The 205 Live Report Card (6/5/18): The Rubber Match

After a quite incredible main event last week, I’m pretty fired up to see how the purple brand will look to top itself. Incredibly, they may have a chance too as this week marks the rubber match between fierce rivals Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali. Thus far, this two match series has been an absolute delight and hopefully, this week they’ll exceed their prior efforts. If not…well this will be a massive disappointment and I’ll be left sulking in the early hours of the morning. Considering that, let’s pray for my sake that it’s good…please.

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.

Kacy Catanzaro, Wes Lee, And Leon Ruff Listed On 2/26 NXT Injury Report

We get things started with a recap of last week’s main event as Drake Maverick rightly celebrates its brilliance. He then previewed tonight’s show with the kind of enthusiasm that we’ve come to expect from the 205 Live General Manager.

Lince Dorado

Well, it’s fair to say that this is starting to become rather concerning. Once again, Hunter Hearst Helmsley is poking the bear with little lucha content that could potentially ruin my day/week/month/year/life. I soldier on regardless. Inside the ring, Dorado was immediately jumped but quickly fired back, rallying and sending Brian Kendrick (his opponent) to the floor. He then leaped off the apron to hurricanrana Kendrick on the outside. The man that claims to have a plan soon turned things around though, taking control.

Dorado sold for the next portion of the match and did a fine job of it even if the heat’s content wasn't particularly engaging. Eventually, Lince made a comeback that included a big crossbody and culminated in a dive to the floor. This enraged Drew Gulak who stood up…oh yeah, he’s on commentary by the way, more on that later. Nonetheless, Kendrick regained control on the outside but quickly lost it, with Lince getting the sudden win via Golden Rewind.

Post-match, Gulak...no, this isn’t the more later that I promised…more on that later. Either way, Drew got very angry and beat up the lucha lads before scurrying to safety. Dorado was fine here but taking into account 205’s high standards, this was a quite forgettable affair.

Grade: C+

Brian Kendrick

At this point in his career, Kendrick is an interesting case for me. Everything he does is perfectly logical and considered but I often ponder if his style really fits into 205’s current presentation. Whether it does or doesn't, I’m always a supporter of the heel assaulting his foe at the first bell. Kendrick’s cut off spot was pretty neat too, even if it was almost completely missed as the cameras instead focused on the great Gulak….oh yeah, time for the “more on that later” content I promised.

With Gallagher absent, Drew accompanied Brian to the ring this week and then joined the commentary desk. Gulak was tremendous as usual here and entertained me throughout. One standout moment came when Percy Watson (more on him later) pointed out that in his delightful pamphlet, Gulak had misspelled ‘Lince Dorado.’ Nigel responded to this without hesitation though, proclaiming it “a great piece of literature” that he read “cover to cover.” Gulak was very happy about this and continued to rule but sadly, he was almost too good and once again completely stole my attention.

That issue was probably heightened by a quite meandering Kendrick heat segment though to be fair. The production team apparently agreed, regularly giving us shots of Gulak whilst Kendrick grounded Dorado. I don’t really have much else to say, this was solid but nothing more and that’s fine I suppose, provided things ramp up down the line of course.

Grade: C+

A very dramatic recap of Buddy and Cedric came next and this was a very nice reminder of that match’s excellence. Good stuff.

Following this, Mustafa Ali cut a brief promo about tonight’s main event. I found the ‘does he have the heart necessary?’ angle to be a little bizarre considering they’ve already wrestled for about 30 minutes on television but nevertheless, his delivery is always pretty good.

TJP

Another showcase for TJP up now as he takes on Brian Keith, the greatest looking local I’ve ever seen. TJP immediately floored him with a clothesline regardless, then grabbing a mic and burying his boots. He then applied a submission whilst critiquing Mr Maverick on the mic. After stomping Keith’s head into the mat, TJP hinted at changing brand again before applying another submission whilst still talking. I loved this other than Keith withstanding the hold but that critique then vanished as TJP said “it’s tap out time” and got the win.

Well, this was just tremendous. TJP put on some cool holds that gave his technical wrestling talk some worth and as a character, he shined, absolutely maximizing his minutes and being a genuine heel. Perfect execution of a quite creative approach. Tremendous.

Grade: A*

TJP may think that Drake Maverick is very bad but he’s been doing some very good business as up next, the signing of Lio Rush was announced. This led to a vignette for Rush and this was very well-done. Rush put himself over and came across as wholly unlikable in a production that felt refreshingly unique to him. He’s just a great acquisition in general though and is certain to have some enthralling matchups on the purple brand.

Before our main event could begin, Dasha Fuentes asked Buddy Murphy something but Tony Nese interrupted and put Buddy over. The man himself then cut a short promo about being a juggernaut and all that cool stuff.

Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy

Now to the action and I should preface my recap here by saying that I entered this match with insanely high expectations. With that said, things started well with Buddy immediately overpowering Ali before laughing off his chops and grabbing the hair. Mustafa’s speed was already paying dividends though, as he avoided Murphy before hitting a big dive to the floor. Ali maintained control too, hitting a crossbody off the top to maintain momentum.

He got caught up there afterwards though and Buddy proceeded to heavily drop him on the top rope. This looked tremendously violent and was a very fitting cut-off spot for Buddy. Ali wasn't to be kept down though, almost catching a quick roll-up just as he did in their first match. Murphy quickly escaped this time nonetheless, suplexing Mustafa on the top rope and continuing his focus on the midsection, slamming Ali onto his knee before grabbing a hold.

Ali soon rallied out of nowhere though, hitting an insane poison-rana that seemingly killed Buddy and was genuinely quite frightening to watch. For a moment, both men sold here, allowing the match to breathe. Rightly so too, this was a legitimately insane spot. Eventually, Ali indeed followed up, superkicking Buddy before splashing him whilst he balanced on the middle rope. A huge strike exchange came next, with heavy shots back and forth making this a quite dramatic affair.

With the drama officially elevated, Ali got the advantage but as he looked for the X Factor, Buddy caught him before kicking him directly in the face. Ali kicked out though (of the pin) and evaded Buddy before hitting the X-Factor on the apron just as he did in their last match. Murphy turned things around immediately quite rapidly nonetheless, kicking Ali in the face (again) and hitting that cool DDT thing he does. It was at this point that quite deserved ‘This Is Awesome’ chants emerged from the previously silent crowds.

Buddy then followed Ali to the outside and tried to stomp his head into the canvas but Ali avoided and within seconds, hit an insane DDT on the floor. He then threw Murphy inside and looked set to hit the 054 when all of a sudden, HIDEO ITAMI punched him in the face. This of course caused the no-finish and Itami then left both laying whilst shouting about respect. Considering the circumstances, this finish made sense but my question is whether or not they should’ve put themselves in this situation to begin with.

Bizarrely, that’s my main ‘critique’ of this match.  It felt like these guys were treating it with importance and trying to tell a dramatic story but the truth was, this rubber match had been unnecessarily rushed which hindered their opportunity to do so. I also didn't enjoy the pacing of this one as much as its two predecessors but both were still excellent and the match was filled with creativity which is always appreciated. Great match that most importantly, won over a live crowd that seemed completely uninterested as the match begun.

Oh and I haven’t forgotten about Percy Watson, I promised I had “more on him later” and here it is: he was very good in this week. Thank you and goodnight.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

Out of the three 205 Live’s I’ve covered so far, this is certainly the weakest. The main event alone means that it was far from bad per se but the first 25 minutes lacked anything must-see and whilst excellent, the main event wasn't quite good enough to lift this whole show up the way last week’s did. Part of that of course was the finish though which again, brings the programme down slightly by default. That’s not to say it was bad booking in the slightest, it’s just the reality of its short-term effect. Either way, the main event is certainly worth a watch.

Grade: B

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