WWE 205 Live recap & reactions (Jan. 3, 2017): 'Neville Showing He’s At A Different Level'

This is now the fifth 205 Live, so it's had enough time to settle into a groove and thus justly be weighed against WWE's canon of wrestling offerings.

So as the esteemed 205 Live recapper, where would I place the show in the increasingly broad selection? We have Raw, Smackdown Live!, NXT, Main Event and 205 Live.

I disqualify myself from ranking Main Event, as I haven't watched it often enough to comment, so with that in mind I would see the following on the podium:

Smackdown Live!
205 Live

In five short weeks, 205 Live has become the second best wrestling show WWE has to offer. It will take some real chops to knock Smackdown Live! Off the top spot - especially after last week's ratings-blockbuster mini-PPV - but neither the finding-its-feet-again NXT nor the bloated Raw can match its storytelling and in-ring display.

This said, we were treated to the 205 Live equivalent of a placeholder episode this week. Does that mean it wasn't any good? Well, you'll have to read on to find out... Or skip to the end like the lazy fuckers you are #stillloveyou

Right... Onto the show.

We start with a shit video package. It's the kind of standard that a high school student could do better.

Nah, only kidding. It's the usual brilliance. What a glib twat I am. But I thought I would mix it up instead of starting every review with ‘What a great a video package!' for variety's sake.

What is pleasing is that it seems the company really want this to succeed. Both Raw (via storyline) and Smackdown Live! (via skits) point people to the program as well as giving wrestlers a little showcase. There ain't no politicking happening here, as many suspected when the division was seemingly slotted unceremoniously into Raw.

We're told Rich Swann is unable to compete due to injury via that dastardly Neville. This is great storytelling; selling an injury, giving Swann a week off, and making Neville look like a dangerous badass.

Tajiri vs Sean Maluta

Tajiri! He's here! Damn, it's good to see him. He had one of the strongest stories in the Cruiserweight Classic and it was genuinely heartbreaking to see his departure from the tournament.

And for the second time in 205 Live, Sean Maluta gets the jobber entrance. I have my money down on this lasting less than five minutes.

We start with what's known as ‘The Shine'; matt based work, throwing blows back and forth, Tajiri immediately torquing limbs in horrid fashion. Mauro offers the insight that "Tajiri wanted to be a kickboxer, hence his fierce kicks," which adds a nice touch.

And we get a Ta-ran-too-la from Tajiri! (gimmick infringement with OSW Review, there) Mauro remarks "that will make people instant arachnophobes". Love that man.

Tajiri executes a Springboard back elbow that has a distinct beauty to it; he sets his position early and falls gracefully into the move.

A nasty Buzzsaw Kick to the head and we're done in under three minutes.

Tajiri def. Sean Maluta via pinfall following a Buzzsaw Kick

Post-match Interaction - Brian Kendrick

And here comes Kendrick. Perfect. Kajiri looks ready; adopting a battle stance in-ring the entire time.

Kendrick plays up the false (?) accolades, welcoming Tajiri to 205 Live and suggesting a partnership. "First we have to get rid of the trash," he says, before kicking poor Maluta's prone body out of the ring.

Kendrick offers a handshake. Tajiri accepts, before green misting the ever loving fuck out of Kendrick's face.

So this begs the question... Is Kendrick a bad guy at this point? This is twice he has been jumped while ostensibly trying to be nice. Yet we know his intent is likely insidious, so does this simply mean we're finally getting smart faces who can preempt such nonsense? LAYERS!

Backstage interview - Neville

"TJ Perkins wouldn't have been champion if I was included," Neville intones about the CWC tournament.

He puts over people's love of Perkins (which is questionable). Neville's promo is thus - Fuck TJ's struggles; what about mine. I've been discriminated against. "When the system is broken; you create your own system." He says ‘Bonnie lad'. He says ‘King of the Cruiserweights'. I can see Neville's run sheet:

- Put opponent over
- Talk about struggles
- Insert British-ism
- Say King of the Cruiserweights

This, in no way, is a bad thing. I'm slightly more at peace with the ‘angry foreigner' angle - although I still think it unnecessary - because they're going in a slightly different direction with it. That of discrimination, rather than "GRRRR! ME FOREIGN! ME HATE ‘MERICA!" that we've been blundered over the head with so often in the past.

We get a slick promo for Tony Nese. Having promos for the heel before a match is a really unusual, but welcome, touch. This leads us to...

‘The Extraordinary Gentlemen' Jack Gallagher vs Tony Nese w/ Ariya Daivari

In light of Daivari's slick attire, Corey quips, "What do you know about style, Mauro? You bought that suit from Walmart." Banterific.

We're treated to the Gentlemen's Duel promo recap. I love the black and white reel, and the frankly magnificently use of classic music. And they didn't miss the bow-tie straightening. Can someone please give the video department a freakin' medal already?

Also, Gallagher's frickin' umbrella is called William. It's become a gimmick. Move over, Mitch the Plant. I have it on good authority that Hollywood is greenlighting Cast Away 2 starring Gallagher stranded on an island with William (the scene where William is blown away by the wind is Oscar-bait tearjerker stuff).

With a great mini-build, onto the match...

I will never tire of Gallagher's transitions out of locks. The nip out of the leg head lock, and the little shuffling of the feet back and forth beforehand, was magic. Gallagher really has fun with this pro wrestling thing.

There seems to be a small miscommunication when both men push at each other at once after bouncing against the ropes, but they covered beautifully. Good tip for new wrestlers on how to be when things go wrong.

Gallagher executes possibly his best cornerpost headstand to date, coming in at a belter of a pace beforehand.

Nese rolls to the outside, and villainy beckons.

Daivari comes swinging in with the Most Devastating Move in all of wrestling... The chop block.

Jack Gallagher def. Tony Nese via disqualification when Ariya Daivari attacks the Extraordinary Gentleman mid-match

Hmmmm. Hard to know how to feel about this. Another super short match, and a DQ finish always leaves one feeling a bit flat. But I guess we have to play the long game here. There's a story being told, and we're likely meant to feel frustrated.

That said, Gulak exhibits his vicious smashmouth style. The largely ludicrous Tree of Woe KINDA makes sense for once by Daivari attacking Gallagher immediately after he's suspended upsidedown.

Backstage segment - Alicia Fox and Cedric Alexander

Cedric is concerned about losing so often; Alicia is deeply apologetic. Cedric doesn't make it Alicia's fault, he just wants her to be safe. Nawwww. Sweet. (This will end badly)

We get an NXT promo of the Melbourne show (the one where the cage didn't come down properly... Whoops!) Did I tell you I blagged my way into the NXT hotel when they were in Canberra? That's another story for another post. Or it can be told vocally if Sean and Geno finally invite me onto Cageside Live as they've said they would. The bastards. #stillloveyou

‘The Scottish Supernova' Noam Dar vs Mustafa Ali

So, we have Mustafa against Noam... They ARE trying to make Ali a face despite the video packages. This is lovely. No Chicago pop this week, but there's time.

Loving Noam screaming at the ref for the rope/corner break. The man is OWNING this skeezy personality. He is now demonstrating it in the ring.

We get a stiff looking spinning heel kick that is amazing in that Noam doesn't come up bloody.

Noam executes a nasty looking dropkick as Ali gets into the ring.

Straight away, Noam targets the arm.

Despite all this great action, the crowd seems a bit down. Perhaps it's merely a contrast to the lively Chicago crowd of last week?

This said, Noam playing to the crowd gets a handful of boos. Bonnie lad.

In another beautiful heel move, Noam starts using the corner to attack Ali in the same way he was complaining against earlier in the match. What a beautiful twat of a hypocrite he is.

There's a Snapmare into an armbar into a modified crossface. The supposed ‘rest holds' looks vicious, and play into the working of the arm.

Noam keeps switching the holds, ending in a top wrist lock.

Ali escapes, performs a tidy flip out of the corner, sprints to the opposite corner and unleashes a crowd-popping 3DT. Nice stuff.

The crowd wakes up for an on-the-apron roundhouse kick from Ali, into a dive-through-the-ropes rolling neckbreaker. A wonderful little sequence.

Noam deftly reversing a high flying attack from Ali into an armbar with added twist and torque on the worked arm. This, for mine, should have been the end of the match.

After a good time in the lock, Ali rolls Noam into a pin to break the hold.

Ali smashes Noam with a stiff kick in the corner. Corey Graves remarks, "Might want to find a good dentist," and the comment is warranted.

That set up Noam for the delightful Inverted 450 from Ali for the win.

Mustafa Ali def. Noam Dar via pinfall following an inverted 450 splash

Of all of 205 Live, this is the one result I disagree with.

Yes, Ali needs wins to establish himself, and Noam is enough of a character to weather the loss.

But more of a story could have been told with Noam winning, particularly after working the arm so beautifully throughout the match. It could have set up Ali as a babyface with something to prove, and added a layer of threat to Noam's character to back up that magnificently slimey persona he has inhabited so well.

Noam is on point. He is near perfect as a heel. Ali is clearly a great in-ring talent, but I feel he needs more work as far as in-ring psychology and distinct character goes to give himself the best chance of getting over. At the moment he seems to be going through the motions. And don't get me wrong; they're great motions. But some more quirks and characteristics will serve him well.

Post-match interview - Noam Dar

"Listen, chick..." Did he just say, ‘Listen, chick?' MAN, that guy's a bastard.

Looking the way I do, I can hardly talk. But Noam has some interesting looking armpits.

I think Noam may have forgotten his promo for a bit. But he got there in the end.

We get a promo package for Akira Tozawa. The Cesaro interview is a nice touch.

Fun Fact: Akira Tozawa and hometown hero Buddy Murphy put on the workrate match at the Canberra NXT show. It was 15 minutes of fantastic. I had the pleasure of shaking Mr Murphy's hand the following morning in appreciation.

"What grade would you give it?" asked Wesley Blake, who was sitting with him for breakfast.

"Oh, a solid A easily," I remarked.

"Meh. I wouldn't give it more than a B myself," Blake quipped.

Such wags.

I also amused and confused my fellow Australians by switching that infuriating "Aussie! Aussie Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" chant (birthed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics) to "Ja-pan! Ja-pan! Ja-pan! Oi! Oi! Oi!". We're not ALL racists down here.

Right, enough of that. Onto yooooooouuuuuuurrrrrrr MAIN EVENT!

Neville vs TJ Perkins

Neville snarls his way to the ring. As is his wont.

We get a quick TJ interview. Says Neville's attitude is all in his head. Calls him a bully. I'm not a fan of the ‘ugly' remark, and neither is the crowd. Leave that shit on the high school playground, TJ. But I bloody love those 8-bit glasses. Internet shopping ahoy!

We get a great bit of commentary again come handshake time:

Corey - Will we see sportsmanship here?

Austin - I hope not.

TJ's neglection of the handshake once again tells us a story. I've seen a lot of people hate on the handshake, but they do a lot with it.

The initial tie-up has energy to it; a real angst and tussle is on display.

The Shine sees TJ twist Neville's arm, which the latter sells the force of in a way that makes TJ look strong.

I will never not pop for the head spin from TJ. It's one of my favourite moves in all wrestling.

Commentary does an excellent job selling TJ's flashy style versus Neville's aggression. It's the story of the match.

We're treated to a beautiful bulldog followed by a flying head-scissors by TJ.

Neville takes a powder. His facial expression pays respects to his opponent whilst showing disdain. And there's a little bleeped swear thrown in there too for good measure.

Neville is back in and executes a simple scoop slam. Even that has an added viciousness to it when Neville is the master of it.

Again, it's the little things that Neville gets so right. The way the man STARES at his opponent as he goes to the top rope sells every high flying move as pure HEEL.

Said corner ascension is followed by a nasty dropkick.

We get a now-trademark headlock by Neville. TJ fights out. Neville slaps TJ down. Pin. Back to the headlock.

Powering out, TJ flips over, lands on feet, executes an enziguri. Neville counters, then goes to the top once more.

A stunning Twisting 450 splash/Phoenix splash misses.

TJ whips through moves. Basement dropkick; neckbreaker, twisting corkscrew plancha to the outside, climbs up top, waits, and lands a diving crossbody. Great finishing sequence.

Except Neville kicks out.

Both men are looking formidable right now.

Neville sets up TJ with a Superplex from the outside. Aries sells the danger of the edge of the apron.

TJ then performs a precision Springboard frankensteiner. Now THAT is a great finish.

Except Neville kicks out.

The slow-mo replay tells us something about TJ's greatness. Look at how he meticulously positions himself for such a dangerous move. He makes it look like he has all the time in the world to think exactly where his body needs to be placed. The more I see him wrestle, the more I understand why he was picked as the CWC winner.

He have some more back and forth grappling.

Neville strikes TJ with two quick kicks before TJ counters with his own.

TJ throws in a crazy Triangle wrecking ball dropkick.

And then we get one of the best german/wheelbarrow suplexes I've seen Neville do. And that's saying something. Watch this episode for that alone. A. Thing. Of. Beauty. And it's a great way to end the match.

Except TJ kicks out.

There's a sharp kick to the face from TJ. I can't type fast enough to keep up at this point.

TJ goes to the top. Neville crotches him. Corey makes a great point about both men being tired and taking too long while going for the high risk maneuver.

There's fighting on the top rope. A desperate back and forth. A great story here, selling the desperation of trying to escape the Superplex.

It ends with a big kick to the head from Neville.

Here comes the Superplex.

There's a big pause.

And then that glorious Superplex.

And end.

Neville def. TJ Perkins via pinfall following a Superplex

HOW is a Superplex a finisher? How? Everyone does it.

And yet it is.

Neville makes it believable. And the slow motion replay shows why. Neville bends his back as far as possible before releasing his feet from the ropes. THAT'S why it looks so fantastic. And the pause beforehand helps with the drama too.

"Neville Showing He's At A Different Level," remarks Mauro. Yes indeed, my friend.

Grade - B


This was the 205 Live equivalent of a placeholder show. Bad? Not at all. There was good action, storylines pushed forward, Tajiri, all the good stuff.

But for the first time I feel they tried to put too much into the 42 minutes. This may be a problem going forward as more talent is brought into the fold.

That said, the main event - as always - did not disappoint. Neville is a star, TJ is an unquestionable in-ring talent, and they told a magnificent story between their contrasting styles.

This is a great show, people. And it only takes up 42 minutes of your precious time. Get involved.

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