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    Friday, September 29, 2017

    Live From The 205 (9/26/17): Do You Know Your Enemy?

    When something absolutely mind-boggling happens on a WWE show, I have to be The Guy that tells everyone to sit tight and see how things play out, no matter how bleak it looks. No matter how much my faith in the establishment is eroded, by all the trolling and manipulation and stubbornness that Vincent Kennedy McMahon has subjected us all to, I have to be that person.

    Why the optimism, you ask? Simple: pro wrestling is a serial medium, especially at the highest levels. Literally nothing happens in a vacuum, because if it did, the whole industry would have died a long time ago. Our age of instant gratification and unlimited options has made us more prone than ever to out-of-proportion knee-jerk reactions, making us forget that there's always a thing that happens tomorrow, the next week, the next month. That means it's on whoever's telling the story to deliver.

    Which is why when Enzo Amore won everything since showing up on 205 Live—the multi-man tag matches, the #1 contendership, the actual championship at No Mercy—despite being an outright dickbag, I hoped to the heavens that there was a bigger picture our collective simmering rage clouded us from seeing. That there was something tangible we were headed toward. You can imagine my joy at finding out that yes, this was headed somewhere.

    Remember when I theorized that Enzo's booking in the cruiserweight division was a ploy to get everyone to hate him? I'm happy to report that that's exactly what happened—at the very real risk that Vince would totally double down and be ignorant like he is with Roman Reigns—and as a result, not only is he uniting everyone (okay, almost everyone) in the division by making enemies out of them, Enzo is fulfilling his manifest destiny of actually making 205 Live buzzworthy enough for the rest of the fanbase to watch.

    Now all eyes are on the guy whose backstage antics have made him entirely hateable. It's just funny to me that apparently, all it takes to garner some honest-to-goodness heel heat in 2017 is to be a legitimate dick in real life; as I mention on this week's episode of the SGP Podcast, the art form has finally come full circle and caught up with what it was trying to portray as fictional.

    The next steps for Enzo are a little hazy now that they've stumbled into all this heat (Enzo's wonderful as the annoying shit-heel he was meant to be) but let me make it clearer for everyone: it's important that they don't overstay his welcome. That Cruiserweight Championship means something after the past year, especially thanks to Neville, and Enzo's villainy has to rub off on an up-and-coming babyface who needs it. Someone like a Mustafa Ali or a Cedric Alexander.

    In the meantime, though, let's continue to applaud WWE for managing to make Enzo palatable again, after that sophomore slump. It's quite the turnaround, with three months left to go in 2017.

    205 Live 9/26/17 Grade: Aside from doing the right thing with Enzo (and not a moment too late), this week's episode actually put out effort to advance all running storylines within the hour they have. A-.

    Short stops

    • When I say they're maximizing everyone as much as they could, I mean it—Ariya Daivari gets a new lease on relevance by allying with Enzo Amore and being his mini-Big Cass, Lince Dorado gets to show his face even though he gets robbed of a match two weeks in a row, and even Tony Nese is back, even though his mini-push has officially been 86ed. 
    • Drew Gulak and Akira Tozawa is not the best pairing they could come up for either man, especially for Tozawa, but it's a sign that they want to put in some effort for both. That's a great sign for Gulak, who needed something new for his conservative wrestler character.
    • I'm glad that they're minimizing TJP/Swann to build up the eventual final match. There's no need for long, drawn-out spots every week here; we already know they hate each other, and it just has to come to a head in a big match.
    • I think it's time for Jack Gallagher to switch up his facial hair as a heel, even though it oddly fits him better now. He needs to look like Sabertooth again.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 9/29/17)

    Things have to change, obviously. You don't need the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm) to tell you that.

    • 1. Enzo Amore, #3 last week — And nobody can deny.
    • 2. Neville, #1 last week — The King has to fall, and like Enzo Amore, nobody can deny this. The good thing is that it'll be easier for him to reclaim his top spot as long as he continues to dominate.
    • 3. Cedric Alexander, #2 last week — No match this week means he doesn't drop too far, but others will be gaining on him.
    • 4. Gran Metalik, #6 last week — Other than Enzo winning, there hasn't actually been a lot of earth-shaking moves for the cruiserweights. Metalik goes up by virtue of scoring a win on Main Event, of all places.
    • 5. The Brian Kendrick, #4 last week — Just appears in a backstage vignette with new BFF Jack Gallagher. 
    • 6. Jack Gallagher, #5 last week — See The Brian Kendrick.
    • 7. Akira Tozawa, #9 last week — Coasting along in a filler feud with Drew Gulak, ideally a good partner for his strong style, but Tozawa's now floundering out there without Titus Worldwide. Either they stick him back in a high-profile feud by himself or they bring back the stable to 205 Live.
    • 8. Rich Swannno movement — Punking out TJP at least keeps him ahead.
    • 9. TJP, #7 last week — Gets a taste of his own medicine after getting clowned. But it's getting good, though.
    • 10. Lince Dorado, #12 last week — Beats Tony Nese (and Drew Gulak, again) on Main Event. On fucking Main Event.
    • 11. Drew Gulak, #13 last week — For the first time in a long time, Drew Gulak overtakes Tony Nese, who is sliding so bad in this slump of his. 
    • 12. Tony Nese, #13 last week — Remember when Nese was the #2 heel a month or so ago? 
    • 13. Ariya Daivari, #14 last week — Daivari gets a new lease on life after allying with Enzo Amore, as the mini-Big Cass in Enzo's 205 Live run.
    • 14. Mustafa Ali, #10 last week — Ali drops down four spots simply for being forgotten; everyone ahead of him, even Tony Nese, has something going for them. Ali honestly can't say the same.
    • 15. Noam Dar, no movement — But at least Ali isn't as forgotten as Noam Dar.

    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 (9/26/17): Do You Know Your Enemy? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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