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    Thursday, March 30, 2017

    Live From The 205 (3/28/17): Roll It On Home

    I expected 205 Live to be the very last show on mainstream WWE programming to be a little lackluster in their first WrestleMania go-home show, but here we are. The show didn't really end and head into WrestleMania weekend and their big title match with a whimper, but it was no bang either.

    In hindsight, though, I won't blame them. Instead of an explosive build going into Sunday, Austin Aries and Neville decided to be a little more sublime about it. It'll be explosive if it ends up being explosive—and I'll blame the fact that it didn't on the crowd, which was probably expecting a giant cruiserweight-sized brawl. A brawl happened, but it wasn't nuclear.

    The focus, for once, was on the words they were saying. Neville is out there again, doing his respectable mic work as a heel. Nothing mind-blowing, but it gets the job done. It's Austin Aries, the true veteran and consummate pro wrestling statesman, that elevates this segment—and as a result, this kickoff match.

    In a promo that a good part of the fanbase probably won't see because it's on 205 Live and not RAW, Aries makes their match must-see, building up Neville as a worthy champion and opponent, but naturally building himself up higher than that. He even dignifies the entire cruiserweight division, by way of the two of them, by painting them as the true fighting underdogs of the WWE, operative word being "fighting." In one powerful monologue, before he gets interrupted by a Neville cheap shot, he re-explains the division as both the most overlooked and the most ravenous fighters, which is something their branding sorely needs at the moment.

    I've been saying it over and over that you could probably call me an Austin Aries dicksucker, but this is why the cruiserweight division needs Aries as a champion. He's the statesman they need, not only for fans to take the division more seriously whenever they appear on RAW, but also as a possible bridge in the future for when it's time to eliminate the purple branding and integrate the division into the full roster.

    Other midcard divisions should actually be envious of the cruiserweight division, if only because 205 Live gives the whole under-205 roster a somewhat tangible pecking order. And I'm cool with this if Austin Aries is at the top. See y'all at WrestleMania.

    Short stops

    • I continue to support Senator Drew Gulak and his crusade to make cruiserweight wrestling safer. Kidding aside, I hope that this is a plot point they explore and flesh out heavily, because risk-taking in wrestling does need to be talked about. It goes hand-in-hand with all the injury and concussion issues especially in the WWE's heavy schedule.

    • The Rich Swann/Alicia Fox/Noam Dar storyline should only be permitted to go on if it's just Swann and Fox interacting. That's it.

    • Thought we were getting the end of the Tozawa/Kendrick storyline, but I guess not? It would've been the perfect time to end it, but at the same time it wasn't really hyped up. It is getting time to end it soon, though, for all of Tozawa's good mic work. The title scene is going to need some switching up soon after Aries finishes up with Neville.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 3/30/17)

    Not a lot of movement detected by the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm) this week as the go-home shows took it easy, but you will be surprised at who moves near the bottom half of the ladder.

    • 1. Austin Aries, no movement — A-Double keeps his hold at the top of the ladder mostly for coming into this week at #1, and ending it with a Last Chancery to punk Neville out at the end of the show.

    • 2. Neville (champion), no movement — Neville is still at #2, but only because he thankfully beat Jack Gallagher in a quick match on RAW.

    • 3. The Brian Kendrick, no movement — TBK surprisingly remains at #3 this week, especially after defeating Tozawa in a slightly less-than-clean manner. The only problem is we're not actually sure where they go from here next week, or whether he'll even get to see some WrestleMania action on Sunday.

    • 4. Mustafa Ali, #7 last week — The young sensation shoots back up in the rankings after one notable win (against a local competitor) and a nice win on this week's Main Event. He's actually lucky that the guys in front of him lost and are dropping down a notch or two, but it's clear that they have big plans for Ali, which is really great.

    • 5. Akira Tozawa, #4 last week — Yep, these guys are falling down a notch. Tozawa went out for a good showing, but fighting fair wasn't enough to put Kendrick away.

    • 6. Gran Metalik, #8 last week — Metalik is doing work! I can prove it! Just go watch Main Event. It's not the most ideal place for him, but at the very least, they're recognizing that he's valuable. I hope it's only a matter of time before they start trotting him back out on 205 Live, which can have a lot of people appear and advance angles given enough political will. 

    • 7. Tony Nese, #5 last week — He's lucky he only lost on Main Event in a six-man tag, but a loss is a loss, especially when guys like Ali are shooting up the ladder.

    • 8. Jack Gallagher, #6 last week — Don't look now, but Gallagher is slowly being relegated to a glorified comedy jobber; the cruiserweight Santino Marella, if you will. He didn't even show up to hang out with Rich Swann. There's still time to save him, but it would all depend on whether the WWE wants to save him.

    • 9. Rich Swann, #12 last week — Resumes his winning ways this week against Ariya Daivari. Unfortunately, also resumes ridiculous Alicia Fox angle. 

    • 10. Noam Dar, #9 last week — Mere fodder for Austin Aries this week, but doesn't even show up on 205 Live (although, to advance their story).

    • 11. Drew Gulak, #13 last week — Lost on Main Event, but his little campaign is gaining some momentum.

      • 12. Lince Dorado, not ranked last week — Lince finally returns to active competition after spending time at the NXT circuit, winning alongside fellow luchador Gran Metalik on Main Event. That's better than nothing, and I also secretly hope they form a tag team on RAW.

      • 13. Ariya Daivari, #10 last week — Like Noam Dar, used as cheap fodder for stars this week. Falls a lot of places due to other midcarders surprisingly moving up.

      • 14. TJ Perkins, #11 last week — Very, very conspicuous by his absence despite being a notable star with skill and recall. And we're pretty sure he was sent to wherever RAW was. He'd be off this list if it weren't for guys like Cedric Alexander and Tajiri scraping the bottom of the barrel.

      • 15. Cedric Alexander, #14 last week — Still injured.

      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 (3/28/17): Roll It On Home Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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