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Live From The 205 (6/6/17): Ready Player Two



What's up, everyone, this is Ro back with Live From the 205. I was gone last week simply because the usual publication date of this column fell right on my birthday; further shit went down that stopped me from watching last week's episode and writing the usual review.

This week, Extreme Rules happened and we all know Neville retained against Austin Aries. I've already gone through it in my PPV review, but the past three months ended up going to nothing if the endgame of their feud was Neville retaining after smashing A-Double three PPVs in a row. If the intention was to pad Neville's resume as the King of the Cruiserweights, they could've done that after one or two title matches and moved on. The only consolation we've got now is that the slate is wiped almost completely clean for anyone to move into the space opposite Neville's.



The reason why I say "almost completely" is because Neville still has to wrap up some loose ends with TJP, who he promised a championship opportunity if he turned heel and helped him deal with Aries. TJP finally cashed in on RAW this week, and in true Neville fashion, he tried to weasel out of his promise, only to turn on TJ when it was convenient.

This leads us to this week's 205 Live main event, which was... quite interesting.

Here's the thing: TJP did not turn back face. He was still arrogant heading into the match, which made it all the more unusual because heel vs. heel generally doesn't work; at least not as well as a face vs. face matchup. He didn't go back to his goody two-shoes self—in fact, he doubled down on his heel persona.

Then, a funny thing happened during the match: he started getting cheers. It's still from the kids, the same section of the crowd who would love him no matter what because he took his entire character from video games, but it was a more palpable reaction than he'd been getting in months, even after the original heel turn. It's almost as if... people just wanted someone cool they could get behind!

I don't know what the long-term plan is moving forward, but they have to capitalize on this somehow. If TJP's getting cheers for being a heel that's going up against other, arguably more dastardly heels, then it may be in his best interest to be written as a tweener. If he breaks out this way, then you've got another star on your hands. If the crowd at least comes to respect him, then you've still got someone valuable on your hands, and 205 Live needs as much of those assets as it can get.

Short stops


  • Cedric Alexander finally brought some closure to his long-running feud with Noam Dar over Alicia Fox. I really do hope that's the end of that, and by the looks of things it's time to pick out another contender for Neville's title. With Alexander, Tozawa, TJP, Jack Gallagher, and probably Austin Aries (yes, again), I think it's time the cruiserweight division features as many people playing for the title now, instead of a "Flavor of the Quarter" setup. You can still push individual stories while having more than one contender compete for the title, as evidenced by the Extreme Rules main event.

  • The Mustafa Ali/Drew Gulak feud needs to wrap up soon. I like the wrinkle they introduced in having Gulak's interference backfire—and sort of work to his favor, but if they don't start taking it home soon, it'll lose more steam than they want. Both Ali and Gulak need to move on, as this feud has helped their stock one way or another after all.

  • I'm all here for Titus O'Neil trying to recruit Akira Tozawa to the Titus Brand. I don't mind the non-cruiserweight midcarders (and women) dropping by the show, because it means 205 Live isn't really living in its own bubble. If this means we're getting closer to removing the arbitrary restrictions that make 205 Live a Themyscira, then I'm all for it. Plus, the Titus Brand is some decent character work, and might be a better fit as an angle for Tozawa than his whole feud against the Brian Kendrick. 

  • 205 Live is back with character video packages! Honestly still the best way to make a wrestler look legit, and everyone knows the cruiserweights need it more than most.

  • How come they can easily get local talent to fill in as jobbers, but can't get their own roster members who need the airtime? Lince Dorado could've easily been the guy to go up against Mustafa Ali, especially when he and Gulak are also having a little side program on Main Event. It's not hard to make these things connect, guys.

The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 6/9/17)


I know I missed a week of the rankings, so I've calibrated the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm) to give me readings based on the past two weeks of action.

  • 1. Neville, #2 last time — Two successful (and clean) defenses? Neville rightfully reclaims his spot back on top of the rankings, and it would be an injustice if he didn't.

  • 2. TJP, #3 last time — TJP had a better turnout than Austin Aries this week; once Aries lost at Extreme Rules, he took the rest of the week off. Meanwhile, TJP showed up to make his claim, beat Mustafa Ali on RAW, and got his title shot on 205 Live. I foresee this not being the last we'll see of the Fil-Am Flash at Neville's side.

  • 3. Austin Aries, #1 last time — Aries drops two spots for failing to win the title on his third try. What tough luck for the man I pegged to be the breakout star of the division.

  • 4. Rich Swann, #7 last time — Swann jumps up farther than he does simply for winning on Extreme Rules, and also because the people above him have been booked rather terribly. More on that if you read on.

  • 5. Akira Tozawa, #4 last time — Tozawa drops down one spot, simply because the way they decided to build on his momentum off his big feud-ending win against The Brian Kendrick was... to have Titus court him to be part of his brand. Not even a squash here or there, even on Main Event?

  • 6. Jack Gallagher, #5 last time — Jacky Boy was present on RAW last week with Austin Aries, but that's about it. He's been booked erratically since then, and you'd think he would play a part in all this after Aries's defeat.

  • 7. Cedric Alexander, #9 last time — Cedric's stock rightfully rises as he continues his hot streak, laying out Noam Dar and closing their chapter in this week's big win. Watch out for him to be in play for the title soon.

  • 8. Drew Gulak, #10 last time — Gulak stays at #8 after a big win against Mustafa Ali on last week's episode of 205 Live, a win against Lince Dorado on last week's Main Event, and a rather harmless appearance in this week's episode.

  • 9. Mustafa Ali, #11 last time — Ali is bouncing back again after some tough breaks over the past few weeks, but he's being held at that level where he's better than the cruiserweight midcarders, though not better than those playing around the title.

  • 10. Noam Dar, #8 last time — Loses twice this week after a bit of a hot streak over the past couple of weeks. He's pretty lucky he gets to stay in the top 10, because the rest of the roster below him aren't doing well.

  • 11. Lince Dorado, #15 last time — Only shoots up because he's back on Main Event duty, even managing to score a win this week. We can't say the same for the rest of the guys below him.

    • 12. The Brian Kendrick, #6 last time — TBK falls all the way down here after pretty much disappearing post-Tozawa.

    • 13. Tony Nese, #11 last time — Poor Nese; once the toast of the town, now booked inconsistently. The Premier Athlete deserves better.

    • 14. Gran Metalik, #13 last time — Also used sparingly. Whoever's writing the cruiserweight division really needs to learn how to maximize the roster.

    • 15. Ariya Daivari, #14 last time — Nowhere to be found after taking that quick loss against Rich Swann.

    Photo from WWE

    *****

    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul.

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