205 Live is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s a piece of the WWE that exists outside of all other WWE realms (aside from the 2 RAW matches/sometimes being on Superstars), maintains multiple well-done storylines at once, never dwells on one subject for too long and best of all, has insane in-ring quality from the curtainjerker jobber matches to the huge main events. Every champion, bar Akira Tozawa (and his 6 day reign) has felt like an enormous deal to the brand and week-after-week you’re essentially guaranteed an entertaining show amongst the lots-of-content WWE produces that just fails to meet that status quo. The only problem with it is the lack of crowd participation but with what’s going on right now, that could change VERY soon.
LET’S CATCH YOU UP TO SPEED
In the wake of Enzo Amore’s firing after he was (allegedly) involved in a rape case he hadn’t reported to WWE for 3 months, WWE vacated the Cruiserweight Championship, retconned the past few months of Enzo’s title reign and has moved into what seems to be a new era for 205 Live: which is really cool. Here’s, at face value, what 205 Live offered to fans on Tuesday.
- A new GM in the form of former TNA star Rockstar Spud; now Drake Maverick.
- The announcement of a 16-man single-elimination tournament culminating in the finals at Wrestlemania for the vacant Cruiserweight Championship.
- Tyler Bate (maybe) joining the 205 Live roster and trying to get the championship.
- Cedric Alexander proceeding to the second round of the tournament.
- Mustafa Ali getting to redeem himself after a loss from the week prior.
- TJP said “first Cruiserweight Classic” in a short promo about his recent string of losses — implying there’s a second one or that this tournament is the second one.
- Tozawa said he’d like to be GM, but then claimed he’ll settle for being Cruiserweight Champion, then followed that up by telling a random production member he’s fired if he becomes Champion. (that isn’t how that works.)
Here’s the take-away.
BASICALLY THE CRUISERWEIGHT CLASSIC II (LITE EDITION) IS HAPPENING
Maverick’s first course of action was supposed to be to solve the issue with the vacancy of the Cruiserweight Championship: and his solution was essentially the Cruiserweight Classic 2. 16-Man single elimination tournament culminating at Wrestlemania to see who gets to be the face of the division. Here’s what’s been announced and what’s happened.
- Cedric Alexander def. Gran Metalik to proceed to the second round of the Cruiserweight Classic 2.
- TJP def. Tyler Bate in an incredibly well-paced and fun matchup to proceed to the second round of the Cruiserweight classic.
- Hideo Itami vs Roderick Strong is announced for next week.
- Lince Dorado vs Kalisto is announced for next week.
- Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali & Jack Gallagher all talk about their involvement in the tournament and what it’ll do for them, confirming there are 5 more people to be announced for the tournament.
205 LIVE IS MORE BRAND INCLUSIVE TO THE MORE UNDERRATED ASPECTS OF WWE NOW (NXT, WWEUK, ETC)
A huge talking point that 205 Live’s commentary couldn’t focus on was the fact Tyler Bate isn’t traditionally from 205 Live and was entered in the mix for title contention in a match against TJP in the main event. Not only that, but that next week, Roderick Strong is going against Hideo Itami in a tournament match and Roderick Strong isn’t from 205 Live; he’s from NXT. Now, there’s been some crossover from NXT to 205 Live before. In its’ infancy, Oney Lorcan jobbed for a few people to kickstart everyone’s movesets being familiarized with the crowd. 205 Live has always been a place to see phenomenal in-ring action in a WWE setting, as have NXT and the WWEUK division. Moving some of this to the 205 Live setting (which feels a lot more important because of the crowd) is super cool and might draw new eyes to the product entirely.
WWE TRUSTS TNA TALENT AS (AUTHORITY) FIGUREHEADS OF ENTIRE DIVISIONS
In the past, WWE’s signed lots of TNA talent to the Main Roster and pushed them. Names like AJ Styles and Bobby Roode immediately come to mind, as they make up half of the title landscape on Smackdown Live but those two have always felt like names that found success in TNA in spite of their setting, not as a result of it. Spud seems to be the first legitimate signee of TNA to get a huge look as someone who stuck out the dark ages of TNA (as long as he did) and that’s important. It means WWE is seeing TNA as not-a-joke; as if what they create is somewhat valuable. This 205 Live GM was important; names like Gregory Helms and Rey Mysterio were all over the place and for the crowd to not be disappointed by Rockstar Spud (now Drake Maverick) is a sign he’s probably going to be loved by the crowd that tunes in week by week.
But even as an extension of that point: this means recent signees from TNA like EC3 really might get a push they deserve instead of being jobbed out like WCW’s talent after the Monday Night Wars. Names like Lashley that are rumored to be returning are now solid main-event players instead of the possibility they’re relegated to the upper-midcard. I guess Lashley’s an exception from that, mostly because he’s one of the most menacing wrestlers on the planet, but EC3 (who was a WWE jobber and an NXT reject) seems to be getting the Adam Cole/Drew McIntyre treatment and that’s increasingly refreshing in a company dying for new faces all the time.