On this week’s episode of 205 Live, we had our two semi-final matches to take us one step closer to determining who will face Buddy Murphy for the Cruiserweight title at WrestleMania. The newly invigorated Tony Nese took on Drew Gulak, while Cedric Alexander had a first time ever meeting with the new addition to 205 Live, Oney Lorcan.
On paper, this week’s tournament bouts had “great match” written all over them. However, one thing played a big part in both matches this week, and that’s pacing. Both of them had a different pace, but only one managed to successfully build to an exciting contest, as the other never quite got rolling, despite providing us with glimpses of excitement.
205 Live always manages to kick off their shows in simple, yet very effective ways. On this episode, we had four backstage promos from each of the four superstars in the tournament. All four men were effective in promoting their respective matches, and each presented us with a different style, highlighting their respective characters. While Gulak was smug, Nese continued presenting this newly focused Tony Nese, and Cedric Alexander did a great job putting over his opponent. But NXT’s Oney Lorcan may have been the standout with a no-nonsense promo stating that his actions are not personal, but he then goes on to discuss breaking his opponent Cedric Alexander. It fit perfectly with Oney’s physical in-ring style.
Cedric Alexander vs. Oney Lorcan
Both men started off by reversing one another’s holds, attempting to establish their dominance. It was Oney who got more offence in during the early stages, while Alexander would counter certain holds and manage to throw a kick or a running strike every so often. There was one moment that stood out, and that was when Oney Lorcan unleashed his first devastating chop across the chest of Cedric Alexander. The sound of the chop was great, as was Alexander’s facial expression, which emphasised how deadly his opponent’s strikes are.
However, despite these odd moments, both men seemed to struggle to mesh their in-ring styles. Last week, both men managed to slowly build to exciting conclusions for their respective matches, whereas this week it felt like a series of hit and miss moments. Nigel McGuinness even intelligently gave a reason for the slow start by explaining how this can happen when two superstars meet for the first time.
Oney Lorcan hit his half and half suplex off the top turnbuckle in the final few minutes, only for Alexander to kick out. And while Oney began slapping his opponent, who seemed to be on his last legs, Alexander pulled him in to hit a lumbar check. It was an entertaining ending to what was an otherwise disappointing affair between these two supremely talented performers.
We then had an excellent backstage segment featuring Mike and Maria Kanellis and Drake Maverick. There was great continuity with Mike’s character; he continued showing the aggression he displayed last week. Mike also spoke for himself, instead of allowing Maria to do the talking for him, and he ran down his list of credentials, demanding Drake treat him with the respect he deserves. Drake Maverick’s response was also effective. He promised Mike a match against a top cruiserweight next week but made it clear that he can no longer get away with looking good in defeat. The back and forth between both men worked and set up an intriguing situation for next week’s show.
Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak
Unlike their fellow tournament participants, Tony Nese and Drew Gulak did not get off to a slow start. Tony Nese did a good job balancing some technical wrestling with some exciting high flying manoeuvres, including a nice cartwheel on the ring apron to avoid Gulak’s strike. They then slowed the pace down when Gulak began working on Nese’s chest/throat to set up his Gu-lock submission.
Nigel McGuinness did well by continuing to explain how this is “a different Tony Nese” to the man who lost to Gulak last year. Vic Joseph wonderfully picked up on Drew Gulak’s use of the dropkick, highlighting the fact he rarely leaves his feet, which shows us how important WrestleMania is. It’s simple observations like these that make a big difference to the overall presentation.
Both superstars brilliantly picked up the pace as the match was nearing the end. A great series of counters and big moves, including Drew Gulak’s double powerbomb (old school Chris Jericho style) were on display before Nese countered the Gu-lock submission, and managed to score the one, two, and three.
So the final has been set. Tony Nese will meet Cedric Alexander in a match that should surely produce plenty of thrills to end the tournament on a high note. Overall, this week’s show was not quite at the level I anticipated it would be going in. I expected great quality from start to finish, but unfortunately, things do not always go according to plan. However, with Nese’s match and a highly entertaining segment with Mike Kanellis and Drake Maverick, there was still enough strong content to satisfy the fans.
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