The 205 Live Report Card (12/12/18): Talking TLC and Tony

Earlier this week, Drake Maverick made an announcement that genuinely surprised me. After the Cruiserweight Title’s memorable showcase at Super Show-Down, it was encouraging to see the division featured again at Survivor Series but in truth, I assumed that it was simply a case of giving the traditional show some variety. However, this Sunday at TLC, the Cruiserweight Title appears again, with Buddy Murphy defending his crown opposite Cedric Alexander. Now don’t me wrong, a ladder match would’ve been neat but I’m happy to take what we’ve got here and with that in mind, let’s get this “go-home show” started.

DISCLAIMER: this show is in many ways, designed for my distaste. Take all critiques with a grain of salt as frankly, they are almost all misplaced and many even come with a disgusting bias. On the bright side, if I enjoy this programme, it bodes very well for your own enjoyment. In that sense, it’s ideal.

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Drake Maverick welcomed us and run through this week’s show. His teeth looked white.

Buddy Murphy vs. Noam Dar Dressed as Gran Metalik

We open this week’s show with Buddy Murphy’s music, as the champ takes on Noam Dar who is apparently now portraying a lucha libre tribute act of sorts. Hang on, never-mind, I’m told that this is actually Gran Metalik. Who knew? Wait, did I miss something?

*rewinds to Drake Maverick’s intro*

Ah, my bad, guess I should start listening to Drake rather than just admiring his teeth. All those 205 not-so Live jokes and I still don’t know what’s going on. Incredible.

To the ring now as Metalik used his speed early, initially evading Buddy before being grounded soon after. He quickly fought to his feet regardless, going back and forth with quick pin attempts and then taking control, sending Murphy to the floor and hitting a big dive over the top too. He continued to flurry also, next hitting a hurricanrana off the barricade before returning things to the ring. As we watched a replay of this wackiness though, Buddy cut Metalik off and before long, caught his foe out of the air to hit an awesome suplex for 2.

The crowd was with this match thus far and rightly so, as we next moved to a count-out tease that completed this match’s climb to greatness. Now in control, Murphy grounded things, using elbows to brutalize Metalik before his frustration cost him, with the masked fellow turned the tide via some springboard offense. A strike exchange then followed, with Murphy initially coming out on top before running directly into the Metalik Driver for a tremendous false finish. Buddy fired back regardless, launching Metalik into the announce table and slamming him on the apron too.

The big diving meteora came next for another false finish until Metalik took back over again, scoring with some strikes before his moonsault was blocked. Murphy seized, hitting a spectacular sit-out powerbomb for 2. Now in total control, Murphy unleashed a brutal knee strike and after having it countered once, then hit Murphy’s Law for the win. On multiple occasions, I’ve discussed the limitations put on each week’s opening match but considering that truth, this was about as good as it gets. Incredibly sound match that entertained me throughout, these two work tremendously together.

Grade: B+

Off to recap land now, as we take a look at last week’s Gulak vs. Kendrick match before heading to Drake’s office. He told Tozawa and Kendrick that next week, they’ll face The Submission Commission in a street fight. Maverick then reminded the pair of their past with this match type which led to Brian ominously claiming that he’s a changed man. Tozawa responded by pointing out that unfortunately, he still looks the same….uh oh, MATCHING GEAR ALERT!!!!!!!

After walking off screen, Tozawa then returned, firing Drake for some kind of tag title loss? This must’ve been a TNA reference or something, either that or I need to start watching RAW again.

Meanwhile in selfie promo city, Gulak and Gallagher basically threatened to end Kendrick’s career. They are very mean men.

Also next week, Lio Rush returns. Cool, still feel like he’s an obvious choice for the title picture at some point but I guess we’ll see.

Staying out of the ring, we headed back to recap land again now, looking back at Ariya Daivari’s recent squash win before heading to an interview with the man himself. He criticized the biz (all hail) and said that he’s back to change 205 Live’s ways. Itami then arrived and credited Daivari for last week’s win before shaking his hand. This made Ariya very happy as complimented Itami too, calling him one of the industry’s last real men or something like that. I dig this duo pal, it’s a smart move in my view.

Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander

Finally back to the ring now and its main event time. I must say, I love that there’s a genuine feel of history between these two, it really elevates all of their matches when you’ve followed the conflict along the way. Immediate “Let’s Go Cedric” chants will only help them too as early on, Nese and Alexander eased into this, going back and forth with some delightful grappling exchanges before things suddenly became explosive. Cedric got the better of that particular wild sequence, scoring a beautiful dropkick and sending Tony to the floor.

Nese halted his plans for aerial action though, quite literally slapping him out of the air and I must say, the work here is absurdly crisp thus far. Now in control, Nese went to work on Cedric’s back as the commentary team did a neat job of promoting Sunday’s match. Tony’s heat segment wasn't exactly tame though, featuring a springboard moonsault and just generally being very mean until he slowed things down. Even then, Nese continued to be vicious, a recent evolution of his game that becomes more apparent by the week.

Speaking of such, Nese then floored Alexander, staying in control with an emphatic clothesline before slowing things down again. At this point, Vic speculated that Nese was working on Cedric’s back by Buddy’s request. What a wonderfully subtle note that is, great job. Nese’s prior counter didn't work this time either way, as Alexander was a step ahead and flurried with hard strikes also. Everything here was so sharp, tremendous offense. The springboard clothesline came next for 2 before a wild strike exchange reset things briefly.

Cedric was rattled by his inability to close the show at this point, walking into a Nese counter as Tony fired back with some cool offense for a false finish of his own. More strikes soon followed, with both men going back and forth until a messy Nese counter stalled things momentarily. They immediately got back on track though, with Nese hitting a spectacular dive to erase that prior hitch from our memory. His dope 450 splash came next but Cedric evaded, catching a quick roll-up before hitting the Michinoku Driver for 2.

In follow up, his Lumbar Check was beautifully countered but Alexander stayed on top regardless, hitting the Neuralizer and then finally, scoring the Lumbar Check to close the show. Wow, what a wonderfully worked match this was, just exemplary performances from both men and while Cedric is rightly revered, his foe here feels under discussed. Nese has always been a sublime athlete but over these last few months, he’s got a greater grip on the little things than ever before. His heel work has improved exponentially, with a real mean streak to go alongside his theatrics. Tony Nese is excellent and frankly, more people should appreciate him…myself included.  

Grade: A

Post-match, Buddy Murphy arrived and much to my surprise, actually sprinted to the ring to engage in some fisticuffs. Cedric was all over him though, forcing Murphy to ringside and not letting up, hitting his big dive to get the final word before Sunday.

Final Thoughts

Well, last week I was rather critical but I always maintained optimism for this episode and in hindsight, I was right to. Murphy vs. Metalik was the strongest 205 opener I’ve reviewed thus far and more than that, Cedric and Nese put on a delightful main event too. While due to this brand’s high standards, neither match is likely to make any year-end lists but nonetheless, this to me was a perfect example of what 205 Live should be. This episode was 45 minutes long and with two matches, told simple stories that stand out within WWE’s current landscape.

Let’s hope that Buddy and Cedric get time on Sunday because if they do, it’ll be another strong night for the Cruiserweight division. Much love pal.

Grade: A

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