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    Friday, January 12, 2018

    Live From the 205 (1/9/18): Same Show, Different Week

    After spending the first week of the year chugging along with the Zo Train B-Team, 205 Live is finally activating some of its top assets again this week.

    We all know TJP returned to the show last week, but on this episode they've also brought back their top luchadores Kalisto and Gran Metalik. They're slowly moving the focus away from the Zo Train's internal drama and repopulating the scene with their former go-to guys, but something about the current iteration of the show still feels formulaic and lacking.

    I mean, before TJP's return I've already bombarded you with questions on where the guy is all this time, and it didn't take long before the others were phased out in favor of the Zo Train's dominance on the division. But in a scene with few big stars (crowds are still chanting for Neville every episode) absences of recognizable names are more than conspicuous.

    See, that's the problem with 205 Live right now: for some reason the people running the show are simply unable to maximize the roster they have. Right now there are 17 cruiserweights on the main roster by my count, and lately on 205 Live only half of those make TV on any given episode, even when they actually have storylines.

    That's not even counting only two to five cruiserweights appearing on RAW, during their one or two segments every Monday. Recognizable names like TJP and Kalisto are already made conspicuous by their absences, but if you take away time from the lesser-known cruiserweights, people'll have no idea who they are when you bring them back for a spot or two. Like was there any good reason at all for Drew Gulak, someone who they've clearly been trying to push as an eventual babyface against Enzo Amore, to not be on this show at all?

    And the show has now settled terribly into a predictable format: the first match will either be Zo Train-related or something completely different (as in the past couple of weeks with TJP's return), the middle segment will have something to do with Jack Gallagher and Brian Kendrick, while the main event is definitely going to involve members of the Zo Train. The show's become a plug-and-play mess that looks like it was booked on Extreme Warfare: Revenge, and a lack of interaction between feuds and storylines in the division screams of bland and lazy writing.

    Fortunately, the boys are still bringing the action every week, and that's real dedication. But the show needs the energy from early last year, from Neville and Austin Aries's heyday, to shock and reinvigorate the division. You can't saddle them with poor material, watch them work their asses off, and still blame them for the division not drawing well. Do something. Make it big. The Zo Train by itself can't carry this load forever.

    205 Live 1/9/18 Grade: I want to like this episode a lot since it features a hot Cruiserweight Classic finals rematch, but a formulaic Gallagher/Itami segment and a confusing angle featuring Tony Nese makes it hard to love. B-

    Short stops

    • The TJP meltdown is highly intriguing, even if it was a little awkward because of TJ's lack of Braun Strowman strength. But if this means we're getting a feud between him and Metalik/Kalisto, I'm all for this just for the crazy matches we're going to get.
    • By the way, Metalik's Black Panther threads are fire. Kalisto's black-and-white getup, too.
    • The way Gallagher/Itami is being booked isn't really doing Hideo any favors. HAVE HIM SQUASH LOCALS. He's not quite passing the eye test right now so he has to look good week in and week out, man.
    • Where's Tozawa? He's got nothing to feel about Titus Worldwide making an impact in the RAW tag division?
    • So what's the deal, really, with Tony Nese? Why would a guy twice Enzo's size be whimpering to be back on his team? The only way this makes sense is if it's heading toward a Nese and Gulak face turn against the rest of the Zo Train, but without Gulak and Daivari in the picture there weren't enough dots to connect and make sense of Nese's insistence to prove himself. This is why everyone needs to be maximized, even if they can't all be booked in matches each week. I get that they're probably trying to cut appearance costs as much as possible, but unless the writing and producing catch up to how the roster is being booked, it's not working as well. Nese either needs a face turn or a real manager behind him.
    • Meanwhile, Cedric Alexander is lacking something compelling. There's more effort being put into Enzo as a nuanced character, especially with the injuries and the interactions with Nia Jax, so to me this all feels like they're headed for a strange, unnecessary double turn. To quote another great cruiserweight, what's up with that?

    Photo from WWE


    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry, one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and is associated with Philippine Wrestling Revolution. 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 (1/9/18): Same Show, Different Week Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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