wrestling / Columns

Csonka Looks at The Reboot of WWE 205 Live

February 12, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Roderick Strong NXT 2618 205 Live

WELCOME back to column tome with Larry. Today we’re going to look at the reboot of 205 Live and overall changes to the brand. Sure, it’s easy to just say “Triple H > Vince,” and call it a day. But I’d like to talk about some specific points as to why I feel the brand has is off of life support and looking to flourish. Thanks for reading! As always, consider this my play list of great matches, recommendations for the month. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

Drake Maverick: If you’ve followed my writing for any amount of time, you’ll know that I am not a big fan of the authority figure in wrestling. Outside of Dario Cueto, I have almost no time or use for the role. But I will freely admit that the former Rockstar Spud (now Drake Maverick) has been great for the role of 205 Live GM. I have never been a huge fan of Spud as an in ring performer, I never thought he was bad, but I find him to be a much better character than in ring worker. He’s a good talker, is charismatic, can work a crowd, and projects a great command when talking to the talent, without making them look bad. When they announced that 205 Live was getting a GM, I just figured they’d go with Daniel Bryan, since he already works Tuesdays, but was hoping that they’d go with someone new and fresh, but had no idea who that would be. I knew Spud was signed, but just assumed he’d be an in ring guy on the brand. But much to my surprise and happiness, they went with someone new and unexpected, and so far, he’s been great and I am extremely happy that he’s getting this chance to succeed.

Enzo Amore & Silly Storylines Are Gone: Vince McMahon was of the opinion that a character driven show, basically “little fella Raw,” was the best way to go with 205 Live when he took it over. There is nothing wring with characters & stories, they get us more invested in the end game, which is the big match. But stripping away everything that made the cruiserweight classic fun, special, and loved by fans was a huge miscalculation. No one wanted a “mini-version” of the five hours we already get a week, the show is on the Network, and you’re playing to a hardcore fanbase, the same fans that loved that cruiserweight classic. So the complete change in tone, focusing on the wrestling, the title, wins and loses, and the short personality profiles is a welcomed change. I didn’t want love triangles, Daivari opening exploding boxes, crazy Alicia Fox or the “Zo Train.” None of that appealed to me or felt right on the 205 Live setting. I wanted great inuring action, Evil King Neville, highflying, and a fun show that felt different than the five hours of Raw & Smackdown that all feel like they want together. Enzo was a good talker, and gave a short-term boost in interest, but was the absolute drizzling shits in the ring. He got over on his gimmick as was never going to change, and by making a stable of wanna be Enzos only exacerbated the brand’s issues. Getting rid of that has been so refreshing, and has made the show instantly fresh and different.

Guest Stars Keep Things Fresh: One of the things that I always love in a tournament is the special guest star(s). They make a tournament fun, unpredictable and can bring life to a stale lineup. I like a lot of the 205 Live roster, but bringing in fresh names ads to the unpredictability, adds to the reboot feel that the show has, and also gives WWE a chance to use some talented guys that are in limbo. We already got Tyler Bate, one of the underutilized UK talents. While it was sad to see him bounced in the first round, he was a quality addition to the tournament. We’re also getting mark Andrews, another one of the underutilized UK talents, that like bate, needs to be used more. On top of that, we got Roderick Strong from NXT. Strong is one of the most consistent guys in all of NXT, an even if he doesn’t get called up full time, getting some extra exposure is nothing but good for him. His first match against Itami was great, and I hope he gets a deep run in the tournament, because Strong is always a welcomed addition to any roster in my opinion.

The Unexpected Gift of Mixed Match Challenge: Another thing I think that a lot of people are over looking is the gift of Mixed Match Challenge. While it makes the night longer and doesn’t do the live crowd any favors, Mixed Match Challenge airing and cutting into the traditional 205 Live timeslot has shortened the show. Now you may think that losing time in a bad thing, and in most instances, it is. But I feel that this came at the right time to help 205 Live. With the show looking to refocus back to what it was originally intended to be, and reboot, the focus as mentioned above has returned to hw wrestlers and the in ring action. So with the show being shortened, and now focusing on the crowning of a new champion through a tournament, it became a perfect storm. The show is shorter but is now paced extremely well, focusing on two matches that get goodtime to deliver, some set up for the next week, and also some short profiles/promos from the competitors. The show flies by, is a ton of fun to watch and it shows what the show has been capable all along.

The Focus is on the Wrestlers, Wrestling, & Winning: One of the things I absolutely loved about the cruiserweight classic was the focus on “the Wrestlers, the Wrestling, & Winning.” With that being the focuses, the stories and personalities were being told and built up in the ring. Everything n the ring was important, it mattered, and it was that focus that made it stand apart from the regular WWE show. Some feel that wrestling cannot survive with out wacky characters and angles, but I feel that in 2018, that to survive, you need to deliver something different. That’s why people enjoy the weekly NXT product, Takeovers, and things like Lucha Underground. Variety is the spice of life, and that is where the rebooted 205 Live is succeeding. The show feels fresh, fun and again, different than Raw & Smackdown. It’s obviously early on in the process, but so far, I love it and am all in. This is what 205 Live could have been the entire time, and the show I hoped it would be. I just hope that they keep it up.

– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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