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    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Live From The 205 (3/21/17): Bow Down To The King

    Whenever I write about the WWE or another wrestling show and they make the changes I keep whining about, I always feel like someone high up is reading my work. That makes me feel like an ~*~influencer~*~, man. It's certainly happened before, and it's not any different now that I review 205 Live on the regular.

    This week's episode saw a bit of a deviation from their established three-match formula. Yes, there were still three singles matches, but one of them was really a front for a quick segment that did its job, giving way to another important segment that, in turn, gave way to the main event. The main event, for its part, was a callback to a seemingly throwaway moment from last week's episode.

    Let's talk about that Mustafa Ali vs. Neville match, shall we? I thought that moment from last week's episode of 205 Live—you know, the one on the banner photo, where Ali walked out right while Neville was cutting his opening promo—was just a random thing that happened. Maybe someone in the back was a little trigger-happy, playing Ali's music way before he was supposed to. Turns out it was a setup for this week's main event, where Neville took offense to that interruption and challenged Ali to a match. Continuity!

    Ali, for his part, looked really good in the bout, every bit like a player on the rise in the cruiserweight division. Of course, he had to lose, but going toe-to-toe and hitting all his big spots is a great way to build a guy up without exactly putting him next in line for the title. To a certain degree, that's also what happened when the Premier Athlete Tony Nese defeated our homeboy TJ Perkins (almost-cleanly) in the opening bout.

    This week's 205 Live episode felt really slick and written with intention. Yes, some of its more important players are either missing (Gran Metalik) or demoted (Jack Gallagher, Rich Swann, TJ Perkins), but I can't deny that that the brand just took a bold step in building two of its possible future centerpieces—and actually tying small threads together, not just the big parts of the week-to-week story. If only RAW could be written like this outside the purple segments.

    Short stops

    • Really, really hope that this recent string of bad luck means a heel turn for TJP soon. A lot of time was spent focusing on his pained face after his loss. I won't mind him being the cruiserweight Dolph Ziggler. But that was a great match between him and Nese that I hope is the blowoff for this little story.

    • It looks like Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann are officially teaming up outside of their little thing from last week, appearing backstage with matching outfits. I'm actually glad for the backstage segment, by the way, but I can't decide whether this is a good use for a former Cruiserweight Champion and a former championship contender. I have to begrudgingly admit that I'm slowly getting curious about where the Alicia Fox story is now going. Guess it helped that the interaction between them and Dar was kept to a bare minimum.

    • This week's Kendrick/Tozawa segment was short but sweet. Have I mentioned at just how amazed I continue to be at Tozawa's top English skills? Again, not to be racist, but when your exposure to Japanese wrestlers' speaking ability is guys like Tajiri, and even Nakamura's wild delivery, Tozawa's straight, near-fluent English is very refreshing. That'll be a top selling point for him as a possible breakthrough player. Also, I keep enjoying these Kendrick lessons.


    • It's great to hear Austin Aries back in the commentary booth again, even if only for one night. Mauro Ranallo has really been missed.

    • Drew Gulak is going waaay meta in his current storyline, blaming the fans for their hungry appetite for reckless cruiserweight action. A part of me agrees with that, and a bigger part of me is more interested in where this is going. He's actually one of the best characters to go on this crusade, being more of a mat-based submission wrestler. Let's see if he ushers in a shoot revolution a la EVOLVE's Catch Point.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 3/23/17)

    The Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme TM can't even be kind to TJ, guys.

    • 1. Austin Aries, no movement — Neville would advance to the top spot this week had Aries not defeated Tony Nese, a guy higher on the rankings than Mustafa Ali. Neville did have the better match, but it also took more for him to defeat Ali. So Aries stays at the top.

    • 2. Neville (champion), no movement — A huge win over Mustafa Ali, but he obviously had some difficulty doing it. A bit of a tough sell for a champ there, man.

    • 3. The Brian Kendrick, no movement — TBK beats TJP, his mortal enemy, in a two-minute squash to continue TJ's terrible luck. That keeps him on top of his game as #3 in the S.E.X. ladder.

    • 4. Akira Tozawa, #6 last week — Tozawa gets back on his game with a five-second squash on this week's episode, and some really nice promo work (see above).

    • 5. Tony Nese, #4 last week — Nese drops one spot for losing to the #1 contender on RAW, but he doesn't drop too far after beating TJ Perkins in a hard-fought match. Unfortunately, just about everyone's beating TJP these days *cries*.

    • 6. Jack Gallagher, #9 last week — Gallagher wins on this week's episode of Main Event in a tag match with *gasp* Gran Metalik versus Noam Dar and Ariya Daivari! Seems like Rich Swann was not present at RAW then.

    • 7. Mustafa Ali, no movement — Ali had a wonderful outing against the Cruiserweight Champion, but that loss keeps him right in his spot.

    • 8. Gran Metalik, #14 last week — A quick appearance and victory at Main Event is enough to propel Metalik up the latter half of the ladder. It also helps that he keeps company with a lot of losers.

    • 9. Noam Dar, #5 last week — Lost this week on Main Event, continues his Alicia Fox storyline for kicks. Not as unlucky as some, however.

    • 10. Ariya Daivari, no movement See Noam Dar.

    • 11. TJ Perkins, #8 last week — After getting a shot for a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship, our boy TJP suffers two terrible losses this week, and one of them is an unexplainable squash match against The Brian Kendrick. The only reason he doesn't fall any further than #11 is because the rest of the wrestlers on this list are officially worse off than he is. Did somebody take over 205 Live's booking and push a vendetta on the former Cruiserweight Champions (other than Kendrick)? There better be a heel turn in the stars for the Fil-Am Flash, because this is the only way we're justifying the losing streak.

      • 12. Rich Swann, #11 last week — Only appears in a backstage segment on 205 Live, where he's seen starting to dress up like apparently newfound tag team partner Jack Gallagher. This is an unusual way to use one of the more over stars in the division, and this better be because he's still somewhat injured.

      • 13. Drew Gulak, #12 last week — Same as Swann; doesn't appear in a match this week, but has a backstage segment moving his story forward.

      • 14. Cedric Alexander, #13 last week — Apparently injured, but I didn't get the memo.

      • 15. Tajiri, no movement — Completely nowhere to be found.

      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 (3/21/17): Bow Down To The King Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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