Thanks again for tuning into Channel 13! I am once again interrupting my scheduled programming to bring you some of my thoughts about the new 205 Live show, as well as a few suggestions for WWE's programming schedule.
I think the stage introductions at the top of the show was a little pointless, especially if we were going to see some video packages. They basically paraded a bunch of stars who wound up not being used for the show (some of which I would have preferred to see over two participants in the opening match). No big issue with it or anything, as at least we got to see how stacked the division is now. Austin Aries (who did pretty good on commentary) made his intentions clear that he has his sights set on not only joining the division, but ascending to the top of it. I'm all for that.
First match was between the Bollywood Boys and the team of Tony Nese and Drew Gulak. The Bollywood Boys have the distinction now of winning the first ever match on 205 Live, which is something that I'm sure their 95-year-old grandfather is proud of. The match was standard fare, and honestly the result was the opposite of what I was expecting, considering how many appearances the team of Nese and Gulak have made thus far. Though the Indian brothers were said to have over 11 years of experience, they looked very hesitant and inexperienced, with the slack having to be picked up by aggressiveness and hard-hitting style of their opponents. Their pre-match and post-match mannerisms make them look like dweebs, and they don't even seem to be fully into whatever characters they are trying to portray. That leg dance they were doing was enough to make Kid 'N' Play hang their heads in shame. But they managed to get like two people in the crowd to dance along with them, so it wasn't a complete waste.
After some nice videos on Lince Dorado and Noam Dar, we were treated to the long-awaited debut of Jack Gallagher (well, at least I waiting for it!). Jack was set to take on Ariya Daivari, who by WWE standards, is an automatic heel since he's from Iran. I'll tell you what- you want to wake up a crowd that is fatigued from watch a 2-hour plus Smackdown, roll out the Extraordinary Gentlemen! As a so-called writer, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I can not even put into words what's so special about the handlebar mustached grappler. The way he escaped and applied holds, including when he literally tied Daivari in a knot- is a sight to behold. A very impressive debut, and I look forward to seeing more from Gentleman Jack.
Regarding the main event: this match had the look and feel that the cruiserweight division had been struggling to get since being lodged into the Raw roster. Though the crowd was reduced (people left after Smackdown), those who remained were treated to a special event, and responded accordingly. Rich Swann and THE Brian Kendrick put on what has to be the best cruiserweight match since the CWC. Unlike the earlier stages of the lighter stars appearing on Raw- the crowd had a lot more to react to then just the highspots. Swann picked up the biggest win of his career, and I can't think of a better star to center the division around. Having read about the details of Swann's past written by Al.pyro, knowing what that young man has had to overcome made watching him raise that title above his head a whole lot sweeter.
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty strong start to 205 Live, and there is potential for it to be a great selling point for the WWE network.
Should 205 Live Continue to be Its Own Show?
Now I'm fully aware that my name isn't McMahon, and that I have zero experience running a multi-million dollar wrestling empire. It's very easy to criticize Vince from a creative standpoint, but there's not much you can say about him from a business standpoint. I'm pretty sure that there is always a method to his madness as far as promoting original content for the network and establishing brands.
But like any good internet fan, I will not let a little thing like not knowing how to run a promotion get in the way of me offering some free advice!
I think many of us were a little baffled when they announced the premier of yet another WWE-produced wrestling show to add to the plethora that already airs before we even get to the middle of the week. I bet that you've also seen the arguments about the pros and cons of having so much content. Rest assured, we will NOT be getting into any of those here. I think there is definitely a place for 205 Live, and it is possible to air it while not asking faithful WWE viewers to give up more of their time than they already do.
The solution: take 205 Live and make it your first hour of Raw. Instead of filming (or streaming live) after Smackdown, why not take the spot usually reserved for the Main Event tapings, and use the cruiserweights to warm up the audience? USA network wants their three hours of Raw on Monday nights, and they will still get them. It can be presented as two different shows, but not really, because it is the same arena, same cameras, same crew, etc. They don't have to go anywhere or change anything except the logos and the color of the ropes. It can be looked at as an extended segment (in the vein of a talk show like the Highlight Reel, or an interview or cutaway to a panel like for PPVs, so as not make it seem like it's a different show). The cruiserweights get a full hour to impress the judges, and then during a commercial break, set up your pyro machines, roll up the apron, paint the ropes red and get ready for Raw proper. You also don't have to worry about the audience leaving, because this is only the beginning of the show.
Triple H has stated that the third hour for Raw is so tough to produce. Having 205 as your first hour would alleviate this because again- it's pretty much producing two separate shows. Do I even have to state the benefits of a now '2-hour' (but really 3-hour) Raw? Less time for filler, and a better chance for pacing out the show that might help keep eyes on the screen-especially during the final hour death slot. And going back to the point of the audience leaving- I can't guarantee that they'll stay if your Raw main event features Roman Reigns in any capacity- but that's another story. Just as there is 'competition' among the brands (Raw and Smackdown) as well as within the locker room, there will now be a competition between the flagship show and its own opening act to keep the crowd invested (or get them invested in the first place). I fail to see how that would be a bad thing.
Seeing as how WWE already went through the hassle of setting apart a time slot and forcing another hour of labor on their crew, as well as putting more on the plate of Cory Graves, should they just forget about that post-Smackdown Tuesday night spot? Not necessarily. Graves would already be on hand (and you'd just have to ask Mauro to travel-though I'm sure he won't mind), and surprisingly, the man of a thousand announce jobs can see a slight reduction in his work schedule with part two of my idea.
That idea: air NXT on Tuesday nights. Let's face it- some times even when you've tried to avoid spoilers, you just can't, unless you avoid this site for weeks at a time (now they wouldn't want that, would they?). We knew of the arrival of Austin Aries, Eric Young, Bobby Roode, and Roderick Strong weeks before the episodes even aired. Spoilers can be detrimental to a wrestling program, just ask TNA. A select group of people, for some strange reason, have no problems reading them, and they might throw in something in a forum or comment section, and ruin a future event (hence the term spoiler) for someone who chooses to be surprised as the moment airs. NXT is still NXT, and is still one of the most critically acclaimed wrestling programs even with spoilers available. But how much more fun would it be to watch it, knowing that you and the rest of the world are seeing things unfold in real time?
"What about the crowd? You still have to ask people to stay and watch after sitting through 2 hours of Smackdown. How would it look if people were shown leaving, or if the audience is significantly smaller than it was minutes ago?" With all due respect to the cruiserweights- NXT is a lot more established. I believe that there is a less of a chance of people walking out of an NXT show than there is the cruiserweight show. And even if there is a greater chance- keep in mind that it is the developmental brand that doesn't have to worry about network television ratings or anything else of the sort. The faithful few who stay get to move up closer to the front row, and the cameramen can stick to the angles that show (or create the appearance of) a full stand.
A move like this could be a huge benefit, as NXT finally gets more fresh air outside of the all-too-familiar Full Sail University, and allows the stars to perform in front of bigger crowds, and eliminates the tendency for viewers to be deceived about the "over-ness" of a talent perceived from that familiarity. PC graduates, as well as veterans who start down there with them, get the privilege of performing for and challenge of trying to win over the mixture of casual and hardcore fans behind the guardrails while still keeping things separate from the main roster. And of course while viewing live is encouraged, watching NXT on Demand is always an option for the sleepy-heads like myself who can't hang past 10:00pm EST. That is still better than having recorded episodes weeks in advance. There may be fatigue from the earlier main roster show, but it still beats having a dead crowd by the time you've done your fourth taping for the evening. People can only pop or pretend to get excited about seeing someone but so many times, after all.
So there you have it. 205 Live is on Raw where it belongs as the hot opener and lead-in to the main show. The main show itself has been mercifully reduced to 2 hours. USA network is still getting what they paid for, and NXT gets a live airing like it deserves. Problem solved. There will still be over 50 hours of WWE programming to get through by Wednesday, but I just helped them take off 1 hour. Hopefully that helps. What do you guys think?
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See you next time!