang. He spoke Japanese and then told Ali he came out to watch his match and that he’s missed him. He then laughed and said he hoped Itami felt better before telling him good luck. From there, the match began.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This may have been the best Itami has looked as a heel. He was menacing and teetered on the edge of losing his mind. Part of that is his own work, but the other part is Ali. Ali is the perfect babyface for a story like this and as usual, he’s playing the part well. In this case, it’s not only helping him, but Itami too.
Ali kicked things off with chops and his patented push off dropkick. He then went back to the chops and looked back at Itami after each one. He then connected with his rolling facebuster and yelled at Itami to walk down to get a closer look. As he did that, he was sent directly into the ring post. From there, he quickly recovered and nailed Thompson with a superkick. After that, he connected with his tornado DDT before landing the 054 for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Ali at 1:47
-After the match, Ali celebrated on the ropes and yelled for Itami to fight him.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A really nice showcase match for Ali. He hit all his big moves and was able to call out Itami in the end. It was a simple mission for him tonight, but one he accomplished. Well done.
-Backstage, Drake Maverick was shown in his office. He called Gulak and Gallagher in and told them that he was excited for the main event. He then said he didn’t want that match to unfold into chaos. Gulak was flabbergasted by that remark and said that all he did was answer Cedric Alexander’s challenge. Gulak then stopped the complaining and told Maverick they’d simply get an inspirational victory for their injured friend, The Brian Kendrick. Gallagher then chimed in and said that if there was chaos on 205 Live, it was because Maverick had been too preoccupied with AOP. Maverick assured them that wasn’t the case, but said he could arrange a meeting between them and AOP if they wanted. Gulak and Gallagher quickly backed off and then walked away.
Heydorn’s Analysis: The good? Maverick and AOP are still being mentioned and referenced. The bad? Gulak and Gallagher having to sell for AOP. This is the cruiserweight show. On this show, nobody should be portrayed as more legitimate than the cruiserweights featured on the show. It’s pretty simple, but in this case, AOP was presented as the bigger stars. On a show for cruiserweights, what’s the sense in doing that?
-A commercial aired for WWE Shop and WWE Custom Tees. Then, a commercial aired for the Mae Young Classic.
-Out of the break, Noam Dar cut a selfie promo. He addressed Lio Rush and said that he gets why Rush would think he’s the new best thing on 205 Live. He then said that he made it to 205 Live at the age of 22 and that anytime he wanted to face him in the ring, he’d be waiting. From there, a selfie promo for Rush aired and he asked Dar why he didn’t learn from Akira Tozawa. He said that Dar needs to keep his name out of his mouth and that he’s already peaked on the show. He finished by saying that next week, Dar would feel the rush.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Effective in setting up their match next week, but that’s about it.
(3) DREW GULAK & JACK GALLAGHER vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & AKIRA TOZAWA
Gulak and Gallagher walked out first to a nothing reaction from the audience. Tozawa walked out next to a quiet response and then waited for Alexander. Cedric was introduced last and got the loudest response of the night. He and Tozawa then entered the ring and waited for the bell to ring. As soon as it did, the match began and it started with Gulak and Alexander. Gulak taunted Alexander a bit before the two tied up in the middle of the ring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Questionable psychology to start this match. The story being told was Alexander FINALLY getting his hands on Gulak. The tie-up didn’t mirror that story and didn’t convey any urgency from Alexander that showed he truly wanted his comeuppance.
After a couple counters on both ends, Alexander appeared to go for the Lumbar Check, but Gulak blocked it and tagged Gallagher into the match. Right away, Alexander took Gallagher down with a head lock. Gallagher got up quick and then worked to injure Alexander’s fingers. He blocked it and then connected with his back flip hurricanrana. After, Alexander taunted Gulak a bit and then tagged Tozawa into the match. As soon as he entered, him and Alexander connected with a double team. With Tozawa as the legal man, he owned the match momentum and took Gulak down to the mat with a spinning abdominal stretch. After, Tozawa locked in a headlock, but broke it after Gulak bounced him off the ropes. At this point, Gallagher made a blind tag which allowed him and Gulak to catch Tozawa and counter his splash. They then slammed him to the mat before making the two count cover. Out of the pin, Gallagher and Gulak dissected Tozawa with submissions. The audience talked them up and relayed just how specialized both were in the art of submission wrestling. Gulak and Gallagher owned the match from there.
Heydorn’s Analysis: They are building to a hot tag here, but we need more selling from Tozawa so drama can build and the tag can be effective. Right now it’s too flat to get the reaction they’re looking for.
Eventually, and after numerous near chances to make the tag to Alexander, Tozawa finally made it after hitting Gulak with a hurricanrana. Alexander hit the ring hard and destroyed Gallagher with a spinning back elbow and Neuralizer. From there, Alexander tried for the Lumbar Check, but Gallagher countered with a two count pin attempt. Out of the pin, Alexander nailed Gallagher with the Spanish Fly and then covered for a two count after Gulak stopped the pin. Out of that pin, Alexander was distracted by Gulak at ringside and got a taste of Gallagher’s boot because of it. With Alexander down now, Gulak officially tagged in and went to work. They crushed Cedric with a high low combination before making the cover, but Alexander kicked out at two. After the pin, Gulak and Gallagher went for a double vertical suplex, but Alexander countered. After the counter, Tozawa made the blind tag and nailed Gallagher with a missile dropkick. After, he crushed Gallagher with a variety of strikes before connecting with a suicide dive through the ropes. After, he rolled Gallagher into the ring and climbed to the top rope. He then lept of for his Senton Bomb, but Gulak moved Gallagher out of the way. Seeing this, Alexander attacked Gulak and pandemonium ensued at ringside. After the brawl left Alexander neutralized on the outside, Gallagher nailed Tozawa with a headlock in the middle of the ring. Gallagher then tagged Gulak into the match and Gulak laid in the Gu-Lock on Tozawa which promptly caused him to tap out.
WINNER: Gulak and Gallagher at 12:31
Heydorn’s Analysis: Standard A to B match, but nothing special. Simply a road to next week’s title match. With that in mind, they told the story effectively and not only does Drew Gulak look like a worthy and credible opponent, there is a personal element between him and Alexander can be used for storytelling purposes. A job well done across the board.
-After the match, Alexander and Gulak stared each other down as Cedric checked on Tozawa in the ring. From there, Drake Maverick was interviewed in his office. He then congratulated the victors and said that Drew Gulak had proved himself and earned a title shot. He then made the match official for next week. Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
-The show ended with a shot on Maverick in the backstage area after the announcement.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Smart on the part of WWE to make this match next week. For one thing, it wraps up the Gulak/Alexander feud. Second, it allows for a big fight feel next week and leaves an aura of “what if” surrounding the outcome given the fact that either guy could realistically walk out with the title. Lastly, doing this match now and wrapping up the feud leaves only one championship story to tell heading into Super Show Down. Right now, they are crossing the line back and forth to tell Alexander vs. Gulak while also weaving in elements of Murphy’s claim to the title. After next week, they’ll just have one to focus on.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 9/4 WWE 205 Live Report: Cedric Alexander calls out Drew Gulak, Metalik vs. Nese, and more