205 Clive’s Purple Brand Review
First of all, apologies for the tardiness of this week’s column. This Christmas and New Year period had seen a lot of family get-togethers for yours truly, so catching up with “Network Wednesdays” has been a chore. Hopefully, I will be back on schedule next week once the festivities have died down.
The race to determine the next challenger for Buddy Murphy’s Cruiserweight Championship gets underway in the first edition of 205 Live of 2019, in what is already looking to be quite the year of change for WWE’s Purple Brand.
Mustafa Ali seems to have made a permanent move from 205 Live to Smackdown Live and is currently prospering. Congratulations to one of WWE’s best cruiserweights. That does leave a gaping hole in the 205 Live roster, however. Drake Maverick has an announcement regarding this later in the show.
Also, we now need a new challenge for Buddy Murphy’s Cruiserweight Championship. This will be determined in a Fatal 4 Way #1 match at this year’s Royal Rumble PPV. Who will be the three opponents for Murphy? The winners of tonight’s matches (Lio Rush vs Kalisto, and Drew Gulak vs Akira Tozawa) – will give us our first two entrants, with the remaining competitor I imagine will be in qualifying action at some point soon.
Lio Rush vs Kalisto
The Lucha House Party (LHP) make their way to the ring first. They make their presence felt to the detriment of Nigel McGuiness who is gifted a tiny party hat by the trio. Percy Watson and Vic Joseph share a chuckle at Nigel’s expense.
Kalisto has held Cruiserweight gold before, and has come close in many championship matches over the last year or so. While I fancy his chances, Lio Rush has been nothing short of formidable on 205 Live. Early on he displays almost peerless speed – his biggest strength – in dodging an also quick Kalisto’s advances. Kalisto is frustrated enough to show temper but, so far, he is no match for what Rush is bringing to the table. A flurry of high-speed action is finished with a bottom rope suicide dive (lowpe suicida??) to Kalisto on the outside.
Back in the ring, and Rush remains in control. After a two-count, he now has Kalisto grounded with a knee-in-back assisted chin lock. Kalisto fights out and rolls up Rush after a wheelbarrow for his own pin attempt. Rush isn’t happy with the counter and punishes Kalisto accordingly, the LHP member ending up in the aforementioned submission.
Rush throws Kalisto to the outside. He disrespectfully treats the turnbuckle like a hammock as Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado fan Kalisto in a frankly bizarre attempt to revive their stablemate. Kalisto comes back in the ring but is met with clubs and chest chops for his troubles. Kalisto again mounts a comeback but, after running the ropes, is knocked to the floor in a football charge/tackle variant.
Kalisto looks for separation from the claustrophobic Rush. He manages to throw Rush to the outside and follows him with a dive onto his opponent. LHP’s noisemakers are whirled in support of this eventual swing in momentum.
The momentum is short-lived once again, however. Rush swings his leg and brings it down hard onto Kalisto’s head. The two are now on the top rope exchanging blows. After a labored back and forth, Kalisto delivers an unbelievable middle rope cross-body splash. Despite this hugely impactful move, Kalisto only earns a two-count. He may have struggled in this match so far, but a move like that is guaranteed to get him back in the match.
Rush manages to counter Kalisto’s dominance, however. A spinning Unprettier variant spikes Kalitso’s face onto the mat for another near-fall. Kalisto is back up and hits Rush with a barrage of kicks, but the Man of the Hour works the ropes to his advantage again. Kalisto ends up in a fireman’s carry out of nowhere and is spilled to the outside.
The referee is close to a ten-count, but Kalisto darts back in under the bottom rope with little time to spare. Rush is beside himself as he gingerly climbs the turnbuckle looking for a frog splash. LHP are spinning their noisemakers incessantly, distracting Rush. Rush kicks the noisemaker out of Dorado’s hand and lays hands on him.
A “square go” ensues between the two. Rush backs off with his chin still high in an aggressive manner. He turns round to Kalisto lying in wait. The former champion grabs Rush and delivers the Solido Del Sol for the victory.
Another strong outing for Rush here, but the distraction from LHP proved costly. It did appear though that Kalisto needed the help from his team if he had any chances of winning the match. Kalisto was on the back foot for the majority of this match. That’s not to say he didn’t in part provide the viewer with a great cruiserweight style match.
While the match was going on, Buddy Murphy was backstage with Tony Nese watching on a screen, no doubt keeping a close (but admittedly nonchalant) eye on who his competition will be.
A recap is shown of Akira Tozawa and Brian Kendrick’s victory over The Submission Commission in a tag team street fight two weeks ago. Gulak is backstage with Jack Gallagher. Kayla Braxton approaches for comments on his upcoming match. Gulak says he’s a realist. He states that the weapons involved in their match only proved that they were brawlers. When asked if he is an underdog in tonight’s match, he says there will be no weapons. Rules will be enforced. And Tozawa steps to him, he will tap out.
Tozawa is sparring elsewhere in the arena, Kendrick holding up sparring pads emblazoned with Gulak’s grill. Tozawa looks incredibly fired up for his chance to get back into the Cruiserweight Championship picture.
General Manager Drake Maverick is up next with announcement for the future of 205 Live. 2018 saw a remarkable transformation, be he won’t rest on his laurels. He’s in discussion with other brands’ General Managers, and scouring all corners of the globe up and coming cruiserweight talent. In a nutshell, 205 Live will have new wrestlers added to their roster in the coming weeks and months. This is welcome news. I was under the impression that 205 Live was actually starting a wind-down, what with the inclusion of multiple personalities onto either Raw or Smackdown. So far, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Good good!
Drew Gulak vs Akira Tozawa
Surprisingly, Drew Gulak is accompanied as he makes his way to the ring. However, that has me wondering, based on previous tactics employed by Gulak, whether Jack Gallagher will have a part to play at a later stage in the match. To be fair, Tozawa also has no Brian Kendrick by his side. Perhaps Gulak’s mention of strict rules earlier also meant ruling out the potential of outside interference. Again, though. One can’t be too sure with the dastardly Drew.
Gulak starts the match as he does best. His straight jacket style of submission grounding and grappling with Tozawa who, to be fair, gives as good as he can get. Counters and reversals are rapidly exchanged before a square off in the middle of the ring.
Tozawa finds himself in the corner with Gulak’s hand planted firmly on his face. Tozawa is more fired up than I’ve seen him in a long time though. So far, Gulak’s technical prowess isn’t phasing him at all.
Unfortunately, though, an attempt to drag Gulak feet first out of the ring sees him shoved hard into the barrier. Gulak now has a freshly painted target on Tozawa’s back. He is now able to adapt his submission game accordingly. An early stretch of the back is thwarted as Tozawa reaches the ropes, but Gulak’s vicious stomps keep Tozawa grounded. He wriggles out wraps his feet round Gulak’s head twice over for a succession of hurricanranas, placing him in full control of the match for the first time.
Gulak ends up wrapped up in the ropes, and Tozawa lands a high top rope leg drop onto Gulak’s head. He earns a near-fall, but his back is starting to work against him. Gulak traps a high kick, picks Tozawa up and launches him into the turnbuckles. Tozawa breaks out of a Gulock attempt and looks for another high kick, but Gulak blocks it and wipes him out with a discus lariat. Gulak follows up with a ground shaking powerbomb, piling more misery onto Tozawa’s back.
The two are exchanging tired blows in the middle. Tozawa runs the ropes and throws two forearms at Gulak. He blocks the third forearm with a high boot, but Tozawa delivers one of his own. Tozawa wraps himself round Gulak for an octopus stretch. But Gulak stands vertical and masterfully transitions this hold into what McGuinness informs us is a horse collar, applying untold pressure to Tozawa’s calf in what looks to be a variant of a standing heel hook/calf crusher combo. An absolutely ingenious display of wrestling knowledge by Gulak here.
Tozawa somehow breaks out and has the upper hand. Gulak is on the mat as Tozawa makes his way to the top for a high senton bomb. His knee is in trouble though as he slips, affording Gulak time to recover. Tozawa takes to the skies, but the senton bomb is turned into a reversal by Gulak into a body scissors. Tozawa rolls and rolls both men to the opposite end of the ring and out on to the floor in an ugly spill for both men.
Gulak chops Tozawa hard and looks to throw him face first into the corner post. Tozawa blocks it though. He lands a hard right on Gulak, then runs back in the ring and back out for a high impact suicide missile headbutt.
Tozawa looks for another senton, but he falls again. Gulak looks at his injured prey. Gulak does something very rare and joins Tozawa on the top rope. Gulak has little luck when he breaks his own No Fly Zone rules. This looks to be the case again as Tozawa fights off a superplex attempt with a headbutt.
This time, Tozawa delivers the top rope senton and pins Gulak all the way to three.
Winner: Akira Tozawa
Tozawa joins Kalisto in the Fatal 4 Way match against Buddy Murphy at Royal Rumble. I’m happy for Tozawa, but can’t help but be frustrated with Gulak’s naivety at leaving his feet. This has never worked for Gulak before. Why would it work here? is this something that will be explored in the future? To be honest, I hope so. Once again, loses out on a Championship opportunity despite his self proclaimed superiority in 205 Live. This has to be addressed!
Murphy and Nese are backstage. Murphy states the obvious with there now being “two down, one to go”. They look on and laugh at Tozawa’s celebrations as he is joined by Brian Kendrick.
Next week’s final qualifier match is announced, and it looks to be a cracker. Cedric Alexander vs Hideo Itami. Alexander is backstage and says Itami’s intimidation doesn’t work on him. He says next week’s match will end the same way as their previous encounter did, with Itami on the mat and Alexander’s hand raised in the air.
Itami is backstage also with Ariya Daivari. Daivari does most of the talking, claiming Itami as the 205 Tornado. And next week, Alexander will learn a lesson in respect.
A strong week of matches on 205 Live, means a strong start to 2019. With Maverick’s announcement of new faces to the brand, and Murphy still standing at the top of the mountain, here’s hoping this start continues!
Check out the latest episode of “The Ricky & Clive Wrestling Show”. Rance & Kyle from Outsiders Edge join “205 Clive” for a holiday season, shenanigan heavy episode. The trios outfit battle it out on a WWE Annual board game. Who will go from an NXT Rookie to a Wrestlemania Main Event win the quickest? Expect some festive nonsense, and many run-ins from a Ruthless Aggression Era legend….