Hello, and welcome to the second week of me recapping WWE 205 Live! Some of you are returning customers (and we thank you for your patronage while not at all secretly questioning why), but if you aren’t, make sure you’ve read last week’s show breakdown. It gets referenced a bunch this week, so you’ll need it for context. We are so into context around here.
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The Brian Kendrick vs. Lince Dorado (with Lucha House Party)
It makes so much sense to have this feud open the show in successive weeks; not only does it keep it fresh in people’s minds, but they’re usually fun, snappy kickoffs that get you warmed up for the main event, and keeps the live audience in it after slogging through whatever happened on SmackDown. The problem with said fun, snappy matches is that without any kind of engaging hook, they lack focus and end up becoming background noise to the story being told on commentary, as opposed to making that commentary an expository extension of the match. Is Lince Dorado the kitty cat that can prevent this from happening? Sadly, no. No he is not.
And hey, while we’re talking about background noise, can I say that I’m totally on board with the anti-matraca-at-ringside train Gulak is currently sailing? Sure it looks fun, but as someone with auditory processing disorder it really makes it hard to concentrate. Plus dude, if you weren’t already gonna end up with arthritis from wrestling, your Grandpa Metallik wrists are gonna be toast.
The great thing about 205 Live as a whole, however, is that even said snappy matches still serve as more than just candyfloss decoration on a continuing narrative. This week, it’s what happens when the match spills to the outside of the ring is more important that what happens in the ring itself. By throwing Dorado into the announce table, Gulak can continue to play the agitprop deuteragonist in the match without him directly interfering like he did last week, while also feeding the rhetoric of lucha being unsafe. When Kendrick taunts Kalisto and Gran Metallik, their reactions of simply yelling back and spinning their matracas menacingly instead of losing their tempers and physically attacking Kendrick give a bold underline to their role as babyfaces. These pauses — in conjunction with Kendrick’s attempts to ground Dorado — keep the match at a steady tempo instead of letting the lucha component accelerate it into something that feels rushed.
Last week I took a stab at articulating why pairing technical, submission-heavy wrestling with lucha libre really revs my metaphorical engine (my brain)(but also sometimes my lady parts). This week, I get to do that opposite of that because oh my god Lince Dorado what even is your finisher. Dorado gets a clean win over Kendrick — again underscoring that these faces don’t cheat — with a lackluster Golden Rewind. Kendrick reels back from the turnbuckle after missing an attack in the corner, giving Dorado time to do a forward handspring then come back and stun (stunner? stunnerize?) Kendrick for the win. But my question is w h y ?
Catman, why are you going forwards just to go backwards and then slightly forwards again? Why are you creating so much separation when the part of your finisher that actually does the damage hinges on your ability to be close enough to lock in a cravate? The momentum from the handspring rebound off of the ropes doesn’t enhance the critical part of the finisher in any way so it’s just a useless flippidy-do, and I’m pretty sure Will Ospreay already has that market well cornered. I just spent way too many words explaining all the ways this match makes sense and you gotta go and ruin it with that nonsense? *extreme Mickey Blue Eyes voice* Get the hell outta here.
Oh, I guess we’re just all in on useless flippidy-dos now. Good to know.
While we’re hanging out on the negative side of things, can we get Mustafa Ali some cue cards or something so he can maintain eye contact and a steady cadence during his promos? He pauses so much. He’s like the anti-Popeye’s Chicken lady. As an aside, did you know that the Popeye’s lady is named Annie, and is canonically married? And Deidrie Henry (the actress who plays Annie) has a degree in Aeronautical Science and was a pilot before she went to Paris and then traveled around performing Shakespeare? And doubling my dose of Concerta didn’t stop me from falling down a rabbit hole about Popeye’s Lady facts, much like the time I stayed up until 3am reading about Chester Cheetah?
The point is that Mustafa’s promos are so engaging that I’m balls deep in a fast food forum reading about how the founder of Popeye’s had an actual feud with Anne Rice instead of getting hype for his match against fellow title contention-leftover Buddy Murphy.
Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali
Oh man, call this match Ian MacKaye ‘cuz something about it is out of step. On paper, the contrast between Ali and Murphy represents the suspension of disbelief that is the very foundation of pro wrestling. Much like the proponents of envy and insecurity provided a relatable theme for the main event last week, the dissimilitude of character and size service that old David and Goliath chestnut. Wait, does this make Ali the Minor Threat? Ahahaha, we have fun here!
Angry Beef Boy Buddy and Mustafa “What he lacks in size he makes up for with heart” Ali separately reached the same mountaintop only to be kicked back downhill by the same man. Now they’re stuck using the motivations that got them there in the first place against each other. Murphy has his big boy muscles and his anger, but Ali has his speed and flexibility that allow him to turn getting totally demolished one moment into wrapping his body around said big boy muscles and executing a pinfall attempt:
The match felt like the two were just ever so slightly out of sync, making small moments seem like bigger issues than they are. Like how Murphy folded his neck up like an accordion on that reverse rana, or Ali landing on Murphy:
Very small timing issues throughout the match ended up being really disruptive for me, even though realistically it’s not a bad match. 205 Live is great because they use very simple tropes to tell effective and engaging storylines that are backed up in the ring in the big matches, and in turn those big matches make the simple stories important and meaningful. The problem with that, however, is that it all kind of falls apart when two people just don’t quite gel. And you need that solid foundation for when you want to build onto the story even further. Like immediately, because this TOTALLY HAPPENED:
YES PLEASE.. Itami causing a DQ finish to put all three dudes on an even playing field? And all three dudes motivated by incredibly different reasons being united in the pursuit of the same title leaving the champion to defend against all of them while ALSO fighting his greatest challenger: his deepest fears? Oh look, we have a gif for that too: