Regardless of how Tuesday night's episode of 205 Live turned out, it was a solid week for the cruiserweight division. The Monday Night Raw Fatal 4-Way match that thrilled the crowd and gave Drew Gulak his highest-profile moment to date assured that.
Gulak picked up the win in a match where Cedric Alexander shined and Tony Nese and Mustafa Ali further solidified their spots as top performers on the roster -- as good a result as could have been hoped for. And for Gulak, his continued rise through the division remains one of the most pleasant, and most unlikely, surprises in recent WWE history.
With Enzo Amore departing for an international tour, as we saw in a backstage exclusive Monday night, Gulak was bestowed with his boss' custom microphone and a de facto temporary leadership of the "Zo Train," although it didn't seem like he knew how to turn it on for his show-opening promo.
Despite that, Gulak continued to shine, with a one-week edition of the "Drew Train" complete with a "Drew, Drew" exclamation to punctuate his point. Although his in-ring promo suffered due to the audio issues, he had moments on the rest of the show that continued to push him forward.
- He bequeathed his match against Alexander to Noam Dar in true heel fashion, bowing out of the responsibility.
- Gulak conspicuously changed the subject when asked about what he'd do if he had to face Amore for the title, which added further intrigue to the possibility of a future showdown.
- He compared his compadres to the Justice League backstage, naming himself Batman in the process, and finally, we saw the return of Gulak's megaphone.
While his ascension started with whining and complaining about the most crowd-pleasing parts of the division, like high-flying action and crowd participation, Gulak found popularity in the most unlikely of places. It happened because the crowd latched on to his commitment to the character and, let's face it, his outright dorkiness shone through in his promos.
That leaves WWE with an interesting decision to make next week on Monday Night Raw. Who would make for a more interesting title feud with Amore: Gulak or Rich Swann?
The best answer, as is often the case, is a cop out. I think it's both.
A triple-threat match would add another chapter to what seems to be rising tensions between Amore and Gulak. Despite "Gabba" Gulak's loyalty, Amore seems to be tiring of Gulak's awkwardness, and perhaps the fans' positive response to it.
Meanwhile, Swann wouldn't get the one-on-one shot for the title, but having to face a couple of members of the Zo Train would give him a more sympathetic response, even in defeat.
It also opens up a number of opportunities for the finish. Either Gulak or Amore could steal a victory from the other, as it seems like we're accelerating toward Gulak's departure from the alliance. A loss wouldn't hurt Swann's standing, but a victory would return him to the top of the division and set him up as a major player entering WrestleMania season.
Hits and Misses
- With about half of the roster either on or battling the Zo Train, it definitely draws a line down the middle of the cruiserweight roster. "The" Brian Kendrick and "Gentleman" Jack Gallagher are doing the best they can, but their pairing seems to be going to waste at the moment, especially with how compelling those characters have become.
That also raises an interesting question on where Hideo Itami will factor in. Does he pick a side, or does he stand alone as his own entity? The same issue arises when TJP returns and when/if Neville eventually returns as well.
- Gulak's insistence on spelling "soft" correctly might be the most telegraphed, but also the best part of his gimmick.
- Alexander's athleticism and move-set are eye-popping, but some of his matches seem to follow a script. I worry his moves will lose impact when you know you're about to see his handstand hurricanrana or a springboard forearm.
- On the flip side, I think Nese's athleticism and variety of his moves showcase what he can do without becoming too predictable. Maybe it's because we don't get to see many of his signature moves due to a lack of wins, but his pumphandle Michinoku powerslam (thanks to Nigel McGuinness for the terminology) and cartwheel off the apron aren't something we get to see very often.
- Another perfect element of Gulak's gimmick, which seems to be a recent development, is how he still yells at his allies when they begin to ascend the ropes. I respect his commitment to principles.
Superlatives of the Night
Move: Gran Metalik is the master of the ropes, but it was his Fosbury Flop over the barricade into a hurricanrana that stood out on this night.
- WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) December 6, 2017
Line: "You're Wonder Woman because you're a fierce warrior, and you have a great sense of fashion." --Gulak, who clearly thought out his Justice League parallels, to Ariya Daivari
Match: Swann is always fun, but his matchup with Nese on Tuesday left me wanting to see more of this pairing.