Wednesday, 22 November 2017

205 Live 52 Review // Akira Tozawa vs. Drew Gulak // Street Fight


A different kind of episode from 205 Live this week, with one storyline spanning the whole hour at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Whilst the biggest match on the episode was Akira Tozawa facing Drew Gulak in a Street Fight, that bout was part of an episode-arcing narrative where Enzo Amore had members of The 'Zo Train compete in matches in order to prove themselves worthy of representing the brand, this included Noam Dar & Ariya Daivari tagging up against Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander and Tony Nese battling Mustafa Ali, alongside multiple backstage segments. But was it any good?

Street Fight // Akira Tozawa def. Drew Gulak // Pinfall (11:11) 
then...
Tony Nese def. Mustafa Ali // Pinfall (7:06)
then...
Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander def. Noam Dar & Ariya Daivari // Pinfall 


The show kicked-off with The 'Zo Train celebrating Thanksgiving, with Noam Dar desperate for some scran, Enzo Amore told his pals they'd all have matches to prove themselves tonight and in a bizarre turn of events the Gobbledy Gooker returned, only for it to be revealed it was Drew Gulak (or the Gobbledy Gulaker) all along, as Gulak continued to be the star of 205 Live....The fun continued with Gulak inside the ring as he cut a promo about wanting a Street Fight because Enzo Amore was from the streets and because Gulak is "Enzo adjacent", that meant Gulak was from the streets, by proxy...



For various story-based reasons, Akira Tozawa's victory over Drew Gulak went on first, when it really should've been the main event. The match was a run of the mill plunder brawl, with a couple of good highspots along the way. Gulak blocking a suicide dive and hitting a verticle suplex on the metal part of the entrance ramp, Tozawa destroying Gulak's "No chants" sign with a backdrop driver in the corner and Tozawa hitting a somersault senton off the announce table were amongst the highlights of fun clash. There times when the action dragged a little, not helped by a dour crowd, who were waiting for the next spot and desperately clamouring for tables. A little time chopped off would've helped, as it seemed the duo didn't have enough content to fill the time. The win came with a spot that sounded better on paper, as Tozawa hit a diving senton with Gulak draped on a table and inside a bin. It looked cool, but was a little clumsy in it's exclusion. This loss leave Gulak with just one singles win in his last eleven outings. A personal highlight was the crowd chanting "No chants" which was hilarious, either being a great moment of self-aware irony or clueless stupidity. You tell me, Houston.

After Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali took the piss out of the Zo Train, Enzo Amore told Tony Nese that he had to do whatever it took to win next, in order to represent the Enzo Brand correctly...



Whilst it garnered the weakest crowd response, Tony Nese vs. Mustafa Ali was my favourite match on the card. I've kind of accepted that the crowd is tired after SmackDown and unfamiliar with the majority of the talent and therefore the only reaction most of these matches are going to receive are move pops and even then sometimes spectacular stuff doesn't even raise a smile with some of these audiences. Ali and Nese wrestled a wonderfully creative bout, with tonnes of stuff that made me sit up and take notice, especially when the action was on the outside of the ring. Ali's ridiculous diving somersault senton to the outside, followed up by a lovely spot on the barricade when Nese blocked a moonsault attempt by the announce table. The two also did a great series of athletic reversals that concluded with a Tornado DDT, as well as Ali pulling out a wicked forward roll X-Factor, that had me popping like a mad man at home and the crowd shrugging their shoulders. The most surprising thing about the match however was the result as Nese pinned Ali after ramming his opponent's head into the corner post and finishing him off with The Running Nese. Not just because Ali had been undefeated since early July, whilst Nese hadn't had a win since early August, but also because I just presumed that all of the 'Zo Train were going to end up staring at the lights.

Backstage, as Ariya Daivari and Noam Dar pumped each other up for their tag team match, it was revealed Drew Gulak had been placed in "time out" following his loss and had also put the Gobbledy Gooker costume back on...



I've found the thing that enjoy about 205 Live the most and especially within this episode, is how many of the performers appear to be free to do anything they like and this results in little moments of joy. And as someone who loves little moments, Noam Dar swinging around the tag rope at the beginning of this tag bout made me happier than someone whirling around the tag rope should make any 24 year old. Dar's character work throughout this one was fantastic, as he looked to catch up Drew Gulak as the star of the 'Zo Train, by high-fiving Amore whenever the Scot did anything well, as well as jumping into a hug with Cruiserweight champion at one point as well. Dar's shenanigans aside, this was a sound tag team match, sticking mostly to a basic structure, with Cedric Alexander as the face in peril, whilst Amore playing interference on the outside and his occasional frustration at his team gave the match a little more depth. After a couple of decent near falls, the finish included all five guys well with interference from Amore, Daivari taking an elbow from Alexander, who then took a baseball slide from Dar, before the Scottish Supernova turned round into a spin kick from Swann, before the deal was sealed with a Phoenix Splash.

Enzo Amore began a beatdown as soon as the match was over, with Tony Nese and Drew Gulak arriving to take out Akira Tozawa and Mustafa Ali when they turned up to help out. The show came to a close with Dar and Daivari hitting signature moves on Alexander and Swann, before Amore resurrected Bada Boom Shakalaka with help from the Zo' Train, with the quintet managing to garner a decent amount of heat...

A vignette aired for the debut of Hideo Itami [KENTA], with the message "Coming Soon ".


Finally...


Credit to whoever is in charge of 205 Live creative for trying something different and something that certainly wouldn't have worked on RAW and SmackDown and perhaps would've struggled on even NXT. The story meant the card was almost backwards, but each match had, at least, some purpose and offered something different from the ones that had gone before it, whilst the backstage segments were more hit than miss. Drew Gulak was once again on fine character form, whilst Noam Dar stepped up to the plate to challenge him with a great character show in the main event as well. I'm interested to see how Tony Nese being the only team member to win his match plays out, as well as how the beaten down babyfaces look to get revenge once again for the vicious beat down. There's no more PPV's for the brand until next year, so there's plenty of time to focus on getting the stories right and hopefully with even less focus from the main creative the brand will continue to produce a different kind of show to RAW and SmackDown. Now if only we could move when and where it was taped that'd be grand!

Review by James Marston



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