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    Thursday, July 6, 2017

    Live From The 205 (7/4/17): Classic Cruiserweight Action

    After managing to catch this week's RAW live, I finally figured out an important reason why the cruiserweight division just doesn't get the buzz its competitors and action deserve: no one in the WWE seems to be interested in hyping them up. Other than the weekly 205 Live backstage promo right before the last quarter of SmackDown Live every Tuesday, the cruiserweights always appear out of nowhere when it's their turn on the show.

    This even happens in 205 Live. There's a lot of good to talk about with this show, from the obvious (the quality of the in-ring action) to the subtle (the way some of the wrestlers' stories are about personal growth) but there's still a problem with maximizing the roster, actually promoting things, and putting things together to make a coherent whole.

    My biggest concern with last week's episode was how TJP and Rich Swann didn't appear at all, even in a recap video, to advance their burgeoning feud. This week, they suddenly get a main event match, without any explanation other than the fact that they've been interacting with each other. It still made sense to me as an avid follower of this show, but if I were a viewer who started getting back in last week and saw that these two were having a match out of the blue now, I'd be a little lost.

    To be fair, NXT (and Lucha Underground) suffer from the same problems, but both shows at least try to set things up in advance. And those shows only have the one hour to do everything—the cruiserweight division has 205 Live, one or two segments on RAW, and a match on Main Event every week to build to the next episode. Swann and TJ did not get anything at all last week to build up to this main event that, by virtue of its spot on the card, we should care about.

    The damage is not that grave; it was by the strength of the two wrestlers, who pretty much proved again why they deserved to be Cruiserweight Champions, that they managed to pull a "this is awesome" chant from a largely lukewarm crowd. The match was an epic clash, by 205 Live standards, as it was almost as good as their Cruiserweight Classic quarterfinals match.

    But it's the little things that count. They do go a long way, and the TJP/Swann match ended up not getting the right kind of big-fight atmosphere it deserved. It's pretty much the same song with the WWE: there's always enough to draw you in, but they always leave out the more thoughtful actions that would round out the entire presentation and experience.

    I wanted a little more to help out two people whose work I enjoy, and I would assume that there are those who wanted that too. And they need to get better with this, because there are wrestlers who are not gonna be as good—or as interesting—TJP and Rich Swann.

    205 Live 7/4/17 Grade: Despite my big-picture concerns with the division's storytelling, this week's episode is actually a rock-solid show that keeps things simple with three strong matchups. Once again, however, some stories aren't represented, but nothing is a waste. This week is reminiscent of Austin Aries Commentary, or a B+.

    Short stops

    • Excellent use of Titus O'Neil to take the Neville/Tozawa angle home for Sunday's Great Balls of Fire PPV. For some reason, Tozawa still seems to be stuck in Japan, but Titus is absolutely flourishing in this Titus Worldwide gimmick. He's an effective enough mouthpiece to be Tozawa's proxy in the development of his feud with Neville without actually blocking Tozawa's shine. The interplay between Tozawa and Neville and Tozawa and Titus will be an interesting one to see in the coming weeks. (Neville's sure to be retaining at the PPV, but keep your options open.)

    • After what was originally a promising start in this new chapter of Jack Gallagher's career, I'm vehemently protesting against this feud with Brian Kendrick. What I thought was going to be a character study on whether Jacky Boy can start winning again while still being a Gentleman is now what seems to be another hokey Kendrick feud that's all about Gallagher being British. This has to be Jack's stupidest feud yet, and he deserves better. Are we just going to keep Aries sidelined, and are you really going to throw Tony Nese to the side like that?

    • Speaking of dumb feuds, I'm telling the WWE to back all the way off from continuing this Cedric/Noam feud. Yes, it's an angle for both, but nobody wants to see this anymore, and I have a feeling Cedric's (and hell, Noam's) onscreen frustration with this angle is real.

    • No Drew Gulak and Mustafa Ali on this episode makes me wonder if the feud is over. Ali appeared on RAW to get his ass kicked by Neville. 205 Live needs to tell #1 contendership stories.

    • I do like what they're doing with TJP and Swann, painting TJ as a gray heel. This reminds me of the Eddie/Rey feud from 2005, just under different circumstances, and this is at least a character study they're committed to. Swann had to win this week's match.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 7/6/17)

    The go-home week to Great Balls of Fire is an interesting one. It solidifies the champ's spot at the top, but a missing Akira Tozawa may have scrambled the Smarkometric Experience Xtreme (tm)'s rankings this week. Let's take a look:

    • 1. Neville, no movement — Beats Mustafa Ali and Lince Dorado two straight weeks in a row.

    • 2. Cedric Alexander, #3 last week — Cedric's new gimmick seems to be Athlete Who No-Sells Distractions, because almost everyone who has ever snuck up on him has never cost him a loss (except for Noam Dar, when he was facing Ariya Daivari). Either way, Cedric's looking good, and it's a shame he's stuck feuding with Dar because apparently only one can challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship at a time.

    • 3. Akira Tozawa, #2 last week — Misses this week, and it doesn't look good for his chances at winning on Sunday. Or they could just go ahead and swerve us.

    • 4. Jack Gallagher, #6 last week — Gallagher moves up two spots after a well-scouted win against nemesis Tony Nese, but is finding himself in one of the dumbest feuds of his WWE run so far.

    • 5. TJP, #4 last week — TJ drops down just one spot after his big loss to Rich Swann in this week's 205 Live main event, mostly because those below him don't win.

    • 6. Rich Swann, #8 last week — Swann closes the gap between him and TJ and beats Ariya Daivari on Main Event, but this won't be the last time they'll be doing battle this summer.

    • 7. Mustafa Ali, #5 last week — Beats Drew Gulak last week, but is used as fodder for Neville and Titus O'Neil. The cruiserweight midcard needs something to do.

    • 8. Tony Nese, #7 last week — Drops down one spot after losing to Jack Gallagher, and it's made clear that he won't be the guy to feud with him moving forward.

    • 9. Ariya Daivari, no movement — Is just there. Loses to Rich Swann on Main Event.

    • 10. The Brian Kendrick, #11 last week — TBK is moving back up the rankings now that he's feuding with Jack Gallagher, and honestly, he should've just stayed home.

    • 11. Noam Dar, #12 last week — Jumps over Drew Gulak despite the loss simply because Gulak is nowhere to be found this week. It does seem like they're slow-burning toward an eventual split with Alicia Fox, which would be great for Dar right now; the pairing with Fox has more than run its course, especially after the whole FaceTime angle.

      • 12. Lince Dorado, #14 last week — A loss is still an appearance, and he did his best to shine in the extended match against Neville this week.

      • 13. Drew Gulak, #10 last week — Misses one week and drops three spots down. The lower tiers of the rankings are a rough jungle.

      • 14. Austin Aries, #13 last week — Jack Gallagher needs you. A lot.

      • 15. Gran Metalik, no movement — Yep, still here.

      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 (7/4/17): Classic Cruiserweight Action Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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