In a bid to give the Cruiserweight division a shot in the arm, WWE’s created a whole now show: 205 Live. But is it the second coming of the Cruiserweight Classic, or is it more of Raw?
We’ll probably not be reviewing this show every week, but for a debut episode, let’s give it a shot. 205 Live is filmed after SmackDown, which could be used as an explanation for, or a stick to beat dead crowds with.
The debut show opened with a video package, mostly cropped from the Cruiserweight Classic. Austin Aries is alongside Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves on commentary, and Brian Kendrick’s got his “the” back!
We get a roll call of the 205 Live wrestlers: Rich Swann, TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher, Hoho Lun, Gurv and Harv Sihra, Noam Dar, Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik and The Brian Kendrick (without his “the” this time). That’s quite the roster…
We get a video package of Harv and Gurv Sihra – aka the Bollywood Boyz (who are still, as of writing, the Global Force Wrestling tag team champions… not for long, I don’t think!). They show clips of them in the CWC, NXT and generally recap their career in a way they never have done on the main roster.
The Bollywood Boyz (Harv & Gurv Sihra) vs. Drew Gulak & Tony Nese
Gulak and Nese got the “already by ringside” entrance, and we started with a handshake… before Nese attacked Gurv Sihra from behind. The Sihras exchanged tags frequently, before a double hiptoss took down Nese for a near-fall.
Gulak tagged in and worked over Harv, as Austin Aries gave us our racial stereotype of the night for the Sihras. An attempted bit of interference from Nese opened up Gulak to drill Harv with a shotgun dropkick, then dumps him with a Glen Joseph special bodyslam on the ropes for a near-fall. Nese tagged in to keep up the offence, grounding Harv with some bodyscissors, before Gulak return to just pound away. Harv counters a suplex with YOSHI-HASHI’s Bunker Buster and makes the tag to Gurv, who flies in with axehandles and chops, before setting up Nese for an accidental DDT from Gulak for a near-fall. Nese gets shoved off the turnbuckles as Harv gets a near-fall out of a crossbody, before Harv’s springboard crossbody to the floor takes out Gulak.
Nese wipes out Gurv in the ring as he went for a dive, but the Bollywood Boyz recover and drill Gulak with a double superkick for the win. Not a bad debut for the show, and a decent opener to boot. ***
Hey, they kept the Cruiserweight Classic masked ninjas… yay! They’re using WWE’s crowd shots, and somehow only succeeding in finding bored fans… boo!
After the match, Dasha interviews Gulak and Nese. Gulak’s annoyed that the Bollywood Boyz aren’t even from a real place, whilst Nese wasn’t happy with the ring.
We get a video package on Noam Dar, again, just like they didn’t do for his Raw debut. After he talks himself up, we see some action of Dar from the Cruiserweight Classic; then we’re backstage with (the) Brian Kendrick, who’s interrupted by Tom Phillips. Kendrick reckons he’s going to be able to beat Swann to retain his title, before TJ Perkins gatecrashes and promises to hunt Kendrick for his rematch if he wins…
There’s a video package for Gran Metalik, who’s coming soon. Despite being on the stage for the start-of-show roll call…
Jack Gallagher vs. Ariya Daivari
Gallagher’s got a version of Toreador as his ring music, but it’s still not as good as the remix he had on the indies… Daivari got the “in the ring” treatment here.
Daivari started by working Gallagher’s wrist, and he easily spins and twirls to reverse out of it. Gallagher then works an armbar on him, and leans back into a pin – if you’ve seen Jack before, you’ll know exactly how easy and fun this is to watch. They try for a knuckle-lock, which sees Daivari work into a headlock… and Jack just pops out!
Gallagher avoids an on-rushing Daivari by doing a headstand in the corner, then flips away from him and goes back to an armbar, before tying Daivari in a knot! A kick to the arse frees him up, and this crowd is warming to the “Extraordinary Gentleman”! Daivari yanks Gallagher to the outside, and quickly lands a kneedrop for a near-fall when Jack returned, before a neckbreaker got a similar result. The comeback continued as Daivari tried to grind down Gallagher, but fell to a series of dropkicks, before a diving crossbody took down Daivari again.
Gallagher ran into a rolling elbow, before immediately replying with a headbutt, as Gallagher’s signature corner dropkick earned him the win. A fine debut for the Extraordinary Gentleman. Yes, I’m biased… ***¼
We get a video package for Lince Dorado, and then its time for the main event, but first, a video package to tell us more about Rich Swann and how he got here. Again, why couldn’t WWE spare the time to air this on Raw?!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Brian Kendrick (c) vs. Rich Swann
The pair work over each others arms to start us off, before things settle down as Swann flips over Kendrick and scores a dropkick for a near-fall.
Kendrick suplexes out of a headlock, but walks into a series of chops from Swann, who followed up with a powerbomb. Swann’s neck looked to be hurting, and Kendrick targeted that with some elbows, before an attempt at Sliced Bread #2 was blocked and met with a wheelbarrow roll-up.
Swann followed Kendrick out of the ring and scared a few fans by leaping onto the barricades, then using them to land a cannonball senton before throwing the champion back into the ring for a near-fall. Kendrick retaliates with a snap back suplex for a near-fall, then goes for the Captain’s Hook submission, which Swann easily breaks via the ropes.
Swann flipped out of a Dragon suplex, before dumping Kendrick on his neck with a back suplex – a move I can bet we’ll see much less of in the coming weeks! After backdropping Swann onto the apron, Kendrick was knocked outside himself as they both ended up being dragged up top, before Kendrick used the top turnbuckle as a landing pad for a neckbreaker.
Narrowly beating the ten count, Swann climbed back in and was immediately pounced upon as Kendrick landed a suplex for a near-fall, before going back to the Captain’s Hook. Swann tried to block, but instead was wrenched back in what looked more like a Japanese stranglehold. Swann flipped out of another Captain’s Hook, before hitting a spinning Michinoku driver for another two-count.
A kick knocked Kendrick down, and Swann looked to follow up with a standing 450 Splash – but Kendrick got the knees up and went back to the Captain’s Hook. Again, Swann made the ropes, before throwing Kendrick onto the apron, but the champion recovered and countered a superplex with a top rope Shiranui (or, as they put it, “A Whole Loaf of Bread”!)
Swann hit back with a trio of spinning heel kicks, and that’s your lot! No leaping 450 splash, but a hattrick of kicks earned “The Outlandish” Rich Swann the title… and hopefully a new nickname soon! A fine match to close out the debut episode… ***¾
After the match, Dasha interviewed Swann in the ring – and he got the “You Deserve It” chants, as Swann dedicated his new title to the fans… and to his mother too.
Well, this was a lot closer to the Cruiserweight Classic than I expected. Plenty of video packages introducing fans to the wrestlers, enhancement matches that put over characters without damaging the other guys too much, and finished with a memorable match. Who would have thought that profile pieces and glorified squashes could create stars and new characters?! It’s almost like the crew producing this didn’t have any involvement with this division on Raw…
In short: 205 Live’s debut: not quite a home-run debut, but not too far off!