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    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Live From the 205 (6/13/17): The Man Who Dabs

    Bear with me—I'm late once again for this week's Live From the 205, but I can't let this week's episode pass.

    I generally prefer 205 Live episodes having any ounce of direct advancement with regard to the Cruiserweight Championship scene, as the show should always revolve around the title, but this week brought a rather notable exception. Despite Neville not figuring heavily in this week's show, there was so much advancement all over that the episode was a joy to watch—at least for me, who always wants to see more of the young cruiserweights featured.

    This week's episode made it clear that the big story moving forward—at the moment—is the character arcs of TJP and to a slightly smaller extent, Akira Tozawa. After languishing a little in obscurity over the summer, the Fil-Am Flash reemerged as the cocky young player he was meant to be, after turning heel on Austin Aries and helping Neville out. Last week, Neville turned on him in a bid to keep his championship, and TJ ended up moving to the gray area as the crowd cheered him against the King.

    This week on the show, there wasn't a huge cathartic moment that got TJ back into face territory, but the way they explored his inner conflict in the backstage confrontation with Voice of Reason Rich Swann, and in the subsequent loss to Tozawa, is a lot more than we've been getting. The story is currently fleshing out how TJ only turned heel because of a promise Neville made, and is possibly reconsidering his choices after hearing the Universe believe in him again. You can tell that he was in some real emotional pain after taking the not-so-surprise L from Tozawa in the main event.

    The company is aware that he's always been in between reactions, with men hating him and kids and women loving him, and I'm glad creative has decided to give him a story that takes advantage of the gray area. The TJP arc is exciting simply because it looks like they're setting up for some real character growth, and a possible gimmick change or evolution away from "Fil-Am guy who plays video games." It remains to be seen if they'll actually follow through with this—it's possible I could just be excited that we're getting some honest-to-goodness character work in 205 Live.

    One other bit of character work that pleasantly surprised me was, in fact, not from a cruiserweight. It's from none other than Titus O'Neil, manager of the Titus Brand, who was present on this episode because his prospect Tozawa was fighting for a chance at Neville's Cruiserweight Championship, which he apparently got after the win.

    What's interesting is the way he immediately stood up to Neville for Tozawa, even if the latter isn't even fully committed to the Titus Brand. Yes, Titus was looking out for his own success, but there was some sort of fatherly concern in the way he defended Tozawa and praised his skills. It's a little extra wrinkle on a character that seems to be unscrupulous at first glance, and it makes me go even more all in on the Titus Brand angle. I don't mind this kind of non-cruiserweight interaction on the show, and it proves that Neville is doing a great job of holding the whole show and division together.

    This week's episode gives me a lot of faith in some solid storytelling, even despite 205 Live's imperfection. We can't always have our cake and eat it, but when there is something to bite on, it's nice to know that what we have is tasty.

    Short stops

    • Let's hope that this is the last we'll see of Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar. It seems like an entirely new storyline for Dar with the way Cedric cribbed the SANDATA vs. Kh3ndr!ck finish on RAW, but Cedric not falling to the distraction against Ariya Daivari (who wrestled the best match he's done so far) makes him look really good.

    • I'm down for this Tony Nese and Jack Gallagher feud, and the seamless way they set it up, even if it felt a little too out of left field. My biggest problem with 205 Live is how a lot of midcarders get bypassed for other stories that are either important or creative deems important. There's still a lot of work to be done—they hired way too many for them to handle after the Cruiserweight Classic—but they're on the right track.

    • I'm kinda sad that Austin Aries has to be on the Daniel Bryan status right now. That may have been why he didn't win the title—if that's the case, I could forgive the three-month feud for nothing.

    • Video packages to advance storylines aren't that hard to do. Even though I want this feud to end already, I appreciated the fact that they just needed a video to continue the Ali/Gulak feud. Also, congrats are in order to Mustafa Ali for his new kid. 

    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 — Neville gets the week off from any action, but establishes his status as the king. There might be someone who finally has his number, and that guy is...

    • 2. Akira Tozawa, #5 last week — Tozawa's headed for the top, and it's made clear now after this week's main event. The Titus Brand shenanigans are actually not unwelcome in his ascent.

    • 3. TJP, #2 last week — Getting beaten down to go and bounce back. It's only a matter of time, but he's still in the picture.

    • 4. Cedric Alexander, #7 last week — One other star heating up is none other than Cedric Alexander, who's obviously being groomed for an eventual run at the top. It's just not his time yet, but with the way he's been taking care of everyone, he'll be the next in line soon.

    • 5. Austin Aries, #3 last week — Drops down one spot after taking some time off. Aries is about to fall hard in the following weeks.

    • 6. Jack Gallagher, #6 last week — Jacky Boy raises his stock back up by standing up for Aries and getting into a brand new feud with Tony Nese, which should be a lot of fun.

    • 7. Rich Swann, #4 last time — Drops down two spots after technically not getting any action at all this week.

    • 8. Tony Nese, #13 last time — The Premiere Athlete jumps back up five spots just for reemerging from his gym-cave and reasserting himself in the face of Austin Aries. It helps that everyone else was nowhere to be found, but I've always wanted to see more of Nese tearing it up. Shame that he didn't turn face at all.

    • 9. Drew Gulak, #8 last week — Falls off one spot for no-showing. We could've used a Gulak squash this week.

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

    • 11. Noam Dar, #11 last week Falling all the way off thanks to Alicia FOOOOOOOX. Where is the FaceTime angle going, you ask? Hopefully, to a rebound in the near future.

      • 12. Lince Dorado, #11 last week — Nowhere to be found.

      • 13. The Brian Kendrick, #12 last week — Still missing after his loss to Tozawa three weeks ago.

      • 14. Ariya Daivari, #14 last week — Hops over the one guy he beat on Main Event this week.

      • 15. Gran Metalik, #15 last week — Yep, this guy. What are you doing to this man?

      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 (6/13/17): The Man Who Dabs Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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