205 Live – November 29, 2016 (Debut Episode): It’s All About the Presentation

205 Live
Date: November 29, 2016
Location: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Austin Aries, Corey Graves

Remember the Cruiserweight Classic being all awesome? Now do you remember the cruiserweights being equally awesome on Monday Night Raw? Odds are you don’t, because the division has floundered on Monday nights and it’s already time for the show to have its own show on the WWE Network. This debut episode could range from good to a mess so let’s get to it.

Also, these are probably not going to be done on Tuesday nights.  I’ll have them up as soon as possible every week though.

The opening sequence says tonight it’s time to defy expectations. There are very few clips from Raw here with almost everything coming from the tournament. I’m as shocked as you are.

Opening sequence.

It should be interesting to see how the crowd looks as this was taped after Smackdown went off the air.

Austin Aries, currently out with an eye injury, is a surprise commentator. He teases winning the title once he’s healthy.

The roster (or at least tonight’s roster) is on stage for introductions. We have Rich Swann, TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher (SWEET), Hoho Lun, the Bollywood Boyz, Noam Dar, Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik and Brian Kendrick. This minute long series of introductions is already more than we got on Monday Night Raw and gives me some hope.

Video on the Bollywood Boyz, Harv and Gurv Sirah. They grew up watching Bret Hart and want to bring the Indian culture to America. Again, HUGE improvement over what we got on Mondays.

Bollywood Boyz vs. Drew Gulak/Tony Nese

The Boyz do a lot of dancing and are clearly the faces here. The fact that they’re fighting heels was your second clue. Aries doesn’t get the point of the handshakes and I still can’t disagree. Gurv (who is in trunks instead of tights like his brother) works on Drew’s arm to start before it’s off to Harv for more of the same.

Drew takes Harv’s head off with a running dropkick as Ranallo is, say it with me, a big improvement over what we’ve had in recent weeks. Harv gets taken down into the corner with Gulak working over his leg like a technical mat wrestler should do. Nese’s chinlock doesn’t last long and a neckbreaker gets Harv over to the corner for the hot tag to his brother.

Everything breaks down and we get the eternally stupid spot with Gulak being thrown into Nese, who DDT’s his partner because he’s incapable of letting go of his partner’s head. Harv springboards into a crossbody to take Gulak down outside but Nese slams Gurv to take over again. Back in and a DDT sends Nese outside, setting up a double superkick to pin Gulak at 7:04.

Rating: C+. Let’s see: characters, good action, defined faces and heels and a better reaction from the crowd. This is how you start a show and introduce some new talent, which seems to be more over with the crowd than almost anyone else has accomplished in the last few months.

Gulak and Nese say the Dancing with the Stars rejects won because of greasy ropes. That sounds like the start of a story, which again puts this one up on Raw.

Video on Noam Dar.

Kendrick says you should gamble on him tonight because he’s going to capitalize on Swann’s mistakes. Perkins comes in and wants his rematch so he wishes Kendrick luck.

Video on Gran Metalik. These are a bit long but you only have to air them once and people will catch on in a hurry.

Ariya Daivari vs. Jack Gallagher

Gallagher is a wrestling gentleman and got a very strong reaction in his Cruiserweight Classic run. Jack does his fancy spin to counter a wristlock before bending both arms around in ways other than nature intended. Even Graves has to appreciate how awesome Gallagher really is.

Gallagher handstands his way out of a headlock by walking on his hands. Another headstand in the corner has Aries freaked out and it’s time to tie Daviari’s limbs up in so much of a knot that Gallagher stands off to the side and smiles at him. A running kick to the back of the trunks annoys Aries because it wasn’t great.

Daivari comes back with some basic wrestling, including a neckbreaker and chinlock, which finally slows Jack down. Some dropkicks have Daivari in trouble again and a headbutt knocks him into the corner. One of the hardest running dropkicks I’ve ever seen puts Daivari away at 5:28. Even Aries calls it impressive, partially because that’s one of his signature moves.

Rating: B-. Here’s the simple point: Gallagher works because he’s unlike anyone else on the roster. As I’ve said for a long time: if you do the same thing over and over again with the only difference being the name attached, no one is going to notice. If you do something completely different, people are going to notice. That’s what Gallagher did here and that’s why people will be talking about him.

Ranallo: “Austin, what do you think of 205 Live so far?” Aries: “Well I’m here so it’s great.”

Lince Dorado video. He’s your standard masked luchador.

Video on Rich Swann, who lost his parents young and has traveled the world wrestling anyone he can.

Cruiserweight Title: Rich Swann vs. Brian Kendrick

Swann, billed as outlandish for some reason, is challenging and they’re absolutely insane if they don’t change the title here. We’re ready to go after the Big Match Intros and the standard handshake. They trade wristlocks to start before it’s time to speed things up, including a hard dropkick for two on the champ. A tiger bomb drops Kendrick again and he bails to the floor for a breather.

Back in and the champ snaps off a hard belly to back suplex but it’s too early for the Captain’s Hook to really work. A similar suplex does the same to Kendrick but Swann takes too long going up and gets caught in a neckbreaker onto the buckle. Kendrick has a target now and a bridging dragon suplex makes things even worse. It’s off to a straitjacket hold for a bit, only to have Swann grab something like a Michinoku Driver.

Brian’s eyes are bugging out (great visual) but he gets the knees up to block the standing 450. The long form Captain’s Hook gives us the dramatic crawl to the ropes and Kendrick’s frustration continues. It only gets worse when Sliced Bread #2 gets two, allowing Swann to hit three straight spinning kicks to the head for the pin and the title at 13:31.

Rating: B. This felt like a big title change and that’s exactly what it needed to be. There’s no other way to put it: Brian Kendrick is one of the least interesting heels in a very long time. He was on a great nostalgia run in the tournament and the big idea was to turn him heel because…..well I have no idea actually. Swann as the new face champion has potential and whoever beats him can actually be the big bad that this division needs. Good match here, which is what they needed.

Swann dedicates the win to his mother and Kendrick says you shouldn’t get used to this.

A replay of the title change ends the show.

Overall Rating: B. As Paul Heyman said, it’s all about the presentation. On Raw, the cruiserweights are wedged in on a show where they don’t fit in the slightest. It’s basically the new Divas match so people can go get nachos (Hopefully with barbecue sauce. Try it.) and that’s not worth keeping around.

This show actually felt like it mattered and even if it’s just a low level show for the sake of validating the talent being signed, it’s WAY better than giving them ten minutes in front of a crowd that doesn’t want to see them. On top of that, the talent was actually introduced to the fans so we can get to know them a bit.

Look at what we had here: two guys from India who like movies, a British wrestling gentleman and a fun guy who loves to dance winning the title. In other words, something other than a bunch of guys doing a similar style with no charisma (Perkins and Kendrick for example, meaning the top two names in the division.

I don’t think this show is going to blow the doors off of anything but giving them their own show is the only possible option if they want the division to be a success. It’s not a great show or anything but it’s different enough to be entertaining and that’s the important thing. I liked what I saw here as it felt like a weekly episode of the Cruiserweight Classic. If they just have to keep the division on Raw for awhile so be it, but their best bet is right here.

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3 comments

  1. TL Goon says:

    I enjoyed the show, but I think having it air right after Smackdown is a mistake.

    I understand that they wanted to do the first show live and have a title change, which is fine, but they should go back to Full Sail and do it there even if it has to be taped in advance.

    The CWC had a fresh look, different ring, different crowd and it worked very well.

    If it aint broke, dont fix it, and they arent doing themselves any favors by having the cruiserweights on Raw.

  2. Bloodbuzz Bunk says:

    I don’t understand your hate of Kendrick’s recent heel run. It makes total sense and is actually showing interest in Kendrick as a character. He had some great CWC matches and had some good matches with TJP( now his lack of charisma is a big reason the division faltered on Raw).

    I’m glad they went with Swann winning the title as he( or Alexander) should have been the first champ to begin with. Swan is a lot of fun and is somebody you can get behind as a champion.

    I’m not sold on this show necessarily because I don’t like the idea of wrestlers the caliber of Aries getting mired down on this show when they could an interesting midcard attraction. However it would be cool to get some cruiser weight tag titles just get DIY on the show and let them have 4 star matches with everybody.

  3. Jay H (the real one) says:

    Im glad they put the Title on Rich Swann here as I think he has tons of charisma and is very exciting to watch. I also don’t get your dislike of Brian Kendrick and comparing him to Chavo Guerrero is a little unfair. Austin Aries being on commentary for this is a good idea and keeps him around dealing with his injury.