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Monday, September 14, 2020

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: 205 Live Street Fight

52. Drew Gulak/Jack Gallagher vs. Akira Tozawa/Brian Kendrick 205 Live 12/18 (Aired 12/19/18)

PAS: No idea why it took us early two years to watch this match, these are the four best 205 Live guys, and they get a long time to work a street fight.  Gulak and Gallagher look awesome coming in with their fists taped wearing suits. It takes a bit to get going, the first couple of minutes have a lot of WWE street fight spots with brooms and garbage cans, but as soon as Gulak breaks out the bungee cords it gets really great. Gulak fishooks Kendrick with the bungee cord hook which is super nasty looking, and we get a really great finish run with a bunch of cool near falls and big spots. Tozawa ends up hitting his awesome tope right into a garbage can, Gallagher locks in some cool submissions and he ends up leaving himself open to getting smashed. I really dug the battle on the top rope between Gallagher and Kendrick, a lot of times punches on the top rope look bad, but they were really cracking each other including Gallagher punching Kendrick right in the back of the head.

ER: 205 Live loved having good (or bad, I guess) 18 minute matches that could have been fire 10 minute matches. They also never quite mastered blowoff matches or big stipulation matches. Even though this would have been tighter with a shorter runtime, this is one of the best stips matches in the brand's history. It's easier to have a good long match when you send the best 4 in the division (at the time) out there and let them fill the time. Part of the long match era felt like one of those weird WWE self-serving deals where they let guys they don't care about go out and hang themselves, and crowds weren't typically too jazzed to sit through PPV main event length cruiser matches with minimal story build. The better ones found ways to get the crowd into it, and this crowd wakes up about midway and stays with it. I appreciated them starting with hard fists and cranked necks, but we're 20 years removed from ECW and I don't need Singapore cane shots to trash cans. Gulak uses the old Mick Foley trick of clonking Tozawa a few times with a live mic, and the crowds get involved just from the perfectly silly mic shots (makes you wonder why any guys go through the trouble of bumping hard on the apron and floor and taking stiff punches to the head).

We do get a mix of violence added to the sillier spots, like Kendrick suplexing Gallagher into an announcer's chair that Gulak was already seated in, or Gallagher in that same chair getting rolled into a hard Tozawa dropkick. I loved Tozawa working in his big spots on partner saves, crushing Gallagher with his senton to break up an Indian deathlock, or spinning around Gallagher with an octopus hold to get him away from Kendrick. He also gets a great reaction hitting his surprise right hand on Drew and later hitting an insane tope into a trashcan (swung by Drew). Kendrick is really great staggering around ringside taking punches, and Gulak fishhooking Kendrick with a bungee cord hook was one of the greatest things I've seen during a WWE (or anywhere, really) street fight. Gulak really looked like he was tearing at Kendrick's face (strong selling from Kendrick too) and I loved how Tozawa broke it up by jamming his hand into Gulak's mouth to let him know how a fishhook feels. This kind of bummed me out when it was over, as 2 years later we have Gulak mostly doing commentary, Kendrick disappearing for months at a time, Tozawa being a ninja who rarely wrestles, and Gallagher the only sex pest who they didn't attempt to make excuses for. Shit has changed in two years, shit has changed in two months.


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