Despite turning in several excellent performances, Mike Kanellis has been unable to secure a big win on WWE 205 Live, and General Manager Drake Maverick made it known that Kanellis would no longer receive opportunities – and could even lose his place on WWE 205 Live’s roster – if he could not defeat former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Akira Tozawa.
Kanellis was unaware that Maverick chose The Stamina Monster, but he did not let that deter his focus as the match got underway.
The Opportunist maintained pressure on his opponent, trying to keep the resilient Tozawa at bay. However, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion battled through Kanellis’ attack and took him down with a missile dropkick. The Stamina Monster maintained the pressure, nearly forcing Kanellis to submit to the Octopus stretch. However, with Maria Kanellis shrieking support from ringside, The Opportunist over-powered Tozawa, breaking the hold.
Kanellis nearly scored the victory following a huge spinebuster, followed by a massive Falcon Arrow off the top rope. When that was not enough to put Tozawa away, an irate Kanellis turned to his wife for encouragement. The Opportunist unleashed and prepared to put Tozawa away, but the former Cruiserweight Champion countered and prepared for his Senton.
Just as The Stamina Monster prepared to ascend the ropes, however, Maria blocked his path. As Kanellis rolled away, Tozawa ran to the opposite corner to execute the Senton, but The Opportunist countered and took down his opponent with an impact DDT for the much-needed win.
A heated pre-match exchange between Cedric Alexander, Tony Nese and WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy led to Alexander questioning whether Murphy believed that Nese – his friend and his training partner – could make it to WrestleMania. The champion tried to downplay Alexander’s suggestion, but The Premier Athlete maintained his focus on what was at stake in his match against Alexander in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Final – a title bout at WrestleMania.
Alexander and Nese have met plenty of times in the past with both Superstars claiming victories against the other. With their rivalry taking on its highest implications thus far, Nese and Alexander wasted little time getting the match underway. Both competitors share similar speed and strength, resulting in an early showcase of technical prowess.
Nese’s unrelenting attack only kicked the legendary resilience of Cedric Alexander into high-gear, and the former champion struck back with relentless force and nearly secured victory following a Neutralizer and Flatliner. Alexander attempted the Lumbar Check, but Nese countered by taking down his opponent with a pump-handle driver. Alexander again got caught in the ropes, and The Premier Athlete executed a jaw-dropping springboard moonsault to nearly secure victory.
Alexander grew frustrated after he countered the Running Nese into a huge Michinoku driver and couldn’t get the three-count. With The Premier Athlete reeling, Alexander ascended the ropes, only to be met with a strike from his opponent. Exchanging blows on the top rope, both Superstars tumbled to the outside and barely made the official’s 10-count.
Back in the ring, Nese and Alexander traded blows, leading to an incredible sequence of back-and-forth strikes, counters and a double superkick, leaving both Superstars leg-locked and bringing the WWE Universe to their feet. Once again knocking Alexander off the top rope, Nese wiped him out with a high-risk move to the outside before executing a perfect 450 splash that still was not enough to put Alexander away.
Alexander countered the Running Nese with an incredible Spanish Fly in the center of the ring, and after Alexander frantically executed the Lumbar Check only for Nese to once again kick out, he was left in a state of shock. As The Soul of WWE 205 Live again attempted the Lumbar Check, Nese countered with a knee strike before finally executing his Running Nese to punch his ticket to WrestleMania.
A stunned Alexander congratulated and embraced Nese as the WWE Universe regaled them with “That was Awesome” chants.
Continuing to celebrate his victory, Nese was greeted by WWE Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy, who congratulated his training partner, raising his hand before viciously dropping him with a boot to the chin and proudly displaying his coveted championship.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Mike Kanellis (w/ Maria Kanellis) defeated Akira Tozawa
- Tony Nese defeated Cedric Alexander in the WWE Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contendership Tournament Final Match
- Dark Match: Becky Lynch defeats Charlotte Flair
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