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    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Live From the 205 (8/15/17): Mad King Neville

    So many things happened in the World of the Cruiserweights this week. I'll have to split it into two.

    First, I'm sure you all know that Akira Tozawa won the Cruiserweight Championship from Neville on the go-home episode of RAW. This has nothing to do with 205 Live the show per se, being on Monday night, but it has to be discussed either way.

    Like what happened when RAW gave away the first match of Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt for free on the same episode, I understand the need of having something big happen over the course of this feud in order to keep things fresh, but if you're going to pull the trigger on such a catalyst on TV, you should've spaced it well before the big PPV.

    Consider: RAW and 205 Live had six weeks after Great Balls of Fire, and before SummerSlam to tell a story. Six. That's 12 episodes to do something for the title. The entire subplot involving Ariya Daivari and the subsequent #1 contendership match between him and Akira Tozawa could have been told in the first half of those six weeks, with that match happening on RAW instead of 205 Live. You could then promote the following week's title match on the subsequent episode of 205, have the Cruiserweight Championship match next week on RAW (you could run it on Tuesday nights, but hey, we're going all in with bolstering TV and having the big stuff happen on RAW, so why not) and run the same result of Tozawa winning.

    And then you use the remaining weeks to build up Mad King Neville's chase and the big SummerSlam rematch, instead of making the big championship win happen on the go-home week and betray the fact that you're desperate to sell your show. Which, by the way, doesn't need much selling as it's one of the more stacked cards in recent memory thanks to some uncharacteristic above-average storytelling as of late. (Of course, before some of this fuckery happened.)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm stoked that Tozawa finally won. If it wasn't going to be Austin Aries, he was the right babyface to take it from Neville. I just wish that some of his thunder wasn't stolen in what ended up looking like a last-ditch effort—but at the very least, what he does with the reign should be much more memorable than how he won it. Like the last champion.

    As for this week's episode, 205 Live shines best when the action is on point and the stories are simple. I'm happy that many things got furthered in the right direction and that they've decided to maximize more of their roster (four guys in a tag team match! GRAN METALIK WON!). It helps, Akira Tozawa especially, that the Providence crowd was hot (although it was the same dastardly crowd that booed the Indian national anthem earlier in the evening).

    I'm definitely enjoying the overnight change in Neville, who has gone from arrogant king to Mad King Aerys (hence the title of this week's review). Not sure if he put on some eyeshadow, but it did look like he hadn't slept and showered since RAW, and it's one hell of a nice character touch to underscore just how important the championship was to him. It's making the rematch even more intriguing, and again, it would have been a lot better if it were fleshed out over the course of a few weeks leading up to SummerSlam.

    Even though the cruiserweights are still treated somewhat as second-class citizens in the land of RAW, 205 Live still delivers some of the most consistent hours of action across WWE programming—only NXT can compare.

    205 Live 8/15/17 Grade: A Gran Metalik win and a bit of a story moving forward? That's already a guaranteed A-. It would've been higher if the rest of the show kept up the same momentum, but they didn't go all out.

    Short stops

    • They're giving me Angry Jack Gallagher every week, and I'm loving it. They pulled the trigger and went from a ridiculous, uninspired story into something more potent. Now Kendrick is going crazy and paranoid as well because Jack is apparently Ginger Cruiserweight Randy Orton, which is a nice turn of events. Let's just hope that it doesn't become redundant with Neville's new character, because they're similar. (It doesn't help that they both debuted this change on the same episode.)
    • The tag team match between Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik, Tony Nese, and Drew Gulak makes quite the strong case for a cruiserweight tag team championship, if it weren't another title to add to the company's already deep gallery.
    • I couldn't tell if Tozawa was nervous during his celebration or he was just acting, but it was kind of awkward. Thank God Neville came out so he could get his face kicked in.
    • The TJ "injury" is a great way to get even more heel heat. At this point we're still not sure it's legit, and the fact that it was used as a plot point blurs the lines even more, but if it isn't and he's playing it up for fake sympathy, it's wonderful. Go all in on making TJ even more hateable.
    • Somebody sees something in Ariya Daivari as he's being trusted to do more. At least, more than Noam Dar is right now. It was a fine match with Rich Swann with some brutal spots, and at this rate he seems to be improving better than Jinder Mahal.
    • Why do the faces and heels hang out in the same locker room?

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 8/17/17)

    The big title change on RAW cements the top of the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm) rankings even further, but let's see what it does to the middle of the ladder:

    • 1. Akira Tozawa, no movement — After winning the title, how is Tozawa even going to go down from his perch?

    • 2. Neville, no movement — That's what you get when you get complacent, but hey, it'll be an interesting fall moving forward.

    • 3. Cedric Alexander, #6 last week — Cedric finally gets one over Tony Nese, but not quite, as he pins Nese's partner Drew Gulak. Still, it's a nice win. 

    • 4. Tony Nese, no movement — Nese remains protected for as long as he's getting this minor heel push, so despite a ridiculously fun tag team match that he lost, he didn't take the pin, so he's not falling.

    • 5. TJP, #3 last week — TJ is out this week with a "knee injury" to presumably get away from Rich Swann, but I hope it isn't real.

    • 6. Jack Gallagher, #7 last week  Angry Jack jumps one spot just because of how awesome his new side is. Let's hope it goes straight to him unleashing his MMA skills as the Gentleman Grappler.

    • 7. Rich Swann, #5 last week — Swann does another dive as the story keeps imposing TJ's superiority, but I'm worried that he won't get his chance to get the win back if TJ really is injured.

    • 8. Gran Metalik, #12 last week — I'm giving El Rey De Las Cuerdas a huge jump just because of all the good things that happened to him this week: he wins twice, and he gets in on an actual story on 205 Live. Of course, that's no guarantee that he'll be in this same story next week, but he continues to impress every time he's on TV. I'm sure the people at the back have noticed his Main Event performances. 

    • 9. Ariya Daivari, no movement — Stays in his spot due to a loss on Main Event, despite a win on 205 Live.

    • 10. The Brian Kendrick, no movement — They've managed to find a way to turn this story around, and I'm all here for it. I'm here for Paranoid Brian Kendrick.

    • 11. Mustafa Ali, no movement Something's wrong when they wouldn't even let Ali win against Kendrick via interference, but then again it's just a small price to pay to further the Gallagher/Kendrick story.

      • 12. Lince Dorado, #12 last week — Wins against Gulak and Daivari on Main Event.

      • 13. Noam Dar, #8 last week — Falls far due to only appearing in a backstage segment, after having quite the comeback last week. It's clear they've got nothing for him.

      • 14. Drew Gulak, no movement — Gulak returns to being that cruiserweight jobber because he refuses to fly around, but he's got opportunities to rebound.

      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. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account.
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      Item Reviewed: Live From the 205 (8/15/17): Mad King Neville Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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