The 205 Live Report Card (9/19/18): Times Are Changing

It’s a marathon day here at the Report Card offices as for the first and last time, I cover 205 Live and NXT in the very same evening/morning/afternoon. Whilst my NXT coverage is regrettably coming to a close (more on that later), this series will live on whether you like it or not pal. To the show now and this is quite obviously an absolutely pivotal episode for 205 Live. With a brand new time-slot that on paper, looks a far better fit, this is a real opportunity for the brand to grow.

With a title match, they’ve chosen a good starting point too. 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.

We are welcomed on-board here with a recap of Alexander and Gulak’s SummerSlam match as well as the conflict that’s followed since.

TJP vs. Lince Dorado

To the ring now and in what’s an admittedly…interesting choice for opener, TJP is taking on Lince Dorado. By the looks of things, there’s not too many people in the arena yet but with this being taped before SmackDown, those in attendance do seem slightly more enthusiastic. Action-wise, they eased into things early with some taunting until Dorado flurried with some of his signature offense. Lince was moving as good as I’ve ever seen him here, mixing up his offense and hitting a real range of it too.

TJP soon cut him off though, catching a guillotine choke through the ropes and following up with a cross-body too. The former champ went to work from there, roughing Lince up with some strikes before focusing on his shoulder also. TJP’s work in control was solid even if a little lacking in urgency, but I do enjoy him as a heel and that was no different here. The way he strings his holds together is impressive too, even if I’m unsure how well suited the approach is for this start of a new era of sorts.

Either way, a springboard forearm allowed TJP to stay in control but Dorado soon fired back, landing a spinning heel kick to leave both men floored. As they rose to their feet, a big chop from Dorado sent TJP back down too, allowing him to make a full comeback that culminated in a terrifying dive to the floor. A big moonsault came next for 2 and Lince stayed on top, avoiding the Detonation Kick and landing a massive superkick also.

However, as Dorado looked to close the show, TJP removed his mask and won with a roll-up in what was a truly delightful finish. To add insult to injury, TJP then utilized the Lucha’s matraca until Lince run him off. Whilst not spectacular in layout, this was a very enjoyable opener that very effectively spotlighted both talents’ strengths. Just a rock solid rasslin match, good stuff pal.

Grade: B

Off to Drake Maverick’s office now as Lio Rush informs him he can’t compete due to his commitments with Bob. Rush then mentioned AOP too, and I’m still unsure as to why these lads keep getting brought up on the most exciting hour in entertainment. Either way, Drake then booked Rush and Dar for next week.

After a little advert action, we returned to Maverick’s lair as Mustafa Ali arrived in the hunt for some good news. He was seemingly happy with his tune-up match but Maverick doesn't care due to the lasting memory of that Itami loss. In the end, Maverick gave him the green-light anyway, booking a rematch with itami for next week. My god, no need for that kind of emotional manipulation pal.

WWE Cruiserweight Title

Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander (C)

Main event time now and before the bell even sounded, I was already very optimistic. Some tremendous Nigel McGuiness commentary got things rolling as he brilliantly explained the impact of Gulak’s recent Brock Lesnar comparison. Cedric received a rather friendly reaction too, and all of this bodes very well for my happiness. Following the bell, Gulak was somewhat hesitant to engage early but quickly snatched the Gu-Lock following a Kendrick distraction, forcing Alexander to scurry to the bottom rope.

They then began to grapple in center ring and this was spirited stuff, with Alexander getting the better of things until Kendrick swept his leg, getting himself and Gallagher sent to the back. This allowed Cedric to flurry, landing some of his signature offense as well as a few crisp strikes too. He was in control from there, working over Gulak’s arm but eventually getting caught mid-flatliner, receiving a violent suplex for his troubles. Gulak was the one dictating things now, landing some vicious stomps after wearing Alexander down.

Cedric struggled to turn the tide from there, eventually fighting to his feet after Gulak had slowed the action with a headlock. This resulted in a suplex war, culminating in Cedric finally hitting the suplex on the floor after a tremendous mini-sequence. A double count-out was barely avoided as a result and after a big stare-down, the two rivals traded strikes with Alexander coming out on top. This refreshingly energetic crowd was far more into this too, firmly on Cedric’s side as he hit the Neuralizer before following up with his big dive too.

As he rolled Gulak back in though, Cedric got caught in the Gu-Lock and sold it beautifully, even if only briefly in a rare moment of logic. A couple of lariats came next from the challenger, both resulting in big false finishes as the drama began to build. At this point we saw footage of Buddy Murphy watching on before returning to the ring as Alexander created some space and got a near-fall of his own.

Some chops came next but Gulak soon returned fire, landing a forearm and shockingly heading up top to land a lariat for one more 2 count. Wow, what a wonderful piece of storytelling, Gulak left his feet for the Cruiserweight title…brilliant. Either way, Drew again grabbed The Gu-Lock next and this time the sell was much more traditional but Nigel’s call remained tremendous regardless. Eventually, Cedric powered free and following one final strike exchange, closed the show via Lumbar Check.

Wow, this may not have been your standard little lad bout stylistically but what a tremendously well-worked match regardless. Just a wonderful title ‘fight’, everything they did looked great and the pacing allowed for a really fulfilling finish too. Excellent work by both men.

Grade: A

Post-match, we head backstage for a brief Buddy Murphy promo. He’s wearing the tightest ‘shirt’ of all time and talked about becoming the next Cruiserweight champ. Cool, hope you’re right pal.

Final Thoughts

With a fun opener and a legitimately excellent main event, it’s hard to poke a hole in this week’s 205 Live. Perhaps a slightly more marquee match to open would’ve been ideal but that’s really not a fair criticism considering that I genuinely enjoyed what TJP and Lince produced. Gulak and Alexander were the key here regardless and boy did they deliver, producing a quality match that stands out from the pack too. Add in the excited crowd and you have a tremendous start to this ‘new era’ of 205 Live.

Times really are changing pal...or hopefully they are at least.

Grade: A*

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