The 205 Live Report Card (7/10/18): Retaining Momentum

Just one week removed from arguably the greatest match in brand history, 205 Live will now look to retain its recent momentum with another rare title match. In fact, Cedric’s defense opposite Itami will be just the 2nd title match featured on 205 Live in all of 2018, making this a fitting sequel to last week’s magic. Seriously though, I’m genuinely interested to see how this week’s main event fares by comparison. It’s certainly got a lot to live up too but after spending so much time in the background, it feels important for Alexander to deliver big nonetheless.

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.

Tony Khan: It's Us Against Them And I Am The Captain Now

We begin our evening with a recap of Hideo Itami’s recent actions. This includes his interference and triple threat win against Ali and Murphy as well as Cedric calling him out. This build has been short but effective, neat SPORT STYLE PRESENTATION stuff.

Kalisto

After having such a wonderful time last week, I was totally not enraged to see the lucha lads open this week’s show. I absolutely missed them a ton and 100% did not prefer the show during their brief absence. Nonetheless, Kalisto is taking on Tony Nese here and after a couple athletic stalemates, he quickly earned an advantage. His success would be brief though, with Nese taking control and grounding him. This left Lince and Metalik with no choice as they predictably turned to their noisy irritants.

Understandably, this very much angered Buddy Murphy….oh yes, he’s here by the way. He looks as though he’s in the midst of a horrific hangover too. Kalisto’s eventual comeback quickly arrived anyway and it was fine but Nese countered Salida Del Sol and regained control. Once again desperate, the lads turned back to making noise and enraged Buddy even more in the process. He’d had enough this time though, and headed over which only distracted Nese. That allowed Kalisto to take advantage with a big dive but Murphy ended the match anyway, punching Kalisto in the head to cause a DQ.

A brawl immediately broke out in response and it was a pretty physical one at that. Punching, kicking and shirt pulling, chaos all round pal. In the end, the masked men stood their ground in center ring as Nese pulled the incensed Murphy away. Pretty fun angle that protected both guys in the actual match. As far as Kalisto specifically, he was fine here, this wasn't intended to be a big showcase match but he was inoffensive regardless.

Grade: C+

Tony Nese

Nothing particularly new learned about Nese for me here but he was also totally fine without making a big impression either way. I will say that I love the sheer trepidation in his voice as he counts his own abs though, that’s simply remarkable content and it’s only made better by the way it contrasts with angry Buddy. As I’ve said, this was pretty much a nothing match but I did enjoy Nese’s cut off nonetheless, catching Kalisto out of the air and immediately establishing his power advantage.

His heat was lacking anything of interest but that was by design on this occasion, as the focus shifted to hungover Murphy’s issues with the lucha’s loudness. Nese’s final offensive move here is always a positive too as I’m just generally a fan of men being slammed to the mat like a prime Ricardo Arona. Happy to see Tony protected from a loss though and this should be a fun programme that’ll hopefully help Nese a ton, especially working alongside Buddy. Fine opening segment here.

Grade: C+

Backstage now as Drake Maverick and Noam Dar are talking about wrestling. TJP soon arrived though and flagrantly lied about Maverick only making 205 Live worse. Some brief arguing then led to Maverick booking a match between the two for next week. Cool…maybe…I guess?

Following this we got a short video package about Hideo Itami and the word ‘respect.’ Very nice.

Lio Rush

Another Lio Rush showcase now as HE CAME TO COLLECT. His opponent here is Colin Delaney (my god) but before the action could begin, Akira Tozawa showed up just like Lio did last week. At the first bell, Rush responded to this by rolling to the outside and grabbed a chair for Akira to sit in. Tozawa isn’t a fan of chairs though and instead just kicked it. To the action now and I’d imagine that Delaney will enter as the betting favourite here, he is super experienced and has quite the resume.

He immediately caught a quick roll-up too, taking advantage of a distracted Rush until Lio kicked out and went right to work, flooring Delaney with a couple rapid kicks before taunting Tozawa. He then did some wackiness and hit his handstand kick to send Delaney to the floor. To finish, he threw Delaney back in and hit the Final Hour for the win. Tremendous victory for Rush here over an ECW legend. Very impressive but I’d personally like to see a rematch, it seemed as though Colin was just caught cold unfortunately.

Grade: A

Post-match, Tozawa did his own take on Rush’s shenanigans and climbed the announce table with a microphone in hand. He called Rush great but pointed out that he’s actually never done a thing in 205 Live…fair. This promo sadly received nothing but ‘what’ chants as Tozawa eventually asked if Rush wanted to fight before claiming that he couldn't hear his response. This understandably encouraged Rush to ask for Akira’s microphone, (following the rules that they are only allowed one mic at a time on 205) but in response, Tozawa faked him out and eventually dropped the mic on the floor.

As a fight looked set to ensue, Drake Maverick arrived and booked a match between the two for next week. This received boos as the crowd was now apparently interested in such a thing, what a bunch of frauds.

Up next we got a recap of last week’s main event insanity. This was all very dramatic as it built to Ali’s heroic triumph but frankly, this match warranted the video package treatment, it really was rather special. Speaking of Ali, he’d stay on-screen too as we moved to Cedric’s locker room, and saw him getting the champ fired up for his upcoming title match.

A Drew Gulak selfie promo followed and featured Gallagher and Kendrick in tow. Gulak made it clear that this isn’t his ideal format but I appreciated the effort nonetheless.

WWE Cruiserweight Title

Hideo Itami vs. Cedric Alexander (C)

Main event time now and in a neat touch, this is apparently a first time matchup. We got things started with an intense lockup but Itami failed to break cleanly, quickly setting the tone. Grappling exchanges followed until Itami landed some kind of wacky punch that briefly stunned Alexander. More mat wrestling came next with Cedric constantly having to close the distance as he looked to avoid Itami’s strikes. Cedric then flurried with his beautiful dropkick and cut off a fired up Itami with a vicious chop to the chest.

However, itami quickly came back, almost swiping Cedric out of the air with a kick to the sternum. Itami’s mouth was already bleeding here and unsurprisingly so considering Alexander’s commitment to hitting people directly in the face. Either way, Hideo was now in control, stalking Cedric with kicks and taunting him along the way. Alexander made a brief comeback with some chops but was cut off again and he’d already entered the screaming sell phase. I’ve seen people critique Cedric’s selling in the past but generally, I quite enjoy it.

On the other hand, his big sell felt almost out of place and forced here considering Itami’s limited offense to this point in the match. In another example of that, Hideo grabbed a hold next and continued to talk to both Cedric and the crowd. He then continued to stomp Alexander to the mat before grabbing another hold. This heat segment was wholly uncreative and that was only worsened by Itami’s lack of flash early. Those elements combined were making for a match that thus far, had been one paced.

Now I know, I know. It’s very hypocritical for me of all people to ask for more flash from a heel but let’s be clear here: this is 205 Live. You enter to silence on this brand but the idea is that you work them into things and that’s just not going to happen with headlocks and crowd taunts. The Cruiserweight style is unique in that sense, it’s just not the place for traditional heel work in my opinion…not at this stage anyway. Cedric’s comeback soon came regardless and featured all of his signature offense, culminating in his big dive to the floor.

Cedric landed insanely hard here, with his back making a big thud noise on the floor. Again, this all occurred to nothing but silence from the live crowd, it’s a tough gig pal. Either way, Itami avoided the follow-up springboard clothesline but couldn’t evade the neuralyzer which brought a false finish. Alexander began to look for Lumbar Check at this point but Itami fought him off, rocking Cedric and throttling him on the top rope before hitting a clothesline off the top.

A big strike exchange followed as both men looked for one final advantage but in the end, it was Itami’s slap that gained control. A big kick in the corner came next and Itami then hit a suplex for 2. Suddenly desperate after Alexander kicked out (of a suplex?), Itami turned to the turnbuckle just as he did weeks ago but the referee stopped him this time, allowing Cedric to catch a quick roll-up. Itami kicked out though and then cut Alexander off, sending the champ to the floor

Itami followed Cedric to the floor too, dropkicking Alexander as he rested against the steps and then eventually throwing him back in the ring. By the time he did, Cedric kicked out and after withstanding two spinning back fists, he caught Lumbar Check as Hideo run the ropes, retaining his belt in the process. This was a good match but by 205 Live’s high standards, left me a little underwhelmed. I found the pacing of it to be rather lacklustre and Itami’s offense generally did very little for me.

The talking point I’d imagine will be Cedric’s status as champion though and that’s fair. Just like everyone else on this show, he’s not generally over and that makes things harder for all involved. The issue though is that Ali is so consistent that it’s hard not to draw comparisons that as of right now, make Cedric look somewhat lacking. We’ll see what happens but I wanted more from this match, that’s for sure.

Grade: B

Final Thoughts

Last week’s 205 Live felt about as must-watch as this brand has ever achieved. On the other hand, this week’s episode completely failed to capture that same feel. The opener was fine but unremarkable and Rush’s showcase was obviously short by design. Considering that, this episode hinged on the main event in the same way that most do but on this occasion, the main event just didn't connect with me in a big way. It was fine but nothing that I’d recommend to a casual WWE viewer and that’s a shame considering how rare Cruiserweight Title matches have become.

I’m not going to overreact here because this match was still good and I remain a believer in Cedric as a talent. With that being said, I hope that Alexander’s next defense not only matches but also exceeds the standard set by his peers. That feels genuinely pivotal to his role as champion and hopefully, he’ll soon start doing just that.

Grade: B

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