Date: January 17, 2017
Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, Austin Aries
It’s a good sign that we’re already having a major gimmick match on the show but more importantly it’s something that fits the storyline. Well ok to be fair the really important thing is the fact that Jack Gallagher will be gracing us with his presence and moving on from Ariya Daivari. Let’s get to it.
We open with a long recap of Gallagher vs. Daivari, which has involved knee attacks and accusations of being a scoundrel. Tonight it’s an I Forfeit match because a gentleman would never “quit”. How uncouth.
The announcers chat about the upcoming title match and the I Forfeit match. It feels like they’re stalling.
Drew Gulak vs. Cedric Alexander
Alicia Fox follows Cedric out and he doesn’t seem happy about it. Fox freaks out when Cedric tells her to leave so here’s Noam Dar to calm her down. Alicia: “HE’S BEING MEAN!” She calls Cedric a rookie in her book and demands Dar do something about him. Dar isn’t sure so Fox calls herself hot chocolate.
For some reason that’s enough to make Dar go in and help Gulak stomp Alexander but he fights them both off. Cedric dives on Dar but Gulak chop blocks him as we’re still waiting on the opening bell (and for Fox to be quiet). Fox and Dar leave and Cedric can barely stand up on the bad knee.
As you might expect, Cedric says ring the bell and we’re off in a hurry. Drew goes right for the leg and Cedric’s dropkick attempt makes things even worse. A dragon screw legwhip shows that Gulak is smarter than the average boring cruiserweight. Cedric actually manages a hurricanrana out of the corner and Gulak is backdropped out to the floor. Back in and Gulak charges into an elbow, allowing Cedric to hit a split legged moonsault of all things for two. The leg is way too banged up for the Lumbar Check so Gulak takes out the good leg. A bridging belly to back suplex puts Cedric away at 5:47.
Rating: C. I liked this more than I expected to and it continues the Fox/Alexander story with Dar in there on the side to keep things interesting. Gulak really needs a gimmick of some sort as he’s just so boring in everything he does aside from some submission holds. Speaking of which, didn’t he have a wicked dragon sleeper? What happened to that?
Dar tells Fox that was for her so she slaps him very hard. Noam seems to like it.
We get a long and very well put together video on Swann vs. Neville, including a look at their mentor/mentee relationship in Japan. It’s nice to see that match treated as a big deal and since it’s not going to happen on Raw, the build works well here.
Mustafa Ali vs. Tony Nese
Before the match, Nese says he doesn’t need to worry about Ali because he’s not normal. There’s a rather forced handshake to start with Ali having to grab the hand. Ali works the arm to start before snapping off a hurricanrana. A quick bicep curl (Aries: “Nothing like flexing your twelve inch pythons.”) sets up a spinwheel kick but Nese crotches him on the top and gets two off a gutbuster.
We hit a bodyscissors to stay on Ali’s ribs, only to have him avoid a springboard Lionsault. A jumping neckbreaker gets two for Mustafa and a tornado DDT gets the same. Nese gets tired of playing nice though and German suplexes him into the corner. One heck of a running knee is enough for the pin on Ali at 6:00.
Rating: C. Nese being built up as a midcard heel is a good idea but I was starting to get into Ali with his “my race doesn’t define me” character. If Nese is built up like this going forward, he’s going to be fine against Swann if Rich keeps the title against Neville, though that would be one heck of a questionable decision.
Tajiri and Brian Kendrick have continued their feud on Twitter.
Akira Tozawa is coming.
Jack Gallagher vs. Ariya Daivari
I Forfeit match and Jack is coming to the ring with his trusty umbrella William. Gallagher takes him to the mat and starts a surfboard but switches up to a double stomp to crush the knees. It’s umbrella time but Daivari breaks it over his knee. A side slam sends Jack spine first into the apron but that’s not enough for the magic words.
Jack is driven back first into the barricade and Daivari DEMANDS the forfeit because no one cares about him. Back in and Daivari rips at Jack’s face but realizes that bending the bad back around the post is a bit better idea. Aries suggests ripping off the mustache. Not a bad idea actually but not exactly a gentlemanly action. With nothing else working, Daivari grabs his scarf and ties Jack’s wrists behind his back.
As you might expect, that’s not a problem for Gallagher as he headbutts Daivari in the chest and climbs over the scarf to escape. With Ariya down, Gallagher pulls out a second umbrella because any good gentleman has a spare handy. They head up to the stage with Gallagher being sent into the screen but he manages a catapult into the same screen. That’s not enough to make him give up either so they head back to ringside.
Gallagher actually goes over to commentary and recommends that Graves and company move. Daivari is launched over the table and a running dropkick against the barricade allows Jack to grab William #3. Gallagher offers Daivari a chance to forfeit before the real thrashing begins. Daivari says ok but gets in a shot to the throat. We hit the cobra clutch but Gallagher grabs William #3 to break out. A good shot with William sets up a crossface chickenwing with William tied in Ariya’s arms for the forfeit at 14:19.
Rating: B-. I know I say this every week but there’s a great story here if you replace Daivari with, I don’t know, a dead goldfish to upgrade the charisma and interest. He’s just a warm body out there doing heelish things while never once seeming intimidating. Give Gallagher a proper bully to work off and it’s a thousand times better. As it is, it’s just a solid performance from Gallagher who is playing way beneath his skill level here.
Overall Rating: C+. The show was fine but really nothing worth seeing. The big gimmick match at the end helped but the show was much more there than anything else. It says a lot when the champion being gone feels like a big deal and that’s what happened here. Swann and Neville make this show feel important and without them the show is just fine instead of really interesting TV.
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