And then there were four.
As we’ve discussed, tournaments rule and this week, it’s time for our semi-finals. We have a man built on morality and ethics, a grappler with a true understanding of wrestling’s art form. His opponent? A man with abs. On the other side, a performer with many kicks faces a brawler with many forms of slaps and European uppercuts.
This is art.
This is 205.
Most importantly, this is live.
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.
We begin this week’s show with a change of pace: promos from all four of the tournament’s remaining participants. Gulak particularly stood out here, perfectly telling the story of Nese’s prior struggles with beating him. The others were fun too. This was followed by a Buddy Murphy selfie promo all the way from Australia. He built up all four of his potential opponents before reiterating that you “can’t stop the unstoppable”.
Cedric Alexander vs. Oney Lorcan
Feeling out process here early, with the pair wrestling for position until a Lorcan chop literally took Cedric off his feet. A dropkick soon arrived in response though and Alexander then landed some sharp chops of his own. He then began to think Lumbar Check but Lorcan fought free, next scoring with a lariat for 2. Oney then grounded his foe, slowing things down and applying an abdominal stretch as well. Cedric’s inevitable comeback soon fired back though, flurrying with strikes and landing Neuralizer as well as his Springboard Flatliner for 2.
Alexander then began to think superplex but Lorcan fought him off and scored blockbuster for 2. Cedric then avoided the half and half suplex as well, looking for Lumbar Check until his injured back and ribs cost him. A strike exchange commenced from there, with Lorcan swiftly seizing to hit that aforementioned suplex for a near-fall. Alexander then came back as well, flattening Oney on the apron and hitting the Michinoku Driver for 2. Desperate, Cedric then lashed out with strikes but was soon cut off by a sudden European uppercut nonetheless.
Lorcan followed up too, hitting his half and half suplex off the top rope only for Alexander to still somehow kick out. As Lorcan seemed set to finally close the show though, Cedric hit Lumbar Check out of nowhere for the sudden win. I’d have preferred if this match started with chaos but after an ill-fitted slow start, business soon picked up and by the end, this was enthralling stuff. The final result? High octane action from two of rasslin’s most dynamic in-ring talents.
To conclude, this was very good but frankly, the eventual rematch will likely be levels better. These guys are just that good.
A recap of Kanellis recent actions followed that, highlighting Mike’s destruction of Colby Corino. Kanellis then reiterated his resume to Drake Maverick, demanding his respect rather than matches with rookies. Mike feels that he deserves better and Drake agrees, booking him against “one of the best Cruiserweights in the world” for next week’s show. He then threatened Kanellis by basically saying that if he loses, he gone.
Up next was an Ariya Daivari selfie promo. He discussed not being involved in the tournament and frankly, he seemed very angry pal.
Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak
Main event time now and early on, a seemingly more focused Tony Nese had some surprising success in the grappling department. However, a mistake then almost had him caught in the Gu-Lock, forcing Nese to scurry to the outside. Aware of his error, Nese then returned to the grappling game, once again gaining some momentum and following up with a superkick on the floor. A suplex came next, with Nese controlling things until Gulak dropped him throat first on the top rope. Preparing for the Gu-Lock, Drew continued to focus on Nese’s neck, steadily working him over while briefly targeting his leg as well.
Mind-games filled Gulak’s heat segment here too, smugly making his control obvious while dominating proceedings in-ring. A Nese comeback soon arrived nonetheless, flurrying with strikes but failing to immediately close the show. Northern Lights Suplex followed but Gulak again kicked out. A strike exchange commenced from there and Nese’s athleticism put him on top, next landing a split-legged moonsault for 2. Drew then dropkicked himself back into things though, following up with a pair of powerbombs for yet another near-fall.
The action then headed up top but Nese’s 450 Splash missed, resetting things until Gulak unsuccessfully looked for the Gu-Lock. A defiant slap then briefly turned the tide, allowing Nese to hit his German Suplex into the corner only for Gulak to respond with his emphatic lariat for 2. The Gu-Lock followed but after a struggle, Nese pushed off the bottom rope and caught a quick roll-up for the win.
Eh, I wanted to absolutely love this match and while the early storytelling was ideal in my view, it just didn’t match my admittedly high expectations. I felt the heat segment was a little too lengthy and moreover, the eventual comeback felt somewhat unnatural as a result. Nonetheless, both of these men are excellent and they did have me invested regardless. The closing stretch was particularly strong and in the end, this match was undeniably good even if not quite the thriller that I was hoping for.
I have to be honest, this show left me slightly underwhelmed. On paper, these matches had me super excited but in reality, neither quite reached the heights that this brand has previously featured. That’s more a matter of falling victim to the show’s high standards though as in truth, both matches were good and the opener hooked me in particular. The direction itself remains ideal either way, and I hope that they follow through with Nese’s slow babyface shift.
Speaking of such, and then there were two.