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    Thursday, February 9, 2017

    Live From The 205 (2/9/17): It's Not Gay When It's In A Five-Way

    What's good, everyone, it's your favorite EIC Ro taking over 205 Live reviewing duties from Lynch.

    You may (or may not) have noticed that we originally started a 205 Live review when the show debuted, but due to real life getting in the way, our homeboy wasn't able to keep up with responsibilities. That's all good because life happens, but I felt like despite its earlier road bumps, 205 Live was a show that was finally coming into its own, and nothing embodied that growth more than this week's episode.

    Before Neville turned heel, became King of the Cruiserweights, and took his rightful place on the purple pantheon, 205 Live was mostly a dumping ground for the cruiserweights on the lower end of the spectrum. We saw the Bollywood Boyz once and never saw them again. We saw Drew Gulak and Tony Nese take people on in uninspired bouts, we saw way too much of Jack Gallagher tangling with the unfortunately too WWE-style Ariya Daivari.

    Over time, however, the focus shifted back into the workers: Nese was separated from Gulak and highlighted as the premiere specimen that he is, high-flyers like Mustafa Ali and Lince Dorado didn't win all the time, but their athleticism was showcased. Mismatched pairings like TJ Perkins and Brian Kendrick, and Cedric Alexander and Noam Dar finally ended. For now, the show could get back to its real business of promoting pure indy-style action.

    The Golden Rule

    Nothing made this soft reboot (the one I've been asking for for a while) clearer than the well-booked Fatal Five-Way to determine a new #1 contender to Neville's championship. Previous champion Rich Swann suffered an unfortunate injury, so he isn't able to get back in there.

    You know you've chosen a good pool of guys to compete for a shot when you're pretty much okay with any of them winning the match. My money was on Cedric Alexander, a guy in need of a huge shot to break through for all the hard work he's done, but a win for Mustafa Ali, TJ Perkins, or even Noam Dar would have been acceptable (even if that last one didn't make sense).

    You know what's best about it, though? This whole elimination match for a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship is the closest 205 Live's come to recreating the magic and drama of the whole Cruiserweight Classic. The qualifying match earlier in the night put some sense into Mustafa Ali's entry into the main event, giving people one more reason to care about him, and sometimes, that's really all you need (looking at you, RAW. And a quick side-eye to SmackDown too, for letting people into the Elimination Chamber all willy-nilly). It also helps that Ariya Daivari somehow brought it.

    And another benchmark that you put together another match: people get tired going into a third hour of wrestling coming from a hot SmackDown, but someone in the back just told the five guys to get out there and tear the house down. Tear down the residence they did, as the crowd got completely into it.

    I know I said I wanted Cedric to win, but the more I thought about it, the more I became okay with Gallagher winning the shot. His stint so far on 205 Live brought him dangerously close to Santino territory, and while there's technically nothing wrong with Santino (he's a great comedy wrestler) reducing the Gentleman to a fop who wrestles with an umbrella is a huge disservice to his actual wrestling skills. A feud with Neville may finally be the catalyst that allows Jack to find that right balance between comedy and actual technical wrestling. He could end up being just a slightly better Santino, but that would be fine.

    The Gatekeeper

    While Brian Kendrick was a revelation back in the Cruiserweight Classic and a welcome veteran presence in the division, he just wasn't magnetic enough as an anchor for the scene. Getting moved to 205 Live's midcard and being the crusty old man calling himself the "gatekeeper" of the show is a better fit for him.

    But it isn't quite clear who TBK's really feuding with; he called out Akira Tozawa to continue what he started last week, but Tajiri came back from injury to, uh, also finish what they started. If the two Japanese guys get lumped together, that would be a little lazy. I still wanna see what happens, though, and I personally want Tajiri to turn on Tozawa and join Kendrick in being the angry old gatekeepers of the division. #Team2003SmackDown!

    Short Stops

    • Speaking of masked luchadores, please stop jobbing out Lince Dorado. He's way too good for this. If you wanted to make a point, get a local wrestler.
    • Austin Aries is so good at his new job that you kind of forget that he's actually not retired as a wrestler. It'll get lit when he finally steps out from behind the booth, but it'll also be a loss for the table.

    All in all, I'm glad 205 Live found its stride again, and I only hope they continue walking down this road despite who's rumored to be at the helm. At this point, what's left is more diversity in the undercard, but less of the Cedric/Dar/Alicia Fox stuff, please. You do not want to keep your eyes off this show; I'm gonna make the hot take and say it's poised to become better than even NXT (but not SmackDown). A

    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.
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    Item Reviewed: Live From The 205 (2/9/17): It's Not Gay When It's In A Five-Way Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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