1. No Advertisements
Remember when WWE actively promoted the show? Pepperidge Farm remembers. There was a lot of hype and build to it, and the Cruiserweight Classic was one of the best tournaments WWE’s ever produced. So what happened? Did they forget about it? How can fans be expected to care if the company seems like it doesn’t? It’s not only 205 Live, though, even NXT rarely gets a mention.
Remember the days when the only thing we’d hear is “WWE Network $9.99 this, WWE Network $9.99 that”. It was so crammed down our throats it was hard to breathe. But now? Well, any new WWE fan wouldn’t have a clue what either of these shows are or how good they can be. 205 Live isn’t the most terrible product of all time, but WWE doesn’t highlight its positives outside of their WWE Network. So to know what’s good on the WWE Network, you have to subscribe to the WWE Network; it’s a paradox. Meanwhile, they’ll keep plugging non-wrestling “reality” shows like Total Bellas and Miz & Mrs.
2. Treatment of Neville & Austin Aries
I’m a big fan of both men and the one thing I was really looking forward to was their WrestleMania match. I was praying it would be hyped as a big deal, to give 205 Live the boost it deserved. But what happened? They were bumped to the first match on the pre-show when half the audience hadn’t turned up yet. Austin Aries was so deflated with his position he left and started claiming titles all around the world, including the Impact World Heavyweight Championship.
Neville was so frustrated with the way WWE had him lose the title (more on that later) he took his ball and went home. WWE didn’t want him turning up anywhere else so they purposely kept him under contract. Neville felt he deserved more than he was getting, and rightly so. Neville had everything in terms of character & ring ability, and it’s hard to think of any reason he’d be working pre-show slots. Neville wanted to use his cruiserweight title reign as a stepping stone to greater things on Raw, but he’d been boxed in to a tight space. He should have lost the title and be mixing it up with main event talents by now, but no, where is he? Nowhere. Wherever he ends up, though, will surely be better than what he got as the “King of the Cruiserweights”; King of the Pre-Show more like. 205 Live hasn’t been the same since.
3. Enzo Amore’s Golden Shovel
I don’t know what Vince McMahon was thinking, but having Enzo Amore go over Neville was the moment part of 205 Live died. Screw being an athlete, so long as you can talk a bunch of nonsense each week and entertain to some degree, you’re a better cruiserweight champ than Neville, Austin Aries, Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, Drew Gulak, even Hideo Itami. What was the point in the tournament?
Vince McMahon & Enzo Amore went further by burying everyone. And the burying seemed like it might have had some potential when the 205 Live roster beat him up, but what happened a week or two later? Half the guys who beat him up decided, nah, Enzo Amore’s not too bad, we’ll stand next to him and get exposure! “What a great idea” I say sarcastically. All it did was tell every fan Enzo Amore’s useless, and he needs their help to make him look better than crap. Kalisto took the title off him for two weeks, wow. Not only do you make Neville look like bad, you do the same to Kalisto; a former United States Champion. Enzo Amore was made to vacate the title after the accusations of sexual harassment. It’s been hard to take 205 Live seriously since.
4. “This Is War”
Raw is red, SmackDown LIVE is blue, and NXT is yellow/black. I can accept that 205 Live is a bright shade of purple with a tint of orange, but that’s not what this is about. The way 205 Live looks is acceptable, but I’m not a fan of the opening theme. This is more personal preference than anything. There are promises of war between purple Power Rangers, but it never happens. 205 Live’s opener doesn’t really sell the show like NXT’s does. “This Is War” is sang in a tone which is easy on the ear, but in war you can’t be soft. There are no elements of war anywhere on 205 Live, unless you include Drew Gulak’s recent vendetta against The Lucha House Party.
I feel the look of 205 Live is tainted with memories of former champions who have been treated badly. It needs a reboot, but knowing WWE, they won’t because they don’t care enough to make it anymore than it is. 205 Live is an hour of cruiserweights they don’t want to see working their socks off for other promotions. It’s an hour of war which doesn’t come anywhere near resembling warfare. Maybe I’m being a little pedantic with this one, I’d like to see a change in the way the show looks and sounds. Everything needs to evolve to survive.
5. No Big Draws or Surprise Crossovers
I remember when fans suggested 205 Live should get Finn Bálor. And why not? Why can’t Finn Bálor work both Raw and 205 Live? What is stopping eligible main roster guys featuring on the show? Even surprise one-time crossovers would do a LOT in helping get the current roster over. I remember Tyler Bate getting to work 205 Live, which I thought was great! Why can’t we get more of that? I also remember Roderick Strong having a go as well. Should be more 205 Live/NXT crossovers in general.
The fact is 205 Live has no big draws anywhere, so there’s little reason to tune in. And it gets boring seeing the same old matchups. I wouldn’t mind seeing main roster talents/legends showing up to watch the show, much like they do for NXT PPV or the Mae Young Classic. Anything to make it seem like a bigger deal than it is.
6. Cruiserweights on Raw?
The last time cruiserweights regularly featured on Raw was when Enzo Amore was champion. I remember Pete Dunne having one of the biggest moments of his career when he debuted on Raw and beat him up. That was awesome, and it gave me hope they’d be featured again. Remember how many months WWE plugged cruiserweights coming to Raw? And then they didn’t. The fact is, if they aren’t good enough for Raw, then why should we care enough to switch to the WWE Network after SmackDown LIVE? At least if they were on Raw it’d serve as a massive plug for the show. Give the casual fans reason to buy and tune in to the WWE Network every Tuesday night. Cedric Alexander should be featured regularly on Raw to show the title still exists.
7. In The Shadow of Smackdown LIVE
I don’t know what WWE was thinking when they decided to move 205 Live to air after SmackDown LIVE. 95% of the audience have bought tickets to see SmackDown LIVE Superstars like AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, Samoa Joe etc. They watch two hours of SmackDown LIVE and probably have had their wrestling fix by that point. A little over a week ago, 205 Live suffered greatly as literally half the audience walked out between the main event of SmackDown LIVE and during the first match of 205 Live. It was embarrassing. The talent had to work overtime to get the remaining fans interested, and the show was somehow better because of it.
You can’t put a show like 205 Live on after SmackDown LIVE, it’s cruel. You can hear a pin drop with how quiet the audience is sometimes. And you look at the fans in the front row, looking tired, fed up, disinterested playing on their phones. Even big spots are occasionally met with blank stares. There’s little the talent can do, WWE has put them in this position and they make do with the audience they get.
8. Where Are the Gimmicks & High-Flying?
Where in the blue hell are the gimmick matches? Why have we yet to see a cruiserweight throwing their body off a ladder through a table? Why do we only ever get simple cards like; 1) Singles match, 2) Tag match, 3) Singles match. It’s excruciatingly repetitive and there’s nothing to look forward to. Yippee, TJ Perkins vs. Noam Dar for the hundredth time! And it’s not only about the lack of variety in match types, but the lack of high-flying too. 205 Live needs to go the extra mile and give us moves we won’t see anywhere else. We see suicide dives in almost every match on the main roster, hell, even Roman Reigns does it. Braun Strowman would suicide dive if he wasn’t guaranteed to kill someone.
The fact is, 205 Live guys need to be more high-flying than a Seth Rollins or an AJ Styles; but they’re not. Look at guys like Neville, Lio Rush, Fénix, Will Ospreay, and some of the guys in NXT who make 205 Live talent look average. Of course, cruiserweight action isn’t just about high-flying. I consider Dean Malenko the greatest cruiserweight champion ever, and he never needed to fly. Drew Gulak needs to up his game with submissions as well, he needs to be showing his unique moves like Dean Malenko did in WCW. There’s more they could be doing. Don’t get me wrong, there have been good matches on 205 Live lately, but it’s hard to remember any particular spot which sticks in the mind. Below is Kalisto’s biggest highlight of his career, which trumps anything he’s done since coming to 205 Live.
9. The Glass Ceiling
Arguably the biggest issue with 205 Live is its solid glass ceiling. Until recently, no 205 Live talent had ever been promoted to the main roster. So who got promoted the past couple of weeks? Only two guys who’ve had less than a handful of matches (on 205 Live) between them. One is the General Manager Drake Maverick. The other is Lio Rush, who has impressed in every match since moving from NXT. The promotions do not ask them to wrestle, though, as Drake Maverick is managing The Authors of Pain, while Lio Rush is likely to manage Bobby Lashley. What do we get from these decisions? Well, it tells us it doesn’t matter how athletic you are, it doesn’t matter if you tear the house down each week, because the only thing that matters is you can talk on the microphone for someone bigger than you. It’s Enzo Amore & Big Cass all over again.
And it doesn’t end there, how many times have we seen the Cruiserweight title defended on the main card of a PPV? A few times actually, but not for a long while. Both Neville and Enzo Amore were featured on main cards of PPV. I know Akira Tozawa & Kalisto won the title on the two occasions it was defended on Raw. But since Enzo Amore vacated it’s been a different story. Also, as crazy as it sounds, the title has only changed hands once on 205 Live; when Rich Swann beat The Brian Kendrick in November 2016. Since Cedric Alexander became champion every big title match has happened on the pre-show of a PPV when most fans aren’t tuned in yet. That’s what they’re fighting over. The fact a weekly episodic show is produced to give these guys the slim chance of winning the title on a pre-show is ridiculous. What is the point if the talent are always going to be banging on the glass ceiling, never to be heard, never to be truly cared for?
10. Cedric Alexander Is Not Over
Again this may be personal preference, but Cedric Alexander is not over. I like him, but I still say he’s not over, so it’s not like I’m saying it out of some form of hatred. I saw his heel work in ROH and I enjoyed it so much I figured big things would happen for him in WWE. And they have, but seriously, would he be champion if Neville, Austin Aries, or even Enzo Amore was still around? I don’t know. And then you have Hideo Itami, a very well-respected wrestler who the fans can’t get behind because they know WWE isn’t getting behind him. Hideo Itami could easily be the champion and be “the man” the rest need to chase. I’d take Drew Gulak over Cedric Alexander also, as he’s really improved his heel game after Drake Maverick came on board. I’d take Kalisto, who’s proven he’s over to some degree after his main roster work. Akira Tozawa is a face who gets better reactions with his funny character.
Mustafa Ali is one of the best workers on the show and should probably have had a sniff of it. Buddy Murphy would be a better choice, too. How is it so easy for me to pick out names I’d rather see holding the title than Cedric Alexander? Even Jack Gallagher or Noam Dar (Alicia Fooooooooox!) would do better. I don’t get what WWE sees in Cedric Alexander at this point, he’s a solid worker of course, but I don’t understand why he’s champ for so long. Is he selling lots of merchandise or something? WWE needs to create fierce competition in the post-Enzo Amore era, instead of making Cedric Alexander look like Superman. Not saying they should hot potato the title, but at least make more credible contenders with unpredictable title changes.
In conclusion, 205 Live is an afterthought. I feel sorry for the talents and audience sometimes. 205 Live has improved in match quality since Triple H took over, but he must be limited in what he can do because it remains a far cry from what NXT delivers. It feels very much like a show which keeps smaller guys under contract so other promotions can’t use them. I can’t see 205 Live being a draw for the WWE Network. It’s on the same level as the “Main Event” show with the guys/girls (jobbers) we never see on Raw or SmackDown LIVE. No promotion, no hype, and no draws make 205 Live something we wouldn’t miss if it was axed.