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    Thursday, July 19, 2018

    Live From the 205 (7/17/18): Nice Guys Finishing Last

    Every now and then, 205 Live has to reset itself at the beginning of each new cycle, even if it's not immediately obvious that there are cycles. (They don't show up on PPVs anymore, you see, even though WWE's trying to cram everything in one big event now.) This week's episode is about some midcard storylines, but it's really about setting the stage for bigger future movements in the cruiserweight division.

    Take the two featured matches here: TJP vs. Noam Dar and Lio Rush vs. Akira Tozawa. Both heels win pretty cleanly, which is interesting when you consider 205 Live's habit of stretching every feud to its breaking point. It turns out that TJ's win, at least, is to set him up for next week's fatal four-way for the #1 contendership, while Rush doesn't really get anything from his own victory.

    I just find it strange that Dar gets a hard stop after beating TJP in six or so seconds, or that Tozawa doesn't even suffer from cheating in his loss to Lio Rush. I get that we're better off with solid directions for people instead of on-the-fence 50-50 booking, but something seems off with this, especially for two guys coming off of what look like pushes.

    If anything, the biggest winner here is Drake Maverick, because he looks like a proactive general manager again. Watching matches backstage and making big matches to determine new challengers is exactly what a good GM should be doing, not taking instructions from their champs.

    While a TV show should always try to be great and entertaining—you do have a crowd who's sticking around, because they paid money to watch you—I totally understand if some episodes don't always meet that mark. Especially if the point is to lay the foundation for something else. They tried their best, but even if the only net positive is a deposit in the brand's future, then it's still a win. Just not a big one.

    205 Live 7/17/18 Grade: Not every deviation from the formula is going to work well, but better to have tried something else than to recycle. B-

    Short stops

    • You can tell that they're really starting to get comfortable with the idea of handing the mic to TJP every week now. While he's no CM Punk or Chris Jericho on the mic by any means, he does well enough to convey his arrogance, and none of it is awkward.
    • I guess we'll never know why Noam lost so clean.
    • I love Brian Kendrick taking the time to offer Local Jobber a handshake. Loved even more Jack Gallagher trying for the same move but the referee stopping him, thinking he was gonna attack the dude or something.
    • That said—are the Cruel Gentlemen really nothing more than Gulak's henchmen now? Is this what they've been reduced to?
    • Ooh, tension brewing between Tony Nese and Buddy Murphy, but I'm not too hot about the rematch with Kalisto next week. Poor Buddy doesn't even get into the fatal four-way.
    • There's something off about Lio Rush's heel character right now. He's got the cocky young blue-chipper part down in his mic work, but it feels like he's still figuring out how to apply being a bad guy in his actual wrestling. He moves like your prototypical cruiserweight (in fact, like how people imagine cruiserweights to wrestle) but it's like he doesn't always remember that he needs to be an asshole in the ring. I'd also probably change the frog splash finish because we all know he's capable of flashier moves.
    • So where does Tozawa go from here? Feels like they're not really sure what to do with him.
    • And where does Rush go from here, too, if he's not in the fatal four-way? He's got nothing left to prove to Tozawa. I feel like he should be the one feuding with Drake Maverick, not TJP.
    • Why does Hideo get to be part of the four-way when he explicitly lost to Cedric? Shouldn't Rush be in this because he actually beat someone important in Tozawa? Drake's explanation better be "because Cedric got lucky."
    • I definitely like Cedric being proactive as champion, always trying to figure out who he's fighting next. This is a trait most face champions in the WWE are lacking in their writing.

    205 Live Rankings as of 7/19/18

    No huge, earth-shaking matches this week, so how does the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme observe the movement?
    1. Cedric Alexander (no movement) — Cedric doing work. HE WANTS TO FIGHT.
    2. Mustafa Ali (no movement) — Mustafa gets a presence on this show and will be fighting for a chance to be #1 contender. I'd say he's firmly #2 in the whole division.
    3. Drew Gulak (#3 last week) — Dismantles a jobber in three quick moves, establishes his claim for the Cruiserweight Championship, and being in next week's fatal four-way? Drew's winning this, no questions asked.
    4. Lio Rush (#6 last week) — Lio breaks the top five after beating Akira Tozawa handily, but he's not in the four-way. Why do I feel like he'll manage to find his way into the match next week? 
    5. Hideo Itami (#3 last week) — Itami drops down a couple of spots thanks to the rise of Gulak and Rush, but keeps from free-falling further by getting into the fatal four-way.
    6. Buddy Murphy (#4 last week) — Murphy's in a terrible, terrible slump and I don't know where his future his headed right now. Hope that snaps soon, as he's been one of the better additions to the show this year.
    7. TJP (new) — Manages to shake the devil off his back and land himself an opportunity at a title shot? TJ's back.
    8. Akira Tozawa (#8 last week) — Tozawa's just fed to Lio, and is this now his new role? Gatekeeping for more popular guys?
    9. Noam Dar (#8 last week) — Erases all momentum from his return by being defeated dominantly by TJP. Say it ain't so.
    10. Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher (no movement) — Now officially Drew Gulak's interns, so not much going on for them until Gulak wins the title.
      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 (7/17/18): Nice Guys Finishing Last Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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