Kushida def. Drew Gulak
“Step to me” is one of Drew Gulak’s favorite spiels for opponents. Going up against Kushida, The Philadelphia Stretcher learned a thing or two about being on the receiving end of that catchphrase. Locking horns for the first time, both seasoned grapplers put their sharpened repertoire to the test in a true clash of technical styles that saw Kushida get the best of his outspoken critic.
Gulak, who was unimpressed with the former Japanese champion’s NXT debut, tortured his opponent with a variety of limb-twisting holds. Kushida, however, proved to be The Philadelphia Stretcher’s match, applying compression with his own mat-wrestling game, while constantly cinching on his opponent like a magnet.
When Gulak attempted to hip toss his opponent out of the ring, Kushida, like a sticky flytrap, immobilized the 205 Live mainstay by targeting his arm with another submission hold before flinging it against the ropes. The reversal contest didn’t end there, as Kushida modified a running hip toss into an armbar that Gulak masterfully escaped with a joint-tugging Gable grip that turned into an ankle lock.
Desperate to put an end to the volleyball-like back-and-forth contest, Gulak halted Kushida’s Hoverboard Lock with another finger-bending Gable grip before rocking his bells with a hard right forearm. Fighting to prove his opponent’s early criticism wrong, Kushida popped right back up, leveling Gulak with a Flatline before surprising him with a roll-up pin for the three-count.
Visibly upset by the outcome, Gulak engaged in a shouting match with Kushida, calling him a “coward” for the method used for his victory. Judging by the testy exchange in the post-match, the war between these mat mavens appear to be far from over.