SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
SEPTEMBER 26, 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 opening recap video package with Drake Maverick as the narrator. He highlighted the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match between Cedric Alexander and Drew Gulak from last week and then hyped Alexander’s upcoming defense against Buddy Murphy at Super Showdown. From there, Maverick ran down the events of tonight’s show including a face to face showdown between Alexander and Murphy, Rush vs. Dar, and Itami vs. Ali.
Heydorn’s Analysis: These videos continue to be an effective way to start the show. They also further highlight just how good Drake Maverick is in THIS role. This is him and it feels genuine. As AOP’s manager, Maverick loses that sense of authenticity.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. They were quick with their introductions as Noam Dar’s music hit quickly after the open for the first match to begin.
(1) NOAM DAR vs. LIO RUSH
Dar got almost no reaction from the audience and as he made his entrance, the announce team discussed his injury briefly before debating who would win in the main event between Ali and Itami. Rush walked out next and got a small reaction as well. As Rush made his entrance, the announce team discussed his accomplishments and made reference to Rush’s appearances on Raw alongside Bobby Lashley.
Heydorn’s Analysis: They all but ignored Dar’s entrance, but focused heavily on Rush for his. It would behoove the announce team to at least try to treat both equally. Ignoring Dar defined him as much less than Rush. Yes, Rush is the project, but if his opponent is reduced to nothing, what will a win over that opponent accomplish?
After Rush got to the ring, he nailed a cheap shot on Dar before the referee intervened because it was ahead of the bell. After the ref got each man to their corners, he signaled for the bell and the match was on. Out of the gate, Dar ran after Rush and chased him around the ring. Eventually, he caught Rush and kicked his legs out from underneath him. After, it was all Dar. He hit a variety of strikes on Rush before tossing him into the ropes and into the ring post. Eventually, Dar hit Rush with a body slam and made the first cover of the match, but Rush kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Some really precise offense from Dar here. It’s clear he has in-ring ability. He lacks a character though. Dar needs a gimmick to play off of in order to make his in-ring work more entertaining.
Out of the pin, Rush rolled out of the ring to gain his composure, but Dar followed. As soon as he made it out, Rush pushed him into the ring post and rolled back into the ring himself. Dar eventually made it back in too, but then was knocked off the apron and to the mat. From there, Rush connected with a pele kick before hitting a moonsault. Rush then tossed Dar back into the ring for a pin, but only received a two count. Out of the pin, Rush kept up his offense and used chops to weaken Dar. After those, he hit his own body slam and then covered, but Dar kicked out at two. Out of that pin, Rush locked in a reverse bear hug on Dar as the audience clapped to will Dar on for an escape. Dar eventually did, but Rush quickly kept momentum by kicking Dar off his legs.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Are those some cheers from Noam Dar? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if this show was taped after SmackDown Live, the audience would have been too tired and disinterested in cheering here. Timing is everything.
After this, Rush continued his offense by utilizing a variety of kicks in the corner. He then attempted a bigger kick, but Dar caught his leg and slammed him to the mat. From there, both men staggered a bit before Rush hit the ropes for a flying forearm. Seeing this, Dar moved and Rush crashed into the ring ropes. Dar then connected with a big uppercut before nailing him with a big forearm. After, he connected with a suplex and went for the pin, but Rush kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well, now Rush is getting his name chanted by the audience. This is what happens when you present a guy as a babyface to a huge television audience and then try to cast him as a heel on a different program. It’s confusing. Can’t blame the fans for this one. WWE made this bed.
Out of the pin, Dar called for his kick finish, but Rush countered by taking Dar down. He then went for his rolling kick, but Dar caught it and reversed it into and ankle lock. Rush then got to the ropes, but Dar kept the pressure on by suplexing Rush into the corner. In the end, after avoiding Dar’s finish by rolling to different corners, Rush connected with two stiff kicks to Dar’s face. He then hit the Final Hour for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Rush at 8:12
Heydorn’s Analysis: Solid match, but the world is still waiting to see an epic performance from Rush. You can see he has it in him, but he has yet to take his matches to the next level to show the full scope of his in-ring ability.
-After the match, Lio Rush celebrated in his ring.
-Backstage, Drake Maverick was shown with Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander. Maverick then hyped their Super Showdown match and called their previous match an instant classic. Maverick said that Alexander was on an impressive undefeated streak, but that Murphy matched Alexander in terms of physicality in the ring. He also said that Murphy would have a leg up given the fact that he would be on his home turf. From there, Cedric Alexander chimed in and said that his only thought about this match was him winning. He said in their last match, he won because he has pride. Murphy responded by saying that he had the hometown advantage in their first match and that at Showdown, he’d become the next WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Short and sweet. Both Murphy and Alexander spoke well and conveyed their characters well. In addition, they each had viable reasons as to why they would win the match. Nothing fancy here, but to the point and effective for what it was.
(2) THE BRIAN KENDRICK vs. LOCAL JOBBER
Kendrick made his entrance after the Alexander/Murphy segment and walked to the ring with Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher. Kendrick’s opponent was already in the ring so once he got to the ring, the match began. As soon as the bell rang, Kendrick smoked his opponent with a kick to the head. Kendrick then immediatley locked in the Captains Hook submission hold for a quick tap out victory.
WINNER: Kendrick via submission in :08
-After the match, Drew Gulak, Kendrick, and Jack Gallagher beat down his opponent as the audience booed.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Obviously a nothing match, but one that made Kendrick look strong. In addition, Gulak looked strong with the beat down and gave credibility to his story that he would not allow peace on 205 Live. Well done and smart use of a full on squash match.
-Mustafa Ali cut a backstage promo after the match was completed. In it, he said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. He then owned up to that with Itami and said that even though his previous matches have all ended the same way, maybe he is insane. From there, Ali said that people are looking to him to end Itami’s destruction. He said you can call that insanity, but he sees it as the light in the dark.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Not one of Ali’s best promos. He looked fine doing it and appeared comfortable, but the words didn’t quite add up. If he’s going to claim that what he’s doing is insanity, he needs a better reason than “people are looking up to him.” The light in the dark ending didn’t connect with the previous part of the promo either.
-After the promo, a commercial aired for NXT TV this week.
-After the commercial break, a selfie video aired from TJP. He was in the a lucha mask and said he understands the tradition of lucha libre. From there, he said that he didn’t care about the tradition of those matches. He said the only tradition he cares about is tapping people out. He then said he would continue to do that against Kalisto next week.
Heydorn’s Analysis: This is the TJP I can get behind. He has this arrogant flare about him that really makes him an unlikable heel. Kalisto and the Lucha House Party is a smart feud for him as a possible tune up program ahead of something with Cedric Alexander.
(3) MUSTAFA ALI vs. HIDEO ITAMI
Ali walked out first and got a small, but noticeable reaction from the audience. Itami walked out next and got a slightly louder reaction, albeit negative. Once both men got into the ring, the glared at each other and awaited the bell. Out of the gate, Ali went for a tie-up, but Itami ducked under the ropes. This continued with Itami even rolling out of the ring until Ali rolled to the outside to meet him. This allowed Ali to trip Itami and then connect with chops too the chest. From there, Itami rolled back into the ring and Ali connected with his push off dropkick. Ali then hit his own strikes before hitting Itami with a hurricanrana. After that, he connected with a spinning heel kick and then made the cover, but Itami kicked out at two.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Perfect psychology to have Ali come out aggressive to start the match. Fits the story well and portrays Ali as a fighting babyface trying to live up to his word. Good stuff.
Out of the pin, Itami rolled out of the ring and tripped up Itami. From there, Itami slammed Ali’s head off the ring post before pulling him off of the apron and down to the outside mats. Itami then took control and delivered stiff kicks to Itami’s chest. After, Itami rolled Ali back into the ring and made the cover, but Ali kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Itami yelled “respect me” and then locked in a chin lock submission. As Ali stirred to escape, the crowd cheered him on and clapped.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ali’s selling is driving the crowd reaction here. He’s the perfect babyface for Itami.
Eventually, Ali countered the hold into a pin attempt, but Itami kicked out. Itami then kept up his momentum with strikes, knees, and side kicks to Ali. In the middle part of the match, Itami and Ali exchanged strikes before Itami connected with a spike DDT. Itami then covered, but again, Ali kicked out at two. From there, Itami kept the pressure on and went back to the chin lock submission. This time, the audience cheered even louder for Ali to escape and Itami responded to them by slamming Ali to the mat. Itami then locked in a single-leg Boston crab.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Additional engagement from the crowd. Ali selling is on point, but the notion that this is recorded in front of a fresh crowd can’t be overlooked at this point either. Both are making this match and the reaction to it better.
Ali made it to the ropes to break the hold, but Itami kicked Ali directly in the head to cause him to fall out of the ring. Itami followed him to the outside and then beat on him all around the ringside area. He hit a series of kicks to Ali while he was against the guard rail and then yelled “respect me” again as the audience booed. After, Itami lifted Ali up and connected with a snap suplex. He then rolled into the ring and told the ref to count Ali out. In true babyface fashion, Ali made it back into the ring at nine and then picked up offensive momentum. He connected with his rolling facebuster and a powerbomb before making the two count cover. Out of the pin, Ali approached Itami, but Hideo pushed him through the ropes. Itami then went to the outside to attack him more, but Ali nailed a somersault dive over the top rope.
Heydorn’s Analysis: “205” chants? Has hell frozen over? A very good match that is better with the fresh audience.
After the move, Ali rolled Itami back into the ring, but Itami rolled all the way through and to the other side. Seeing this, Ali ran over and attempted a moonsault off of the stairs, but Itami countered by kicking him in the face. From there, Itami rolled Ali back into the ring for the cover, but Ali kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Ali hit his tornado DDT out of nowhere and covered, but this time Itami kicked out at two. After the pin, Ali climbed to the top rope for the 054, but Itami ran up and countered it by suplexing Ali off the top and to the mats. He then covered again, but Ali kicked out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Great sequence. Ali has taken quite a bit of punishment in this match and his body hit the mat hard on this spot. As he has throughout, he sold it perfectly which led to increased drama. Well done.
In the end, Ali ended up hitting his O54 finish onto Itami while he was laying on the ring apron. Both men fell to the outside mat after it which caused both men to be counted out.
WINNER: No contest at 16:27
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good match that got the crowd hooked. The finish was well booked too as it setup a reason for the feud the continue and the intensity to grow larger. Mustafa Ali has Cedric Alexander beat out as the true top babyface of the brand. Itami, as one dimensional as he is these days, helps to bring out the babyface charm that Ali has. They are a match made in heaven in that regard.