The 205 Live Report Card (7/3/18): Steel Step Silliness

Since its inception 18 months ago, 205 Live has certainly experienced some highs and lows. However, this recent series of matches between Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy has been my personally highlight for sure. They’ve told a very nice story throughout the trilogy and now with a No DQ stipulation to work with, I expect the kind of content that’ll make me scream in anxiety and fear. This isn’t a feud rich with promo and story but as a series of matches, it’s been immaculate thus far and I’d expect that to continue this week. Let’s rock and roll pal.

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.

NJPW Best Of Super Juniors 28 And World Tag League 2021 Updated Standings

As is now becoming tradition, we start this week’s show with Drake Maverick as he runs us through what we’ll be seeing tonight. This includes not only the aforementioned main event but also, TJP finally getting an opponent of Maverick’s choice.

TJP vs. Noam Dar

Speaking of such, here is ‘The Cruisergreat’ himself and he’s running down Omaha as he makes his way down to the ring. Eventually, he’s ready for his big opponent and that opponent is everyone’s favorite romantic: NOAM DAR. Seemingly unmoved by the surprise, TJP looked for an immediate advantage but Dar evaded and flurried with some strikes, flooring his foe in an instant. He then followed up with some kind of kick thingy that I’m sure has a name and that got him the rapid win. Wow.

This is impossible for me to rate but was a nice re-introduction for Dar regardless. How interested I am in a lengthy feud between these two? Well that’s a different question altogether but for now, this was effective and smoothly brought Dar back to 205 Live.

Rating: N/A but Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas was backstage so not far from an A*

Following this we got a recap of the Buddy/Mustafa series so far as well as a short Murphy promo about his plan for Ali’s hospitalization.

After his humiliating defeat, we now see TJP walking out of the arena very angry. He refuses interview time.

Akira Tozawa

Another showcase for Akira Tozawa up next as he takes on Jayson Strife. Before this match could begin though, Lio Rush arrived to watch on. Unfazed, Tozawa went right to work, dropping Strife with his fake out right hand before stomping a mud-hole in the corner. The big kick/senton combo came next but as Tozawa shifted his attention to Rush, he ate a knee from Strife who briefly took control. Nonetheless, Tozawa then avoided a Strife moonsault attempt and hit some kicks before closing the show with his big senton off the top.

Short little match in which Tozawa’s usual antics were purposely toned down to sell Rush’s presence. Fun while it lasted though.

Grade: B-

Following Tozawa’s win, Lio Rush grabbed a microphone and mounted the announce table. He admitted that he’s a Tozawa fan but asks what Akira has done since winning the Cruiserweight title. You see, Tozawa is waiting around which is something that he just doesn't do. He then seemingly challenged him to a fist-fight which is quite exciting. Lio’s delivery is a little much for me at times but his confidence is refreshing and this eventual match promises to be tremendous.

In response to the Buddy promo earlier, Ali has some words of his own as he looks to prove to the world that ‘The Juggernaut’ is just a human after all.

Another promo now as Cedric cut one of the selfie variety. He said some stuff about Hideo Itami’s entitlement and stuff….oh yeah, these guys are wrestling next week, for the title too. Cool.

No Disqualification

Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy

Main event time now and we get straight into the violence, with Ali immediately bumping Buddy off the apron and following up with a big dive. He then threw Murphy inside, allowing the bell to ring before continuing his attack until Buddy literally just threw him up and over the announce table. A massive strike exchange followed on the floor and Mustafa eventually got the better of things, sending Murphy over the barricade and hitting a cross-body into the crowd.

Ali’s flurry soon came to a violent halt though, as Buddy yanked him off the barricade and launched him onto the ramp. This created a simply horrific sound and so did the follow-up Murphy suplex in the same spot. Back in the ring now as Buddy grabbed a hold and began gouging Mustafa like a big meanie. He was working on Ali’s back here and was very happy with his work. He even claimed that he could do this all day….please mate, it’s 3 am, even I don’t like wrestling that much.

Nonetheless, Buddy’s dominance continued, with smug power throughout. These crowds don’t care but Murphy was working directly to them here which did add some atmosphere even if only relatively speaking. After sustaining some more vicious strikes, Mustafa fired back, catapulting Murphy into the corner and coming back with some of his signature offense. Ali’s flurry culminated in an X-Factor between the ropes before they again fought to the floor. This encouraged Murphy to disassemble the steel steps as he looked to complete his ‘hospitalize Ali’ plan.

Mustafa fought free regardless and set up the announce table for destruction but instead, Murphy basement dropkicked the steps into Ali, and used them as a ramp for his terrifying big dive. This was awesome insanity. Back in ring now as Murphy positioned the steps in the corner and launched Ali into them, this is getting increasingly brutal and in response, the crowd chanted ‘one more time.’ Buddy obliged, only nonchalantly going for the cover after the 2nd big throw.

Ali then turned things around though, using a hurricanrana to send Murphy directly into the steps himself. He then headed up for 054 but Murphy cut him off, kicked him in the brain and hit a pair of powerbombs for 2. Buddy went back to the steps now and began to repeatedly slam Mustafa’s face into them. He then positioned Ali and headed up top but Mustafa halted him and used the steps as a ladder of some kind for an obscene superplex. What is even happening at this point?

Both men were writhing in agony following this, clutching their backs as ‘THIS IS AWESOME’ chants rightly reigned down. As Ali crawled to a potential cover though, Murphy rolled to the floor and wandered over to the announce table, throwing the oncoming Ali onto it and climbing the barricade. Ali was ahead of him though, sprinting up the barricade and hitting Spanish fly onto the announce table. To somehow make this look worse, the table didn't even break and looked to have absolute zero give for these poor men.

Either way, as Ali threw Buddy back into the ring, Murphy hit a brutal knee which left Ali tied in the ropes. Buddy then took full advantage, destroying the defenseless Mustafa before untying him and hitting one last knee that Ali still somehow kicked out of. However before Murphy could close the show, Ali turned things around, hitting an immense DDT off the steps to get the win.

Well, where to start? This was extraordinary. From a creativity standpoint, this was about as good as it gets, with a handful of spots that I’ve legitimately never seen before. I mean seriously, steel steps have never had as much value as they did here and that was pretty cool to see. What I loved most though was that no matter how outrageous things got, the match continued to feel like a fight, with brutality scattered throughout the way. There was a real aggression and tenacity to the whole thing and that’s a massive plus for me.

I sense that the finish will split people and frankly, it was conflicting for me too. I love it as a standalone finish but I will concede that it felt a little off after the level of violence we’d seen in the 20 minutes prior. Moreover, Ali getting tied in the ropes was a delightful spot but felt wasted here in a match that Mustafa ended up winning anyway. I’d be lying if I said that I didn't find that element a little jarring, watching Ali take 5 knees to the brain just moments before he won with a single move.

Nonetheless, this is still an immaculate match that for me, is the finest 205 Live has ever seen. When we look back at 2018 as a whole, I sense that this match will still jump off the page as an absolute standout affair. Brilliant work from two men that are frankly carrying this show, and I mean that with no disrespect to their peers. They really are just that good.

Grade: A*

Final Thoughts

I feel like this is the easiest ‘final thoughts’ that I’ll ever have to write. This week’s 205 Live featured a return, a strong feud-starting promo and most importantly, arguably the greatest match in the brand’s history. I have no idea what the future holds for 205 Live and in its current form, it does feel somewhat without a plan for growth. With that being said, matches like this are an absolute pleasure to watch and I’m genuinely thankful for this show’s existence as of right now.

Massive credit to both men in the main event though, they went to lengths almost unfathomable and succeeded in creating something quite special. Truly incredible performances.

Grade: A*

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