The 205 Live Report Card (8/7/18): Losing Balance

It’s 205 and by god, it’s still LIVE. Folks, I’m in a tremendous mood this week. I mean granted, wasting days of my life on such meaningless content is a slight bummer but Alicia Fox main evented RAW and Alexa Bliss has posted like 4 selfies in 72 hours so basically, I’m rocking and rolling pal. Moreover, I’m pretty sure that Buddy Murphy is actually wrestling this week which means I can play hypocrite whilst celebrating his absurd fascination with spiking himself head first on the canvas. All hail.

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.

Our evening begins just like usual, with a Drake Maverick WWF 1994 intro. Tremendous, let’s get this show on the road!

Lucha House Party (Kalisto and Lince Dorado) vs. Blake and Murph….no, sorry…Tony Nese and Buddy Murphy (Wishful Thinking)

Friends, after hours of thought and consideration, I’ve decided that from this point forward, all 205 matches will be graded TAKEOVER STYLE. The purple brand is less character based than NXT and more than that, features less than a dozen talents, all of which are obviously experienced technically. It makes more sense for me to just rate these matches as a whole rather than critiquing Nese’s charisma every single outing. That’s all.

To the action now as Buddy and Lince get us started. Dorado evaded Murphy early before being powered into the corner after his chop had no effect. A huge knee from Buddy followed, and the heels went right to work with Nese coming in to rough Lince up. Dorado fired back immediately though, hitting some offense and bringing in Kalisto who met Buddy head on. He had immediate success and continued to flurry too, SPIKING Murphy and allowing for some vintage head-bumping (YAS).

A blind tag allowed Nese to turn the tide though, yanking Kalisto to the floor before grabbing a hold in center ring. Kalisto’s attempt at a comeback was halted too, with the baby-oil lads stringing together some neat offense after cutting him off. They continued to control Kalisto from there, with Buddy holding a lengthy headlock until the eventual Kalisto comeback. When that comeback did indeed come though, it was immediately messy and fittingly brief too, with Nese preventing a tag whilst Buddy hit a big German Suplex for 2.

Nese then came in but Kalisto pushed him into Murphy, and tagged in Lince who ran wild on both. There was some legitimately cool stuff here and it had a ton of fire too, injecting some much needed energy into proceedings. However, Buddy quickly returned to break a fall, flattening poor Kalisto with a forearm. This fired Lince up and moments later, he hit a double Golden Rewind to set up dueling dives to the floor. As the action returned to the ring though, both Murphy and Dorado were removed but Buddy hooked Kalisto’s leg, allowing Nese to steal a quick pin.

This was a good opener that never threatened to be much more. The heat segment lacked some intensity for me and that wasn't helped by the crowd’s total disinterest either. Nonetheless, Buddy has a knack of really maximizing the lucha lads’ offense which means that this programme may end up being more than just forgettable fun. That thought has even more credence considering Murphy’s prior match opposite Kalisto too, one that feels like a rather forgotten gem.

Grade: B-

Off backstage now as Mustafa Ali assures Drake Maverick that he’s fine, and the doctor said so himself. Drake was unsure about all this and if I didn't know better, I’d fear that this will end in tears….

Speaking of such, Hideo Itami is shadowboxing in the dark whilst talking about respect.

Noam Dar vs. Sean Maluta

Before this showcase match got us off and running, a Noam Dar video package laid the groundwork. He discussed the falsehoods of invincibility and this was a fine piece about his recovery and new outlook. It also delved into his loss opposite TJP, with Dar saying that he won’t let the fear of injury get to him again.

To the match now and Dar immediately pushed Maluta into the corner, quickly taking control. However, Maluta soon turned things around with a kick to the gut before focusing on Dar’s previously injured knee. That attack continued too, with Dar again being floored by a low-kick after firing back with some strikes of his own. He then evaded Maluta himself though, unleashing a flurry and running suspiciously quickly to complete his corner offense.

He then closed the show, sweeping Maluta and hitting his big kick, damaged leg and all. This manoeuvre is apparently called the NOVA ROLLER. I know this because I’m a studied reporter. Overall, this segment was a success I’d say. The pre-match video package worked and I’m enjoying this angle of Dar’s uncertainty too. Still unsure as to how effective Noam is as a babyface but I personally prefer this to his prior act regardless.

As for Sean Maluta, well I’ll once again rewind the clock to 14 months ago. Take it away younger, handsomer and more enthusiastic Joe:

“Since his Cruiserweight Classic match with Kota Ibushi, I’ve always enjoyed Sean Maluta when featured. I think he has a pretty good look and already seems very comfortable in front of the camera. He also always brings a physicality that allows you to easily ignore his relative lack of height and that’s a neat skill to have when opposite an opponent like the massive McIntyre (small Dar). I thought Maluta did his job rather well here and my only criticism frankly is that I was expecting the incomparable ‘Beautiful Blake’ (remember that?).”

I do remember Joe but it's time to move on mate, Wesley lives in the vault now and that's never changing, whether you like it or not.

Grade: C+

Before we move to our main event, it’s time for a recap of last week’s segment event before Cedric Alexander spoke to his phone about wrestling Gallagher next week. This swiftly moved us to Gulak standing at a podium, with Kendrick and Jack firmly behind him. Basically, he spoke about creating a better 205 Live. The setting ruled, that’s my only real take.

Oh and one final thing, next week will also feature Rush/Tozawa 2. Good stuff pal.

Mustafa Ali vs. Hideo Itami

Main event time now as we get right into a feeling out process. Ali immediately avoided Itami’s strikes and landed some of his own, the gimmick being that he was well-prepared of course. Mustafa maintained control too, sending Itami to the floor with his kicks before hitting a big dive that looked simply horrific for all involved. A big cross-body followed but Ali then slowed down to grab his back. Itami took advantage, landing some kicks and demanding Ali show RESPECT…shocking I know.

They then fought to the floor, trading big strikes until Itami took control with some massive kicks. Their battle then took them to the apron where Itami heavily dropkicked Ali back first into the ring-post. Ali was in big trouble now pal and Itami continued the assault back in-ring, unleashing more kicks before grabbing a hold. After sustaining some more kicks and you guessed it, a few more kicks, Ali finally fired back with some offense, catching a quick roll-up to turn the tide.

A little cool stuff followed, before Mustafa rolled himself directly into a huge kick that he bumped big for. However, he then made a full comeback, X-Factor included. Why? I’ll never know but that’s modern rasslin I guess. One more strike exchange followed either way, leaving both men floored in dramatic fashion. Itami was the first to score offense afterwards though, hitting the falcon arrow for 2. However, Ali halted his plans for a superplex and rolled through, hitting a big power-bomb out of nowhere. After a moment of messiness, Itami launched Ali into the corner but that again failed to close the show.

Now frustrated, Itami opted for the steel step dropkick but Ali evaded, next hitting his big DDT on the floor. He then rolled Itami in, and headed up for 054 before suddenly losing his balance. Itami cut him off in the meantime, and scored a trio of big dropkicks to get the win. Well, where to start with this one. The action was very good, and their effort levels immense but I’d be lying if I said that I didn't have some issues with it overall.

I found the selling to be too inconsistent and considering the big Hollywood finish, that hurt this a little for me. Now to be clear, that’s not a knock on Ali’s actual selling as he always performs that element admirably. Instead, it’s simply my take on the match’s layout and an example of them pushing the barriers a little far for me before attempting to reign things in with the big finish. I’m not sure, they’d just lost me at that point as far as the back aspect.

Instead, I felt it had very much transitioned into a big move trade-off which is fine but not the same thing in my view. Now to be fair, I understand this issue. When the brand is built on in-ring excitement, it’s hard to sacrifice match quality to maximize an injury angle and that’s a dilemma that I totally appreciate. However, this is just one bloke’s take and for me, it slightly hurt the match as a whole. Nonetheless, this was a very good main event and probably the best 205 Live match since Ali’s shoot fight with Buddy.

Good show-closer even with the things that I deemed as flaws.

Grade: B+

Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, this was a stronger show than last week and featured a main event that I think was better than its recent predecessors. Add to that an enjoyable opener and you have a good show but I must say, things aren't really clicking for me right now. This current set of feuds feel like nothing more than decent follow-ups to what we’ve just seen, weaker stories being told in the same vein. Perhaps that’s just me though, time will tell if my feelings change in the coming weeks.

Grade: B

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