Thursday, 16 November 2017

205 Live 51 Review // Kalisto vs. Drew Gulak

With Survivor Series just five days away, WWE presented the 51st episode of 205 Live at the Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina on 14th November 2017. The show was built around Kalisto's birthday celebrations as he featured in the main event against Drew Gulak, but was it any good? Let's take a look? 

Kalisto def. Drew Gulak // 7:59

Kalisto told us it was his birthday, which was lame, but he didn't fuck up his promo like usual as he talked about facing Drew Gulak later and Enzo Amore on Survivor Series Kick-Off. Amore and Gulak looked at a big cake for a bit and said some things. Later on, Akira Tozawa wished Kalisto a Happy Birthday and did some chants. The promos continued as Amore got some time to talk about shoving cake down Kalisto's gullet, whilst Gulak continued to be the star of any segment he takes part in. Seriously, Gulak saying "How are you doing?" might have got the biggest pop of the entire show. 

A couple of highlights in our main event, but I often found myself tuning out as I waited for the massive cake at ringside to get involved somehow. There's was a bit of cake based situations, but we were kept waiting for anyone to go through it, whilst Gulak never felt like a legitimate threat to Kalisto, even with Enzo Amore causing issues at ringside. With one singles win to his name since mid-June, it was hard to buy into anything going on, with the mostly quiet crowd not helping the situation, alongside the cake. Kalisto's face shine was nice, the crowd coming to life for a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday to You and Kalisto getting the win off of Salida del Sol after Gulak carried away with his set-up for a Gu-lock. There was little wrong with what they did in the ring, but could have done with either being a little bit shorter or creating a little more peril for the Number One contender.

After the match, Amore jumped Kalisto and although the #1 Contender managed to turn the tide against the Champion and Gulak, Amore pegged it up the ramp before any cake based antics could occur. Luckily though, we cut back to Amore being interviewed by Dasha Fuentes, leading to Kalisto turning up and closing the show by smashing Enzo into the cake and lobbing handful at his Survivor Series opponent.

Tornado Tag Team Match // Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann def. The Brian Kendrick & Gentleman Jack Gallagher // 10:55

The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher had an in-screen promo as they walked to the ring, talking about cruelty and choices ahead of their tag match. Rich Swann got some time on the microphone on the ramp, introducing Cedric Alexander, pointing out that Alexander was from Charlotte. 

Even with the rather desperate attempt at getting the Charlotte crowd behind hometown boy Cedric Alexander, the crowd were barely involved in this, perhaps because the Tornado gimmick removed where they would traditionally get behind him. That being said this ended up being a bloody good match, with a number of gorgeous reversal sequences, some impressive highspots and a strong story where the babyfaces came out on top. The sequence with Gallagher ducking under a handspring roundhouse kick, only to run into a Spanish Fly was beautifully done and whilst there was an awkward moment with Gallagher supposedly hitting a headbutt out of a springboard from Cedric, that was the exception, as pretty much everything else was crisp and physical. It was a shame that a section where Kendrick locked in the Captain's Hook on Alexander and Gallagher got Swann in an armbar, where Swann had to save the match by making sure Alexander's hand didn't hit the mat after he'd passed out, was a little too subtle for the crowd as I feel it would've been highly appreciated on an Indy show. There was a lot more packed into the 11 minutes, but the final stretch of the clash was sublime stuff with Kendrick and Alexander throwing together a number of reversals, before Swann was able to take Gallagher with a suicide dive tornado DDT and a nueralyzer and Lumbar Check sealed the win on Kendrick for the "Lumbar Legacy". With a crowd even half invested in the action, this would've been a must-watch clash, but it's still worth checking out if you've got the time.

Mustafa Ali def. Ariya Daivari // 7:17

Ariya Daivari cut a promo saying 205 Live might as well be cancelled if Kalisto wins the Cruiserweight Championship at Survivor Series, before Mustafa Ali interrupted to tell him he looked stupid and the crowd was super mild for it all. 

Completing a trio of babyface victories, this was another good match from the Cruiserweights, but suffered from the problem that almost every single match to air on this show has...the crowd did not give a fuck. To be fair to Charlotte, they joined in for a little while with a "You look stupid" chant aimed at Ariya Daivari, but that's hardly a breakthrough at this point. Daivari looked go into control, hitting a nice bulldog as well as a big ol' spinebuster to slow down the speedy Ali and the two did a handful of nice technical exchanges as well, before Ali showed off some of his more high-risk offence. The Persian Lion splash was a solid near fall for Daivari, but the crowd no sold it, before a frankensteiner and 054 splash left Ali without a TV singles loss by pinfall or submission since falling to Neville on RAW back in July. 

The Tornado Tag Team was featured some great action and the other two contests had their moments but went a little long, but the dead Charlotte crowd took some of the spring out of the step of this episode of 205 Live. WWE seems to be focused on trying to get a number of characters over with almost everyone getting some mic time here. It seems to be working for Drew Gulak who got the best reaction, but labouring someone like Kalisto with a toxic birthday story has to be one of the worst booking decisions of the year, especially with a show that struggles to get viewers anyway with a PPV match to build to! With Enzo once appearing with Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Noam Dar and Tony Nese as The Zo Train, why a traditional Survivor Series match featuring the likes of Kalisto, Akira Tozawa, Gran Metalik, Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander or even WWE UK guys like Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate, wasn't scheduled for the PPV instead seems like a missed opportunity to showcase as many guys as possible and get a buzz going for the show.

Review by James Marston

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