Holiday shows can be interesting in WWE. Usually, Thanksgiving and Christmas broadcasts can fall outside of active storylines as gimmick matches reign supreme and the nights are remembered more for the wacky moments than moving anything forward.
On Tuesday, 205 Live took advantage of it being a Halloween night broadcast with a pair of gimmick matches to celebrate theholiday. One connected, and the other...not so much.
But the most important item to take out of Tuesday's show, in terms of importance to long-term storylines as both cruiserweight champion Enzo Amore and presumed number one contender Kalisto had the evening off, is the continued, unlikely ascent of Drew Gulak.
Gulak started as the division's doormat, has taken flight (metaphorically speaking, as he would never actually take flight in the ring) as the breakout star of the division over the last month and beyond. The most impressive part is how organically he's done it, in mostly limited opportunities.
He started, seemingly, as a sidekick for Tony Nese, but Gulak branched out on his own with a character that basically complained about everything fans love about the cruiserweight division: high-flying moves, catchphrases and chants. Eventually, he put together his thoughts and presented them using a groan-inducing tool, a PowerPoint presentation, that's hundreds of slides long and may never truly end.
But, true to many unexpected breakout stars in recent WWE history, Gulak seized the opportunity given to him with unexpected comedy. His fill-in work as Amore's mouthpiece last week neared 200,000 views on WWE's YouTube page. Then he went and won the WWE's Halloween costume contest over The Miz and Sasha Banks, going all out to portray Banks herself.
With Gulak firmly on the Zo Train, and unlikely to challenge him for the title for the foreseeable future, he could ride this momentum and somehow continue to thrive as a unicorn cruiserweight who refuses to take to the air.
Gulak lost Tuesday to Akira Tozawa, and also took the loss against Kalisto on Monday. The losses didn't seem to hurt; his character and presentation are such that if he can still entertain on the mic, he can remain relevant no matter what his record is.
This match connected much more than the Rhyno/Heath Slater versus Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson match from the previous night on Raw. The simple formula for cruiserweight success is to let them shine in a multi-man match and that's just what they did, as the gimmick helped them add comedy aspects, while not impeding the fast-paced action.
- 205Live (@WWE205Live) November 1, 2017
The props were worked in admirably, whether it was Nese doing sit-ups throwing pumpkins at Ali or Metallik backdropping Nese off the top rope through a table covered in candy corn (picture a less violent version of thumbtacks). Metalik's continues to be undervalued and underutilized, but this match once again showed how his unique rope-based maneuvers add another level to everything, including the tower of doom spot they did in this match.
If you ever needed an example video of how to let a gimmick match work for you in the ring, you could get a pretty good start with this match.
On the flip side was Rich Swann dressing up like a clown to take on The Brian Kendrick, who had called Swann a dancing clown leading up to the match. The costume got in the way and overshadowed the action. It also undid some of the development that a suddenly-more serious Cedric Alexander had accomplished, as Alexander walked to the ring in make-up and a wig in his support of Swann. It also made Kendrick and Gentleman Jack Gallagher look worse for going down to a clown when Swann won.
Did WWE expect to get a favorable response to putting Swann and Alexander in clown makeup and playing them in and out to circus music? Since when did wrestling audiences start liking clowns in a post-Doink era? Did somebody just see It?
It wasn't all pretty, but let's all just agree to remember Tuesday for and the impressive Fatal 4-way and the continuation of the Gulak break out.
Superlatives of the Night
Move: Metallik's spinning gutbuster on Ali highlighted several impressive spots in the main event.
Line: "Simple carbs are to Tony Nese what garlic is to vampires." - Nigel McGuinness, exposing a fatal flaw in Nese
Match: The main event hit an ideal combination of exciting multi-man cruiserweight action, intertwined with a gimmick match.