Despite suffering his first singles loss to Cedric Alexander in November, Lio Rush ended 2018 on a high note with an impressive and dominant victory against a local competitor. Reinvigorated, Rush has set his sights on the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, but in order to enter the Fatal 4-Way Match challenging Buddy Murphy at Royal Rumble, he must defeat former Cruiserweight Champion Kalisto.
The battle began with Kalisto relishing in the chants of “Lio sucks” coming from the WWE Universe before The Man of the Hour made his first move. However, Rush quickly found himself outside the ring and recalibrating as his opponents matched his own speed and agility.
Returning to the ring, Rush feigned another speedy attack but instead slapped Kalisto, sending the two Superstars on a frenetic wild goose chase around the ring. Making their way back into the squared circle, the pair exchanged blows with Kalisto focusing on his opponent's legs before The Man of the Hour's speed took over and gave him control of the match. Rush's more aggressive side took hold and The Man of the Hour began unleashing targeted strikes and applying pressure to Kalisto's back.
The combination of Rush's speed and aggression helped him retain momentum and counter Kalisto's attempts to counter. However, feeding off the energy of the WWE Universe – and being well aware of what was at stake – Kalisto fought back, delivering a series of strikes before dumping Rush to the outside.
Despite two devastating kicks from The Man of the Hour that could have ended the contest, Kalisto countered a potential Final Hour and delivered a jaw-dropping flipping bodyslam from the top rope. Preparing to secure victory, Kalisto attempted the Salida del Sol but Rush countered, growing frustrated when the Lucha Dragon kicked out of a pinfall.
They continued to battle back and forth with both Superstars executing high impact maneuvers, resulting in Kalisto falling to the outside and barely making a 10-count. Increasingly angry, Rush ascended the ropes for The Final Hour but was distracted by Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik using their noise makers at ringside. Focusing on the other members of The Lucha House Party proved to be a critical error for Rush, as Kalisto had plenty of time to recover and successfully execute The Salida del Sol to secure his spot in the Fatal 4-Way at Royal Rumble.
Two weeks ago, Akira Tozawa and The Brian Kendrick defeated Drew Gulak and Gentleman Jack Gallagher in a wild tag team Street Fight. Kendrick and Tozawa claimed victory, but the rivalry between them and Gulak and Gallagher remains far from over. The latest chapter pitted Tozawa against his longtime nemesis Gulak, this time for the opportunity to challenge WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy in the Fatal 4-Way Match at Royal Rumble.
WWE 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick barred Tozawa and Gulak's respective allies from ringside, allowing the championship opportunity to take precedence over the rivalry. However, Gulak and Tozawa have battled many times before and their familiarity was clear early in the contest as they grappled and countered each other with respective technical prowess.
The rivals battled to an early stalemate, but remained focused on each other with Gulak taking a more aggressive approach, drawing ire from the official. Recovering, The Stamina Monster unleashed his brand of quick strikes to force The Philadelphia Stretcher outside. Tozawa remained relentless, but the cunning Gulak regained control by pushing his opponent in the barricade and slamming him on the arena floor.
Gulak began focusing his attacks on Tozawa's lower back, recognizing that his opponent was favoring it after being driven into the barricade. With the pace of the match in his hands, Gulak methodically targeted his nemesis’ back, doing his best to counter Tozawa's attempts to fight back. After dropping his opponent outside, Tozawa found an opening to deliver a series of strikes, giving him much needed momentum to launch an effective offense.
The familiarity between them was on full display as Gulak was able to anticipate Tozawa's attempted Senton, forcing the Japanese Superstar to try something different and take down his opponent with a flying leg drop to the back of the neck at the expense of his own back. This allowed Gulak ample time to recover and counter a shining wizard, tossing Tozawa into the corner and attempting to apply the Gulock.
Tozawa managed to counter but was once again leveled when Gulak hit another shining wizard and followed it up with a devastating clothesline. That crushing blow and a powerbomb still weren't enough to put The Stamina Monster away and the two exchanged strikes and submissions in the center of the ring. Both Superstar resfused to quit and the battle continued to rage.
Once again countering Gulak, Tozawa executed a backdrop driver before attempting his patented Senton. Incredibly, Gulak caught his opponent in mid-air and applied the Gulock. Rolling to the ropes, Tozawa managed to break the hold, but the damage was done.
Following another exchange, Gulak prepared to take down his opponent with a superplex. Tozawa resisted with all his might and managed to drop Gulak off the top and successfully execute the Senton for a hard-fought victory.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kalisto defeated Lio Rush in a #1 Contendership Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (14:18)
- Akira Tozawa defeated Drew Gulak in a #1 Contendership Match for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship (17:13)
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