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    Saturday, March 24, 2018

    Live From the 205 (3/20/18): Make Way For Prince Ali

    So we finally have our finalists for the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander are deservedly headed to WrestleMania to fight for the vacant purple belt, but let me tell you why this semifinal match would've made for a more compelling final.

    Cedric/Roddy was great, but Ali/Gulak was even better, simply because 1) it's a clear face vs. heel story, and 2) they have a lot of history. I have no doubt in my mind that Cedric and Mustafa are going to maximize their WrestleMania minutes no matter where they are on the card, but with two weeks left to build up to the match, there's a lot more to be gained if either one were paired against such an effective heel in Drew Gulak. (This is why I'd been pushing for Gulak to make it to the finals since the first round.)

    Gulak and Ali's history made their semifinal match even more brutal. Drew wanted to reinforce the fact that 205 Live should be a no-fly zone, and he was willing to go the distance to destroy Ali. Both men weren't willing to leave the match to a countout decision, but Gulak, being the more barbaric wrestler between the two, much more effectively expressed his hate. A match like this at WrestleMania would be perfect just for how dramatic it is, even if most of the crowd doesn't watch 205 Live.

    I feel like they've made a mistake with the brackets, because in the Drake Maverick-era 205 Live, Cedric Alexander still looks like the lamest option for the finals. Strong has a built-in underdog story just by coming straight from NXT. Drew Gulak is a madman who hates flippy, high-flying wrestlers. Ali ends up looking like a real hero, because the idelogy he's fighting for is much more concrete and inclusive: he's fighting for those who get discriminated and oppressed for whatever reason. (And he's ridiculously handsome, too.) Cedric's still all "I want to be the best," and he's not being done any favors by getting vignettes in which he's just sitting in front of a camera in a studio.

    They've still got two weeks to fix this, and they've got a leg up with the built-in backstory that Cedric and Mustafa were running mates this whole time, especially against Enzo Amore. If they want Cedric to win the title, they better fix him up, because Ali's becoming the runaway favorite as the weeks go by.

    205 Live 3/20/18 Grade: 205 Live is starting to go the NXT way of rotating some of the undercard storylines every week, giving most of the roster a chance to come back in fresh. You end up missing a few people, though, especially the guys they've either introduced or remodeled, but the show's becoming more consistent. B+

    Short stops

    • I dig the fractures forming between Team Japan and the Lucha House Party. No one's outright turned heel yet, but pinning things on Hideo's short temper is a good start. I do feel it's time to introduce another tag team on the show, though.
    • And obviously, I enjoy the fact that Lince Dorado gets more airtime now. Can't wait to re-start the ladder rankings after WrestleMania.
    • What's up with Kenneth Johnson? He did well in the Cruiserweight Classic, but he was all sorts of awkward in his match with TJP.
    • Speaking of TJP, a solid selfie promo from him this week.
    • I wish everyone else got some quick vignettes done, just at least to remind people where they are. Why can't I get a Buddy Murphy vignette where he continues to train to make weight?
      Photo from WWE


      Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry, one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, and is associated with Philippine Wrestling Revolution. 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. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account.
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      Item Reviewed: Live From the 205 (3/20/18): Make Way For Prince Ali Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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