All images courtesy of the WWE Network streaming service
- Hideo Itami VS Jack Gallagher; Itami wins.
- Tony Nese VS Akira Tozawa; Nese wins.
- The ‘Zo Train VS Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali; Alexander & Ali win.
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The Cruiserweight Champion is a Certified Tyrant.
Last week, Enzo Amore “taught Tony Nese a lesson” when he had everyone else in the ‘Zo Train beat him down in the middle of the ring. But before Enzo could elaborate more on the Premier Athlete’s position in the stable, the #1 contender to the Cruiserweight Championship reminded Enzo that their match was on the horizon. Enzo decided not to listen to Cedric Alexander until he was “a real one” like Enzo. Alexander laughed that off, Enzo can’t be “a real one” if he needs The ‘Zo Train to get things done. In fact, Alexander thwarted the ‘Zo Train by defeating Drew Gulak again and then getting to Ariya Daivari before Daivari got to him. Alexander vowed to shatter Enzo’s false reality and show the Bonafide Stud who is truly S A W F T. Will the New Year bring a New Cruiserweight Champion?
Drew Gulak encounters Cedric Alexander backstage.
The #1 contender wonders if Gulak is waiting for an important call from “the boss.” Why would Sasha Banks call him? And Cedric may have things against Gulak’s “best friend”, but Enzo won’t even be here tonight, hence waiting for the phone call. The same “best friend” who called Gulak a “sugarplum fairy”? Enzo doesn’t seem that concerned about Gulak. Well, Alexander shouldn’t worry so much about Gulak’s friendship with Enzo, and more worried about surviving tonight’s match so he can make it to New Year’s Raw. Wait, do you here that? It’s peace and quiet. Alexander is reminded of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Imagine it, Drew: a world where Enzo isn’t Cruiserweight Champion. And having Alexander would be better? To Gulak, Enzo is George Bailey, for he has shown Gulak this IS a wonderful life. Alexander paints the picture for Gulak: no more talking down to Gulak; no more mocking the PowerPoint presentations; and no more making Gulak dress up as his elf. Enzo Amore losing means a #Better205Live, for everyone, but especially Drew. Is Alexander getting Gulak to reconsider his allegiances?
Hideo Itami VS Jack Gallagher!
The newest addition to the Cruiserweight Division gave The Man with a Plan a GTS and a fractured orbital bone for Christmas, sidelining THE Brian Kendrick for some time. Can the Ungentle Gentleman get payback in return or will he also be made to respect Itami?
Actually, Gallagher comes to the ring with a microphone to speak his mind. “Mr. Itami, last night I learned that you are no stranger to a little bit of cruelty.” Itami drove that knee into Kendrick’s head, and Gallagher heard his nose break and orbital bone shatter. Gallagher promises to teach Itami and “these ignorant Chicago pillocks” a lesson: “cruelty knows no bounds.”
The bell rings, Gallagher and Itami circle. They tie up, Gallagher pushes Itami to ropes, then slaps Itami out of the break. Itami slaps Gallagher back then gives him knee strikes before whipping him to ropes, kitchen sink knee and a stiff kick to the back! Itami gives Gallagher another kick and then demands Gallagher “respect me!” The referee has Itami hold back in the corner, but Itami still drives in knees. He snapmares Gallagher down, drops knees on Gallagher’s head, and pulls the knee pad down for the jumping foot scrape. Itami mocks Gallagher’s mustache tweaze before demanding that everyone show him respect.
The knee pad comes back up, Gallagher trips Itami up but Itami kicks Gallagher all the way out to the apron. Gallagher throws in a shoulder but misses, Itami kicks at him again and again. Itami then hops up to the second rope, takes aim and hits a flying guillotine leg drop!
Itami continues to demand respect, Chicago shows him some with their cheers. Gallagher tries to escape but Itami is right on him. Itami drags Gallagher back into the ring but that pulls the ring skirt up. Itami tells Gallagher again, “Respect me!”, but Gallagher ducks the Penalty Kick and gets out of the ring. When Itami walks over to the ropes, Gallagher uses that upended skirt to trip him up! Gallagher then drags Itami and tucks him under the skirt before stomping away on Itami’s head. The referee counts and Gallagher stops stomping at 4, then climbs up to embrace the heat while Itami gets free. Gallagher climbs down and stalks Itami, sitting him up to drive knees into his spine. Now Gallagher applies a chinbar and neck wrench. Fans rally for Itami, Itami endures the hold and feeds off the energy to get to his feet. Itami elbows Gallagher but Gallagher puts him in a corner for European Uppercuts and a knee grinding right into Itami’s chin. Gallagher backs off, mocks the fans booing and jeering, then stomps Itami again. The referee reprimands Gallagher, Gallagher brings Itami out for the cravat hold. Snapmare to face scrape, Gallagher trolls Chicago more. Cover, TWO, back to a chinlock. Fans rally again, Itami gets to his feet, Gallagher yanks him down by his hair. Gallagher goes for a neckbreaker, backslide counter, TWO! Gallagher goes to boot, Itami blocks and counters with a dragon screw. Itami and Gallagher are both slow to standing up, but it is Itami who rallies on Gallagher. He kicks, snap fisherman suplexes, then fires up. Gallagher elbows Itami away, then goes corner to corner into a boot. Itami hits a tornado hotshot, then a flying clothesline!
Cover, TWO! Itami keeps focus, he brings Gallagher up for a strike fest, which staggers Gallagher into a corner. Itami again demands respect before running corner to corner, but Gallagher avoids the dropkick. Gallagher hotshots Itami, runs in, takedown into the Captain’s Hook!
Gallagher honors his comrade by using his submission hold. Itami endures, reaches, crawls, and gets the ropebreak. Gallagher lets go, then brings Itaim up. Gallagher has the double underhook but Itami shovels Gallagher up and over. Itami gives more strikes to rock Gallagher, then finally hits the “Respect Me!” dropkick. He fires up, stands Gallagher up, but instead of a fireman’s carry, Itami drags Gallagher down into a modified Rings of Saturn.
Gallagher taps, Itami wins! He may not have made Gallagher #GoToSleep, but did he earn Gallagher’s respect?
Backstage interview with Tony Nese.
The Premier Athlete was beat down by The ‘Zo Train in order to “teach a lesson”. Is Tony even still part of The ‘Zo Train? “The next time I see Enzo, Daivari or Drew Gulak, part of me wants to just lay them out right where they stand.” At the same time, part of Tony understands Enzo is a “global superstar”. Like him or not, you can’t deny that “the money, the fame” helped Tony go up. That said, what will Tony do next? That’s the real question. And that’s when Akira Tozawa walks over.
“Hey, Tony, are you on the train or off the train?” Tony decks Tozawa! That isn’t much of an answer, perhaps their match will tell more of where The Premier Athlete stands.
Tony Nese VS Akira Tozawa!
The Stamina Monster is still sore physically and mentally after that sucker punch from The Premier Athlete. Will Tony regret his actions when he doesn’t have “friends” backing him up?
The bell rings, and Tozawa goes right at Nese with a boot and hammering hands. The ref backs Tozawa off while fans chant “AH! AH!” Nese takes advantage by running Tozawa off with a back elbow. He stomps away on Tozawa, then gives clubbing crossface punches. Tozawa chops back, and so does Nese. It becomes a chop fight, Tozawa fakes one to jab and rock Nese. The fans continue the “AH! AH!” battle cry as Tozawa whips Nese. Nese sunset flips but Tozawa rolls through to then give Nese a Penalty Kick and a screaming back senton!
Tozawa fires up with more “AH! AH!” and the fans join in while Nese gets out of the ring. Tozawa builds speed and launches the Tozawa Torpedo, which Nese intercepts with a kick!
Nese drags Tozawa to the floor and stomps away out of anger. He even mocks the “AH! AH!” before flexing. Nese puts Tozawa in the corner, covers, TWO, so Nese gives leg drop after leg drop. Another cover, another TWO, so Nese wrenches Tozawa’s head. Tozawa reaches for ropes, gets the break, Nese lets go before stomping Tozawa again. Nese brings Tozawa up but Tozawa fights back. Nese slows Tozawa with knees, then whips him corner to corner hard. Cover, TWO, Nese puts Tozawa in the bodyscissors and chinlock. Nese puts the squeeze on Tozawa as fans rally, but Nese keeps Tozawa grounded with crossface punches. Tozawa manages to break free of the bodyscissors but that chinlock is on tight. Fans rally again, Tozawa feeds off it, “AH! AH!” starts up again but Nese clubs Tozawa down. Nese mocks “AH! AH!” again but takes too long setting up his suplex, Tozawa suplexes Nese instead! Both men are down, Nese rolls to ropes and the apron. Tozawa fires up, forearms Nese down, “AH! AH!” and now he hits the Tozawa Torpedo!
Tozawa gets Nese in the ring, covers, TWO! He brings Nese up but Nese resists the back suplex with back elbows. Nese blocks a kick, pumphandle into Michinoku Driver, TWO! Both men are showing signs of exhaustion, but Nese is up first. He brings Tozawa up, Tozawa gives body shots and chops. Nese shoves Tozawa then hits a stiff forearm, but Tozawa responds with a boot. Nese ducks Tozawa’s punch to give a mule kick to knee lift to roundhouse. Tozawa jumps the sweep, Nese slips out of the back suplex and folds Tozawa in a pin, TWO! Tozawa rocks Nese with the spinning roundhouse! Nese goes down, Tozawa climbs up. The fans chant “AH! AH!” while Tozawa takes aim, Nese springs up with the Southpaw Shoryuken!
Nese dumps Tozawa down, brings down the knee pad, and hits the Premier Kneese!
Nese wins! ‘Zo Train or no train, will the Premier Athlete find himself climbing the mountain to the championship?
Is the Cruiserweight Champion smitten with a certain Brutal Beauty?
It seems that way given the Christmas Raw mistletoe kiss that almost was. Enzo Amore and Nia Jax were moments away from locking lips when Nia’s friend, Alexa Bliss, interrupted the moment itself. If Enzo is lucky, can he be there to kiss Nia into the New Year?
The ‘Zo Train VS Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali!
From losing members to losing matches, Enzo Amore’s Certified Stable is losing steam in the Cruiserweight Division. Can “Gabba Gulak” and “Daivari Dinero” get things back on track before the New Year arrives?
The Cruiserweight Crusader wishes to speak first. “How are you doing?” He and Daivari are representing the ‘Zo Train without Enzo tonight. Another year is coming to a close, so Gulak feels it is time to reflect. Not just on the bad, but the good, and the best way to do that is with a “Best of” list! The fans chant for “PowerPoint”, and that’s fine, because Gulak is going to present the best of his presentations with a new edition of hiiiiiiiiiiiiis… POWERPOINT! PRESENTATION!!
So please turn your attention– to Cedric Alexander’s and Mustafa Ali’s entrance.
Alexander and Ali have their own microphones and wish to speak their piece. “Drew, I’m sorry to interrupt. But Mustafa, aren’t we in your hometown of Chicago?” Gulak did have a large presentation to give, but Ali has some valid points of his own. Chicago cheers for Ali, Gulak shouts down their chanting. Ali goes over his points. First: nobody believes Daivari & Gulak would be friends without the ‘Zo Train. Alexander agrees. Daivari looks down on “blue collar scrappers” like Gulak. It’s why Daivari threw Gulak under the bus with Enzo. Ali defends Daivari, because Gulak is always stealing the spotlight with those PowerPoint presentations~! Thumbs up!
“Don’t you dare mock my PowerPoint presentations!” Gulak shouts back. Daivari, admit it. You were Enzo’s right hand man until “Captain Underpants” join. Gulak doesn’t want Daivari to listen to this. But in the end, these two were being played all along. First by each other, now by Enzo. So, if Enzo had to choose the ‘Zo Train and Nia Jax, who do you think he’d prefer? Just saying.
The match finally begins, with hometown hero Ali and Privileged Persian Daivari. The two circle, Ali gets the waistlock but Daivari backs him down. The ref calls for a break, Daivari dirties it up with a mule kick. He keeps on Ali with haymakers, then says “Chicago sucks!” before giving even more. Daivari whips Ali corner to corner but Ali goes up and over, handspring to arm-drag, Ali puts Daivari in an armlock. Daivari endures the hold, gets to his feet and pulls Ali’s hair. He brings Ali into the ‘Zo Train corner, Gulak tags in. Ali fights back, Gulak knees low, then gives a running knee strike to Ali’s head. Gulak whips but Ali reverses and throws Gulak with a body drop. Tag to Alexander, double whip to double hip toss. Cover, ONE, Alexander wrenches Gulak’s arm. Gulak gets up, reverses the wrench onto Alexander, but Alexander reverses it back. Alexander whips Gulak, then sends him flying with another body drop. Cover, ONE, so Alexander tags Ali back in. Ali climbs up while Alexander wrenches the arm, double stomps to that arm. Ali chops Gulak to a corner, fans cheering him on. He whips Gulak, Gulak reverses but Ali kicks Gulak away. Ali runs but Daivari blocks his path, allowing Gulak to clobber Ali from behind and snapping him off the ropes. Gulak drags Ali over, tags Daivari, Daivari stomps a mudhole into the hometown hero. Daivari gives Ali a neckbreaker and covers, TWO. Daivari wrenches Ali’s neck, fans chant “Ali! *clap clap*” which upsets Gulak. Ali feeds off the fans’ energy and fights back against Daivari. He goes for a tag but is blocked and hit with a spinebuster!
Cover, TWO! Daivari drags Ali up while Alexander gets the fans rallying again. Tag to Gulak, The ‘Zo Train brings Ali out and up, but Ali slips out of the double back suplex. Alexander tags in, and hits a 2-for-1 springboard missile dropkick!
Alexander kip-ups and fires up with the fans. He rallies on Gulak, blocks the kick to hit the back elbow. Alexander runs, handspring but Daivari trips him up and Gulak boots him down. Gulak boots Alexander all the way out of the ring, then tags Daivari. Daivari fetches Alexander and bounces him off the announce desk. The referee counts, Daivari puts Alexander in the ring. Cover, TWO, so Daivari drags Alexander back to ‘Zo Train territory. Tag back to Gulak, Gulak hits a running stomp. Cover, TWO, Gulak gets frustrated. He drags Alexander back again and stands him up for a chop. Alexander resists but Gulak still throws him out. He keeps the referee distracted a moment, but Daivari still gets caught creeping over to Alexander. The referee orders Daivari to stay by the corner, Alexander meanwhile climbs up and in. Gulak is upon him, Alexander shoulders him away to then hit the step-in springboard complete shot!
Alexander and Gulak are both down, fans rally as they crawl for their corners. Hot tags to Daivari and Ali! Ali rallies on Daivari with the crowd behind him. Daivari reverses the whip but Ali turns that into a flapjack dropkick! Ali fires up, builds speed and FLIES!
Down goes Daivari from that corkscrew plancha! Ali puts Daivari in the ring, rolls and hits the facebuster! Gulak barrels in and breaks the pin, then he takes out Alexander on the apron. The referee gets Gulak to go back to his corner while Daivari goes after Ali. Daivari puts Ali on the top rope, Gulak disapproves given his rules. Daivari still climbs up, but Gulak protests. Gulak and Daivari argue, Alexander slips into the ring and gives Gulak a Lumbar Check!
Ali dumps Daivari down, and hits the 0-5-4!
Ali and Alexander win! Chicago cheers on their hometown hero and the #1 Contender. With momentum on his side, can the Carolina Kid become the new Cruiserweight Champion in the New Year?
As for The ‘Zo Train, they’re still arguing on the outside over whose fault it is that they lost. Is The ‘Zo Train headed for a complete train wreck this close to the close of 2017?
205 Live’s not-quite Christmas edition was pretty solid. I didn’t know THE Brian Kendrick was legitimately injured on Christmas until tonight, and I feel that is part of why Itami won without the GTS. Until WWE can be sure Itami can safely use the move he invented, he won’t be using it at all. Though, that seems fine by Itami, he already added a submission finisher to his moves. Itami’s time in the Cruiserweight Division will unfortunately be spent spinning his wheels while he waits for the title scene to open up.
The rest of the night was spent developing the expanding ‘Zo Train saga, as now Tony Nese must decide whose side he is on and what he’ll do once he’s made that decision. He and Tozawa put on a great match, as well, so I’m hoping they take some time with this while he has matches with other Cruiserweights. In fact, why not have Nese go up against Itami to intertwine their stories as well as just give us an incredibly stiff and competitive match? Then everything with Alexander and Gulak was great tonight, both Alexander (and by extension, Ali) making some valid points about how awful and unappreciative Enzo is to Gulak, and then the main event tag team match. Great to see the usual hometown curse was undone for this occasion, but it was mostly because story dictates Alexander needs one more win to stay strong before facing Enzo for the Cruiserweight Championship on Raw. I still expect Gulak to be pivotal to the ending of the match, and hopefully it results in Gulak’s Face turn.
My Score: 8/10