Another week, another great episode of 205 Live capped off with yet another outstanding semi-finals bout in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship tournament. At this point, it’s not even a surprise… they’re going to be on the pre-show and then cut from the DVD release though, aren’t they?
Cementing his place at least somewhere on the WrestleMania 34 card, Mustafa Ali valiantly overcame the ever-vicious Drew Gulak in an incredibly hard-hitting match that saw both men pushed to their limits.
At the rate these tournament matches have been going, it would be a genuine shame if the final wasn’t given at least 15 minutes on the main card at the ‘Show of Shows’, especially when WWE has been passionately re-establishing this as a new era in the cruiserweight division.
The build to this match fell into perfection with Ali, who is legitimately a former police officer in his local Chicago area, repeatedly stating that he is fighting the good fight and will stand up to those who actively enjoy causing pain in others. Enter Gulak who’s new gimmick of being fuelled by pure violence has seen him maliciously put down the likes of former ally Tony Nese and UK star Mark Andrews, continuing the assault long after the bell had rung to end the match.
The bout itself was told brilliantly with Gulak dominating to a point where Ali had to become more ruthless in order to have a chance at the win. It was how Bayley should have been booked against Alexa Bliss in that awful ‘Kendo Stick on a Pole’ match from last year. Ali fought hard, taking everything Gulak threw at him be that a horrible clothesline to the back of his head or a huge backdrop from the commentator’s table to the floor. Despite seeing a similar landing spot occur quite often this year, I don’t think I’m ever going to stop flinching when that nasty thud sounds in my ears. Teasing the classic table spot was also an inspired touch.
Finally, after an incredibly tight Ali nine-count, which the crowd immediately argued with a “that was 10” chant, the high-flyer managed to reverse Gulak’s signature dragon sleeping into a tornado DDT, leaving his opponent prone on the mat in the corner of the ring. Ali saw his name in lights and desperately climbed up to the top turnbuckle where was able to pull off his ‘054’ finishing maneuver (an imploding 450 splash) for the victory.
After the match, Ali was given time to say a few words, just as Cedric Alexander was the week prior, stating:
“My entire life, I’ve had one mission; to prove it doesn’t matter what your name is, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, all that matters is what’s in your heart.”
It was an impassioned sentiment from WWE‘s first American wrestler of Pakistani descent and, after beating the bully at his own game, Ali now has the opportunity at WrestleMania 34 to showcase what he brings to the table. He’ll have to go through Alexander if he wants to leave New Orleans with the WWE Cruiserweight Championship though.
Despite the fact that Alexander vs. Gulak for the vacant title would have been the perfect face vs. heel matchup, this new cruiserweight dynasty that has been flourishing since the start of the year truly began with Alexander vs. Ali in the latter end of January. In my humble opinion, it is only fitting that it should end with them – or more specifically – they should be the end of the beginning.