We are only three weeks away from WrestleMania, and on this week’s episode of 205 Live, the tournament to decide Buddy Murphy’s challenger finally came to an end. Cedric Alexander and Tony Nese went to battle attempting to secure their spot at The Grandest Stage of Them All. Also, Mike Kanellis had his big opportunity to prove he could get the job done and win a match against an elite 205 Live superstar.
WWE took a less-is-more approach with this week’s show. While 205 Live is generally a simple show, on this episode the focus stayed on two prominent storylines. Mike Kanellis’ quest for a victory, and who would challenge Murphy for the Cruiserweight title, that’s all audiences had to remember. It was a strategy that worked brilliantly.
Mike Kanellis vs. Akira Tozawa
Mike Kanellis’ recent struggle has been an engaging, well-told story, thus far, and this week was no different. His match with Akira Tozawa was a solid outing. Both men did well. But it was the continuation of this story, the way everybody from the announcers to Maria Kanellis played up this must-win situation for Mike that stood out.
Before the match got underway, Maria Kanellis cut a promo where she compared Drake Maverick and the live crowd, she deemed them both to be disrespectful towards her husband. It was an effective way of getting the crowd to react and invest in the match early on.
Mike Kanellis’ new bald haircut also fits his newfound aggression, which was on full display when Tozawa kicked out of a modified AA off the top rope. Maria had to calm her man down as he risked allowing his anger to get the best of him. Shortly after this, Tozawa was inches away from picking up the win, and Maria’s horrified facial expression was a fantastic way of reminding us how her husband could not afford another loss on his record.
The commentary team was exceptional throughout this bout as well. Before the bell, Aiden English put a different spin on the story by implying Maria Kanellis maybe Mike’s problem, while Nigel McGuinness supported the heel tandem by denying that was the case. Nigel did a wonderful job trying to paint Mike as a sympathetic figure, even when Mike would be smug by blowing a kiss towards the crowd. Aiden also brought personal experiences into the story, explaining how he can relate to Kanellis and his frustrations because there are a lot of talented superstars in WWE, but so few opportunities.
The match ended when Tozawa looked to climb to the top turnbuckle, only for Maria to block his path. Mike then rolled to another corner, and Tozawa successfully leapt off the nearest top turnbuckle but was met with his opponent’s knees. Mike then hit his modified neckbreaker for the win. A victory that was supported by an ecstatic Nigel McGuinness, who sang the couple’s praises and screamed “True love triumphs.” The victory felt like a big moment. So here’s hoping this leads to even bigger things for this entertaining duo.
Prior to Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander, we had a nice backstage segment where Buddy Murphy and Nese interrupted Alexander’s interview. It ultimately ended with Alexander questioning Murphy’s friendship with Nese by claiming Murphy did not believe in his friend. Before the segment cut, there was an awkward exchange between the champion and Nese, as they both tried reassuring themselves that everything is a-ok.
Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese
Earlier in this show, fans had a very strong storyline-driven match and, although the tournament final had a narrative behind it, Alexander and Nese put the emphasis purely on the in-ring work. Both men started off by applying armbars on one another. The action was back and forth early on, and it did not take long for them to pick up the pace with some signature high flying offence, which energised the live crowd.
They were also given a great deal of time to work, so both superstars had periods of dominance, making their fatigue in the latter portion of the match all the more believable. We had plenty of memorable spots as well with Nese hitting a lionsault while Alexander lay on the middle rope, both men attempting a superkick only for their legs to get tangled together, and a dramatic knockdown where both men fell off the top turnbuckle to the outside. After Nese and Alexander survived the ten count, they were bad-mouthing each other, while trying to climb to their feet.
It was a great visual of both superstars fighting through the pain, highlighting how important this opportunity is. The match ended after a fantastic series of kicks, counters, and near falls, including Nese kicking out of the lumbar check! And before you knew it, Nese hit his running knee for the one, two, and three. Rightfully so, the crowd gave both men a “That was awesome” chant as they shook hands post-match.
Buddy Murphy then made his way to the ring, celebrating his friend’s victory. But that celebration did not last long as he attacked his now former friend, and stood tall with the title held high in the air.
This week’s episode may go down as the best 205 Live show in recent months. Everything came together perfectly. There was also a little something for everybody. However, the big news is that the supremely talented Buddy Murphy will be facing Tony Nese in a bout that will already have fans drawling at the thought of what these two might be capable of at WrestleMania.
All pics courtesy of WWE.com