In a rare result, last week’s 205 Live left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Cedric Alexander’s title defense opposite Hideo Itami was fine, but somewhat lacking in my view. Now moving onto this week, the Cruiserweight brand has some new tests to pass. Without a title match or feud blow-off to main event, this week’s episode is reliant on two recent feuds that aren't exactly blockbuster regardless of their in-ring potential. This is a big spot for Lio Rush though and his performance here could prove pivotal to his purple-brand potential. With that being said, let’s get to 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.
As is becoming standard, Drake Maverick opens the broadcast with a rather lengthy run-down of this week’s matches. This remains a fine way of recapping recent events whilst setting the table for what’s to come.
In a rematch of the wackiness that we saw a fortnight ago, TJP is here in the hunt for revenge against Noam Dar. First he has a microphone though and claims that with time to prepare, it’s pretty much Christmas around here. Not in England mate, I’m sweating bullets in the bewildering heat. Speaking of such, TJP buried this week’s town and dismissed his unwarranted position in the curtain jerker. He then says that he’s going to turn Dar’s comeback story into a comeback sentence. Smart.
This week’s match begun in identical fashion to its predecessor, but this time TJP bailed before Dar could close the show. After being chased around by the flurrying Dar, TJP then got back into things with some grappling exchanges and took control via wrecking ball dropkick. From there he went to work and this portion was strong, with TJP initially working on Noam’s arm as he protected his leg at all costs. An attempted backslide would halt Dar’s attempted comeback too, with TJP regaining control and applying a range of holds before snapping Noam’s arm violently.
Now very much on top, TJP increased his focus on Dar’s leg, really working him over across the board until the eventual comeback. That would indeed turn the tide but TJP evaded Dar’s big kick and snatched a quick roll-up to no avail. They then fought to the apron until TJP kicked out Noam’s leg, quickly following up with a chop-block and unleashing some stomps. He then applied a single leg Boston Crab in-between the ropes and closed the show via kneebar.
TJP’s technical wrestling here was a delight. At times I wish that there was more spite to his smoothness but that issue wasn't as pronounced here and I generally thought that he performed excellently as the desperate heel. Great stuff.
The result here always felt kind of inevitable but nonetheless, Dar performed well I thought. The opening sequence repeat was a nice touch and Dar’s sustained aggression allowed that momentum to be carried forward too. I would say though that whilst I thought Dar sold well, he really did do a lot of it in this match. His time on offense was very brief which I suppose makes sense considering his rapid win just two weeks ago. Repaying the favor in that regard.
On the bright side, Dar’s comeback was solid and as comical as it sounds, felt unique on the land of springboards. With a couple of headbutts and a European uppercut, Dar’s comeback immediately had some substance and his big lariat to the back of the head was a nice touch too. I must concede that I wasn’t a big fan of Dar in his initial 205 Live run but this new and improved version is much more palatable for me, and I thought he was good here.
Back to last week now as we get a recap of Cedric Alexander’s win over Hideo Itami as well as a brief Mustafa Ali promo about his victory over Buddy Murphy two weeks ago.
Squash match time now as Drew Gulak takes on Danny Garcia. Considering his prior wins over Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson, I made Garcia a slight favorite here but sadly, Danny was immediately floored by a massive Gulak lariat and failed to recover afterwards. Drew followed up with a brutal back suplex and ended things via Gu-Lock. Well folks, there’s your answer about a pro boxer taking on a pro wrestler. It may not have been Mayweather/McGregor but we found out the truth nonetheless.
Post-match, Gulak had a microphone in hand and quoted Mick Jagger before conceding that he’s not usually one for the rock ’n’ roll. He also says that after two years of bad champions, it’s time for the people to get the treat of a good champion: the great Gulak. This man belongs in the title picture and this squash ruled, violent dominance. Oh, Gallagher and Kendrick were here too.
Speaking of great things, we now got a recap of last week’s brawl between Buddy and the little lads. This was followed by Dasha Fuentes who was interviewing Murphy and his buddy Tony Nese. Buddy says that his only regret is preventing Nese from scoring the win and Tony follows up on this by saying that next week, he’ll finish this business with Kalisto 1-on-1, no partners allowed. Well, that’s definitely the least interesting potential next chapter….cool.
Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa
This match was already intriguing but before the bell had even rung, I enjoyed how much they stressed Rush’s youth. If this is a ‘sport-style presentation,’ that factor matters and I’m glad to see it mentioned here. To the action now and Lio was timid early, backing away with some mind-games much to Tozawa’s frustration. Rush’s speed only allowed him to evade easier too, soon hitting a Hurricanrana and proudly celebrating his brilliance. Rush then bailed but Tozawa gave chase and scored some offense of his own before returning the favor with a taunt of his own.
Akira was rallying here but Rush quickly cut him off on the ropes, sending him to the floor with his handstand kick. Rush was in control now, hitting a vertical suplex in-between some trash talk filled ground and pound. He halted Tozawa’s brief comeback attempt also, maintaining control comfortably. However, whilst stuck in a headlock, Tozawa began to shout AHHH, soon fighting to his feet. A strike exchange quickly commenced, with Akira eventually coming out on top but only after Rush had awesomely avoided his fake out punch a couple of times first.
Tozawa’s big dive to the outside landed hard next and he then hit his dropkick off the top to stay in control. A Rush slap came in response but that only fired Tozawa up, as he scored a big German Suplex with Rush rolling to the floor before he could hit his senton finish. Lio continued to avoid Akira here and eventually yanked him off the top rope as he looked for the senton once again. Rush took advantage this time too, hitting his big Frog Splash and getting the win immediately after.
This was a very well worked match that with a little more time, could’ve been quite great. It wasn't spectacular or standout but undeniably good nonetheless, with two talented performers telling their story effectively regardless of reaction. Nothing great but enjoyable either way.
We go off the air in Drake Maverick’s office, as he tells Cedric that next week: TJP, Drew Gulak, Mustafa Ali and Hideo Itami will battle for a shot at his title. Hmmm, Itami and TJP feel out of place here but who am I to question the great Maverick. A wonderful English man with tremendous teeth to boot.
Overall, I enjoyed this show more than last week’s. The main event here wasn't anything must-see but I found it engaging and effective nonetheless. Moreover, TJP and Dar put on a strong opener, giving this show some balance and not putting too much pressure on the main event’s quality. Sprinkle in a Gulak murder as well as some snazzy recaps and you have a rather strong episode in my view. Considering the big guns were mostly on the sidelines here, this was certainly a positive week for 205 Live’s longevity.