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    Saturday, June 30, 2018

    Live From the 205 (6/26/18): Cruiservivor Series

    Man, the cruiserweights may be the most unsung heroes of the entire WWE.

    Imagine having to go on last, after what's usually a hot episode of SmackDown Live, wrestling your ass off for a crowd where half the people don't know who you are. You put on what are usually the best matches on the whole main roster, but the only people cheering for you seem to be the crickets in the arena. You may have legions of fans around the world watching you on the WWE Network, but it's just not the same as hearing them make noise in front of you.

    205 Live gets good crowd reactions every now and then, but the post-SmackDown death slot really is the worst sometimes. Especially when you're trying to put on uncommon TV main events like the six-man Survivor Series match between the Lucha House Party and the Alliance of Grapplers.

    Okay, it's kind of the booking's fault. These six guys have been trading wins with each other every week without stopping, and you could argue that it's just dragging at this point. The biggest names in this feud are Kalisto and Drew Gulak, but you also can't blame them for putting Lince Dorado, Gran Metalik, Brian Kendrick, and Jack Gallagher out there for some exposure.

    I guess this match is one of those short-term risks that lead to a long-term payoff. Yes, it's not one of the more vocal main events in 205 Live history because they decided to put cruiserweight midcarders blowing off steam, but the fact that they felt they could and had to do that? I respect it, much more than most of the crowd. It's how you rotate your guys efficiently to avoid burning the crowd out on them (even though it's ironic because these six went at it in different permutations every week).

    It's also a great move to have Drew Gulak get the win and have the Alliance come out on top in this whole feud. The Lucha House Party are already the New Day of the cruiserweight division, so they have nothing to achieve by beating a team no one was really favoring. In fact, they've got more to gain in losing, because now the other two luchadors have a chance to develop alongside Kalisto.

    This big win, then, is the whole point of the Drew Gulak Detour: he's being built up as the best possible match for Cedric Alexander or any other babyface Cruiserweight Champion, and as long as we get results like this, I'm okay with it.

    205 Live 6/26/18 Grade: A lackluster crowd hurts this episode overall, but interesting developments and a renewed focus on Cedric Alexander's presence on the show keep it afloat. B+

    Short stops

    • The more I think about it, the more I enjoy the idea of Tony Nese being Buddy Murphy's "training partner." When they do finally get the Cruiserweight Tag Team Championships on the show I'd love to see these two body guys dominate the division.
    • Seriously, I really wish Akira Tozawa would be the thorn in Itami's side. It's a good way to get him involved in the scene without having him be another player in the championship picture.
    • The segment with Drake Maverick and Cedric Alexander is a fine, fine example of rock-solid character development in under three minutes. Cedric establishes himself as a smart and proactive fighting champion by seeking out Drake's permission to face Itami. (He also shows that he reads social media because he knows he hasn't been competing on the show much.) Drake, in turn, establishes his own motivations and logical managerial style by insisting that he doesn't want to reward bad behavior. It's a great, complex conflict that successfully mines nuance to make the crowd feel like they're watching a smarter program. Cedric's right, Itami beat Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy, so he should get the next title shot; but Drake's also right in implying that if it were that easy, heels would go around flouting authority all the time just to bait the champ into giving them what they want.
    • What makes this even better is that both men manage to agree on it amicably, even though Drake comes out of it giving up his moral high ground to Cedric.
    • We don't actually know if the title match is happening next week, because there's also a no-DQ match between Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy booked too. Shouldn't Mustafa be getting a match with Hideo, as he got suckered by Hideo's turnbuckle stunt?
    • Lio Rush debuts... to the same kind of local jobber TJP has been ranting against. These two have to team up eventually.
    • I don't know what's worse: having Gran Metalik be the first elimination via a headbutt finish that didn't really translate as well as they wanted, or getting the sound of silence when he got taken out. This is what they've done to Mascara Dorada, and I'm kind of hoping Lince Dorado turns heel on the House Party and feuds with the other two, just so Kalisto could help Metalik out.
    • SO. MANY. UNMASKINGS. We get not one, but two! Gulak has to be Public Enemy #1 in Mexico now.

    205 Live Rankings as of 6/30/18

    Midcard steam has been blown off this week, so how does the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme stack it up?
    1. Cedric Alexander (no movement) — Cedric has reestablished his claim over the whole division, and working overtime to make sure he's got the best reign. I respect that.
    2. Hideo Itami (no movement) — Still your #2 guy at the moment.
    3. Drew Gulak (#5 last week) — Gulak dispatches the Lucha House Party almost singlehandedly, proving the superiority of grappling on the ground. Talk about someone overdue for the championship.
    4. Mustafa Ali (#3 last week) — Ali gets a shot at taking down Buddy Murphy next week, but is nowhere to be found ths week. 
    5. Buddy Murphy (#4 last week) — Shows up to bring Tony Nese out for his match, doesn't even stick around. It's the little things that matter, but I felt like there could've been more here.
    6. Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher (#10 last week) — These two shoot up just by association with Drew Gulak.
    7. Lio Rush (new) — Lio Rush makes an impact this week, and will likely be showing up every week from here on out.
    8. Kalisto (#7 last week) — Drops down a spot after losing, and saves himself from falling further by lasting late into the match.
    9. Akira Tozawa (new) — Tozawa returns to the rankings by beating Tony Nese in a one-off match.
    10. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik (#6 last week) — Falls all the way down in the rankings after being beaten handily by the Alliance of Grapplers.
      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 (6/26/18): Cruiservivor Series Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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