SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE 205 LIVE
JANUARY 2, 2019 ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson
-The show opened with the standard Drake Maverick video opening. To start, Maverick said that he had an important announcement to make regarding the brand for 2019 and that he would make it later in the show. From there, he ran down two high stakes match ups that would help shape the Cruiserweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Maverick announced that Buddy Murphy would defend his title in a fatal four-way match and that two of the participants in that match would qualify on tonight’s show. Maverick then announced that Kalisto vs. Lio Rush would kick off the program and Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak in the main event.
Heydorn’s Analysis: That was a smart way to kickoff the new year. Maverick set the course for 205 Live up until the Royal Rumble and did so that was logical and easy to follow-up. 205 Live has been consistent in featuring one on one matches for the title so while I’m not an advocate for multi man matches, it makes sense in this instant.
-From there, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the program. After they did, Kalisto’s music hit and the first match of the night began.
(1) KALISTO vs. LIO RUSH
Kalisto received a decent pop from the audience on a 205 Live level and they serenaded him and the Lucha House Party with lucha chants as they walked down the aisle. Lio Rush walked out next and got a loud negative reaction. As he walked to the ring, the announce team talked about Rush and called him the fastest cruiserweight in the world. They also highlighted Rush’s involvement in Bobby Lashley’s Raw match this week against Seth Rollins. Once Rush got the ring, the bell rang, and the match began. To start things off, both men stood face to face as the audience faintly chanted “Lio Sucks.” From there, Rush smirked at the crowd and then hit the ropes to start the action. As he did, Kalisto started a lucha chant which prompted Rush to attempt a kick. Kalisto caught that kick and then the two hit the ropes together for a nice series of rope runs, flips, and counters.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Really great spot there that popped the crowd and grabbed their attention. Good stuff.
After that spot, Rush slapped Kalisto in the face and then ran from him as Kalisto chased him around the ring and the ringside area. The chase ended with Kalisto catching Rush and connecting with a rolling kick to the face. From there, he connected with a dropkick that sent Rush to the mat. With Rush down, Kalisto went for another high risk move, but Rush countered it with a flipping kick that sent Kalisto to the outside. With him there, Rush nailed Kalisto with a sting of stomps in the corner. As he did, the audience chanted “lucha” to help cheer Kalisto on. In response, Kalisto battled back with chops to the chest of Rush, but that momentum was short-lived as Rush countered with a vertical suplex.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I like the intensity of Rush. He’s left that arrogant comedy stuff from Raw on Monday’s. Here, he’s been focused and aggressive which is the type of presentation that will make him a bigger star on this brand.
In the end, Kalisto hit a massive cross body Spanish fly off the top rope before making a cover, but Rush kicked out at two. As he did, Nigel alluded to the fact that the cover was lazy in nature which allowed Rush to kick out. Out of the pin, Kalisto cued up a lucha chant and attempted the SDS. Rush countered that into a spinning impaler DDT and covered, but this time Kalisto kicked out at two. Out of that pin, Rush and Kalisto battled more with strikes. Eventually, Rush was distracted by and arrogantly taunted the other members of LHP at ringside. Because of that, Kalisto was able to hit the SDS and make the cover for the 1,2,3 win.
WINNER: Kalisto via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: Good match that really picked up steam at the end. Both men were crisp and quick paced which led to exciting action for the audience. Kalisto going over is questionable. Rush is a premiere talent on the show and to do the job here to a journeyman on the brand makes you wonder about his place on this show moving forward.
-After the match, Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese were shown watching the action backstage. From there, the announce team recapped the street fight between the team of Tozawa and The Brian Kendrick against Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher. After, Gallagher and Gulak were interviewed backstage. Gulak said that he would describe himself as a variety of things, but not an underdog. He said that the street fight proved that Kendrick and Tozawa were low rent brawlers. He said that in his wrestling match with Tozawa later, he’d make Tozawa tap out.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Ahh the standard Drew Gulak promo. Time for some depth here. Whether its a run at the top of the brand or just a new direction, his shtick is beginning to get a bit stale.
-Then, Tozawa was shown backstage warming up with The Brian Kendrick by punching pads with Gulak’s face on it. From there, the show went to commercial break. (c)
-A commercial aired for WWE Shop and for the Royal Rumble on the WWE Network.
-After the commercial break, Drake Maverick addressed the 205 Live fans. He said that on 205 Live in 2019 means new opportunities. He said 2018 was a banner year for the brand, but that he would not rest on accomplishments. From there, he said that he’s been busy around the holidays scouting talent within WWE on other brands and outside the company. He said that because of that, new faces are to be expected on the brand moving forward. Maverick wrapped up by saying that he expects his roster to step up when called upon and maintained that 205 Live would feature the best cruiserweight action in the world.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A very important announcement by Maverick that will help shape the brand in 2019. Many feuds with the current roster have been worked through and overdone. 205 Live needs fresh talent to alleviate mirroring 2018.
-After the announcement, Drew Gulak’s music hit for the main event of the evening.
(2) DREW GULAK vs. AKIRA TOZAWA
Gulak walked out alone and received a very small reaction from the crowd. Once he got to the ring, Akira Tozawa entered to a similar quiet response. Once he walked out on the ramp, Tozawa cued up his war chant which got the audience off their feet a bit. When Tozawa got down to the ring, he faced off with Gulak and as he did, the bell rang and the match began.
Heydorn’s Analysis: A pretty quiet audience for those entrances. Quieter than the first match and definitely quieter than previous 205 Live shows as a whole. Something to watch.
To start things off, both men tied up and wrestled to the mat before Gulak broke the holds up and insulted the crowd. After, both men tied up again and this time, Gulak took Tozawa down to the mat with a shoulder takedown. From there, both men exchanged pinning combinations before both got to their feet to stare each other down again. Finally, Gulak got the upperhand after tying up with Tozawa and backing him into the corner. While there, Gulak gouged Tozawa’s eyes and stomped him in the corner. Eventually, Tozawa turned the tides and hit a series of offense which included his standing senton bomb. After, the action spilled to the outside of the ring. Both men fought around the ringside area until Gulak attempted to crawl back into the ring. As he did, Tozawa worked to pull him back outside, but Gulak kicked him into the ring barrier. From there, Gulak owned Tozawa and worked over the lower back as it was the body part that was injured when it struck the ring barrier.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well thought out and well setup. This psychology in the match gives Gulak’s submission character credibility and gives Tozawa to fight against in the match.
Gulak kept up his assault on Tozawa until he was tossed out of the ring. From there, Gulak reentered, but was hit by a snap hurricanrana. Out of that, the audience did Tozawa’s war chant as Tozawa kept up momentum in the match. In the end, both Gulak and Tozawa exchanged submission holds in the middle of the ring. Gulak finally transitioned the holds into a submission that focused on Tozawa’s back, but Tozawa got to the bottom rope to force a break of the hold. After, Gulak locked in the Gu-Lock which almost caused Tozawa to tap, but to break it, he rolled to the outside of the ring. Finally, Tozawa got momentum back in the match and pinned Gulak in the middle of the ring after connecting with his top rope senton finish for the win.
WINNER: Tozawa via pinfall
Heydorn’s Analysis: For a feud that the announcers called “the most intense in 205 Live,” the match didn’t deliver. Neither man told that story within the match. Had the announcers not set it up that way, it would have lived within a different set of expectations and could have been looked at accordingly. Instead, the match had lofty expectations and didn’t deliver.
-After the match, The Brian Kendrick hit the ring to celebrate with Tozawa as Buddy Murphy was shown watching backstage. Then, the announce teamed hyped next week’s main event between Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy with the winner becoming the final entrant into the fatal four-way title match at the Royal Rumble. From there, Cedric Alexander cut a promo on Itami from the locker room. He said that he didn’t scare easily and that Itami’s intimidation techniques wouldn’t work on him. He said that next week, their match would end the same as their last one did which was with his arm held high in the air. After Alexander, Itami cut a promo with Ariya Daivari. Daivari said that Alexander wasn’t facing the same Hideo Itami that he did in early 2018. He called Itami the tornado of 205 Live and then Itami spoke Japanese. From there, Daivari said next week Alexander won’t get a shot at a title, but a lesson in respect instead.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Well done. This promo set the stage for next and gave the audience a reason to watch. It certainly wasn’t the spiciest of promos, but it was effective in generating some buzz for next week’s show.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS REPORT: 12/12 WWE 205 Live Report: Final hype for TLC, Murphy vs. Metalik, Alexander vs. Nese, and more