We are just days removed from the greatest anniversary party of all time but there’s no rest for the handsome and to great fanfare, it’s now time to start a new journey. The land of 205 Live has certainly had its hardships but over the last few months, has been the home to a whole heap of quite marvelous pro wrestling matches. In fact, it’s been rather critically acclaimed so based on the assumption that I’m a normal wrestling review man, this will be a very positive experience for all involved.
There’s one issue with that though: I’m a foul, miserable soul that hates all things involving other people’s happiness. I’m a man that hates any kind of acrobatics, especially when they emanate from masked mystery men. I’m a guy that deep down, has tragically lost his way in the troublesome quest to grade wrestling matches. I’m all of these things and now, I’m the man behind two report cards every single week. Enjoy or at the very least, wish me luck…I’ll need it.
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 open this week’s episode with a video package about Hideo Itami. It took things all the way back to NXT when Mr Itami was the World Wrestling Federation’s hottest new acquisition. He made it clear though that when he teamed with Mr Tozawa, he “didn't like it.” Can’t argue with that really, fair enough. This was a neat opening though, and gave this week’s main event some extra gravity…good stuff.
Speaking of such, we went right into some big match build for next week’s Cedric Alexander/Buddy Murphy match too. However, this was slightly spoiled by Percy who seemingly needed his notes to remember these gentleman’s names. Very sad.
Perfect! We get things officially started here with a real man, a man’s man. Drew Gulak! A man with ethics, a man with morals. Support Drew Gulak and in doing so, support a 205 Live that’s much easier for me to review. Sadly, he’s taking on Lucha House Party member Gran Metalik. Well, this will expose my bias rapidly so I guess we’ll just rock and roll. Before we can get started here though, Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher are here to join the announce desk. Wonderful.
After being stunned by some flashy offense early, Gulak was sent to the floor but halted Metalik’s plans to fly, even if only briefly. He eventually cut Metalik off on the top rope too, quickly throwing him to the floor in a fashion that allowed the masked man to bump obscenely. Gulak then brought Metalik back in and put on a hold that frankly, looked like something that I’d put on my problematic brother on a cold Saturday night. It would restrain his drunkenness without doing any damage, ideal.
Before long, Metalik fought to his feet though, leading to a big trade-off of slaps which enraged Gulak and forced him into a mistake. Metalik was rolling now but Gulak fired back, flooring him with a big lariat. His over-aggression cost him again though as Metalik regained momentum and hit some more outrageous offense. After surviving that barrage, Gulak sadly had to wait in position for Metalik in the match’s first awkward moment. Either way Metalik went to the well one too many times, and was kicked out of the air before submitting to the GU-LOCK, a finisher I wish was a little better.
Overall though, Gulak was tremendous here. Did some subtle character stuff whilst being super aggressive along the way. Unsurprisingly excellent.
Though I poke fun, I’m actually a long-time supporter of Metalik and he’s by far my favorite of this troublesome Lucha trio. His offense here was consistently awesome too, as is often the case. He’s so good at his style that even stuff like his springboard dropkick comes with the kind of crispness necessary to keep me invested. His eventual comeback was neat too, featuring all of his wacky offense including the famous big boot no-sell. Either way, that springboard moonsault really was a thing of beauty.
He followed that up with a big springboard (yep) splash for a 2 count and oh yeah, the intention is to win here…I’d forgotten. In all seriousness, this is a legit issue of mine even with a guy as skilled as Metalik. This match was a lot of fun and constantly entertained me but at core, a desperation to win is always key I feel. Without that, the eventual finish is less dramatic to me and I think that proved to be the case here.
Either way, Metalik got a lot of opportunity to shine and even had a wacky spot in which he walked the ropes before drop-kicking Gulak in the corner. This was fine with me though as ‘King of the Ropes’ is Metalik’s thing and I accept his character being willing to do such a thing. Kendrick wasn't so pleased though, questioning the move’s tactical consideration. Percy responded confidently, exclaiming “LUCHA STYLE.” Tremendous. On that topic, both Kendrick and especially Gallagher were a lot of fun on commentary here.
As for Metalik, a very good performance from an incredibly talented man. Just need a little more feel of competitiveness personally. Very good match though.
We now move to footage of Buddy Murphy clanging and banging…oh yes, this is the pro wrestling I know and love. Buddy then talked about wrestling and how you can’t stop the unstoppable. Believe that’s an actual fact, very good.
Time for my favorite 205 gimmick now: the showcase match. This week it goes to TJP, a man that’s apparently been tweeting Paige. His opponent here is Christopher Guy who he immediately began to out grapple before taunting a little too. Percy wasn't impressed though, explaining that this is a “what have you done for me” industry. Believe the word “lately” is usually found at the end of that phrase pal, it’s pretty important.
As for the match, I feared that TJP wouldn't be aggressive enough for a squash but was proven wrong, as he snapped the arm and began to rough Guy up in the corner. A suplex combo followed but overconfidence from TJP allowed Guy to hit some offense. TJP closed the show soon anyway, hitting the Detonation Kick after stomping Guy’s head into the mat first.
This was a very nice heel showcase and TJP cut an ACTUALLY GOOD promo afterwards too. As a character, this man is wholly unlikeable and that’s the absolute best compliment I can ever give a heel.
Following this, we saw a bunch of tweets about Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali stealing the show in Europe...cool. I love this gimmick of these two gentlemen simply wanting to have good rasslin' matches and moreover, the way it contrasts with Buddy’s purely personal goal of becoming champion. Good stuff.
Cedric Isn’t Failing at Home Pal
Speaking of such, the champ is here now for a sit-down interview with Vic Joseph who he…”goes way back with.” Cedric dismisses the talk of pressure and points out that thus far, he’s thrived on it. He then says that there’s absolutely NO WAY he’ll fail in his hometown. This of course means that Cedric will indeed fail in his hometown, very sad.
He went on to say that he plans on exploiting Buddy’s cardio and this is the kind of pre-match talk that I very much enjoy. This was a fine babyface promo in a format that’s generally tough but if there’s one general critique I have, Cedric can come across as somewhat cold in these things. He’s trying hard to say the right things and understandably so but I just wish he’d emote a little more.
That’s why Ali feels like the ideal long-term choice to me and also why I’d probably put the belt on Buddy next week too. I feel like the ‘money’ (relatively speaking) is in Ali chasing Murphy but that’s more a compliment of them two than it is a critique of Cedric. Nonetheless, this was a decent talking segment.
Before we officially move to our main event, Tozawa says that Hideo is a legend and that he respects him. However, if Itami didn't like Tozawa as a partner, he says he’ll really not like him as an opponent. That would make sense to be fair.
Hideo Itami vs. Akira Tozawa
As of late, 205 Live has been built on immense main events so for that reason, I’ll be grading all 205 main events TAKEOVER STYLE. Let’s go. These two brothers immediately sprinted at each other here, throwing big strikes before reaching a stalemate and restarting at square one. This led to an exchange of vicious chops as they went back and forth in center ring. Tozawa then did his punch fake-out thing to drop Itami and followed up with stomps in the corner.
He continued to build momentum too, hitting his back senton for 2. As the action lulled, Nigel began to concede that once upon a time, he had a best friend that stabbed him in the back. Sadly, he wasn't able to speak too openly about this which is a real shame as he briefly hinted that he in fact achieved violent vengeance on the man. I hope we find out more about this in the coming weeks.
In a bizarre turn, the babyface then grabbed a hold and we seemingly began building to an Itami comeback? This heat segment (?) even included a double axe handle to the back before more chops in each corner. However, some big kicks turned things around and allowed Itami to score a middle rope dropkick on a rope-hung Tozawa. Now it seems that the actual heat was really on. Itami was suddenly very much in control, hitting a neckbreaker and kicking Tozawa to the floor.
From there, he launched Tozawa into the barricade and got in some drunk fan’s face. Unfortunately, this fan’s friend wanted more violence from Itami, once again proving that wrestling is in fact, dead. Nevertheless, Itami now grabbed a hold just as Tozawa had earlier and he maintained control, halting a brief comeback by kicking Akira out of the air. He then kneed Tozawa in the midsection and began to dismissively kick him in the head. That was good but mocking Tozawa’s weird noise thing? Even better.
The dominance continued, with itami even doing that fake knee drop thing he missed at a TakeOver once. He avoided another Tozawa comeback too, scoring a sweet DDT for 2. Itami then put another hold on before Tozawa fought to his feet and attempted a quick roll-up. Hideo’s big kick didn't stop Tozawa’s comeback this time either, as he floored Itami and headed up top. Itami smartly moved to the floor but that didn't deter Tozawa who hit a cool cannonball senton from the apron.
Tozawa then hit a dropkick from the top but Itami kicked out and turned things around, DDT’ing him throat first on the top rope. He then followed up with the classic heel clothesline from the top but Tozawa kicked out, giving the announcers an excuse to talk about FIGHTING SPIRIT. Fittingly, Tozawa fired back, dropping Itami with a big kick and heading up top one more time. He was again cut off though and unnecessarily slapped in the face this time too.
Itami’s superplex attempt was fought off briefly but that really only made him rethink things, as he instead falcon arrowed Tozawa from the top in an always awesome spot. Tozawa kicked out again though and this understandably made Mr Itami very angry. He took that rage out with a front dropkick before being caught in an octopus hold and scurrying to the floor. This allowed Tozawa to hit tope suicida and again, he headed up top.
This time Itami evaded the big senton though and he then hit two basement dropkicks as well as his knee finish thingy for the win. This match felt almost throwback to me in its style and whilst not always at breakneck speed, they told a tremendous story in a match that featured great physicality and intensity. The pacing wasn't always ideal for me personality but nonetheless, this was a very good main event match.
Whilst this may be my first time reviewing the purple brand, it’s obviously not my first time watching and I have to say, top to bottom this is one of the stronger shows they’ve produced in my opinion. Moving back to a non-tournament format took a couple of weeks but this whole episode was a lot of fun. Both the opener and the main event delivered big and best of all, brought differing styles to the show. Sprinkle in a well-executed TJP squash and some solid promo stuff and you have a delightful hour of the 205 that is live. Pretty tremendous way to start I’d say.