Where to even begin with this one?! In a wwe.com segment that didn’t even air on 205 Live, Drew Gulak and Oney Lorcan were embroiled in a backstage skirmish after the Cruiserweight Champion once again employed underhanded tactics to best Lorcan. General Manager Drake Maverick saw fit to put this battle for supremacy to bed once and for all in a special Captains Challenge match. What ensued was one of the most entertaining uses of social media to date by the Purple Brand.

Gulak and Lorcan, respective captains of their teams, announced via Twitter over the course of a few days the four partners they would choose to join them in this week’s 205 Live main event. And what an event it has turned out to be.

This was not only an entertaining rabbit hole of hotheaded back and forths by all parties involved (helped along wonderfully, of course, by August 2019 Twitter Champion Oney Lorcan). This very public method of building to the match has given it a real big event feel.

A celebration of all things Cruiserweight Division. Culminations, rekindlings, and potential births of rivalries spanning 205 Live’s 2019 in its entirety. And lastly, similar to my favourite 5 vs 5 match in WWE’s history – the 2016 Men’s Survivor Series match – there is a seemingly infinite amount of storyline layers to peel back and savour.

Take Drew Gulak, for instance. His time on 205 Live of late has been one of tyranny. Gulak is at his most focused and most overbearing now than in his whole time on the Cruiserweight show. His victims this year alone include Lorcan, Tozawa, Scott, and Carillo. Gallagher, too, has unfinished business with Gulak, after finally and literally headbutting his way out of the Philadelphia Stretcher’s control in the Spring. Lorcan, in a short space of time on 205 Live, has waged war with Gulak and Daivari, a constant thorn in the side of many of the brand’s babyfaces.

Gulak’s pick of the attention grabbing NXT Breakout Tournament entrant, Angel Garza, is a fascinating one. Pitting Garza against his real life cousin, Humberto Carillo, sees Gulak continue his mind games with Carillo that seem never ending. Another potential hazard for Carillo is the conspicuous absence of all members of Lucha House Party, whose Lince Dorado has not taken kindly to Carillo being included in the big boys’ playground at the expense of “true” luchadors.

Tony Nese’s inclusion in the side of those he has fought against for the majority of 2019 is a surprise to many. Nese has been on a soul searching mission since his loss of the Cruiserweight Championship at Stomping Grounds.

Have his inner monologues sent him on a nihilistic path towards, once again, selfishness and lack of sportsmanship? While this theory is up for debate, Kanellis’ thirst for self destruction is not, and he will take as many down with him as he can. These are but some of the threads woven into 205 Live’s fictional universe leading up to this “season finale” bout. The elements, dear readers, they are combustible!

A common trope in WWE at the moment is an urgent start to matches. Fading is the amount of traditional collar and elbow lock ups, in favour of rushing an opponent in an attempt to get an early and considerable advantage. This is no more evident than in the start of this match, with all ten wrestlers doing away with any previously drawn lines in the sand. The skirmish sees all of Team Gulak retreat to the outside.

Gallagher’s jovial tactics are the first to take hold, as his teammates take to the skies, each with an umbrella, as they crash from on high onto their opponents. Gallagher, using William III like a conductor’s baton, regroups the heroes of the piece for the eventual start of the match. 

What was missed by me was any official ring of the bell, for the traditional lock up does indeed start the match proper. The tenacity with which it is performed, however, by the team captains starting the match brings home the animosity these two have towards each other, manifested to reach boiling point in a short space of time in the grand scheme of things. 

Frequent tags are made by Team Gulak in the early portions of the match. Lorcan, Scott, and Carillo are systematically worn down by Gulak,  Carillo, and Garza. The NXT rookie laying it in thick to his cousin is lapped up by Nigel McGuinness, audibly foaming at the mouth. Carillo eventually comes to Carillo’s rescue, entering the match to perform his signature moves on the majority of those that stand opposite him. 

The valiant display is all for nought, however, as Tozawa is eliminated by Kanellis with almost humiliating ease. Maria Kanellis is seen watching backstage, temporarily impressed by the display of machismo in her husband. Gallagher, entering the fray, sees to it that it is Mike Kanellis’ turn to experience humiliation, for a hard headbutt to the chest sees Kanellis eliminated first in his team. Kanellis self loathing and downward spiral continue unrelentingly. 

The confidence won by Gallagher here has him mock Tony Nese the only way he knows how, a comforting sight for long term fans of the vaudevillian gentleman. Daivari, ever the opportunist, comes to Nese’s aid in two separate occasions, however.

The distraction, and double teaming, is too much for the eliminated Gallagher, as his entertaining time in the match comes to a sudden end. Up next for Team Lorcan is Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. Despite being relatively unknown within the WWE bubble, his nickname is loudly chanted in only his second appearance on 205 Live. Scott feeds off that appreciation with a flurry of athletic offense. 

Back in the ring, and Gulak steps up to the plate, the fourth person in as many moments to have their turn at tearing Scott apart limb from limb. Garza becomes the legal man, enjoying how things are panning out in his 205 Live debut against, ironically, the fellow NXT Breakout Tournament competitor. Scott eventually fights off his opponent but fails to follow up with a hot tag while Garza succeeds with the same idea.

What follows is a breakdown in the action that sees Nese and Lorcan exchange a series of high impact offense. They both struggle to bring their finishers to the forefront, but Lorcan eventually wins this mini battle with a half and half suplex, eliminating Tony Nese in the process. 

As the numbers on both sides dwindle to an even footing once again, Lorcan singles out Gulak, ready to finally get his hands on his nemesis in a less crowded environment. Whether intimidated or simply playing possum, Gulak decides that Garza be the one to face the raging bull. Garza gladly accepts the challenge but has to settle for his cousin instead. Carillo remains unphased by the bravado shown by Garza, tagging in Scott in order to take out Garza with tandem offense.

Scott continues to impress, somehow standing out in a match filled with equally eye catching wrestlers. Gulak, for the second time in a matter of weeks, sees fit to remind his former trainee just who is in charge around here, using his recently adopted cyclone clash finisher to eliminate Scott from the match. 

Lorcan and Carillo are the only ones left on Lorcan’s team now. Being outnumbered seems to bring out the most chaotic that Lorcan has to offer. His frantic offense lays waste to all three of his opponents. The crowd is lapping it up. Gulak may see the writing on the wall, for he takes to Lorcan with a steel chair, wailing on him with that fury that is now so familiar in Gulak.

The attack comes at a price, however, as the referee has no other option but to disqualify Gulak, seeing him eliminated from the match. Gulak does not seem perturbed by this decision. His goal in all of this was to bring Lorcan to his knees and, albeit temporarily, he no doubt experienced quite the satisfaction in this act. 

It is no doubt surprising to see a team captain exit the match before the final pairing, it is equally shocking to see Lorcan the next man eliminated.  when Daivari deals with Lorcan in easy fashion. Sadly, for those who have taken him to our hearts in recent weeks, Lorcan is eliminated. We are left with Carillo facing Garza and Daivari, who suffers a back-against-the-wall surge of momentum and offense from Carillo. 

With Daivari eliminated, we are left with only two wrestlers, those being the cousins. Both men are clearly exhausted after being involved in this over forty minute match in some way.

That does not stop them, however, from showcasing what sets these wrestlers apart: their lucha libre. It is surprising yet exciting to see a 205 Live debutant stand the test of time to be pitted against a wrestler management clearly have big future plans for. Garza takes it to Carillo with aerial excellence, seemingly about to do the unthinkable and best a now household name for the Purple Brand. 

With that in mind, Carillo has learned more than just honing his lucha stylings on the Cruiserweight show. Carillo brings brawl and intense grappling to the fray. The symbolism of Carillo, a man mentored by Gulak in the first half of 2019, but eventually kicked to the kerb, is the one to put the final nail in the coffin for his former teacher’s side.

A top rope spinning splash sees Garza eliminated, and Carillo take him the prize for the winners: Team Lorcan.  The winning captain returns to the ring to hold aloft his victorious soldier as 205 Live goes off air. 

Naturally, this did not reach the epic scope of the aforementioned Survivor Series match. Perhaps that is my fault for hyping myself up for a momentous standoff. There was a sense of going through the motions in this encounter with some memorable moments that keep the 205 Live fiction alive.

That is not to say, however,  that this was not a successful and large scope undertaking for the purple brand. Never before has it executed a match of this size, and that should be lauded for its efforts. 

Behind the scenes also, a pat on the back should be given to the production team. For during a couple of the downtime moments in the match, we were given backstage segments of stories outside of Lorcan’s war with Gulak. 

First, we saw an altercation backstage between Tozawa, Gallagher, and Brian Kendrick. Kendrick was seemingly convinced that Gallagher was to blame for Tozawa’s exit early, in denial also about the part he played in Tozawa’s unfair victory over Gallagher last week. It would appear that team unity did not last long between some members of this group, as Gallagher and Kendrick sought out 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick to sanction a match for next week. 

Later on, Lucha House Party made a corner-of-the-screen cameo during a well timed, pace lessening headlock to Carillo. LHP is now sure that it was Ariya Daivari who attacked Gran Metalik last week, and not Humberto Carillo. Kalisto vowed to beat a confession out of Daivari in a match next week. I am admittedly impressed with 205 Live seamlessly shoehorning in match announcements for next week into what was a  marathon match, but the execution of this whodunnit flat out pales in comparison to the Roman Reigns story on Smackdown right now. 

That thumbs down aside, this night of experiment for 205 Live was a success in my books. It should be evident by now, too, that this write up was an experimental new format with which I am considering approaching the reviews of 205 Live going forward. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as a story rather than a simple play by play account of the night which, with a ten man tag team elimination match spanning the entirety of the show, would have been a tall order indeed. 

Check out the latest Ricky & Clive podcast! Ricky and Clive are joined this week by Darren Kirkby and Paul Tolley of “Badlands Podcast” to discuss the huge news that NXT is moving to USA Network on September 18th for a weekly, two hour show. We look at the positives and negatives of the move, as well as what this could mean for WWE and its Network going forward. We finish with an NXT & NXT UK quiz.

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