205 Live has officially begun its “new era.” Gone are the days (at least for now) that Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander rule the roost, or Mustafa Ali is at the centre of the brand’s storylines. On this week’s show, we had the continuation of a longstanding story and the beginning of a new one. Drew Gulak finally went one on one with Humberto Carrillo, while Oney Lorcan and Ariya Daivari squared off to see who will challenge Tony Nese for the cruiserweight title.
The reality that 205 Live will no longer feature the faces that have become synonymous with the show over the past two/three years hit home this week. So, there was a hint of sadness, and naturally, there will be an adjustment period for some fans (including myself). But with some solid in-ring work, and one or two interesting booking decisions, there is curiosity to see how the brand copes without their former top stars.
Drew Gulak opened this week’s show in a creative fashion. Instead of Drake Maverick giving us the rundown of past events and upcoming bouts, Gulak stood behind his presidential style podium recapping recent events such as Tony Nese winning the title, and Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander departing. He then brought up the unexpected main event between Oney Lorcan and Ariya Daivari, and his clash with Humberto Carrillo. He finished off with a final message to his opponent by saying: “When you step to me, you will tap out.”
Drew Gulak vs. Humberto Carrillo
With 205 Live being taped the same day as SmackDown LIVE, the cruiserweight’s are forced to work twice as hard to get a positive reaction from the live crowd. Drew Gulak’s style is more technical, featuring little “flashy” moves, so there’s always a question mark regarding how well the crowd will react to his matches. Fortunately, things started off fast between these two and reactions were quite positive from the get-go.
After Gulak got the better of early exchanges, Humberto began giving Gulak a taste of his own medicine by outwrestling the technician. The youngster then introduced his fast paced, high flying action, which even led to him using Gulak’s hand as leverage to climb to the top of the ring post. Gulak and Humberto then argued, as Gulak demanded they fight on their feet, while Humberto invited his former mentor up high. It was an effective spot, one the fans bought, and also one that emphasised the narrative between these two Superstars.
As the match wore on, Gulak found success and started implementing his game plan by applying various submissions. The most memorable submission came when Humberto attempted a crossbody after diving off the ropes, but then got trapped in an ankle lock. The blend of high flying manoeuvres and submissions worked well and ensured fans did not lose interest.
The end came when Gulak abandoned his philosophy of staying on his feet. He climbed the ropes and tried hitting a superplex, only for Humberto to counter with a powerbomb, which set up his finish off the top turnbuckle. It was a solid opener that made both superstars look good.
Oney Lorcan and Ariya Daivari then gave us back to back promos building up to their main event encounter. First off, Oney continued his trend of strong promos. He brought up how all his years of hard work have been for an opportunity to win a championship in the WWE. He also explained that Daivari is an unconventional cruiserweight that likes to get physical and make things dirty, which is the type of fight he enjoys. Daivari’s was shorter and less memorable. He simply stated that he is undefeated since his change in attitude, and no one can stop him.
Mike Kanellis continued his feud with Akira Tozawa as Tozawa attacked him during a backstage segment where The Brian Kendrick distracted the Kanellis couple long enough for his partner to strike.
Oney Lorcan vs. Ariya Daivari
I was concerned when I saw these two were going to main event the show. Oney Lorcan is a very talented performer; Daivari, on the other hand, lacks the skill of a lot of his peers. As expected they started off a little slow, tying up in headlocks, each attempting their finishing moves as champion Tony Nese looked on from ringside.
Daivari took control when he stopped Oney’s suicide dive attempt by hitting his opponent with a forearm. What followed was a series of kicks and punches, few actual wrestling moves. Daivari’s intensity is always good, but the lack of variety in his offence made this period of the match a tad dull.
Oney Lorcan was the star of this bout. Every time he returned fire, there was an air of excitement. His facials were good when he began pumping himself up. A standout moment came when Oney no sold Daivari’s strikes and began walking down his opponent before firing off some chops of his own.
The back and forth action at the end of this battle was strong. Oney built some momentum and looked destined to secure a shot at the title. However, his momentum was cut off by a superkick from Ariya Daivari, who then hit a splash and his hammerlock clothesline for the one, two, and three.
It was a disappointing outcome for those that wanted a Tony Nese/Oney Lorcan title bout, but I’m certain that’s something we will see down the line. Also, if you’ve seen Tony Nese’s recent run, you’ll be confident he can produce another strong performance with Daivari.
Last week’s episode of 205 Live was perhaps stronger from start to finish, whereas this episode didn’t quite have that same spark due to a weaker main event. However, it did lay the groundwork for future matchups, as well as set up an interesting programme between Nese and Daivari.
All images are courtesy of wwe.com.