The WWE cruiserweight-centered show finally made its debut tonight. Like Corey Graves had mentioned, the roster for the cruiserweight show is very deep. With the official inclusion of Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali, and The Bollywood Boyz, this adds a whole new dynamic of personalities and styles. With Maura Ranallo, Corey Graves, and Austin Aries on commentary, it seems as though 205 Live has all the makings of being a successful show under the same vein of WWE NXT.
But before we take a look at the first episode, it’s important to acknowledge that the success of 205 Live is dependent on how RAW books the cruiserweights. If they do not book the cruiserweights on RAW properly, there will be no interest in 205 Live. If there is no interest for 205 Live, it will fail and the cruiserweights will be another step closer to becoming defunct again. But let’s get to it!
Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves are two of the best commentators in the WWE right if not the best two commentators. Austin Aries is an odd choice to stick on commentary but made his intentions and his future in WWE clear as he stated he was going to be WWE Cruiserweight champion. Aside from that, his commentary was a little underwhelming; even corny at times. But it’s excusable for now since it’s his first time having to do commentary in WWE. But like I had mentioned during a prospect progress post earlier, this is the time for Austin Aries to show his mic work and further build his stock.
The Bollywood Boyz, comprised of Gurv and Harv Sihra, had the luxury of receiving a video package describing their history and family. That’s a plus, especially in a division with so little character development. Having them talk about leaving their family behind and doing this to make their blind grandfather proud is also a huge plus and will score some sympathy for the duo in the future. The Bollywood Boyz will settle nicely into the younger demographic as well as the female demographic as well. They’re gimmick is different than most dancing, music-related gimmicks in that it’s part of their culture, so it doesn’t come off as forced or hokey.
Jack Gallagher was undoubtedly the bigger standout. A fantastic mat-worker and a very entertaining gimmick easily sets Jack Gallagher apart from the rest of the division. His mastery of his gimmick as well translates well, especially for his in-ring work. His mat-work is incredible smooth and technical as well. It shouldn’t be too long before Gallagher starts gaining real momentum and is thrust into the main event scene. I’m not too crazy about his finishing move, a running corner dropkick, but I’m sure it won’t be something that holds him back in the future. I’m also sure that if they want him to change his finisher, it also wouldn’t be a problem.
THE VIDEO PACKAGES
Aside from The Bollywood Boyz and Rich Swann, both Noam Dar and Lince Dorado received their own video packages as well. However, theirs weren’t really as effective as The Bollywood Boyz or Rich Swann as it simply only talked about their wrestling background as opposed to who they really were. But since this was the premiere episode, just getting to know these two is acceptable.
With Kalisto out of the cruiserweight picture for the time being and Sin Cara in anger management, Lince Dorado has the opportunity to be the premier luchador in the division, but he faces some stiff competition in Gran Metalik, who not only went further than he did to in the Cruiserweight Classic, but is also one of the most talented in-ring workers in the division. But Lince Dorado’s self-proclaimed hybrid style of high-flying and brawling could make him a compelling worker.
Noam Dar’s package made him come off more as a heel, which could work wonders for his career. He spoke with a strong confidence, or debatably arrogance. Stating that he has nothing in common with the rest of the division aside from weighing under the 205 lbs. sets him apart from the rest of the wrestlers, who simply compete to be the best in the division. Dar would be an excellent top-tier heel.
THE OTHER GUYS
Unfortunately Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, and Ariya Daivari were fed to the debuts tonight. Gallagher made Ariya Daivari look foolish at times with his superior mat game and antics. And it’s clear that although Tony Nese may be a little higher on the ladder than Drew Gulak, Gulak is the better option. He was more believable in his post-match interview with Nese playing the role as the sidekick. If Gulak doesn’t at least get put into title contention during his time in WWE, it will be one of the biggest misfires WWE will ever have.
THE MAIN EVENT
Before the main event, Rich Swann received a video package detailing his life. Of the video packages, this one was the most effective of the night. Having lost his father and mother at a young age and stating that wrestling saved his life adds a huge layer of sympathy to his fun-loving character.
As for the match, it was fantastic for one simple reason. There was a story to tell. The Brian Kendrick playing a paranoid man who believes the only way to extend his career is by holding the cruiserweight title. Rich Swann portrayed the lifelong underdog akin to TJ Perkins. Except with video package combined with Swann’s smiling, fun-loving personality, created more of a narrative for the challenger. Kendrick was cunning as usual, targeting the neck and head of Swann and slowing the pace down to submission holds. But when it all came down to it, Swann’s heart and determination had him survive two Captain’s Hooks and a top rope Sliced Bread #2. The win was emotional and definitely a feel good moment. If there’s anything that the post-match interviews indicate, it’s that Kendrick will most likely fail to regain the title and continue feuding with TJ Perkins. Where Rich Swann goes from here is anyone’s guess.
For a debut episode, WWE addressed their major booking problem with the cruiserweights, and that’s giving them personality and a story to tell. Even guys like Tony Nese and Drew Gulak were given something to talk about as they came off as prima donnas after their loss to The Bollywood Boyz. With the arrival of The Bollywood Boyz and Jack Gallagher, they have improved upon the division’s intrigue. However, it’s clear that there is still a long way to go to convince the WWE universe to fully invest in the cruiserweights.