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    Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Live From the 205 (6/19/18): I'm Not Your Friend, Palbert

    Watching 205 Live after days of following the WWE's main shows can feel a little jarring sometimes. Because the cruiserweights wrestle in their own little pocket of the WWE Universe, much like NXT and its upcoming regional offshoots, it could get jarring sometimes when you think about how the story's not unfolding on the same pace as RAW and SmackDown.

    But at the end of the day, 205 Live's mission is clear: it wants to give you the hardest, stiffest hour of pro wrestling possible. It isn't always perfect, but if you wanted some no-nonsense action, it's hard to top the show's consistent content. NXT is great, but developmental's got an even deeper roster (with four divisions) to rotate and cram into the show every week.

    So when it takes forever for Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander to defend his title again, it's only because the rest of the division's working their way up to get to the front of the line. In many ways, the championship's elevated because it doesn't follow your usual build-to-a-PPV cycle anymore. Unlike Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Cedric Alexander's not absent, just waiting in the background for which of the guys have earned the next shot.

    It's easy to throw in all of "Heart of 205 Live" Mustafa Ali, "Cruiserweight Juggernaut" Buddy Murphy, and "Give Me Respect, Please" Hideo Itami in one match with Cedric for the title. Drake Maverick (and whoever's really running the show) can do that with one snap of their fingers. But 205 Live chooses to take the long way around, painstakingly building up each potential contender using both triumphs and heartbreaks—Murphy cutting and not making weight, Ali getting his ass kicked by Murphy, Itami breaking up with Tozawa and messing up a fine main event, just to name a few—making sure they grow to become actual building blocks of the brand, instead of a stopgap solution designed to pop the crowd after SmackDown every week for the sake of.

    This kind of writing was present previously, but it was always in favor of one or two guys. You had Neville, you had Austin Aries, Akira Tozawa, Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, always built upon only whenever they were the flavors of the season. Because 205 Live no longer strictly sticks to the same PPV timeline as RAW or SmackDown (or even something that's parallel to NXT's own internal timetable) they've got even more time to flesh out what needs to be fleshing out.

    Sometimes the best work comes from when there's not much of a microscope above you. Yes, 205 Live is still supposed to make that money for the company, but like NXT I think they're doing much better because they're not the main product. They're like the Ultimate Universe, but less confusing. If I were under 205 lbs. on either RAW or SmackDown I'd request a trade to the purple brand posthaste.

    205 Live 6/19/18 Grade: The main event didn't delight the crowd as much as it should have, but other than the formulaic first two-thirds of the show it was a pretty important episode in advancing the main event picture. B+

    Short stops

    • I don't know what to feel about Penelope Gulak.
    • I enjoyed Lince Dorado vs. Drew Gulak much more than the six-man tag last week, although I sort of groaned when I saw they were taking the first match again. Little did I know that this was really to set up an elimination six-man tag last week, which is honestly a more fitting end to the feud than whatever last week was. Hoping Gulak is sole survivor in this match.
    • Is it just me, or is the Lucha House Party slowly turning heel? Lince's a bit of a dick during this match, and much like Seth Rollins on RAW, Gulak beating him seems to be payback from last week. This is a fine development from last week's strange finish, I guess. I wouldn't mind luchadors being cocky pricks for once, so a new face team could debut.
    • Then again, Lio Rush is debuting next week, so there goes the spot for heel high-flyers.
    • TJP's finally managed to get a response from Drake Maverick after messing around with Palbert, so yay for this story finally moving forward, I guess. I do like the use of the age-old local competitor trope and turning it right on its head by having TJ complain about it.
    • Come to think of it... Drake Maverick should totally sign Palbert. He looks good.
    • Wait... is Maverick returning to the ring against TJP?
    • Wasn't Lio Rush supposed to come in this week?
    • Seriously, the crowd sounded dangerously quiet during the main event. It was slower than your usual main event but it was still great.
    • I still wish Akira Tozawa came out somewhere during or after this match. He's still the real loser of their feud, and has every right to mess with Itami messing with everyone else.

    205 Live Rankings as of 6/21/18

    Hideo Itami has staked his claim for the title (apparently) so the Smarkometrics Experience Xtreme has to work overtime!
    1. Cedric Alexander (no movement) — Cedric is just there, he's still not wrestling. That's fine, he's still champion.
    2. Hideo Itami (#6 last week) — Itami makes the biggest jump this week after defeating both Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy.
    3. Mustafa Ali (#2 last week) — Mustafa tried, but he couldn't get the job done. There was just too much going on and too much to deal with.
    4. Buddy Murphy (#3 last week) — Murphy continues his slow descent into cooling off. How long before he finally rebounds? 
    5. Drew Gulak (#7 last week) — Gulak returns to his winning ways after dispatching Lince Dorado, but can he stand tall in the elimination six-man tag next week?
    6. Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik (#4 last week) — The Lucha House Party take a bit of a dampening this week, with Dorado losing twice against Drew Gulak and Tony Nese (on Main Events).
    7. Kalisto (#5 last week) — Kalisto's warming the bench this week. He'll have to win next week's big Survivor Series lite match to bounce back next week.
    8. Tony Nese (#10 last week) — Beats Lince Dorado on Main Event, still hangs out with Buddy Murphy topless and oiled up backstage.
    9. TJP (new) — Establishes himself again by making Palbert his little bitch. Hopefully this feud against Drake Maverick gets turned up.
    10. Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher (#8 last week) — Gallagher having to be in the UK is putting a damper on their team as Kendrick is relegated to being in Gulak's corner on this episode. They've got the chance to bounce back tomorrow.
      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 (6/19/18): I'm Not Your Friend, Palbert Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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