Mustafa Ali and Drew Gulak put on top-five 205 Live match

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Drew Gulak and Mustafa Ali put on a show in their best-of-three falls match on 205 Live.

For 205 Live on Tuesday night, less was more. But in one case, having more added so much more.

First, we didn't see Cruiserweight champion Neville, Gentleman Jack Gallagher, Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar or Rich Swann, yet the episode didn't lack for action. Instead, the opportunity to shine was seized by a handful of wrestlers who have never been in the title picture: Mustafa Ali, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari. We got "more" of Ali and Gulak, whose feud peaked with a two-out-of-three falls match that flashed back to the classic matches of last summer's Cruiserweight Classic.

The first two falls flew by. Ali got Gulak tied up in a cradle for an abrupt three count. Not long after, Gulak caught Ali in a Dragon Sleeper, forcing him to tap.

At this point, it was nothing special. In fact, I would've liked to see more stark differences between how the two got their decisions to start the match - maybe one via high-flying, one via technical wrestling, but the third fall made this match into one of the best ever on 205 Live.

The action was physical and fast-paced, with false finishes galore. Gulak cut off a hurricanrana attempt into a forceful powerbomb. Ali hit a reverse hurricanrana, planting Gulak on the top of his head. When Gulak rolled outside to recoup, Ali hit him with a somersault dive.

Gulak took control with a corner suplex, but Ali kicked out. He then lost the advantage, eating a tornado DDT that he also escaped at a count of two.

Then we got a flashback to an earlier matchup between the two. Gulak, frustrated with not being able to put away Ali, headed to the top. But, instead of a repeat of the failed Superfly Splash that led to a loss, Gulak hesitated and started to descend from the corner. Ali took advantage with a top-rope hurricanrana, which set him up for the reverse 450 (which has been brilliantly re-labeled as the 054) and the victory.

Gulak lost the match, but came out far ahead of where he came in. Tuesday's match allowed us to see mettle out of Gulak that we hadn't seen yet on 205 Live.

Gulak started as the show's punching bag, picking up loss after loss to put over the top faces. His anti-high flying stance gave him a character and this match gave him an opportunity to shine with time to show what he could do in the ring. He capitalized on the opportunity.

Ali continues to thrive whenever given a chance. He might be the best high-flyer in all of WWE right now and his ability to take bumps means he can have great matches with a wide range of wrestlers. His turnaround is also remarkable. He got into last summer's Cruiserweight Classic as an alternate and was taken out in the first round by the now-rarely seen Gran Metallik.

Ariya Daivari took out Akira Tozawa on 205 Live and emerged as a legit heel. 

Hits and Misses

The marquee names in the division were largely absent on Tuesday, but that strategy is best for the entirety of the division. NXT has been successful despite not featuring all top stars weekly, letting the middle of their roster shine, growing them into bigger stars. Although 205 Live doesn't yet have the depth of the NXT roster, a similar strategy has been a success thus far.

Add Daivari as another cruiserweight who has made a run to relevance and respectability. Tuesday, he injured the number one contender, thus making him a serious threat. While I'm not a fan of yet another anti-American heel gimmick in WWE, Daivari is taking advantage of the extra screen time.

Not to be lost in a very impressive showing, Gulak's new t-shirt might be hanging in my closet in just a matter of time.

On the flip side of the "too many anti-American gimmicks", The Brian Kendrick is now in an anti-English gimmick. I love whatever Kendrick does, he's interesting and his character has a ton of depth, but leaves you wanting to know more about what makes him tick.

Corey Graves on commentary did as much to sell Tozawa's shoulder injury as either wrestler in the ring. There's a reason Graves is on as many shows as he is.

Superlatives of the Night

Move: The reverse hurricanrana from Ali that sent Gulak onto the top of his head wins out

Line: "Are you a fighter, or a clown?" - Kendrick to Devin Bennett, mocking Gallagher

Match: Ali-Gulak. No question about it. It could be one of the top five matches in 205 Live's brief history

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