Thursday, December 1, 2016

205 Live (Premiere)

Fuckin' Jack Gallagher!
In the future, 205 Live will be folded into the Wroundup, but given that this is the first episode of the new show, let's talk about things in a bit more detail.


The theme song is awful. Way worse than the Cruiserweight Classic theme, which wasn't great. I mean, it starts "promising" with the rap-rock part, but when it transitions into the main theme, it's shit city. They're reusing the Animated 3-D Generic Cruiserweights from the Classic graphics a lot, which I guess makes sense.


It remains to be seen if this is the final team, or if there'll be a different guest each week. We have Corey Graves, who's fine, in his usual heely role. We have Mauro Ranallo, who's at his best calling matches like these where he understands the moves and the players and doesn't have the space he has on Smackdown to fill with pop culture references. And we have Austin Aries, who used to be one of my favorite guys in the world to watch, but isn't lighting up NXT at all, and isn't adding much here except self-promotion and doing something while he heals from Nakamura breaking his face.


In addition to the guys who've been wrestling on Raw since the division debuted - Swann, Perkins, Dar, Nece, Gulak, Kendrick, Daivari, Alexander, and Dorado, we have the awesome Jack Gallagher, Ho Ho Lun, the Bollywood Boys, Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali, and Gran Metalik, who I think was in the division maybe once before.

They're taking advantage of the extra time to build, well, not characters really, but personalities. The Bollywood Boys and Rich Swann get extensive bio profiles, similar to the Cruiserweight ones, but expanded into life stories and such. Also, Ariya Daivari is billed as from "Minneapolis By Way Of Tehran", which is not true but is some classic wrestling ethnocentrism.


Hey, did you know this show is live? If you didn't, stuff like the announce table starting off with the Smackdown Live plastic cover instead of the 205 Live one, the Bollywood Boys having no plan as to when or if to do their tandem circle dance intro/celebration, or Mauro repeatedly defaulting to calling them "Sirra" whenever he couldn't tell which one was Harv and which one was Gurv would tip you off.


Two standout matches out of three this week. The opening tag between the Bollywood Boys and Nece/Gulak was a fun opener, but at that sort of average level you've seen from this division before. Favorite moment was one of the Bollywood boys (because I can't tell which one is which either but at least I admit it) making Tony Nece "dance" by grabbing his arms and waving them around.

Rich Swann defeated Brian Kentrick, much to my surprise, to win the Cruiserweight Title in the main event. I'm not sure it's a great idea to put the title on a face when you only have four heels (currently) out of sixteen guys, but it was a very good match and a great moment.

But it was Jack Gallagher vs. Ariya Daivari that stole the show, because Jack Gallagher is fucking amazing to watch. He did the "tie his opponent in a knot and leave him there" spot, he did a new thing where he does a shoulder-stand on the top turnbuckle and wards his opponent off with his feet, and a ton of his weird, fluid, grapple-and-escape based wrestling that's just insane to watch. If I have one complaint, it's that he uses a running corner dropkick as a finisher when none of the rest of his arsenal supports it or sets it up, while TJ Perkins, the high-impact high-flyer, finishes dudes with a leg submission.

But outside of the title match, none of the matches had stories and no stories were built. That's gonna be a problem if it keeps going that way.


I don't think this show is gonna do much to get the Cruisers over with the live crowds at show tapings. If the last hour long WWE Network exclusive show didn't do it, this won't either. But it could let these guys establish and bring characters and practice promo skills that they could use to get crowds into them on Raw, and there's no denying it could have the best in-ring action of any WWE weekly show on a regular basis. So I approve.

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