Tonight was the premiere episode of WWE 205 Live, showcasing half of the talent from the Cruiserweight Classic tournament. We’ve already seen these men compete before—some of which on a weekly basis on Monday Night Raw—but this is a big step to have an entire show dedicated solely to this division and nothing more. Is it good enough to keep fans staying tuned after SmackDown every Tuesday night or was it not able to make a positive first impression?
Here are some thoughts I had throughout the show:
Austin Aries on Commentary
It was a nice and welcome surprise to see/hear Austin Aries joining Corey Graves and Mauro Ranallo on commentary. While I think Graves is best when he’s alongside Tom Phillips and I somewhat miss the tandem of Ranallo with Daniel Bryan, Graves and Ranallo work well together, too, and Aries being added to the mix was just a little extra zing to spice things up.
Rather early on, he uttered my favorite line of the night when he asked if the Bollywood Boyz were named Herp and Derp. It’s nice to hear a heel who can talk up his own skills while putting other people over and it’s good to have him on screen during a time where his injury would prevent him from being able to really do anything else.
Here’s hoping when he graduates from NXT to the main roster, he isn’t just put in the cruiserweight division. He’d do one hell of a great job, but that would also deprive us of some great feuds elsewhere that wouldn’t happen, like Aries against Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and more.
No Sin Cara?
They can’t seem to make a decision when it comes to whether or not Sin Cara will be part of the division as he’s been officially announced more than once, only to then not be included in anything that ties him to it. Not making an appearance here even on stage should point to him being pulled from the cruiserweights, although with the way WWE is flexible with their own rules, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him continue to wrestle in the division on Monday Night Raw.
For that matter, I would have liked them to put something out there about this not being the definitive roster going forward, but rather, just 16 of the names they’ll be able to highlight on a regular basis. Why not leave it open where anybody on the Raw, SmackDown or NXT roster who fits the weight limit might pop in from time to time?
After all, we saw Kalisto challenging Brian Kendrick at Survivor Series, so why not allow for some wiggle room to have guest competitors who try to step in and cross the party line? Even people like Enzo Amore—someone who is firmly planted in the tag team division—could make for a fun surprise from time to time. Granted, they didn’t state that this was an impossibility, so somewhere in the future, we could see other people making appearances as it’s an open-ended idea that hasn’t been shot in the foot, but in an ideal world, there could have been a reference to it. I’m nitpicking, I know, but the thought crossed my mind. It’s something to think about.
Speaking of nitpicking, one of my only criticisms of this new cruiserweight division since its inception has been their decision to use graphics of what looks like ninjas from G.I. Joe all over the place. This is just such an odd choice to make and I don’t quite understand what they’re going for, so I was hoping with 205 Live being its own entity, they would have scrapped that whole thing, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Every time one of those graphics pops up on my screen, I have flashbacks to Karate Fighters promos from the mid-90s rather than associating it with Jack Gallagher, Mustafa Ali, Hoho Lun and everyone else.
The Title Change
Spoiler alert. Hey, it’s your fault for not watching it. Rich Swann is a guy that I’m not sold on yet and as such, I definitely can’t buy him being the top of the division at the moment. I do think he has potential and I’d rank him higher up than Drew Gulak for example, but just the same, I think Brian Kendrick was a much better choice to headline the group at least for another month or so. Even still, if a title change was going to happen just because it’s the premiere, I would have rather seen T.J. Perkins win the belt back or Cedric Alexander get the nod.
I don’t buy Swann being the top dog even compared to Akira Tozawa, who has yet to wrestle beyond the tournament. Since the roster is so small, there isn’t much room for a divide between main eventers and midcarders, but I would have placed Swann around the middle range rather than being in even the top third of the competitors on the brand. To each his own, you might be a big fan of his and if that’s the case, I’m sure you enjoyed that much more than I did, but while it’s fun to see a title change, I was definitely disappointed that Kendrick didn’t retain.
Did anybody else find it incredibly awkward for there to be an hour of cruiserweight action and then to jump into Talking Smack where they want to recap what happened 60 minutes ago and act like 205 Live didn’t just have a title change? I’m not sure I’m going to like that setup as it doesn’t flow naturally. A better setup would have been for 205 Live to come first before SmackDown instead, although I assume scheduling conflicts prevented them from wanting to put it at 7 o’clock rather than 10. Hopefully, the kinks are worked out and they figure out a way to make things flow a little better instead of coming off like you’re watching the programming out of order.
What did you think of the debut of 205 Live? Are you looking forward to checking this out on a weekly basis or will you pass on this show going forward? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!