The first round of the Cruiserweight Championship tournament continued on 205 Live this week, with former 'Zo Train members Drew Gulak and Tony Nese colliding in the main event. But how did it all go down in Bakersfield, CA? Lets take a look!
Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match // Drew Gulak def. Tony Nese // Submission
Drew Gulak found himself in the Quarter Finals of the Cruiserweight Championship tournament after a brutally dominant victory over former 'Zo Train partner, Tony Nese. A real different match to your typical WWE outing, full of unique offence, hard strikes and some lovely technical wrestling. The match was paced really well, with Nese initially trying to match Gulak's technique and striking game, often coming out on the losing end, before later on the match picked up the pace as Nese hit a beautiful Fosbury flop dive and went on to miss a 450 splash attempt. As much as Gulak looked dominant, Nese was particularly impressive here, there was also a lot of action that felt super fresh, Nese put on a gorgeous submission that seemed to wrap himself all over Gulak, whilst he also later hit an Alley Oop into the top turnbuckle and escaped an armbar attempt with a running powerbomb into the bottom buckle. Both men also sold the hard-hitting bout, with Nese out on his feet for much of the last third, whilst Gulak did some lovely detail work, moving his fingers to suggest a nerve issue towards the end of the clash.
The finish was superbly done, making Gulak look like a real force to be reckoned with in the tournament going forward. Drew's facial expression after getting a slap from Nese on the outside told the whole story of what was about to happen next and then delivering on it. Gulak viciously threw his former friend into the lower half of the announce table twice, with Nese appearing to be completely out of it. The referee being unable to stop Gulak from assaulting Tony upped the drama and made Drew look like a bastard as he hit a massive lariat, two powerbombs and then locked on the Gu-Lock to seal the deal. As much as I enjoyed Gulak's powerpoint gimmick, it was great to see him return to this vicious and commanding in-ring style that made him a stand-out in places like CHIKARA and CZW. Gulak hadn't won one-on-one since October, but it appears he's set for a much brighter future under Triple H's watch.
Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round Match // Mark Andrews def. Akira Tozawa // Pinfall
Mark Andrews made his return to 205 Live, picking up his first singles match win in WWE since the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, with an upset win over Akira Tozawa. For me, this was the first match of this tournament that failed to live up to expectations. That isn't to say this wasn't an enjoyable match, because there was some very good action in the second half, but the first portion of the match didn't do a great job of setting out the stall and letting what would have been an unfamiliar audience know what Andrews is all about. A technical start followed up by a number of submission attempts from Andrews was alright, but it wasn't what I wanted to see between these two pacy highflyers and put Andrews in a weird position of looking like the stronger competitor, when perhaps he has always worked better as the underdog fighting from underneath. Considering the type of match that Gulak and Nese had in the main event, I would've preferred to see this match take on a much different tone to how it started, with a little bit of sloppiness on Mandrews part also not helping get the crowd onside. The conclusion was much improved however, with a series of lovely reversals, with the highlight coming as Andrews went for a frankensteiner, which was blocked by Tozawa who looked to counter with a powerbomb, only for Mark to hit a wicked rana from the middle rope. I'm happy to see Mark Andrews head to the Quarter Finals and hopefully we'll get to see him at his best next time round.
Also This Week
- A special look at Buddy Murphy, who'll be making his debut next week against Ariya Daivari.
- Drake Maverick told Gentleman Jack Gallagher that he was no longer allowed to wrestle in suits, telling Gallagher to "sort himself out" before next week's match with Mustafa Ali.
ATPW Scale Rating // 7.17 out of 10
Written by James Marston // @IAmNotAlanDale