The fifth episode of 205 Live is here! Tonight’s edition of 205 Live comes from the All-State Arena in Chicago, Illinois. I’m interested to see if there will be more fans in attendance since Chicago is known for being a city that loves it’s wrestling.
Similar to last week, the opening video package highlights Neville’s heel turn which started at WWE Roadblock. We see footage of Neville attacking WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann on this week’s Raw.
The commentary team of Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves and “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” Austin Aries welcome us to the show. No pyro this week. It looks like a lot of fans have not gone home after Smackdown and are sticking around for 205 Live. The All-State Arena looks pretty packed.
Graves reminds us that tonight’s main event will be Rich Swann vs. Neville in a non-title match.
Cedric Alexander makes his way to the ring with his girlfriend, Alicia Fox. We’re shown footage from last week’s 205 Live where Alexander was pushed by Drew Gulak into Alicia Fox. With Fox selling a knee injury, Noam Dar helped Fox to the back.
Tony Nese makes his way to the ring accompanied by Drew Gulak. It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve seen Nese on 205 Live and Raw, so it’s good to see him back in action!
Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese
– Both these guys look like they’re a little above 205, which could be the case. WWE was strict about the weight limits for this past summer’s Cruiserweight Classic, but they stopped weighing the cruiserweights once they became a part of Raw.
– Nese showing a lot of athleticism early on with kip-ups and great attacking kicks.
– Fox is wearing out her welcome with apron claps to try and get the crowd to rally behind Alexander. She’s done it five times and the match isn’t even five minutes old.
– Nese is in control for a lot of the match. Alexander gets little spurts of offence here and there, but he’s doing a lot of the same handful of moves that we see from him every week; ala the handspring roundhouse kick and springboard clothesline.
– Gulak and Fox are yelling at each other at ringside. Last week Gulak blamed Fox for his loss to Alexander and said that women don’t belong on 205 Live.
– Gulak pretends that Fox hit him, so the referee ejected Fox from ringside. Alexander is distracted by this and is caught by what looked to be a big European uppercut from Nese, although Graves called it a palm strike. Nese goes for the cover and gets the win after six minutes.
– As Nese celebrates, you can see his mouth is bleeding. Gulak celebrates in the ring with Nese. Gulak’s wearing a white button down shirt and red tie, which gives me flashes of Bob Backlund. Shame on you, Gulak.
Winner by pinfall: Tony Nese
Evaluation: I’m disappointed with the way Alexander’s been used since 205 Live started. His matches always fall between two to six minutes where he’s on the defensive for the majority of the match, but then he makes a comeback using the same handful of moves to win or just fall short due to being screwed. Alexander’s better than this and he’s proven it during the Cruiserweight Classic. I hope he gets injected into the title picture soon because it seems like that’s the only chance cruiserweights have at being in a match that goes more than six minutes.
An upset and frazzled Alicia Fox is shown backstage as she’s approached by Noam Dar. “The Scottish Supernova” gives Fox a late Christmas gift by holding mistletoe above their heads. Fox slaps Dar once. Dar places the mistletoe over their heads again and Fox slaps Dar a second time, then leaves. Dar smiles and says “Merry Christmas to me.”
A pre-recorded, sit-down interview from Renee Young with “The King of the Cruiserweights” Neville is shown. Neville says that he’s insulted that he was not chosen for the Cruiserweight Classic since the tournament supposedly consisted of the greatest cruiserweights from around the globe.
Neville said he’s been discriminated against by the WWE, the WWE Universe and Americans. Neville tells Renee that Rich Swann used to be Neville’s mentee, but is simply not on his level. Neville says he’s used to competing against guys twice his weight, so the cruiserweight division will be a piece of cake.
Mustafa Ali makes his way to the ring. He’s from Chicago, so he got a good pop from the crowd. Ali’s walking and eating up to the crowd like a babyface. He’s facing a guy named John Yurnet who will clearly be losing to Ali.
Mustafa Ali vs. John Yurnet
Yurnet takes down Ali with some shoulder tackles. Both men display a nice series of counters that earns claps from the fans. Ali hits Yurnet with a cutter followed by an inverted 450 Splash off the top rope for the win after two minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mustafa Ali
Note: Yurnet blew out his knee at the start of the match by seemingly just stomping down on his leg too hard. That may be the reason why this match only went two minutes. Below is a tweet from Yurnet.
— Mr.450/Mecha-Balam (@Mr450_) December 28, 2016
After the match, Ali is interviewed in the ring. I guess you can call it an interview, but the interviewer doesn’t ask Ali a question. She just congratulates him on his first 205 Live win and then holds a mic to Ali’s mouth.
Before Ali speaks, he gets a good ovation from the crowd. Ali smiles and said that Chicago made him. Ali said that he’s dealt with people making assumptions about him his whole life. This is in reference to people not liking him just because of his ethnicity. Ali said that he’s worked to try and prove people wrong, but says that tonight, you all (the WWE Universe) proved him wrong. Ali says it’s not a perfect world, but will let his victories speak for himself.
Evaluation: Ali’s character is currently my favorite in the cruiserweight division. I liked his direction the first few weeks of 205 Live with how he insinuated that the WWE Universe was racist. Ali said that his music would hit, people would hear his name, see how he looks and boo. What I found interesting about Ali’s comments and his character was that he was right. Tonight’s performance and promo was more babyface, but that’s because the crowd cheered him. It should be interesting to see how Ali reacts as the weeks go on and he gets different feedback from the crowd.
A video package airs hyping Ariya Daivari. He talks about his older brother Shawn Daivari being in the WWE, how he’s already outshined him, and that he’s going to carry the Daivari legacy a lot farther than Shawn ever did. The video touches on his feud with Jack Gallagher and ends with Daivari saying that “205 Live is just the beginning of Ariya Daivari.”
A Gentlemen’s Duel between Daivari and Gallagher is up next. I don’t know what that means, but we’re about to find out. Gallagher makes his way to the ring in a shirt and bow tie, so he doesn’t look ready to compete.
Gentlemen’s Duel: Ariya Daivari vs. Jack Gallagher
– Both Gallagher and Daivari are in the ring with a set-up table that has a bunch of different objects laid on top; A pan, rope, lead pipe, umbrella, wrench, candle stick and a tea pot. Daivari is upset, saying that he doesn’t even know what a Gentlemen’s Duel is. Gallagher said that first you pick your weapon. Gallagher said that since he’s a gentleman and not a scoundrel, he’ll let Daivari pick his weapon first. Daivari picks the lead piper while Gallagher picks the umbrella.
– While Daivari is chomping at the bit to attack Gallagher with his lead pipe, Gallagher said that first he must explain some rules to follow. They have to stand at the center of the ring, back-to-back, take five paces across the ring, then turn and engage in combat. The duel ends when someone quits.
– Gallagher stands in the center of the ring, back-to-back with Daivari. He starts walking five paces, but Daivari turns around and swings at Gallagher after the second step. However, Gallagher anticipates Daivari’s swing, ducks and hits Daivari his privates with the pointy end of the umbrella. Gallagher then hits Daivari with the umbrella over his head, in the gut, teases sticking him in the butt with it, then hooks Daivari’s leg and swoops him to the floor.
– Daivari pushes the table into Gallagher, clotheslines him and attacks Gallagher in the corner. Daivari picks up the wrench, but Gallagher hits him with a big headbutt and running dropkick, sending Daivari to the outside of the ring.
Winner by forfeit: Jack Gallagher
Evaluation: I thought Gallagher was funny throughout the segment, but comedy’s very subjective. With the wrong crowd, the segment could have been a disaster. Thankfully the Chicago crowd was into it and made it feel more interesting and fun.
A video aired hyping the 205 Live debut of Tajiri. “The Japanese Buzzsaw” returns next week!
It’s main event time. Neville made his way to the ring and started down a kid at ringside wearing John Cena apparel. The kid got scared, stepped aside and looked away. That was funny. Rich Swann got a good ovation once his music hit.
Neville vs. Rich Swann
– Swann runs at and attacks Neville as soon as the bell rings, but Neville eventually catches Swann with a clothesline to slow down the pace of the match. Neville threw Swann hard into the tron at the side of the ring. Neville followed this up with a big dive over the top rope and out onto the floor, but he misses Swann completely.
– Neville rolls Swann back in the ring and stays in control of the match, keeping the pace slow. Austin Aries chants from the crowd. It wouldn’t be an episode of 205 Live without Aries getting his name chanted during a match.
– There were lots of big spots during this match, such as Swann hitting Neville with a Phoenix Splash off the second turnbuckle and out onto the floor. The final three to four minutes of this match was exciting and it ended on Neville nailing Swann with a superplex off the top turnbuckle.
– Neville went for the cover and got the win after about 13 minutes. That’s a clean win from Neville over the Cruiserweight Champion.
Winner by pinfall: Neville
Evaluation: Good match from Swann and Neville. It was nothing too memorable, but good enough that I’d recommend you watch it if you were to watch one match from tonight. Neville’s wrestling style has changed a bit since turning heel as he’s wrestling more stiffly and is cutting down a bit on the flashy moves. I like this as I felt Neville was a little too acrobatic as a babyface. The last move of the match is a good example of seeing Neville’s wrestling style changing. Neville won the match on a big superplex off the top rope, which is much more of a hard-nose power move. Neville defeating the Cruiserweight Champion clean guarantees a future title match at some point.
Post-match, Neville attacks Swann with kicks to the head. Neville yells “bring me my crown!” as 205 Live goes off the air.
Overall, this was another okay episode of 205 Live. There was nothing that happened tonight that I would tell you to go out of your way to watch.
However, if you were going to watch one full match from tonight, I’d recommend the main event as is the case most weeks. The main event is usually the only match every week that is allowed enough time to be solid.
I’m really enjoying what Ali is doing right now with his character. It’s interesting because, historically, WWE has portrayed middle-eastern characters as bad guys. This is done so often that maybe people are just programmed to boo when they see a wrestler who’s middle-eastern. I like how Ali is kind of addressing this because it forces me to think more deeply into his character and who the “bad guy” really is.
I couldn’t believe how many people hung around for tonight’s 205 Live. I thought the attendance would be larger than usual, but the All State Arena looked nearly full. Usually the lights are dimmed heavily on the crowd during 205 Live because so few people stick around after Smackdown. Tonight, they didn’t need to dim the lights on the crowd. Kudos to Chicago for having a great wrestling fan base.
Picture used above is courtesy of WWE.com.