WWE 205 Live for 12/20/16
Watch: WWE Network
Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, Michigan
After his attack on Rich Swann and TJ Perkins at Roadblock, a returning Neville took to Monday Night RAW to air his grievances, claiming “there’s only one room for the king of the cruiserweights.” Tonight, Neville looks to cement his place in the division, as he and Brian Kendrick square off with Swann and Perkins in tag team action. Let’s dive into the show.
The show opened with a recap of the triple threat Cruiserweight Title match between Rich Swann, TJ Perkins, and Brian Kendrick from Roadblock: End of the Line. Highlights of Neville’s attack on Swann and Perkins, as well as his subsequent promo on RAW, were also shown.
Ariya Daivari def. Lince Dorado
Daivari tries to slow down the pace, so naturally, Dorado’s first instinct is to counter that with a series of flips. Those flips were the only thing engaging about this match, sans Daivari saving Dorado from head-planting into the concrete following an outside dive. Aside from that, the action was dull and largely lifeless. Daivari has been on the receiving end of criticism of late, some of which is unwarranted. I agree that Daivari’s work on top isn’t compelling and I find his control segments to be lacking. But, I will say that Daivari has been consistently solid and excels at making his opponents look good in small doses. Dorado, on the other hand, is a sublime athlete who wouldn’t look out of pace against some of the other high-flying competitors who’ve yet to debut on 205 Live, such as Gran Metalik.
After the match, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Daivari, during which time Ariya referred to Gallagher as a “scoundrel.” Yes, this was cartoonish, but it was also effective.
Backstage, Neville is shown in the locker room area with Brian Kendrick. Kendrick says he’s proud to join Neville and that, together, they’ll accomplish great things. Neville cuts him off, nothing that they’re nothing more than partners, and there’s “only room for one king of the cruiserweights,” on 205 Live. A solid segment that teased tension between two of the competitor’s in tonight’s main event.
A Tajiri video package aired. As evidenced by his match with Gran Metalik in the Cruiserweight Classic, Tajiri can still go, so I’m very much looking forward to his return.
Cedric Alexander def. Drew Gulak
Before the match, a recap showed highlights of Alexander’s match with Noam Dar this past Monday on RAW. A rapid mat exchange kicked off the match, as Alexander looked to use his agility to overpower Gulak. Gulak had the exact opposite idea, though, as he methodically wore down Alexander with a number of slick submissions. My favorite part of the match came when both men suplexed each other over the top rope, down to the floor. Shortly thereafter, Gulak inadvertently shoved Alexander into Alicia Fox, at which point Noam Dar came to ringside and helped her to the back. Gulak fought valiantly, trying to use the distraction to his advantage, but ultimately fell victim to a Lumbar Check. Wacky storyline aside, this was a solid match with some nice mat work. Gulak and Alexander appear to have good chemistry, so hopefully we get a rematch between the two at some point.
The ongoing love triangle storyline between Dar, Fox, and Alexander does nothing for me. The way it’s been presented is sophomoric at best, and they’ve given me no reason to care other than “Oh look, Dar is trying to steal Alexander’s girlfriend!” This needs to end, soon.
Post-match, Dasha Fuentes interviewed Gulak as he headed to the back. He blamed his loss on Fox’s being at ringside, exclaiming that it’s “a man’s world, and women do not belong on 205 Live.”
A Jack Gallagher video package aired. Gallagher is an eccentric, charismatic personality, and I felt that they captured his essence perfectly here.
Alicia Fox, Noam Dar, and Cedric Alexander were shown in the Trainer’s Room. Fox informed Alexander that her knee is going to be fine. Dar said he’ll be there if Alicia ever needs help again.
Neville & Brian Kendrick def. Rich Swann & TJ Perkins
Following his attack on Swann and Perkins on Sunday, Neville had something to prove here. He worked with an edge; transitioning away from his usual flips to stomp Swann in the corner, playing to the crowd instead of pandering to them. Neville and Kendrick do a nice job of working over Swann throughout the contest. Swann’s facial expressions were top-notch, and his frothing at the mouth/eyes glazing over only fueled the crowd to get behind him even more. Eventually, Perkins came in and dished out pinfall attempts in rapid fashion, knowing that his partner couldn’t continue having taken the brunt of the damage. Swann and Perkins were able to mount a brief comeback, but Neville was able to regain control and pick up the victory. Overall, I felt that this was a good main event, with the performances of both Neville and Swann standing out. Swann came across as sympathetic in defeat, and Neville, who has been on a roll since he returned, continues to gain traction as the division’s top heel.
WWE 205 LIVE FOR 12/20/16
Average - 5.0/10
In a period where major stars such as Akira Tozawa and Gran Metalik have yet to debut, 205 Live feels stagnant in a way; almost as if the show is in a holding pattern. The in-ring action was solid to good, as always, and served to further storylines. Neville's addition to the cruiserweight division was a smart way to freshen things up and revitalize his career. Pre-match video packages and post-match interviews remain an essential tool in character development, but there are cases where the direction in which feuds are headed still aren't clear, namely in the cases of Noam Dar & Cedric Alexander and Jack Gallagher & Ariya Daivari.