205 Live Thoughts- Cruisers Win The Crowd Over
Always thought that the Cruiserweights were in a tough spot. They were given an amazing platform in the Cruiserweight Classic, and they blew any expectations out of the water. I believe 3 matches from the CWC actually made the WWE Network's Match of the Year playlist- Gargano vs. Ciampa, Ibushi vs. Alexander, Ibushi vs. TJP... and a lot of the other matches in the tournament could have easily made the honourable mentions.
So, following that excellent tournament, it was important for WWE to follow up on that momentum. So, they put the cruisers on Raw. I mean, it is a 3 hour show, so not a terrible idea. But, for some inane reason that I'm sure only producer Kevin Dunn can give us the answer to, they change the Raw set to look exactly like the CWC every time they have a cruiserweight match, down to the ropes, canvas, turnbuckle pads, apron and graphics. Then after all that work from the ring crew, the wrestlers get roughly 3 minutes, dumb down their move set and get no promo time.
Someone in charge realised there was a problem with the cruiserweights, and decided to go in a different direction. Hence, 205 Live. The cruisers get their own show, and while it's still not perfect- it takes place after Smackdown Live, when the crowd is tired and are basically blackmailed to stay with dark matches involving the likes of AJ Styles and John Cena. But slowly but surely, the cruiserweights are establishing themselves and winning the crowds over. The episodes are getting better and better, and this one had quite a few highlights. Onto the show!
-The best thing 205 Live has done is give the cruisers the ability to cut promos and have storylines. This was highlighted in the opening video hyping the show's main event- A "I Forfeit" match pitting Ariya Daivari against the Extraordinary Gentleman, Jack Gallagher. Gallagher immediately grabs your attention, I've sang his praises in both Raw and 205 Live posts, so charismatic and talented.
-That great opening video package sets the tone of the show, and is followed up smartly by the entrance of Cedric Alexander. Alexander, after impressing hugely in the CWC against world renowned Kota Ibushi (even prompting Triple H to come out and endorse him on TV), has received a lot of focus and storyline time. On Raw, he scored a clean win over former Cruiserweight Champion, The Brian Kendrick, so the powers that be are definitely behind him.
-Ah, Alicia Fooooooox. I don't like her horrible over-acting, but as she declares as she comes out to ringside uninvited, she is "hot chocolate". No arguing that. Then, of course, rival Noam Dar comes out and gets involved, leading Drew Gulak to take advantage by chop blocking (that's right, I said CHOP blocking) Cedric's knee outside the ring. I imagine Gulak watching the weird love triangle unfold in front of him and thinking, to quote the great Jon Lovitz, "They're losing their minds! And I'm reaping the benefits!"
-Drew Gulak picks up a super rare win using heel tactics and ~shenanigans! to gain a shred of credibility. Good for him.
-Excellent, excellent video package hyping the Rich Swann vs. Neville match at the Royal Rumble. WWE are outstanding at these video packages when they put the effort in. Nice touches including old photos of Neville (then Pac) and Swann in Japan. One of the better things WWE has done in recent years is acknowledge a pro wrestling world outside of WWE. With the likes of AJ Styles and The Club, Japan obviously gets a heavy focus, but now they've expanded into the UK... hell, they're even picking up more Aussies and acknowledging our little scene! Anyway, I said it on Raw and I'll be a repetitive bastard here- do not pre-show this. A quick check of Wiki shows that there are currently 5 matches on the Royal Rumble card, which is the perfect number considering the length of the Rumble match. Anything else that gets added now gets the pre-show instead. Neville and Swann would tear the house down as the PPV opener.
-Tony Nese got a nice little interview to put over his "premier athlete" character. Well delivered, in the latest instalment of "shit you'd never see on Raw.
-I really like Mustafa Ali. I especially like how quickly he won over the crowd with his spectacular moveset, leading him to quickly abandon his heel character and shatter preconceptions. Plus, the inverted 450, or the 054, is my current favourite finisher. Didn't get to see it this show, though, as it was Tony Nese's time to get a shred of credibility too. I think both Nese and Gulak have lost every match they've had since the CWC, so it's a nice change of pace. Nese, at least, is far too talented to be the division's resident jobber. Gulak, I'm on the fence about. Where's Ho Ho Lun when we need him?
-Tajiri is out with an injury. Boo-urns. Credit to Brian Kendrick for twisting the situation to his advantage and throwing shade (see, I'm in with the hip lingo) on the Japanese Buzzsaw via a Tweet. Get well soon, Tajiri.
-The cynical part of me says that's what happens when you re-sign a 46 year old after 11 years of being away from the WWE grind. Just playing Devil's Advocate. I'm a fan of Tajiri and hope John Cena gives him some recovery tips.
-Time for the "I Forfeit" match! It's basically an "I Quit" match, but Gallagher says "forfeit" because he's classy and British and all that jazz. Gentleman Jack (both my favourite drink and one of my current favourite wrestlers) displays an appropriate amount of aggression to suit the gimmick, while Daivari brings it as usual. The crowd are into this more than maybe any match yet on 205 Live. You mean, they built a feud over several weeks, gave both guys wins over other people, included different segment and promo time, and the fans are into it? Shock horror! Yes, I'm being sarcastic. Jack incorporates some of his gimmick into the I Forfeit match by using an umbrella as a weapon! He calls it William. Aww. Daivari breaks William over his knee. Scoundrel! It's quite funny how you can almost humanise an object by giving it a name, and people feel bad for the broken umbrella. Never fear, Gallagher brought a whole family of umbrellas! It's William The Third that helps Gentleman Jack get the win, incorporating it into a crossface chickenwing (that's a move you don't see often) to get Daivari to say the magic words. A lot of fun, a lot of time given, and the crowd bought in. Despite the somewhat... eccentric character of Gallagher, this feud was essentially pro wrestling taken back to it's basics.
This show solidified my opinion that 205 Live can be a success. I think without it, we'd run the risk of WWE pulling the plug on the cruiserweights. But, they've got bookers who are invested in doing a good job with it, and the wrestlers are proving themselves versatile, showing character and range as well as their, pardon the pun, extraordinary abilities in the ring. With Cedric vs. Noam Dar last week, Daivari vs. Gallagher this week, and Swann vs. Neville at the Rumble, things are coming up Milhouse for the cruisers!
Until next time, take care,