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Match Of The Week: Cedric Alexander Vs. Buddy Murphy

The best 205 Live match yet? Judge for yourself...

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of great matches this week. I say unfortunately because it makes writing this article a lot harder, and I'm an inherently selfish person.

Japan had one of those weeks where it decided to churn out multiple barnburners for fun, almost mocking the rest of the world for not being able to produce wrestling as good. In STARDOM, a literal 18-year-old dethroned Io Shirai who - whisper it - is probably heading to WWE soon. In New Japan, eternal rivals Hiromu Takahashi and Dragon Lee added another classic chapter to their never-ending story. And in AJPW, promotion golden boy Kento Miyahara successfully defended his title against NOAH's older golden boy (golden man?) Naomichi Marufuji.

The latter was a match considered by many to be the best non-NJPW bout of the year so far, according to Dave Meltzer. Those people must have forgotten about Gargano vs. Ciampa, but I'm getting sidetracked.

My point is, with Japan churning out quality wrestling on a frighteningly consistent basis, it might be a shock to learn that my Match of the Week is from 205 Live. Although if you've seen this week's main event, maybe it's not that much of a surprise...

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Buddy Murphy
WWE 205 Live, 29/05/2018
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina


WWE


Background: Cedric Alexander won the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament following Enzo Amore's release, defeating Mustafa Ali in the final at WrestleMania 34. Well, on the pre-show of WrestleMania 34, but let's not split hairs. He has led 205 Live to new heights.

Buddy Murphy, meanwhile, revitalised his career by shifting from NXT to 205 Live. He was supposed to have a shot at Cedric in Saudi Arabia, but 'missed weight' and was removed from the title picture. Luckily, he continued to decimate folk on a weekly basis, cut back down to 205lbs, and was subsequently awarded this match by Drake Maverick.

That's the build-up on a basic level. However...

There's a lot more going on here, if you choose to look at this feud a certain way. From the moment Alexander entered WWE, he could be seen as a man with destiny on his side. In 2016, he had probably the best match of the Cruiserweight Classic against Kota Ibushi, and was publicly hand-picked by Triple H as a future prospect. He looks like he was born in a wrestling ring, gliding around with a sort of Ricochet-esque grace. He makes it look easy. He has lovely hair and a lovely face. Some people are supposed to be champions.

On the other hand, Buddy Murphy has not had destiny on his side. Yes, he's a former NXT Tag Team Champion, but he and Wesley Blake were routinely outshone by flashier, more popular duos: The Revival, Enzo and Cass, American Alpha, and so on. He almost became the forgotten man, as his partner left him and his fiancee became one of the most charismatic Superstars on the main roster. Fans barely raised an eyelid when he rocked up on 205 Live, and he's had to claw and scratch to win their favour over the course of 2018. Unlike Cedric, he moves in a frenzied manner, whipping around the ring and slamming into his opponents. Some people still don't realise he's a good wrestler.

The perfect cruiserweight vs. the division's outcast. Make no mistake about it, this was a hell of a match-up.

WWE


The Match: The early story of this bout is that both men are very evenly matched (although Cedric is more agile, Murphy more impactful). They head outside for a ringside brawl - not too typical of a 205 Live match - and Murphy bumps like hell over the announce table for Alexander. That was truly awesome, and the first sign that this is no ordinary cruiserweight match. Cedric returns the favour, allowing Buddy to hurl him head-over-heels into the guardrail. Both men are clearly committed to making not only themselves look good, but their opponent too. It really helps ramp up the overall quality of the match.

Back inside, Murphy looks to grind the champion down. Cedric heads up top in response but is met on his descent with a brave Leg Lariat. Buddy looks to press the advantage, but Alexander catches him with an instinctive Superkick and they both collapse to the mat. It's a crowd-popping sequence that would signal the beginning of the end for many matches, but there's a good chunk left to go here. This is where the reaction starts getting really intense, which you could attribute to the match taking place in Alexander's home state. I think that it's more down to the excellent in-ring action.

The pair trade full-throttle Topes to the outside, as if to reinforce how even they are, but back inside Cedric drills Murphy with a beautiful Michinoku Driver. The match looks to be over, but Buddy kicks out, taking things to an even higher level. Cedric does the classic Shawn Michaels "I can't believe they kicked out!" sell, and by this point, everybody is losing their minds. They head to the apron, and we get arguably the best spot of the night.

Murphy regains control and looks to do something nasty to Alexander, but the champ springs into life and nails a Flatliner as he falls to the outside, pulling his opponent face-first into the apron. Murphy's bump here truly is amazing, to the extent where it could have led to a believable countout finish. Thankfully, both make it back inside in time. Now they just trade fists in the middle of the ring; for all the flash and flair of the cruiserweight division, this is what it's come to. The strikes get bigger and bigger, until Buddy tries to take Cedric's head off with a big right hand, only for Alexander to respond with a crunching Uppercut - one of many used throughout the match. Still the exchange isn't over, as Murphy replies with a truly thunderous knee to the head. Cedric kicks out.

Finally, the end comes. Alexander counters Murphy's Law into a roll-up for two, and Buddy is not amused. He cracks another huge knee into Cedric's face, and again the champion kicks out. Angered by his opponent's resilience, the challenger lets his guard down and eats a Neutraliser Kick. Clearly aware of the danger posed by his opponent, Alexander goes into overdrive, hitting a second Neutraliser and the Lumbar Check. It works, and we can all breathe again.

WWE


Aftermath: Well, this may have been Murphy's last title shot for quite some time. Since even before Cedric won the Cruiserweight Championship, and before Enzo was fired, many 205 Live fans have been clamouring for Drew Gulak to hold the belt. He is one of the most charismatic and distinctive characters in the division, and has proven himself capable of ramping up the in-ring intensity like any good champion.

It seems inevitable that Gulak will face Cedric at some point in the near future, and if he takes the title, it's hard to see where Murphy's next opportunity will come from - particularly as a fellow heel.

However, even if it is his last opportunity for a while, the Australian put in a landmark performance here. Already this match is being talked about as one of the best in 205 Live history, although a case could be made for quite a few bouts in the Cruiserweight Championship tournament (some featuring Cedric and Buddy, it should be no surprise to hear).

Whether you agree that this is the best 205 Live match, it's hard to argue that it's not the defining one. Both men went all out to impress, and put on a match that would have looked at home in a Best of the Super Juniors ring, or at a sweltering PWG show. Crucially, it didn't draw plaudits in those places. It did so on 205 Live, to the benefit of not only the wrestlers, but WWE's entire cruiserweight division.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]