The shows opening hype video introduces the viewers to the competitors for tonight’s gauntlet match to determine the number one contender that will face the Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander, at the Greatest Royal Rumble this Friday. Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Kalisto, TJP, and Mustafa Ali all give individual video messages on why they think they will be the one to compete for the Cruiserweight Championship in Saudi Arabia. Vic Joseph, Percy Watson, and Nigel McGuinness are on the announce team, and welcome us to this week’s special match.
Cruiserweight Championship Number One Contender Gauntlet Match
1st Round Entrants: Mustafa Ali vs TJP
In the early exchanges of this match, TJP’s smugness is on display, as he takes time out from a scientific back and forth with Ali, to “dab”. But Mustafa Ali is not in the mood for fun and games initially He does however mock Perkins with his signature pose after a feigned attack to TJP’s face leads instead to a dropkick to the back of the inaugural Cruiserweight Champion’s head.
The ever petulant TJP isn’t happy about being bested and takes a breather outside the ring. Once Ali brings him back inside, the small rest proves fortuitous for TJP. He gains the upper hand and reminds his opponent that despite an ingrained arrogance, he is still very dangerous.
The screen cuts to Cedric Alexander backstage with interviewer Dasha Fuentes. Alexander says that Buddy Murphy blew his chance for a title opportunity due to not meeting the weight requirements for 205 Live. Alexander however is looking forward to seeing who will face him next in what he calls the Age of Alexander, closing the short interview with him stating he is ready for any competition.
TJP’s technical prowess is at its most clinical, with Ali unable to escape various holds. Ali’s escapology brings him back on to a level footing. With momentum on his side, Ali takes TJP over to the turnbuckle, seemingly looking for a hurricanrana. Unfortunately for him, he is thrown from the top rope. Despite Ali landing on his feet, TJP delivers a devastating, laser precision dropkick to Ali’s left knee.
Perkins wastes no time in applying his Inverted Kneebar submission. After a long battle, Ali grasps the bottom rope, but TJP exacerbates the damage by taking full advantage of the referee’s five-count.
TJP continues to focus on the knee, but the resilient Ali manages to gain some semblance of dominance with an admittedly unattractive Tornado DDT, although the messy execution merely accentuates Ali’s suffering. He then gingerly climbs the turnbuckle and delivers his “054” for a surprise win over TJP.
Ali is the victor in this first round, but the knee injury immediately puts into doubt any real chance of lasting the distance in this gauntlet match. This point is emphatically hammered home as his next opponent’s music plays.
1st Round Winner: Mustafi Ali vs 2nd Round Entrant: Drew Gulak
Who worse for Ali to face next, when he is wounded and has a freshly painted bullseye on his left knee, than his arch nemesis in 205 Live. The self professed best submission specialist in WWE, Drew Gulak, makes his way to the ring with a wry smile on his face. Nigel McGuinness sums the situation up perfectly by saying Mustafa Ali, who looks up the ramp desperately at Gulak, has just been dealt the worst hand in poker.
Gulak circles Ali like a starved predator and immediately punishes him with a scoop slam into the turnbuckle. Ali fights and lashes out, very much like a wounded animal, and tries to finish the round early. All escapes from potentially devastating submissions are in vain, as Gulak ends the comeback with a brutal clothesline.
The spearhead of the campaign for a Better 205 Live does what he does best, and begins a systematic dissection of Ali’s left knee. Gulak looks like he has won a prize at the local fair, enjoying the slow and methodical punishment he is dishing out. His knowledge of the human anatomy is cruelly showcased by Gulak, as he twists and grinds the knee into various obscene angles.
Ali manages to escape the leg work, going for a standing hurricanrana, and later, an attempted roll-through face plant. Both times however Gulak reasserts his dominance by countering with single crab submissions. Ali’s desperate attempts at trying to gain an advantage are now few and far between.
Gulak mocks Ali’s high-flying mentality with disrespectful slaps to the face, his limp form draped upon the turnbuckle. The insults summon a retaliation from Ali, who locks in his own single crab from his elevated position. Gulak frantically breaks free and makes way out of ring, but ends up on the receiving end of a big cross-body onto the floor.
The consequences of this high risk move prove fatal for Ali. Despite another Tornado DDT, Ali can’t capitalise on this as he fails to climb the ropes for his finisher, such is the damage to his knee. Gulak messily spills Ali from the ropes, drags him into the centre of the ring, and applies the Gulock. Ali is completely unable to defend himself. The referee calls for the bell to be ring as Mustafa Ali is knocked out. Gulak advances to the third round.
An Ali loss isn’t something that the 205 Live crowd is used to seeing, and the concern and sympathy for Ali leaves an eerie quiet around the arena, as he is helped to the back by referees.
2nd Round Winner: Drew Gulak vs 3rd Round Entrant: Tony Nese
The quest for revenge against Gulack gives us a very focused and intense Tony Nese. The Premier Athlete counters any offense that Gulak can muster, with a series of robust escapes and takedowns.
With Gulak outside, Nese keeps momentum on his side with a fosbury flop, and continues to punish The Philadelphia Stretcher, who is starting to show fatigue.
There is an anticipation throughout the match that Nese will let his emotions get the better of him, but in the middle stages, this possibility doesn’t materialise. Nese looks at the commentary table – the same table that Gulak threw Nese into during their Cruiserweight Championship Tournament match – and launches Gulak over it, spilling him onto the quickly vacated commentary team’s chairs. As Gulak climbs out of the clutter, Nese attacks again, throwing him into the tables’ base.
This is the most driven we’ve ever seen Nese. It looks like the continued onslaught of Gulak could be what wins him the match. His anger keeps him focused. Even with Gulak escaping a patented springboard moonsault, Nese is still able to hunt an escaping Gulak down and drive home a brutal clubbing forearm to the face, maintaining a significant dominance.
Nese mocks a well beaten Gulak in the corner, repeatedly asking if he’s still not on Gulak’s level. Nese quickly runs the ropes and catapults into the prone Gulak with a Running Nese.
Disappointingly for Nese, the pent up thirst for vengeance finally gets the better of him. After hesitating on whether to pin Gulak, he naively looks to end his former best friend once and for all. He instead drags Gulak to the corner and looks to land another Running Nese, but Gulak exhaustively dodges the attack at the last second. A frustrated Nese looks to pull Gulak back into the corner, but Gulak comes to his senses and yet again applies his dragon sleeper finisher, forcing Nese to quickly tap out.
Gulak advances to the final stage of the gauntlet. Nese is more angry with himself now than he is with Gulak. He cuts a dejected figure heading up the ramp as Gulak’s final competitor’s music plays.
3rd Round Winner: Drew Gulak vs 4th Round Entrant: Kalisto
Kalisto sprints in, looking to take advantage of his fresh entrey. But the wily Gulak rolls out and lazily sprawls on table, desperate to regain some energy. For the first few minutes of this last round, Gulak repeatedly makes to enter the ring, only to roll back out, all the while taunting and mocking the Lucha House Party stable member. Despite already fighting matches, Gulak’s underhanded and disrespectful tactics are helping him find a second wind.
This impudence comes back to haunt Gulak, as Kalisto lands a variety of kicks next to the barrier. As Gulak receives more punishment at ringside, he is able to sidestep Kalisto’s suicide dive and use his momentum against him as he crashes into the barrier.
As the referee begins a count to bring both competitors back into the ring, Tony Nese is backstage with Dasha Fuentes, who asks what’s next for Nese after his disappointing loss. Nese is still too angry to answer, however, and walks off screen.
Gulak comes back in the ring and quickly looks for the Gulock. Although he is unable to lock it in, Gulak brings the match down to his preferred slow and methodical pace. In retort, Kalisto is able to fight back from a rear chin lock and ups the pace to his own preference. An attempted Tornado DDT by Kalisto is thwarted as he is thrown waist first onto the top rope. Gulock struggles with the dragon sleeper, and due to the height difference, applies a modified version of his finisher while both men are on their feet. However this works in Kalisto’s favour, who vaults the ropes and reverses the hold into his Solido Del Sol for the win.
Gauntlet Match Winner & Number One Contender for the Cruiserweight Championship – Kalisto
Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado run down to the ring to celebrate with Kalisto in their typical party style. The party doesn’t last long however, as Cedric Alexander’s music plays, followed by the Cruiserweight Champion coming out from backstage. The champion and challenger stare each other down from their respective vantage points as the show comes to a close.
Not long after the history making Gauntlet Match on Raw in February, this incarnation didn’t reach those same dizzy heights of quality. However, it was still a fine display of 205 Live’s strengths. Well thought out matches, coupled with either the continuing or call backs to previous rivalries, it’s another strong week for the purple brand.
Make sure to check out my thoughts on WWE outside of the 205 Live bubble along with my co-host, on Glasgow based podcast, “The Ricky and Clive Wrestling Show“ on the Social Suplex Podcast Network. The upcoming show will preview this Friday’s Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia.