On 25th July 2017, Drew Gulak and Mustafa Ali looked to end their long rivalry once at for all. The match aired live on WWE 205 Live.
2 Out of 3 Falls Match
(Winner, 2-1: Mustafa Ali)
205 Live gets a bad rep, and I’m not sure why? It’s not the show we thought we were getting when the brand launched, and God knows that a few format changes would make it one of the best things in WWE, but I’ve yet to see what the weekly show has done so wrong that has garnered so much apathy from large corners of the WWE Universe. People just seem to wish it didn’t exist.
What’s funny about that fact, is that 205 Live actually does what fans have been begging the likes of RAW and Smackdown to do, which is long-running storylines, a main event scene that matters, and more. I can only assume that a lot of the hate is coming from people who don’t actually watch the show regularly, which would hardly be a shock in 2017’s hate-focused internet world. It’s either that, or the treatment of the division on RAW and the old switcheroo to purple ropes for each cruiserweight match created a lack of enthusiasm for the brand.
The Gulak/Mustafi feud had been running for a few months, by the time of their 2 Out Of 3 Falls match. I’m a huge fan of Gulak, largely based on what I saw him do on the indies, and whilst I miss his shaved head and stubble beard look, I love how he’s thrown himself into his new gimmick. The hair, the mannerisms – all of it. He couldn’t feel any more different to how he did as a member of EVOLVE‘s “Catch Point” faction, but he certainly comes across as a WWE superstar.
In all honesty, Gulak was never winning this match. Ali has come out well in this feud the last number of weeks, and certainly they appear to be building him towards being a credible threat to Neville’s WWE Cruiserweight Championship, so it seemed likely Ali was going to take the win. I hadn’t anticipated Ali getting the first pinfall so soon, and it took the wind out of the match a little, as I think it generated a sense of fear that this was going to be rushed seeing as it was a television match, but it recovered and by the time Gulak successfully tapped Ali out for tie the score, the match had recovered.
Once it was all square, the match gave us some action and moves that we haven’t really seen since the Cruiserweight Classic. There were head bumps, some strong-style offence, and generally just a more heightened sense of importance with every move. Disappointingly, they had Gulak lose the match in the same manor he did a number of weeks ago, with his decision to climb the turnbuckle to deliver high-risk offence costing him victory. Ali took his time delivering his finisher, and certainly, Gulak had to do a good job of positioning himself to receive it without making it look too obvious that they were heading into their finish.
If Ali is going to challenge Neville, then his win makes sense. Gulak would’ve had his heel persona solidified had he taken the overall win, but he’s done a great job from start to finish with this feud, and he looked pretty strong in defeat so I expect he’ll move into a new rivalry very soon, hopefully with the same gimmick.
As a whole, the match was about as good as a 2 Out Of 3 Falls match can be on weekly television, particularly when it’s opening the show. I loved the video package beforehand, which made the fight seem the real deal. For me, it should have been the main event, not the opening match.
Whilst WWE might intend for Mustafa Ali to be the one coming out of this feud on top, I have a feeling that it has worked wonders for Gulak too. I’ll be watching very closely to see who he goes into a feud with next, but he can certainly look back proudly at his first proper WWE rivalry.
Good match, but a quiet crowd hurt the atmosphere, and the online hype since it aired seems a little over-the-top. You should definitely watch this match, if you haven’t done so already, but it’s questionable whether you will go back and watch it more than once.