The eighteenth episode of 205 is here and it’s the final episode before this Sunday’s WrestleMania 33! This week’s episode comes from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Virginia.

205 Live opens with Dasha Fuentes interviewing Neville backstage. Neville said he’s going to annihilate Austin Aries at WrestleMania this Sunday. Neville said the WWE Universe doesn’t appreciate him and wonders if they ever imagined 205 Live without him. He said tonight, they’re going to find out.

We get a nice opening pyro display as the commentary team of Tom Phillips and Corey Graves welcome us to the show. Phillips is filling in for Mauro Ranallo again, except this time it was not addressed why Ranallo is absent. I’ve been reading online that apparently, he’s dealing with depression, but not much else is known. Phillips and Graves let us know that tonight we’ll get to see Akira Tozawa go one-on-one with Brian Kendrick.

Rich Swann vs. Ariya Daivari

The match starts off slow with Swann and Daivari trading different arm holds until Swann gets the upper hand with a dropkick that forces Daivari to exit the ring. Swann follows Daivari outside the ring, but Daivari sends Swann face first into the announce desk. Daivari then sends Swann face first into the ring post before rolling Swann back in the ring.

Daivari gets a couple nearfalls on Swann before slowing the action down again with a headlock. Swann fights out of it, but Daivari viciously throws Swann into the turnbuckle. Daivari goes to the top turnbuckle and misses hitting a frogsplash. Swann capitalizes with a modified Michinoku Driver, which gets a two count.

Daivari pushes Swann away and into the referee, before he hits Swann with a big neckbreaker. Daivari goes to the top turnbuckle again and this time hits the frogsplash. Daivari covers Swann, but Swann kicks out at two. That was a good nearfall. Daivari drags Swann to the turnbuckle with him, but Swann counters and hits Daivari with a hurricanrana followed by a Phoenix Splash off the top turnbuckle for the win after about seven and a half minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Rich Swann

Evaluation: Solid match between these two. I actually thought Daivari was going to get the upset win once he connected with the frogsplash. Swann’s a former Cruiserweight Champion and one of the more popular cruiserweights, so having him win here to stay strong makes sense.

Dasha Fuentes is backstage with Alicia Fox. Fuentes asks Fox how her boyfriend Noam Dar is doing after losing to Austin Aries on this week’s Raw and suffering an injury. Fox said Dar is not cleared to compete tonight, but that he’ll be cleared soon enough and will dominate the ring when he returns. Fox is interrupted by Rich Swann who said he was really looking forward to facing Dar tonight and tells Fox to let Dar know that he wants him get well soon. Another package shows up for Fox, this time her gift is perfume. Swann says someone must really care about you, and leaves. Fox sprays the perfume on her, then tastes it and says “that’s good!” First, she eats flowers, now she tastes perfume. Oh, the hilarity!

Drew Gulak approaches Mustafa Ali in the locker room and tells Ali that the in-ring ability he showed in his match against Neville last week, could put 205 Live on the map. However, Gulak asks if it’s the right map. Ali said that the high flying moves he does in the ring feels right, especially when he gets such a positive reaction from the crowd after doing it. Gulak tells Ali to think about the safety and integrity of wrestling. Gulak starts rambling about the great heights 205 Live can reach without having to take ridiculous risks and doing death defying stunts. Gulak then realizes that Ali left the locker room when he wasn’t paying attention and that he’s been talking to himself.

Evaluation: I like the fact that Gulak finally has some dimension to his character. It seems like he’s a guy that prefers the old-school, traditional way of wrestling and believes that high flying action is not real wrestling or is the kind of wrestling that degrades the art form and the business. I think it’s an interesting route to take and it’s a topic that’s relevant in today’s wrestling world. It was actually one of the bigger discussion topics in wrestling last year after Will Ospreay and Ricochet’s match during NJPW’s Super Juniors Tournament. It was a really acrobatic match and wrestling legend Vader later took to social media to claim that he felt that the kind of match Ospreay and Ricochet had was not real wrestling. What I’m trying to say is, I think Gulak’s new gimmick could work and garner an interesting reaction if handled correctly.

Mustafa Ali vs. Brandon Scott

Ali takes down Scott right away with a shoulder tackle and a couple arm drags with a bunch of flips in between each move to show off some flash. Gulak is seen backstage watching Ali’s match. Scott gets a little offense in by tripping up Ali into the ropes and following it up with a clothesline, but that was pretty much it for Scott. Ali hit Scott with a dropkick and his signature rolling neckbreaker. Ali finished off the match with his finishing move, the inverted 450 Splash for the win after about three and a half minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Mustafa Ali

Evaluation: This was just a match to showcase Ali’s skills, put him over and add another layer to his new feud with Gulak as Ali didn’t listen to him and continued his high-flying offense. I like Ali a lot and think when given the opportunity to have a big match, like last week on 205 Live against Neville, he can really excel.

A video package aired highlighting the rivalry between Neville and Austin Aries.

Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick

As soon as the bell rings Tozawa nails Kendrick with a big running knee, sending Kendrick outside the ring. Tozawa follows this up with a suicide dive onto Kendrick at ringside. Tozawa throws Kendrick back in the ring, heads to the top turnbuckle and hits Kendrick with a leaping senton drop. That looked great. Tozawa went for the cover, but Kendrick kicked out at two.

Tozawa keeps up with the fast-paced offense as he quickly chops Kendrick’s chest over and over again, then hits him with a big hesitation punch to the face. Tozawa goes for another cover, but Kendrick kicks out at two. Kendrick rolls to the apron. When Tozawa tried bringing him back in the ring, Kendrick pushed Tozawa neck first into the ropes and then locked in his Captain’s Hook submission. Tozawa fights out of it and looks for the Snap German Suplex, but Kendrick blocks him from doing it and escapes to ringside. As soon as Kendrick leaves the ring, Tozawa nails him with a suicide dive. Tozawa throws Kendrick into the barricade over and over again. Tozawa then runs at Kendrick, but Kendrick counters and trips Tozawa on the entrance ramp with Tozawa falling hard face first onto the ramp. Both men crawl to get back in the ring and make it before the count of ten.

Kendrick looks for Sliced Bread #2, but Tozawa blocks Kendrick from doing so. Kendrick then hits Tozawa with a big boot to the face and then suplexes Tozawa from the apron, over the ropes and back into the middle of the ring. Kendrick looks for the Captain’s Hook. He can’t quite lock it in, so he turns it into a variation of the Chicken Wing submission. Tozawa gets to the ropes to break up the hold, but Kendrick follows it up with a back body drop for a two count.

Kendrick hammers away at Tozawa’s head and locks in a seated cobra clutch. Tozawa fights out of it and lands some stiff forearm shots on Kendrick. Kendrick gives it right back to Tozawa, but Tozawa takes him out with a shining wizard. The crowd starts to chant Tozawa’s battle cry. Tozawa throws Kendrick into the corner and runs at him, connecting with a vicious big boot to the face. Tozawa throws Kendrick into the ropes and looks for a big enziguri kick, but Kendrick ducks and nails Sliced Bread #2! One… two… no! Tozawa kicks out. I’m waiting for the “this is awesome” chants to start up because this match deserves it.

Furious, Kendrick locks in the Captain’s Hook Submission on Tozawa in the middle of the ring to finish off the match for good. However, Tozawa crawls his way to the ropes to break the hold. Kendrick places Tozawa at the top turnbuckle, looking to hit Sliced Bread #2 from up top. However, Tozawa fight out of Kendrick’s hold with punches to the back. Kendrick elbows Tozawa off the turnbuckle, but Tozawa kicks Kendrick, sending Kendrick off the turnbuckle too. The crowds doing Tozawa’s battle cry to try and rally him to victory. With Kendrick holding himself up in the corner, Tozawa runs at him looking to connect with a big move, but Kendrick dodges Tozawa. Unknown to the audience or Tozawa, Kendrick untied the top turnbuckle, so when Tozawa ran into the corner, he ran straight into the exposed steel. Kendrick quickly rolls up Tozawa for the three count after ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Brian Kendrick

Post-match, Kendrick gets on the mic and tell Tozawa he just learned lesson number nine, anything can be used as a weapon.

Evaluation: Wow, that was a great match. They started off going 110 miles per hour and kept the fast pace throughout. Neither Tozawa or Kendrick will have a match at WrestleMania this Sunday, but this match felt like their WrestleMania match since they clearly gave it their all and it seems like this was the culmination of their rivalry. I would have preferred if the match had a better ending, but it’s extremely suitable to the kind of character Kendrick is. He’s the “man with a plan” and will figure out a way to win, no matter how sneaky, illegal or unconventional it is. That’s a true heel. Great job from both guys.

Neville Addresses the WWE Universe

Neville makes his way to the ring for the closing segment of 205 Live. He talks about how he changed the landscape of 205 Live and that you should be careful what you ask for. He said, “let me show you 205 Live without Neville. Run the footage.” Neville points the video screen and it’s black. “That’s right, nothing! Without me 205 Live is nothing!” Neville said WrestleMania is not about you, Austin Aries or 205 Live, it’s about him and how he gets to have his long overdue moment in the sun. Aries’ music hits as he interrupts Neville’s speech.

Aries is standing at the top of the ramp with a microphone in hand. Aries says that this is the difference between the two of them. He said Neville wants to point his finger at the WWE Universe to serve his ego, and that he’s not like that. Aries says 205 Live would still be a show without Aries, but with Aries it’s twice as great. Aries tells Neville that as amazing Neville is, he’s that much better. Aries said he likes to add humor to things because if he didn’t he’d walk around life as angry and miserable as Neville.

However, Aries said that the two of them are not so different too. He said their whole lives, they both had to prove people wrong, outwork others, go out and take what they want because nobody wanted to hand it to them. Aries said that the thing they have in common more than anything else is that no matter where they are in the card, when they walk out of that curtain, down that ramp and step into the ring, in their minds, they are the main attraction. Aries said they will without a doubt tear the house down at WrestleMania. Aries closes by saying that Neville could talk down to him all he wants, but that Neville knows exactly who Aries is, what he’s capable of and that he’ll take the Cruiserweight Title at WrestleMania. Neville attacked Aries before Aries got to finish his sentence.

Neville hit Aries with a big forearm smash, kicks to the head and then slammed Aries down face first into the mat. Neville picked up his Cruiserweight Title and as ready to leave, but he decided he wanted to inflict more punishment. When Neville reached to pick Aries back up, Aries hit Neville in the face with microphone, causing Neville to retreat to ringside. 205 Live goes off the air with Neville escaping and Aries taunting him from inside the ring.

Evaluation: Good segment to close the show and head into WrestleMania with. Neville was great in acting like a cocky tool and Aries brought a lot of fire and passion into what he said. It made me excited for their match because I think Aries is right, they will tear the house down and hopefully be the best match of the night. It was recently announced that their Cruiserweight Title match was moved to the Kickoff Show, so when Aries said that it doesn’t matter where they are in the card, they’ll still tear the house down, it was partially in reference to that. Although I was initially bummed out that Aries and Neville were moved to the Kickoff Show, I’m not as down about it anymore. The Kickoff Show for WrestleMania almost feels like part of the main show now considering how long of a night WrestleMania is and the fact that the roster is loaded and it’s all on the WWE Network anyway. It doesn’t feel as detached from the show as it might have been in the past. Also, maybe Aries and Neville get more time to wrestle on the Kickoff Show then they would have if they were on the main show. Either way, I’m still sure it will be a great match.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was an above average episode of 205 Live. Good opening match between Swann and Daivari, nice progression in developing Gulak’s character, awesome main event match between Tozawa and Kendrick that’ll likely end their rivalry, and great closing exchange between Neville and Aries heading into WrestleMania.

If you have the time to watch Tozawa vs. Kendrick at some point this week, I highly recommend it. I know it’s a busy week on the network and in wrestling in general considering its WrestleMania week, but if you get to see Tozawa vs. Kendrick you won’t regret it.

Here’s to hoping Neville vs. Aries steals the show this Sunday. It’s definitely the WrestleMania match I’m most excited to see.

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That’s it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and if you like this review feel free to share it with your friends.

Picture used above is courtesy of WWE.com.

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