1/9 WWE 205 Live Report: Alexander vs. Itami in the final championship qualifier match for the Royal Rumble, Dar vs. Nese, and more

BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR


WWE 205 LIVE
JANUARY 9, 2019 ON WWE NETWORK
JACKSONVILLE, FL
REPORT BY ZACK HEYDORN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Announcers: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson

-The show began with the standard opening video that featured Drake Maverick. Maverick recapped the title qualifier matches from lasts week’s show and then hyped the qualifier match main event on this week’s show between Hideo Itami and Cedric Alexander.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A nice video as always, but Maverick did a nice job of detailing how 2018 went for both Alexander and Itami. That description painted both men in different ways and built a nice foundation for their story in tonight’s match.

-After the video, the show open ran and the announce team welcomed the audience to the show. When they wrapped on their intros they discussed the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble and then cued up the first match of the evening when Noam Dar’s music hit. Dar got a quiet reaction from the crowd as he posed at the top of and then walked down the ramp.

(1) NOAM DAR vs. TONY NESE

As soon as Dar got to the ring, Tony Nese walked out to a small reaction as well. He counted his abs like normal and said those abs were the reason he was the premiere athlete. While he walked to the ring, a recorded promo aired in which Nese ran down Dar and called him annoying. He said he was the better athlete, the better man, and that he would win. When the video ended, the bell rang in the ring, and the match began.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Nese needs to find another voice for himself as a character. The guy is about exciting as paint drying and comes off as a total clown when he talks. He has an incredible athletic look and ability, but needs a rebuild from the character side so the audience can see him as something more important.

Out of the gate, Tony Nese pushed Dar into the corner. From there, Nese posed, but Dar grabbed his arm to stop the pose and dropped him to the mat. Nese attempted to squirm out of the hold, but Dar kept control with headlock. Eventually, Nese was able to escape hold and made Dar pay for it after delivering a stiff shoulder tackle. Dar worked to battle back a bit, but Nese ultimately maintained control due to vicious back elbows. Finally, Dar did get momentum back after he tripped up Nese in the middle of the ring. From there, Dar whipped Nese into the corner and took him down to the mat once again. In doing so, he rolled Nese up for a pin after spinning him around in circles, but Nese kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Nese rolled out of the ring to get his composure. Dar followed and rolled him back inside, which gave Nese the opening to attack. He stomped Dar and connected with a standing splash before making a cover that Dar kicked out of. Out of the pin, Nese locked in a submission hold on Dar to ground him. The audience clapped loudly for Dar to escape and he did, but Nese quickly took him back down to the mat.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Neither of these guys are incredibly over with the audience right now, so I question the reasoning behind starting the match so slow. A fast paced start would have grabbed the crowd’s attention. Right now, they are sitting on their hands. 

Nese owned the match from this point forward and hit Dar with a variety of different offensive moves including strikes and submissions. With that momentum, he whipped Dar into the ropes and charged after him, but Dar ducked which sent Nese crashing down to the mat. This gave Dar some room to breathe and he capitalized by connecting with strikes of his own as well as a standing northern lights suplex. After the suplex, Dar made the cover, but Nese kicked out. From there, Dar worked to maintain the upperhand in the match and locked in the Guillotine submission on Nese. He applied the hold in the center of the ring, but Nese used his strength to power out and grab the ropes. After, Nese decimated Dar with a stiff chop and followed that with a springboard moonsault. After, Nese covered, but Dar kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Dar climbed to the top rope, but Nese hit him with an open palmed strike. Nese pulled Dar down to hit him with a German suplex, but Dar countered with a flurry of kicks to Nese’s face. Nese countered those with a forearm shot to Dar’s face and followed that with a suplex, but Dar countered into the Guillotine Choke submission again. The audience popped for the move and again Nese powered out by countering the hold into an overhead suplex of his own. From there, he made the cover, but Dar kicked out.

Heydorn’s Analysis: There is that freak athletic talent that I talked about earlier. A really fun spot right there that is perfect for Nese and his gimmick. More of that and less of the dopey talking would set Nese on the correct course.

Out of the pin, Nese connected with a release Michinoku Driver and then dragged Dar to the corner for a big move. As he did, Dar rolled Nese up for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Dar via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Yikes. After being complimentary of Nese there, he gets rolled up and loses like a total dope once again. Nobody can or should get behind this character at this point. Period. Overall, a slow match to start out, but I liked the back half of it. Both men incorporated unique moves and by the end, the crowd was biting for the most part.

-After the match, The Brian Kendrick cut a backstage promo in which he spoke on behalf of Akira Tozawa. From there, he read a little for Tozawa. The letter said that wasn’t on the show because he took an opportunity to compete in Japan. He said he wanted to take that opportunity to hone his skills ahead of the biggest match of his career at the Royal Rumble. From there, he said he would fight for the people who believe in him and would defeat Buddy Murphy for the championship. Kendrick then addressed the audience himself. He called his friendship with Tozawa “strange” and that he owed Tozawa. To repay him, Kendrick said that he’d make sure that Tozawa would walk out of the Royal Rumble as cruiserweight champion.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Nothing much to dissect there, but I thought the Japan opportunity was a nice touch. It presents Tozawa as a competitor and conveys that the Cruiserweight Championship is important. Good stuff there.

-After Kendrick, Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher confronted Drake Maverick in his office. They sucked up to Maverick a little bit and presented their lists of potential cruiserweight talent for Maverick to bring on board to the show in 2019. They then left his office and Maverick threw the lists directly in the trash. From there, Mike and Maria Kanellis walked in. Maverick apologized that their meeting started late and asked them what they needed. In response, Mike and Maria said that they haven’t been on the show in five weeks. Maverick apologized and said that he’d like to have everyone on the show every week, but the time just isn’t there. That angered Mike, but Maria calmed the situation down and said that they would just need to fight in a different way for opportunity. She then addressed the potential newcomers and told Maverick that they better be ready to fight like she is. After those words, Mike and Maria left the office and the show went to a commercial break. (c)

Heydorn’s Analysis: Good promo. It kept competition at the forefront of the brand which maintains its sports-like feel. As for Mike and Maria, they were good here too. Both looked believable and had a sense of credibility behind what they were saying. 

-A commercial aired for NXT UK Takeover on the WWE Network and WWE Shop.

-Out of the commercial break, Lio Rush cut a selfie promo on Kalisto. He said that Kalisto didn’t win last week, the LHP did. Rush said that Kalisto cheated and that he should be in the title match at the Royal Rumble. From there, he said that he wouldn’t let that stand and that the LHP would soon feel the rush.

-Right when the promo ended, Cedric Alexander hit the ring to a nice 205 Live level reaction from the audience. After Cedric, Itami hit the ring with Ariya Daivari at his side. As they walked down, the announce team hyped the big fatal four-way title match at the Royal Rumble.

(2) HIDEO ITAMI w/ Ariya Daivari vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER

Once Itami got down to the ring, the ref rang the bell, and the match began. To start, both men circled each other in the ring as the audience chanted “let’s go Cedric.” As they did, Itami told them to shut up which caused the audience to chant even louder. Finally, both men locked him in the middle of the ring and Alexander took Itami down to the mat. Quickly, Itami escaped Alexander and the two men circled each other again.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Impressive crowd reaction to start. You just don’t hear that kind of chanting or engagement on this brand very often. Great to see. 

Again, both men locked up and wrestled back and forth until Alexander chopped Itami in the chest. The move got a good reaction and Alexander made a cover, but Itami kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Alexander approached Itami in the corner, but Itami caught him with a shot to the midsection. That strike dropped Alexander for a bit and Itami capitalized by connected with additional strikes and stomps. From there, Itami began connecting with kicks, but Alexander countered those by connecting with a standing hurricanrana takedown. As he hit that, he sold the pain in his chest from the kicks and the announce team sold the fact that he was seriously hurt.

Heydorn’s Analysis: The affects of those kicks and Itami’s kicks in general are sure to be a focal point of this match now. Great work here by the announce team to set the hook for that story as the match goes on. 

Alexander took control of the match at that point and the action eventually spilled to the outside of the ring. While both men were out there, Ariya Daivari distracted Alexander  which allowed Itami to get the upperhand. From there and with the referee’s back turned, Daivari crushed Alexander from behind with a running forearm. This got tremendous heat from the audience and immediatley caused the audience to chant “let’s go Cedric.” With Alexander down on the outside, Itami took over and slammed Alexander into the guardrail and ring apron. He then rolled Alexander back into the ring and continued to beat on him while yelling “respect me.” From there, Itami kept up his vicious assault as the crowd booed. Within that offense, Itami made covers, but each time, Alexander kicked out at two.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Itami’s offense is a perfect compliment to his character right now. He can aggressively dismantle opponents in the ring and his style of delivering that offense forces a negative reaction because its so relentless and heelish. Good stuff.

Eventually, Alexander halted Itami’s offense with a stiff dropkick to Itami’s face. He then connected with the Flatliner and made the cover, but Itami kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Alexander went for the Neuralizer, but Itami countered it with a stiff dropkick. Itami followed with a knee to the face and a fisherman suplex before covering, but Alexander kicked out at two. Out of the pin attempt, Itami connected with a top rope dropkick and covered, but again, Alexander kicked out. After that pin attempt, Itami lifted Alexander to his feet for a move, but Cedric battled out of it with a back elbow. Both men then exchanged strikes in the middle of the ring until Alexander finally connected with the Neuralizer. Right after, Cedric made the cover, but Itami kicked out at two. Out of the pin, Ariya Daivari pulled Itami out of the ring to recover. In response, Alexander hit a flipping suicide dive over the referee and over the top rope onto Itami and Daivari. Cedric then rolled Itami back into the ring and attempted a springboard clothesline, but Itami countered. From there, with both men on the apron, Itami lifted Alexander into the air for a Falcon Arrow and hit the move all the way down to the outside floor.

Heydorn’s Analysis: Ouch. That one hurt. A huge move and major spot in a match that was hot from the beginning. I like that both men turned up the heat and provided a unique moment like this one. The bump was intense though and Alexander can’t be doing it night in and night out. 

Right after the move, the referee started his count. Itami rolled back in at three and Alexander finally did at nine. As soon as he did, Itami connected with a basement dropkick and attempted a cover, but Alexander countered it into a two count cover of his own. Out of that, Itami connected with a second basement dropkick and then hit his spinning Code Breaker finish before making the cover for the 1,2,3 win.

WINNER: Itami via pinfall

Heydorn’s Analysis: Really good match. A good story and even better execution. Both men brought it and had the crowd from the second the bell rang. Two notes to make. First, Ariya Daivari on the outside of the ring was incredibly effective in helping Itami get heat. Each time he got involved, the audience immediatley reacted and Daivari took the reaction in stride and in character. Surprising, but maybe WWE has something with this iteration of his character. Second, Itami going over relatively cleanly leads me to believe something is up with Alexander. A call-up to the main roster perhaps? For the most part, Cedric has been protected during his time on the brand. This type of loss is a notable deviation from the status quo in that regard. Something to look at moving forward. 

-After the match, Buddy Murphy was interviewed backstage. He congratulated Hideo Itami and said that all of his opponents were talented, but that they were talented sheep and he was the wolf. From there, Murphy said he was hungry for competition, but that his competition wasn’t 205 Live, but history itself. Murphy then announced that next week he was issuing a non-title open challenge so that someone could step-up and try to stop the unstoppable.

Heydorn’s Analysis: A solid heel promo and good setup for next week. Well done. 


NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 1/2 WWE 205 Live Report: Title match announced for Royal Rumble, Gulak vs. Tozawa, Rush vs. Kalisto, and more

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