We’ve slowly been experiencing a shift in the 205 Live roster over the past few months. Mustafa Ali has made a big splash on SmackDown Live, and Hideo Itami left WWE earlier this year. Now with the Superstar Shake-Up, one of the staples of the division Cedric Alexander will be making his way to RAW, while former champion Buddy Murphy will be joining Ali on the blue brand. So on this week’s episode, this change was embraced.
Mike Kanellis, Akira Tozawa, Grand Metallic, and Ariya Daivari competed in a Fatal Four-way in hopes of standing out as the new number one contender for Tony Nese’s title. Also, the old guard Cedric Alexander had what many believe will be his final match on 205 Live against the new addition to the roster Oney Lorcan. The shift in direction and the “new era” talk was surprisingly effective in this show, as it genuinely felt like the beginning of something new.
Mike Kanellis vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Gran Metalik vs. Ariya Daivari
Drake Maverick joining the commentary team for this match was a nice touch, as it gave this fatal four-way extra significance for fans due to the general manager watching the action up close and personal. Also, Drake was able to justify why certain people were selected for this bout and gave us a reminder about their history by mentioning facts like Tozawa having the shortest reign as cruiserweight champion.
Gran Metalik started off this one fast by taking control of the match with his speed, and high flying offence before a short-lived alliance between Kanellis and Daivari slowed the pace down. It was a slow start, and there was not a lot to shout about early on. However, as the match wore one, each superstar seemed to kick it up a gear and take the quality up a level.
Ariya Daivari’s new mean streak was on full display due to some great facial expressions, and an eye-catching powerbomb on Mike Kanellis. Mike Kanellis and Akira Tozawa worked well during their one on one period, highlighted by a great back and forth exchange of strikes where Kanellis tried to play the tough guy by egging on his opponent, only to cover up like a coward when Tozawa’s punch came his way.
Metalik was without a doubt the show stealer. Every time he got going, it was exciting, and to top it off, he dived out of the ring and caught Daivari with a beautiful hurricanrana off the ring apron. The ending came when Daivari took advantage of Mike Kanellis’ dirty work by throwing Kanellis out of the ring and pinning Tozawa. A surprising outcome, one which the live crowd did not seem too happy about.
Following the Fatal Four-way, we got two short and sweet backstage promos from our main event participants. First off, Oney Lorcan did an excellent job giving meaning to his main event with Cedric by giving the former champion the credit he deserves by stating Cedric has been the most important superstar since the cruiserweight division’s rebirth. However, he also said that if he cannot beat Cedric, he is not worthy of being the leader of the division. Cedric Alexander discussed his move to Monday Night RAW. A move that he believes will add to his “legacy.” He also said that Oney Lorcan thinks his time now, but the present still belongs to him.
Oney Lorcan vs. Cedric Alexander
As both Superstars made their entrances, the commentary team did a fantastic job continuing to build up the stakes for this match. They continued highlighting Cedric Alexander’s contributions to the cruiserweight division, calling him perhaps the most important superstar since the division’s rebirth. Nigel also brought up his classic showdown with Kota Ibushi, which ultimately led to WWE signing the former champion.
The match itself started with Oney Lorcan grounding his opponent, attempting to control him with a headlock and some devastating chops. There were a few glimpses of Cedric’s flashy manoeuvres, but Oney ultimately took control when he countered a suicide dive that looked like a botch from Cedric as his landing seemed quite worrisome.
Unlike their previous encounter, this one felt like much more of a clash of styles. The hard-hitting wrestler versus the traditional Cruiserweight style and they also had much better pacing this time around. Despite a slow start, they worked their way up to some highly entertaining and action-packed spots. Most notably when Oney Lorcan hit an uppercut as Cedric attempted a Neuralyzer.
Every uppercut, every strike from the former NXT superstar looked painful and combined with Cedric Alexander’s great selling, the match felt like a gruelling affair. The climax was fantastic as both men, exhausted, crawled to their feet on the ring apron, and exchanged strikes before Oney hit his half-and-half suplex on the ring apron. He then followed up with a clothesline in the ring, and another (even more impressive looking) half-and-half suplex for the one, two, and three.
It was a very good ending in what felt like a fitting way for the leader of 205 Live to bow out of the division. The live crowd then started a “Thank you, Cedric” chant, which was followed by a handshake between Oney and Cedric.
It was an entertaining show this week, capped off by a very strong and somewhat emotional main event. Change is in the air for 205 Live. So hopefully, it will bring more entertainment, and provide more opportunities for superstars to shine.