Well, they’ve done it. They’ve taken this right back to “Cruiserweight Classic”-centric programming. I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, “205 Live” wasn’t exactly killing it on the storytelling front so there was no real reason to continue any of them. They also lost Enzo – the guy through whom almost all of the storylines ran. On the other hand, this isn’t 1980. Everyone already knows wrestling is a choreographed athletic event with pre-determined outcomes. I do love the dance, though, as we all do so I’m okay with this.
Backstage segment – Drew Gulak
The newly serious Drew Gulak. The PowerPoint presentations are gone (sniff, sniff). He was really good with that and it was fun. It’s a shame they’ve thrown that out. He referenced them briefly but thoroughly trashed them by saying that he “hadn’t opened up his copy of Microsoft Office in weeks”.
Mark Andrews vs. Drew Gulak
Gulak, never the high flyer of the division, has become even more the bruiser than he was before. He’s merciless in there and I like it. Andrews has been flying around for years and we got a good amount of the there. Because of their contrast in styles, there were some things that didn’t quite connect – all from Andrews – and just some things that didn’t look as good as they might have otherwise. The Hurricanrana Andrews did on Gulak that sent Gulak to the floor was just vicious-looking. Gulak took it after putting the Dragon Sleeper on Andrews. He made it look even more vicious but not letting it go for what seemed like forever.
Backstage segment – Drake Maverick, Hideo Itami, & Akira Tozawa
Okay, so we’re getting a tag team match with Itami & Tozawa. Itami has left me cold since NXT. Were it not for his recklessness, Brian Kendrick would be in this tournament too. Tozawa had the rug pulled out from under him for absolutely no reason. Both are nowhere so what can this hurt, really? I like the bizarre “YOU’RE FIRED!” thing from Tozawa. He has a tremendous sense of humor and if WWE would really use it, he’d be a lot of fun.
Cinéma de Outside – Mustafa Ali
This was really good! Ali got dark here and it showed a whole new side to him.
Hideo Itami & Akira Tozawa vs. Nemeth Alexander & Scott James
Akira is a far bigger personality than Hideo and the contrast was pretty striking as they were coming down he ramp. Thankfully, he started the match because he’s a lot of fun. Nemeth Alexander wrestles as James Alexander on the indies in the Detroit area and he is legitimately very good. Nemeth is an obvious rib to Nick Nemeth, the guy we all know as Dolph Ziggler. Anyway, I’m glad he’s getting a shot on WWE tv. Scott James is an indie worker I haven’t seen before. In truth, I don’t think the gym has seen him before either. Yikes! He got in zero offense and he was the one that took the pin.
Cinéma en Centre de WWE Performance – Roderick Strong
So determined! This was short…thankfully. I’ll spare the grade. It didn’t really go long enough to bother with one.
Backstage segment – Cedric Alexander
Cedric was decent here. Again, nice and short. That’s really all he can handle. Again, too short for a grade.
Backstage segment – Drake Maverick & Buddy Murphy
With this segment, Drake Maverick has become the new Patron Saint of Botch. I can’t even believe what I just saw. He began the “weigh in” speech, screwed it up, forgot he was live, counted himself back in, and restated it. I have DIED! That was BAAAAAAAAAAD!!!
By the way, yes, he made weight. I know the faux suspense was killing you.
Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy
The gamesmanship in this one was fun. They wanted to tell the story that Murphy is faster, bigger, and stronger…and they did. Murphy’s clotheslines are just vicious. On the whole, this was a far better match. They work really well together. I’m a big fan of going after a limb and working on it. It’s not something we’d been seeing for years but we’re beginning to see more of it all around. Here, Ali decided to go after Murphy’s arm. I love that, no matter what happened, Murphy didn’t forget about the damage done to the arm. Ali’s DDTs are just devastating. They look absolutely perfect and because of the greatness of this roster, everyone Ali gets in the ring with knows how to sell them.
Very nice storytelling here all around. While I’m no Buddy hater, the right guy won and I’m excited to see where this goes next.
My hope is that Mustafa and Cedric are the two that get to tear it up at “WrestleMania” and I’d be shocked if that isn’t what we actually get. Very nice episode here! Join me against next week right here for “The Pickup”!