We are officially ten episodes into the next stage of WWE’s cruiserweight experiment, 205 Live – a WWE Network exclusive which focuses solely on the cruiserweight division. Being ten episodes into 205 Live, I thought it was a good time to step back and look at how things are going for the purple brand. For those who don’t know, I write 205 Live reviews every week RIGHT HERE… on TJRWrestling.net (cheap pop). I say this because I’m assuming not many wrestling fans watch 205 Live every week. Therefore, I feel qualified to try and properly analyze 205 Live considering I’ve watched and evaluated every episode (okay, I was on vacation for a week and didn’t review one episode, but I still watched it!).
First, I’m going to rattle off some of the problems that 205 Live and the cruiserweight division as a whole is encountering. Then, I’m going to provide a solution for each problem and explain why I think it will help the show. My solutions will include ideas that are not so new to professional wrestling and WWE, but ideas that WWE seem to be excluding from 205 Live – ideas that could make the show a whole lot more enticing.
Rattling off time. Here we go.
Problems: Cruiserweights not connecting with the audience, not necessarily given enough match time, doesn’t feel like its own brand, slimmer roster, star power, feels like a side act/bathroom break spot for Raw, identity confusion – is there a graduation process?
Okay. Now it’s time address each problem with a solution! Sounds easy, right?
Problem: Cruiserweights are not connecting with the audience.
Solution: Make 205 Live’s home Full Sail University.
The WWE Universe, for the most part, seem like they just don’t care about the cruiserweights. Cruiserweight matches on most Raw’s and PPV’s barely get a reaction from the crowd. There also isn’t a buzz about 205 Live and the division on the internet like there was when 2016’s Cruiserweight Classic was happening. There are many different reasons for this, and it would take me multiple columns to address them all, but let’s strictly look at the problem in that lack of audience reaction.
My ideal solution to this would be to have 205 Live emanate from NXT’s home, Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Full Sail University was the home of 2016’s Cruiserweight Classic. Anyone who watched the Cruiserweight Classic or watches NXT on a regular basis knows that the audience at Full Sail is a different beast than the typical Raw or SmackDown audience. I feel like the crowd at Full Sail would not only appreciate the cruiserweight action more, but their energy would make for an exciting atmosphere – an atmosphere that would make 205 Live feel like a fun, cool show to watch.
If 205 Live gets taken to Full Sail, then they shouldn’t be married to the idea of it being a live show. Similar to NXT, they can tape a few weeks at a time. (Hint: If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that a lot of my suggestions will correlate to how NXT is doing things.) While I don’t expect WWE to move 205 Live to Full Sail, I would like them to have a few special episodes at Full Sail a year. Which leads to the solution of my next problem…
Problem: The cruiserweights are not necessarily given enough match time.
Solution: Give 205 Live WWE Network Specials similar to NXT Takeover.
The few special episodes of 205 Live a year from Full Sail can be 205 Live’s version of NXT Takeover and provide more of the cruiserweights with enough time to showcase their skills. Each week, 205 Live’s main event is the match that gives the cruiserweights the most in-ring time; which is usually always about 15 minutes. The problem with this is that it’s typically always the same few cruiserweights that get this opportunity. With a Takeover-esque show, that goes about two and a half hours with four or five matches, you can give more of your feuds a proper ending and give more of your cruiserweights time to shine.
After this past week’s episode of 205 Live, I was thinking of all the current rivalries going on right now in the division. If 205 Live was to have Takeover-esque show coming up, the lineup could look like this:
Neville vs. Rich Swann for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Cedric Alexander vs. Noam Dar
TJ Perkins vs. Tony Nese
Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick
Usually NXT Takeover’s have five matches, so the fifth and opening bout could feature Cruiserweight Classic runner-up Gran Metalik making his debut for the brand in a singles match. With all of the matches I just mentioned taking place, that doesn’t seem like too bad of a card, does it? Especially considering each match will be given enough time to steal the show.
Problem: 205 Live doesn’t feel like its own brand.
Solution: Give the show a General Manager.
As of right now, who decides the matches for 205 Live? Is it Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley since the cruiserweight division is featured on Raw? If so, why don’t we ever see them on 205 Live? Giving 205 Live its own General Manager is a step in the right direction in helping the show feel like its own brand. The General Manager doesn’t need a big presence on the show; just someone in the background who we know is calling the shots and who’s presence is needed from time to time (like William Regal in NXT).
When it comes to who 205 Live’s General Manager can be, a couple names came to mind; all of whom are former cruiserweights. However, out of those names, only two really stood out as good choices to me. Those two names being: Daniel Bryan or Rey Mysterio. Those are two guys who are big enough that having them as GM would attract more attention to 205 Live. Bryan would have to leave his duties as Smackdown GM, but you can play up the fact that Bryan commentated for the Cruiserweight Classic and has a lot of passion for the division.
I like Mysterio as a choice too because he’s 42 years old and might want to take it easy soon. Having him as GM would be great since he’s a big name, but also because he can still wrestle. Unlike how we’re never going to see a Miz vs. Daniel Bryan match, heels on 205 Live could build up heat with Mysterio which pays off with Mysterio having a match with them. (With that said, an issue with Mysterio is he’s locked into a Lucha Underground deal, so it can’t happen at the moment.)
Problem: Slimmer roster and lack of star power.
Solution: Annual Cruiserweight Classic tournament bringing in an influx of talent.
This is a big advantage 205 Live has working in its favor. Triple H has stated that the Cruiserweight Classic isn’t just going to be a one-time thing. Therefore, assuming this will be an annual occurrence, every year the CWC could be a whole new set of cruiserweights fighting for the opportunity for the 205 Live GM to notice them and add them to the division. The winner of the tournament could get a guaranteed 205 Live contract and an opportunity to challenge for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Adding a lot more cruiserweights from another CWC could also help bring a tag team division to 205 Live, since the roster would be big enough for it. As of right now, the only tag team in the cruiserweight division is The Bollywood Boyz. Adding more tag teams to 205 Live to challenge The Bollywood Boyz would be an exciting new part of the show.
Problem: The cruiserweight division feels like a side act/bathroom break spot for Raw.
Solution: Get rid of the cruiserweight division on Raw; make it exclusive to 205 Live.
We’re about two and a half months into the cruiserweight division on Raw and it’s not working. I say get rid of it entirely. The division doesn’t need to be featured on Raw or SmackDown, just make it a 205 Live exclusive instead. Doing this may give fans more of an incentive to watch 205 Live too because now it’s their only way to watch their favorite cruiserweights. This also means no more cruiserweight matches at WWE PPV’s, but then again, it wasn’t super successful to begin with and it doesn’t seem like fans would be devastated over the exclusion.
The problem with 205 Live being on Raw too is that it’s confusing in terms of a graduation process.
Problem: Identity confusion – is there a graduation process?
205 Live is sort of this weird in between of being on the main roster and being in NXT. Is 205 Live a launching platform for guys like Cedric Alexander to eventually go to the main roster and challenge for the Intercontinental Championship? Is it a place to be if you’re struggling with “the big boys” on the main roster and want to rebuild your status, ala Neville? Is it a place for NXT talent that are 205 pounds or less to aspire to be, since it kind of means you’re on the main roster, even though you’re not facing main roster talent? Should we be happy that once Austin Aries is healthy he’s going to be in the cruiserweight division, or should we be upset that he’s not going to the main roster and challenging for main roster titles? How long are cruiserweight division wrestlers in the division for? Will Austin Aries be trapped there? Why aren’t other wrestlers such as Finn Balor, Kalisto and Sin Cara in the cruiserweight division since they fit the weight requirements?
As you can see, there are a lot of questions about this, and it’s the one problem that I don’t have a solution for. Maybe you can help me out. Should wrestlers be happy to be on 205 Live? Once you’re there, is there a way of getting out? It’s something that deserves a lot of thought and I feel like it can be its own column. Maybe I’ll write another column on that soon as I don’t want to make this post any longer than it already is.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts on any or all of the above in the comment section below. As I mentioned at the start of this post, I review 205 Live every week, so if you can’t watch or don’t want to watch 205 Live but still want to be in the loop on what’s going on, you can read my reviews. To check those out, you can click right here. They are usually up either Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday.
Thanks for reading!