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    Friday, June 23, 2017

    Live From The 205 (6/20/17): Swann Songs

    It seems Austin Aries's injury is doing a funny thing to the Cruiserweight Championship scene: the sudden removal of a top contender, a true archnemesis to King Neville has created some sort of power vacuum, and 205 Live is taking its sweet time focusing on people it's forgotten on the way to building up both Aries and Neville.

    Although it seems as though we're headed to Neville vs. Akira Tozawa at Great Balls of Fire, with the way they're writing things, I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up at a Fatal Four-Way for the championship somewhere along the way. Last week, the focus was on TJP and Tozawa. This week, the spotlight returns to Rich Swann, third Cruiserweight Champion in his generation and fresh out of a grating feud with Noam Dar and Alicia Fox, going up against Neville in a non-title match for this week's main event. It's your usual champion-sends-a-message-to-challenger-by-dominating-a-third-party match trope, and it's great.

    It's honestly nothing we haven't already seen from these two—Swann challenges Neville once again, and Neville dominates like he usually does. What it is, though, is a great, compelling match featuring Swann that we haven't really seen from him in a while. Noam Dar is a good worker, but the program with him felt like a demotion for the former champ, even if he tried his best to pull out a good match. Pitting Swann against Neville—and pivoting slightly toward a minor Swann/TJP storyline—instantly ups his relevance once more.

    I honestly don't mind 205 Live's current restructuring at the top, even when it feels like it's meandering trying to look for something to latch on to. They're inevitably going to end up going with Tozawa to help anchor the division while Aries is away, but everything else seems to finally be falling into place as far as the show's concerned: TJP, Swann, Jack Gallagher, and Tony Nese are back in what look like consistent spots on the program. You've got a solid undercard with Cedric Alexander, Noam Dar, Mustafa Ali, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, and the others on call. Really, the only problem here is that Gran Metalik doesn't get the respect he deserves, but while they're playing around with their next top contenders, I have to say I'm pretty excited for the division's near future.

    205 Live 6/20/17 Grade: It was a decent episode, especially for those who follow the division. Nothing mindblowing, but solid nonetheless. I'll give it a Rich Swann Title Run (B).

    Short stops

    • Glad to see Tony Nese get a sly win against Jack Gallagher. It's been ages since he's gotten a W and he needed that to maintain his Premier Athlete credibility. It also makes sure that this isn't just a one-time thing—and that's a good thing too, considering a serious Gallagher brings out the best in everyone.

    • Also happy that they're keeping Austin Aries on TV despite his injuries. I like this little angle going on between him and Gallagher, especially with A-Double exploring the gray areas of morality when it comes to competing on 205 Live. He's the most self-aware character they've got, and using him to flesh out the Gentleman character's possible edges is a not a bad way to utilize him right now. I wonder if they'll be looking to push the limits of their good guy gimmicks.

    • That said, wouldn't you prefer Austin Aries as a color commentator again?

    • Looks like we're still firmly settled on Noam Dar vs. Cedric Alexander for the foreseeable future. Ariya Daivari being the butt of random pranks never gets old, though, and is a fine use for him. The show's gotten into its stride of utilizing as much of its roster as it can, breaking out of the monotony of just putting out three matches every episode. Now if it can only use the luchadors more.

    • The show's managed to get the right formula of just how much Titus O'Neil they should have. He appears exclusively backstage, but I wouldn't be opposed to having him come down with Tozawa in the eventual title match, perhaps at GBOF.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 6/16/17)

    The Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm) is detecting all these little changes in the landscape. Do we get a new #1?

    • 1. Neville, no movement — Bow down to the King.

    • 2. Akira Tozawa, no movement — Tozawa's maintained his foothold on the #2 spot thanks to another win against TJP. RAW needs to give the cruiserweights the same time the main event gets on 205 Live, though. They're still part of the brand.

    • 3. TJP, no movement — TJP lost to Akira Tozawa this week, but manages to stay holding on to the #3 spot due to a general lack of notable upward movement from other people.

    • 4. Cedric Alexander, no movement — See TJP, except Cedric didn't compete at all this week.

    • 5. Tony Nese, #8 last week — The biggest mover in a week where people are staying put. Nese is becoming relevant again, and I'm glad. Oh, and he beats Gran Metalik on Main Event, too.

    • 6. Rich Swann, #7 last week — Loses, but finds himself in a bit of a starring role again. Perhaps slotting himself in a feud against TJP soon.

    • 7. Jack Gallagher, #6 last week — Drops down after taking the hit from Tony Nese, but looks to rebound sooner than later after Austin Aries proposes his alliance.

    • 8. Austin Aries, #5 last week — A-Double is injured, but the 205 Live writers are finding ways to keep him relevant. He's dropping fast due to not competing, but he'll stick around to help a Gentleman out.

    • 9. Mustafa Ali, #10 last week — Switches spot with Gulak after winning. It's time to end this feud.

    • 10. Drew Gulak, #9 last week — See Mustafa Ali.

    • 11. Noam Dar, no movement — Messing around in backstage segments this week.

      • 12. Ariya Daivari, #14 last week — See Noam Dar.

      • 13. Gran Metalik, #15 last week — Lost to Tony Nese, but he at least appears on TV.

      • 14. Lince Dorado, #12 last week — Missing again. I wonder what they do in the weeks they don't get booked? Do the cruiserweights do house shows? Is he free to get booked elsewhere?

      • 15. The Brian Kendrick, #14 last week — Seems like he's taking a break from WWE at the moment.

      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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      Item Reviewed: Live From The 205 (6/20/17): Swann Songs Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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