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Live From the 205 (10/18/19): This Place Sure Looks A Lot Different


Hello, mga ka-205, if there are still any of you left. I'm back, and boy, do we have a lot of ground to cover since we last had a 205 Live review.

In the time that's gone by since the last review, the following happened:
  • The show moved to Friday nights, following SmackDown
  • We had a cancelled episode
  • Drew Gulak lost the WWE NXT Cruiserweight Championship to Lio Rush on an episode of NXT
  • Oh, the company also quietly changed the title's branding to NXT
  • The cruiserweight division is now cross-promoted on NXT and 205 Live
  • Over half of the current roster got sucked up into the void that is the main roster in some strange Rapture—Humberto Carrillo and Akira Tozawa were drafted to RAW, while Drew Gulak, Lucha House Party, and Drake Maverick were drafted to SmackDown (but Drake apparently retains his job as 205 Live General Manager)
If that seems a lot to take in, don't worry—the gist of it all is that the division is now officially more of an NXT property than the main roster's, and the big Rapture is intended to be a mix of a reset and a graduation to clearly distinguish this as an NXT era of the show. The big losers of the whole thing are the guys who were called up to RAW and SmackDown, because (as they're already finding out, and as guys like Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy have found out for themselves) there just won't be any space for them. Gulak's already gone back to his silly PowerPoint gimmick to be cannon fodder for Braun Strowman; heaven knows what's in store for the others. Maybe Lucha House Party would be utilized in the SmackDown tag team division, but that's about the most I can picture for them.

The second biggest loser of this development is pretty much 205 Live the show. Now that the cruiserweight division can also be on NXT every Wednesday night—clearly, a much better spot—there's just no point for them to be on Fridays after SmackDown. This week's episode is sad proof of that: even if you bring in the more exciting cruiserweights in guys like Lio Rush and Angel Garza, the Friday night death slot is just not a great place to be, and the crowd just did not care. Add in the fact that they lost all the stars they tried to build after the era of Cedric and Buddy, and you've got a ship that's taking in a lot more water than people realize.


So how does WWE fix 205 Live? Is the show still even fixable?

Fortunately, yes. The single most helpful fix the show could get is to, obviously, move it back to the pre-SmackDown spot that worked so well last year thanks to Mixed Match Challenge. If they're going to insist on having longform wrestling matches that make the most of the skilled cruiserweight division, it's gotta go before SmackDown instead of when they're all sleepy after it.

But if you're not going to move this show, then you'll need to cut back on the drawn-out wrestling. As much as it's technically sound, it's just not popping the crowd—put the focus back on what really made cruiserweight wrestling stand out all those years ago and turn them into fast-paced sprints that showcase everyone's athleticism. Lio Rush as the champ is a good start, Tony Nese as his first challenger makes for a feud to watch out for, and this will be a good opportunity to try that out.

Faster and shorter matches will also mean more time to trot more people out, the same way NXT used to do with their single hour. This was actually what I was expecting on this episode knowing the show's now under the NXT creative team, and I was disappointed we were sticking to the same format.

There's still time to save what was once the best hour of main roster wrestling; it's just a matter now of how much the company wants to save it. I'm totally fine with the show disappearing if they were gonna do it dirty like this. But it's still here, so I'm led to believe they still want it around—they're just going to have to do a lot better than this.

205 Live 10/18/19 Grade: Watched it so you don't have to. You're not missing much, but it's not the wrestlers' fault. B-

Short stops

  • The intro has been cut hilariously short because of all the talent called up.
  • I still don't understand how Drake Maverick gets himself drafted to SmackDown but is still 205 Live General Manager, but then again he was managing AOP on RAW while GM.
  • I understand Vic Joseph being moved to RAW just to try something new on play-by-play, but does it really make sense to leave Aiden English back and call the inexperienced Dio Maddin up? Is this just change for the sake of change?
  • Poor guys going out there to a restless crowd who couldn't care less about what they were doing tonight. You hate to see it.
  • Why would Nese cut a promo on the commentators' headset, something the live crowd couldn't hear? Yes, it worked because they were on TV, but how does it make sense to not loop your live audience in? A few more steps and he could've gotten himself a microphone.
    Photo from WWE
    *****

    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry, one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and is associated with Philippine Wrestling Revolution. 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. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account.

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