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    Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Live From the 205 (4/11/17): Peenoise Gaming


    To be honest, I'd been getting tired of all the non-Filipino wrestling fans I know talking so much trash against our boy TJP. The worst part is that being the largely objective fan I am, my homerism can only take me so far; underneath his amazing technical and highflying skills, there is a rather conspicuous lack of charisma, chemistry, and straight up belief on TJ's end in the character he's being made to play.

    Just to recap, yes, TJ Perkins the real-life human being loves playing video games, but the way the creative team forced it on him is nothing short of '90s WWF cheesy. Even though it had an audience (mostly comprised of fangirls who find him hot) everyone else could see right through it.

    So imagine my joy when they finally pulled the plug on Monday's RAW, after weeks of low-key buildup. It could've been written better, but for those paying close attention to things that happen on 205 Live, you knew it was coming sooner or later. (It also helps that Neville succinctly brought it up in that backstage segment before TJ's match with Austin Aries on RAW.) I'm glad that it became sooner rather than later.

    And once the change was fully established in 205 Live, the effects were instantaneous. All of a sudden, TJ no longer felt like he was trying to figure out how to be a babyface character; he could allow his natural swagger and confidence ooze all the way out and let the crowd perceive it as the arrogance they think it is. (I have actually spoken to him before, and while he's a nice, humble, and hardworking guy in real life, he backs all of this up with a confidence that he's pretty much earned from 18 years in the business.)

    All of a sudden the words coming out of his mouth were no longer scripted platitudes. He mocked Jack Gallagher and his accent in trash talking that was miles better than him asking Kota Ibushi what his overall rating was. Perhaps this is who he really is; no matter what it was, TJP was feeling it way more than anything he's done since winning the Cruiserweight Classic. Now all we have to do is change that theme music.

    As for his 205 Live match, it felt like a reintroduction of sorts. We all knew how good TJP was, but all the hate directed at his character turned a lot of people off. He and Jacky Boy got around 15 good minutes in what was the closest thing to EVOLVE in a WWE show, and he proved once again why they chose him to win the Cruiserweight Classic.

    Pro wrestling in 2017 is funny. The more you want someone to just be a bad guy—or simply to be more comfortable in his or her skin, whether as a good guy or a bad guy—the more the crowd ends up cheering him. TJ's case proved that they could actually turn someone who needs to turn real bad, so I guess that means they're really just being very stubborn with Roman Reigns.

    Short stops

    • Brian Kendrick vs. Mustafa Ali was a wonderful display of SmackDown booking. That is to say, the kind of booking that hits two birds with one stone. In this case, they hit three birds—they advanced Kendrick's feud with Akira Tozawa without having to resort to another Kendrick/Tozawa singles match, they advanced the low-key feud between Mustafa Ali and Drew Gulak, and Kendrick and Ali put out a good match that made both of them look solid. If only they gave the other cruiserweights they signed this much time as well.

    • But for a good segment like Kendrick/Ali, they have a clunker like this Rich Swann/Noam Dar/Alicia Fox storyline. Why does WWE keep believing that it's okay for babyfaces to mess with heels just because they're heels? Noam Dar is right, Rich Swann is a homewrecker who should mind his own business. It doesn't matter at this point whether Dar stole Alicia FOOOOOOOX away from Cedric Alexander; she's allowed to date whoever the fuck she wants to date as long as he's not hurting her. How does Swann look good at all in any of this, and why can't he just compete for the Cruiserweight Championship?

    • No Neville and Austin Aries hurt this show, though. I would've appreciated either man coming out on commentary to help build TJ's case. That said, I do like the positioning of TJ's heel turn as a clear #3 behind Neville and Austin Aries in the Cruiserweight Championship picture. They're rebuilding him up as another star in the division to fall back on after Aries and Neville finish with each other, but there's no way he's playing for the title until A-Double wins it eventually.

    • Why is it so difficult to book the other cruiserweights on the show or on RAW? They're constantly on Main Event, and while there's nothing wrong with that, there's still so much space for them to take up.

    The Cruiserweight Division Power Rankings (as of 4/13/17)

    A lot of earthquakes this week have moved the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme (tm)'s needle a lot, especially with the big heel turn.

    • 1. Neville (champion), no movement — Neville stays on top of the ladder, especially after managing to get TJ Perkins to turn heel and help him out against his archnemesis Austin Aries.

    • 2. TJ Perkins, #8 last week — Two big wins (especially against the #2 guy) and a career-changing heel turn will shoot you up the ranks. I expect TJ and Aries to be trading #2 and #3 spots for the next few weeks, and I hope he can keep this newfound momentum.

    • 3. Austin Aries, #2 last week — A-Double hasn't sniffed the outside of the top two spots since making it to the Power Rankings, but he must generously give way to TJP here. It's a nice little wrinkle to the cruiserweight division main event, though.

    • 4. Mustafa Ali, #5 last week — Ali scores a big win against former #4 Brian Kendrick, who almost had his match in the bag.

    • 5. Akira Tozawa, #3 last week — Drops a couple of spots thanks to Ali and TJP winning and not competing this week. Tozawa continues to charm audiences with his energy and mic work, though.

    • 6. Rich Swann, #7 last week — Swann wins his match against local competitor Johnny Ocean, but remains a scumbag.

    • 7. The Brian Kendrick, #4 last week — TBK suffers an unfortunate loss against Mustafa Ali, and drops a few spots because of where he was last week.

    • 8. Jack Gallagher, #6 last week — Puts up one hell of a fight against TJP in the main event of this week's 205 Live, but at the end of the day is directionless. Either he needs to move to SmackDown where he can break through as a character, or needs to continue teaming up with Rich Swann. Hmm... maybe WWE needs a cruiserweight tag team championship if they won't let the others compete for the RAW tag titles.

    • 9. Drew Gulak, no movement — His campaign to make 205 Live a more conservative place is gaining momentum. Also helps that he and Tony Nese beat Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik on Main Event.Tony Nese, #11 last week — Suddenly missing after a nice push a few weeks ago; reappeared on Main Event. Is something afoot here?

    • 10. Tony Nese, #11 last week — Reappears to win on Main Event.

    • 11. Noam Dar, #12 last week — Did not compete as he seems to be injured, but showed up just to participate in this ridiculous storyline.

      • 12. Gran Metalik, #10 last week — Drops down a couple of spots after losing to Nese and Gulak on Main Event. Still don't know why they're not utilizing the Cruiserweight Classic runner-up on this D-show.

      • 13. Lince Dorado, #14 last week — Only moves up despite the Main Event loss because Ariya Daivari is nowhere to be found.

      • 14. Ariya Daivari, #13 last week — Missing, but nobody misses him.

      • 15. Oney Lorcan, no movement — Only here because Tajiri and Cedric Alexander don't get into the list.

      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 (4/11/17): Peenoise Gaming Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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