By Austin Grinnell @WolfmanAustin13
It’s a new day (YES IT IS!) on 205 Live. The last two weeks have seen the first matches in the sixteen man tournament to crown the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Enzo Amore’s vacated title will find a home around the waist of a new superstar at WrestleMania.
There are rumors out there that Vince McMahon has stepped back from 205 Live, leaving it in the hands of Triple H. This would explain the presentation over the past two weeks, as I have been absolutely loving the back to basics approach that the past two weeks have taken. We’ve had some great matches, and we should have two more tonight with Akira Tozawa taking on British high flyer Mark Andrews, and Drew Gulak going one on one with his buddy Tony Nese.
Tozawa and Andrews start out the show right off the bat here. A lot of people will be expecting Akira Tozawa to pick up the win tonight, but Andrews had a great showing in last year’s United Kingdom Championship tournament, and is quite accomplished outside of the promotion. Last week saw a pretty big upset, as Roderick Strong debuted out of NXT and ousted one of the heavy favorites in the tournament when he pinned Hideo Itami. Andrews is more than capable of repeating that feat tonight.
Akira Tozawa has been a standout star on the 205 Live brand since its inception last year. Despite the difficulties with making the adjustment to the WWE style in the beginning, his personality has really found a way to burst through and the crowd absolutely loves him. He is so vocal in the ring and knows exactly how to get the crowd to react to what he’s doing. It also doesn’t hurt that his Vince McMahon impression is delightful.
This match has been a lot more grounded than I would have expected with these two involved, but it’s a refreshing change from the typical WWE cruiserweight matches of yesterday. These guys are capable of all kinds of spectacular moves, but it’s great to remind the fans that they are also sound technical wrestlers.
Andrews has been a bit off in this one, and Tozawa is taking full advantage. The former Cruiserweight Champ Tozawa hit a nasty looking Suicide Dive, connected with his Shining Wizard and gave Andrews all he could, but an attempt at the La Magistral Cradle was countered by Andrews who pinned Tozawa’s shoulders to the mat for a surprising three count.
This match started off a little bit rough, with what looked like some nerves on the part of Andrews, but these two really turned it up in the final half and continued the run of great matches in the first round of the tournament to crown the new Champion.
We’re getting another debut from NXT next week, and I’m ridiculously excited for this one. Not only did we get the announcement of his impending debut, but they just aired a beautifully done video package to highlight former NXT Tag Team Champion Buddy Murphy. This video did more for Murphy than almost anything he’s done in the WWE, which isn’t to sleight his accomplishments, but more to point out that in thirty seconds, they made me care more about him than they could in a couple of years, simply because of the way it was presented.
Friends collide now as Drew Gulak and Tony Nese square off to see who will advance in the tournament. Will we see Gulak abandon his No-Fly Zone in an effort to move on, or will he stay true to his beliefs and try to bully and out-wrestle the more powerful Tony Nese? It’s looking like the latter in the early stages of the match, as Gulak and Nese are reminding me of how I used to just love watching Gulak stretch and break his opponents.
Nese is doing a good job of holding his own with the brute technician though, and is starting to pull out some of his more flippy stuff. Not to be out-done though, Nese is showing off some unique stretches of his own against Gulak.
Gulak grabs the beard of Nese to stop him and then just unloads with some open handed strikes to the face in a unique moment reminiscent of BUSHI’s treatment of Gedo in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. It’s Nese’s turn to do something cool though, and he connects with what I can only describe as a No-Hands Cartwheel Plancha to the outside.
Lots of near-falls here now, with Nese showcasing a really awesome Pumphandle Driver as a counter to Gulak’s Dragon Sleeper. Drew looks to be employing a rope-a-dope tactic here as Nese seems to be close to the win. Gulak knocks him off the apron to stop the momentum though, and then sends him hard into the announce desk twice. The intensity on his face tells the story, as Gulak wants desperately to lead 205 Live into a better future.
After a vicious Double Powerbomb, Gulak wraps his friend up in the Dragon Sleeper, though the submission wasn’t really necessary at this point, as Nese was already out from the Powerbomb’s.
Don’t forget, next week is Mustafa Ali Vs Jack Gallagher, and Ariya Daivari Vs Buddy Murphy in the final two matches in the first round of the Championship Tournament.
Our first six men into the Quarter-Finals of the tournament are set as: Cedric Alexander, TJP, Kalisto, Roderick Strong, Mark Andrews and Drew Gulak. I would expect that Ali and Murphy will be joining them to round out the Elite Eight, but I also expected Tyler Bate, Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa to make it past the first round, so I suppose we’ll see.
Regardless, it’s been three weeks of great 205 Live action, and if this is Triple H running the show, then I am so excited to watch this show every Tuesday night, live on the WWE Network!