On this week’s episode of 205 Live, WWE continued the story of Mike Kanellis attempting to turn his luck around as he went one on one with former Cruiserweight champion The Brian Kendrick. Also, we had a Fatal four-way match between Lio Rush, Cedric Alexander, Humberto Carrillo, and Akira Tozawa to determine a new number one contender for Buddy Murphy’s cruiserweight title at Elimination Chamber.
Over the last few months, 205 Live has become a consistently solid show. They have always had a talented roster, but now they have gone back to basics by keeping the format of the show simple and making it feel like a sporting competition, which was one of the reasons the Cruiserweight Classic tournament worked so well. So for this reason, I felt the urge to put a spotlight on the company’s underappreciated superstars, and bring their recent change of fortunes to light by reviewing the show. If you love wrestling, you should tune in and “respect” these wrestlers!
Mike Kanellis vs. The Brian Kendrick
With Mike’s wife Maria joining the commentary team for this one, the match started off with a series of aggressive submission holds and reversals, a contrast to how the show’s main event would kick off. Kendrick would take control and then knock Mike to the outside of the ring, where Maria then demanded Mike get back inside, doing an excellent job showing who the dominant force in their relationship is.
Mike ultimately took control when he countered Kendrick’s Sliced Bread on the outside and turned it into a backdrop. He then proceeded to beat down Kendrick for most of the match. What worked for this bout was its simplicity, and physicality, it gave us a different style to what we would see later on. However, one of the real plus points was the commentary work. Maria did a great job talking up her man, while also rejecting Aiden English’s claims that Mike cannot pick up a victory.
Nigel McGuinness was excellent, as per usual, hilariously sucking up to Maria with lines such as “You’re his lady, and he’s your man. Whenever he reaches for you, you do all that you can.” He also highlighted small details such as Brian Kendrick barely kicking out of a cover, and explaining how it shows he does not have a lot left in the tank. Nigel’s insights give us a sense of realism, as well as adding to the story.
Ultimately, Kendrick won the match with Sliced Bread, as Mike wasted too much time and did not attempt a cover. Last week, he lost in the same manner, and it’s a nice story WWE are telling here as it is a common theme for athletes to lack a killer instinct. Also, with Mike and Maria’s arrogance, you don’t feel any sympathy for them either.
We then had the promo period of the show. It was kicked off by a backstage promo of Ariya Daivari explaining why he attacked Hideo Itami (who has now left WWE). He said that Itami always blew his opportunities, and now Daivari has to do it himself.
All four men in the elimination Fatal four-way then delivered promo’s explaining why they were going to win. Humberto is still growing as a performer, and he has a lot of work to do on the microphone. Brian Kendrick speaking on Tozawa’s behalf works very well because it allows the Japanese star to show his personality without highlighting his limited promo skills. But unsurprisingly, Lio Rush’s star shined brightest. He oozes charisma, plus, his promo was logical explaining how he already has victories over Tozawa, which will help him get the W.
A backstage segment featuring Drake Maverick had him refusing Drew Gulak and Jack Gallagher’s request to accompany Humberto to the ring for his main event match. The segment also set up a no disqualification match for next week between Noam Dar and the suspended Tony Nese. Noam forced Drake’s hands by claiming he was going to settle the score with Tony Nese one way or another after Tony attacked him in the parking lot last week.
Fatal Four Way Elimination Match: Lio Rush vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Humberto Carrillo
The match started off with Lio Rush running away from his three opponents, showing off his Spider-Man like agility. Which then led to some fast-paced action featuring dives out of the ring, and a very creative German suplex from Cedric Alexander. The opening of the fatal four-way gave us a much faster pace than the opening match. It was the type of action that we would associate with cruiserweights. Also, due it being different to Kendrick vs. Mike, the style in the four-way bout felt fresh.
Lio Rush had a period of dominance before being eliminated by Alexander. Despite being the first one eliminated, he still came out looking like a star with a well-rounded performance displaying both his in-ring ability and his personality. Humberto Carrillo looked very good in the multi-man match as he was able to rely on the other three men to hide his lack of experience. Another good example of the show accentuating a talent’s strengths (I hope Vince was watching).
Before Tozawa pinned Humberto, Alexander landed awkwardly after leaping off the top rope. He then began selling a knee injury. So when it came down to just Tozawa and Alexander, there was a lot more crowd investment, as Alexander was now fighting on one leg, and they both did a good job playing to the crowd when Tozawa removed his gum shield and Alexander took off his elbow pad. It is little moments like this that help generate reactions and gives their impressive moves more meaning as well.
Both men ended the match with some nice back and forth action that was only hurt by Alexander no longer selling his knee. Tozawa would end up hitting his jumping senton bomb to win this highly entertaining fatal four-way match.
During Akira Tozawa’s celebration, Buddy Murphy appeared on the screen. He gave the former Cruiserweight champion credit for defeating 3 of the top 205 Live superstars but said at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view he will not be looking past Tozawa, he will be looking through him on his way to Wrestlemania. A nice touch adding the Champion to conclude a solid show by reminding the fans what the ultimate goal for these cruiserweights is.
No More Hideo
This week’s episode of 205 Live was also their first show with Hideo Itami no longer a part of the roster. I can’t say it felt different without Itami, due to the fact he was never the focal point of the division. However, before the Royal Rumble, he was gaining some momentum, and it would have been nice had that turned into a title run.
For those that are aware just how good Hideo is, you will know that his departure is a big blow because he was a reliable performer capable of churning out quality matches. Wherever he ends up now, he is likely to have a better run than he did in WWE, so you can’t blame him for moving on. If you have not seen any of Hideo’s 205 Live matches, I suggest you “respect” him! And check out his series with Mustafa Ali.
All images are courtesy of WWE.com