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    Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Live From The 205 (3/7/17): The Greatest Package That Ever Lived

    Austin Aries is what the cruiserweight division needs.

    You may not realize it, you may even reject it, but for those of you watching RAW this week and the subsequent 205 Live segments he appears in, A-Double is the charismatic, magnetic hero (or anti-hero, as the case may be) the show and division should build around.

    If you miss a certain Phil Brooks—and judging from the sound of things, at least a part of the WWE audience still does—then you'll find someone similar in Aries. Although he was always great, his time in the announcer's table allowed him to flesh out the kind of character he was going to be in this company, and by the time he got himself cleared to step in between the purple ropes, he was already a huge breath of fresh air in a sea of wrestlers who just wrestled well. 

    Sure, you've got your Nevilles and Rich Swanns and Jack Gallaghers of the world, but so far, nobody on 205 Live has ever been as complete as Austin Aries. I daresay that when they give the Cruiserweight Championship to Aries, he and the WWE have got a real opportunity on their hands to put the division on the map beyond just making it a purple-colored sideshow. And if you were somehow hesitant on 205 Live before this and are looking for a maverick to rally around, this is your guy.

    But for all the good Austin Aries brings to the table, there's a new problem I've noticed with the show.

    See how former Cruiserweight Championship contenders Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann easily slide into midcard feuds on the show now that Neville is feuding with Aries? Or how inaugural Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins has pretty much faded to the background, not even appearing on the show for a while? 205 Live—and the entire division, I guess—has a problem; it builds up all these guys to the championship scene, but once they're done as the feud of the month, they walk out of the revolving door without staying on that tier. It's the same problem RAW faced during Peak Cena and their main event scene was shallow.

    What results is that the cruiserweight division ends up not really building any stars, seemingly relying on each wrestler's individual merit and talent to break through after his time in the championship scene. So because not everyone gets to do that (due to a number of factors), a lot of former contenders and champions end up just looking lucky to have gotten a shot or won the title. Or waiting for their turn. The only time 205 Live ever recognized the talent of its former champions is when Neville was plowing through former champions, and when they had that Five-Way for the contendership a few weeks back.

    Again, WWE shows really need to take their cue from SmackDown Live. They've got divisions between main eventers and upper midcarders, but they've done a good job of blurring those lines; anyone can mix it up with a champion or a contender, and it results in a playing field that looks like it's got more opportunities. Yes, people have to wait their turn all the same, but a facade of opportunity remains, keeping the audience invested. You populate the top of your card with a cloud of potential contenders and highly-perceived stars. I mean, if RAW can't do it for their guys, then why not do it for 205 Live?

    Short stops

    • This week's Tozawa/Kendrick interaction was gold. Bryan Kendrick coming in to face Tozawa instead is a great way to prolong their little feud, which I hope culminates in a big episode of the show instead of the WrestleMania kickoff. Bryan Kendrick was also notable for seemingly being a good hand in the ring, for the little time he got.

    • Nobody wants Rich Swann to feud with Noam Dar over Alicia FOOOOOOX. NO ONE.

    • How come we can't ever get a lot of backstage segments on this show? Matches are great, but there's so much time to fill in between that they can be used to flesh out characters who don't get in-ring action on every episode.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 3/9/17)

    This is a new segment I'll be debuting on Live From The 205, where I do my best to give out a weekly power ranking of the top 15 players of the whole division based on 205 Live, RAW, and yes, Main Event, where some of the cruisers play. This ranking powered exclusively by the new and improved Smarkometrics rating system, the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme!

    • 1. Neville (Cruiserweight Champion) — Automatic. Neville's been on a roll.

    • 2. Austin Aries — Also automatic, due to points about the revolving door I brought up earlier.

    • 3. Jack Gallagher — Came close to winning the Cruiserweight Championship on PPV, but got his win back in a throwaway tag team match on 205 Live and another throwaway tag team match on this week's Main Event with Mustafa Ali.

    • 4. Rich Swann — Lost a big Cruiserweight Championship match on RAW this week, but won two tag team matches. Also ranked lower than Gallagher because he's stuck in a feud with Noam Dar for Alicia FOOOOOOOOOX.

    • 5. Akira Tozawa — Stays winning, but his only big win this week was the tag team match at the Fastlane kickoff show. Over like Grover, though.

    • 6. Tony Nese — You thought I'd put Kendrick here, but there's a reason why Kendrick isn't on here. Nese came into this week with a big win in last episode's six-man tag match, and putting on a strong showing against Austin Aries in the main event isn't a bad thing, either.

    • 7. Noam Dar — Comes into this week with a win, but against Lince friggin' Dorado, who loses to everyone. Loses thrice this week, including Main Event.

    • 8. The Brian Kendrick — Kendrick would be ranked higher here if he wasn't spent so much in non-wrestling roles needling Tozawa. It makes sense, booking-wise, but it also doesn't help that he lost his only match this week.

    • 9. Mustafa Ali — A little low-key lately, coming into this week with a loss in the six-man tag from last episode, but rebounds with a win this week on Main Event with Jack Gallagher.

    • 10. TJ Perkins Yes, our boy TJP is the biggest victim of the 205 Live revolving door. Doesn't appear at all on any main WWE programming save for a great main event on this week's NXT where he loses to Shinsuke Nakamura. Yeah, it was a great match and a good spot for anyone, but I'm ranking the whole cruiserweight division. He didn't even win his match this week and last week, but he's lucky he had a win on RAW last week.

    • 11. Ariya Daivari The babyface whipping boy of the cruiserweight division. Heads into this week with a win carried over, but all he does is lose. Especially in a two-minute Tozawa squash.

      • 12. Drew Gulak — Used sparingly, but did win last week.

      • 13. Cedric Alexander — Mysteriously absent a lot of times, especially after gaining momentum. At this point, only slightly worse than Gulak.

      • 14. Gran Metalik — We're scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but WHERE IS GRAN METALIK? Why did he debut and suddenly disappear? And why would you debut him if he wasn't ready to wrestle on the show consistently yet?

      • 15. Tajiri — Appeared a few weeks back after his January injury to mess with Brian Kendrick, but disappeared again? What's happening?

      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 (3/7/17): The Greatest Package That Ever Lived Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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