Some overall thoughts before we begin:
- This is essentially the unofficial 3rd hour for Smackdown! Live’s show as it goes on right after Smackdown! Live ends. Because people start leaving at the end of Smackdown! Live, WWE needs to find a way to interest people into staying.
- The video packages are a great way to introduce the newer talent and give backgrounds to the crowd so they can invest in the wrestler.
- WWE should allow the cruiserweights to mingle with the rest of the main roster as they did with Cedric Alexander and Alicia Fox. This allows the audience to see that although the cruiserweights are their own division like the men, women, and tag-team divisions, they are still a part of the main roster.
- Speaking of Alicia Fox, the women are the best way to connect the cruiserweights to the main roster. Whether pairing them as a manager of involving them in regular backstage interactions, there’s nothing to lose with this kind of booking. Pairing Summer Rae with Drew Gulak for instance has the potential to be successful.
This will most likely be the last time I talk about commentary for the foreseeable future since it’s clear that Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves are magnificent as a commentary team. It was Austin Aries that was the unsure bet as commentating and delivering a promo are two separate things. His commentary this week was miles ahead from the debut episode last week. He found his groove relatively quickly and that’s a good thing while he’s still out of action.
Noam Dar made his 205 Live debut against Cedric Alexander. Something interesting to note is Alexander’s backstage run-in with Alicia Fox. This is a good sign going forward as WWE is starting to incorporate some stories into the cruiserweights. The match featured some solid in-ring work from Noam Dar, whom last week I mentioned would be a much better fit as a heel. And it seems WWE agreed with my opinion. After picking up the victory over Alexander, Noam Dar cut a scathing promo and dedicated his win to Alicia Fox, setting up a feud and a possible love triangle storyline with himself, Fox, and Alexander.
THE VIDEO PACKAGE
Mustafa Ali’s video package was surprisingly effective. The jeers he would receive could be easily assumed to be because of his ethnicity. He mentioned that he comes out and doesn’t say a word yet once his name is heard, he is booed. But his ethnicity was never outright referenced. And this was a fantastic move on Creative’s part. This ensures that WWE is avoiding the tired Middle Eastern heel. As for the video package itself, Ali sold himself as a jack-of-all-trades; he can brawl, he can fly, and he can “tie you up in a knot”. We haven’t seen much of him due to his early exit from the CWC and his one-time match in NXT but something tells me he will be a natural heel. And better yet, one who doesn’t need to cheat to win. And that’s the best type of heel.
THE OTHER GUYS
For this week, the other guys happened to be Jack Gallagher and Ariya Daivari. After losing two consecutive matches to Gallagher, Daivari targeted the leg of the Extraordinary Gentleman. And that was the difference maker this time around as Daivari was able to pick up his first win since he’s been around. And man did her really need that win. Daivari has the potential to be one of the major players in the division. He just needs some strong booking and a little more presence and charisma. The story-telling was excellent with Gallagher continuing to improve his stock with this performance. Despite being injured, he proved to have a high wrestling intelligence as he was still able to pull many tricks and counters out of his hat.
THE MAIN EVENT
With TJ Perkins on commentary, Rich Swann looked to defend his newly won title against The Brian Kendrick. And once again, both men delivered an entertaining and quality match. But more importantly, Kendrick’s value to the division and the company were shown here. The time away has really changed Kendrick and has truly improved him for the better. His in-ring work and psychology are top notch. He makes even the little things seem important. And best of all, when given at least a little story, he’s able to maximize the time in the ring to make sure that everyone looks better.
Having said that, the more intriguing part of the match was Kendrick’s post-match assault on Perkins and the miscommunication that led to Perkins kicking Swann in the face and Kendrick standing tall. Perkins seemed to show signs of a heel turn on Monday and furthermore last night. And that’s what he needs to give him some direction with his character.
Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think!