In November 2016, WWE premiered its Cruiserweight exclusive programmed titled ‘205 Live’. Since then, post-SmackDown Live crowds have endured the extra hour, with minimal interaction with the actual event. The stars have put in tireless efforts only to receive very little reception from those watching, and there are a few reasons as to why.
But instead of diving into what’s so bad about the show and criticising the product, let’s discuss what could be added to it that isn’t there. We’ll take a look at fun and potentially useful aspects that could be explored – just for the hell of it.
1) Adding more star power
The impact that Enzo Amore had on the Cruiserweight division as soon as he placed his hands on the championship is all the proof we need that this idea works, despite how things turned out. Since the “Certified G” joined the likes of TJ Perkins and Noam Dar, a lot more eyeballs have been on the men of the purple brand. We raged on Twitter about how he’s “ruining” a division a lot of us didn’t even focus on in the first place, and yet we tuned in the following two nights after his victory to see where it would take us. And we need more.
It’s hard for fans of wrestling – that only watch WWE – to care for men that have no reason to be cared for. Not all fans are aware of the impact each man has had on the indies, and their work that is only on RAW for 15 minutes per episode isn’t always enough to convince us to care. So, we need personalities and talent that we’re already invested in. Give us stars like Finn Bálor that we mark out for as soon as those lights dim and the music hits. Involve men like Chad Gable that have the talent and need the change in character. Add in NXT stars such as Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano that have proven themselves to the audiences and have a story going already. The Cruiserweights all have the wrestling ability and the mic skills to tell a compelling narrative, they just need some assistance from those that have had the spotlight they haven’t had.
2) Integration with big players
Sticking to the idea of star power, integrating storylines with men from other divisions will easily give the Cruiserweights the attention they deserve. If Cedric Alexander could feud with The Miz for a month, audiences would be even more enticed to see what the former Ring of Honor star can do on the Tuesday evening show.
Stars like The Miz, Cesaro, and Bray Wyatt have the fan’s attention, so allowing them to pass that on to the men of 205 Live would only be beneficial to all. None of the competitors need to be “buried” to push the other, they just need to have a decent month-long story on RAW or SmackDown every now and again to give them a chance to show the WWE audience what they have to offer.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye when the Cruiserweight segments come on every Monday night. However, when stars like the Most Must-See WWE Superstar of All Time are integrated into those sections of the show, the channel might not get switched.
3) Involve the Women of WWE
With the Royal Rumble looming, and the Mae Young Classic not too far behind us, the amount of new and returning women added to the already growing and talented women’s divisions is at an all-time high. Every week we see the women of RAW and SmackDown Live receive good reactions and even become some of the biggest merch-sellers on the rosters. So why not allow them to take their audience to the purple brand also?
In 2017 we saw Alicia Fox and Sasha Banks team up with some Cruiserweights for a short – but enjoyable – storyline. Fans of the former Divas and RAW Women’s champions tuned in to the RAW and 205 Live segments as an eager attempt to see more of their favourite Superstars. And, in turn, were exposed to some of the men.
Unfortunately, the storylines didn’t last long enough to keep a lasting audience, but if fans of the women were given more of a reason to stay, then there’s no doubt that they will. Allow us to see Natalya and The Brian Kendrick take on Becky Lynch and Akira Tozawa, giving us more women’s storylines that don’t interfere with the title picture. Use valets such as Lana and Maria Kanellis to manage guys like Gentleman Jack Gallagher and Noam Dar – because who doesn’t love an egotistical man paired with a like-minded woman?
The women’s divisions have a huge fanbase that tunes in each week to just watch the women. So give those fans a reason to tune in for another hour on Tuesday nights by simply adding some of their favourite talents to it. Fans of the women started #GiveDivasAChance in 2015 to see more storylines and character progression. Women’s wrestling fans don’t want to just see a segment or two every SmackDown Live or RAW episode, we want to see improvements and development within the personalities and stories for the women, and we want more of it.
4) Give them better pay-per-view slots
One of the biggest lost opportunities for the Cruiserweights is when they weren’t given a real spotlight at Wrestlemania 33. Austin Aries and Neville – two men that no longer appear on WWE programming, surprisingly – were subjected to the pre-show slot. With a packed four hour show already ahead for the audience, it’s hard to expect a good portion of the audience to tune in, let alone pay attention to an extra two hours of kickoff matches – especially when one is for a division a lot already don’t pay attention to.
If WWE would allow these men to have compelling matches on the main card for pay-per-views, then more eyeballs would be on them. Audiences will be given more opportunities to watch them as they’ll be on the same card as Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Although this won’t be an immediate fix – as fans will likely ignore it like they do every Monday night – it still gives them more chances of being seen. When going back to watch a pay-per-view, fans tend to ignore whatever happened on the pre-show. But in this case, they will be going back and having another chance to catch the Cruiserweights.
5) Meeting the demands of its top stars
We haven’t seen the likes of Austin Aries and Neville, two of 205 Live’s biggest stars, in quite a while. Aries officially departed from WWE in July 2017, whilst Neville hasn’t appeared on our screens since September of the same year. Both men have discussed their discomfort with their contracts – and as top stars, should their demands not be met?
Unfortunately, we’ll probably never hear the full story for both men, but based on rumours and statements, it has something to do with not receiving the platform they believe they deserve. Both men have proven to be able to carry great matches, so maybe a “meet in the middle” could be confirmed to secure the presence of top stars. These men work hard, and they deserve to be treated like stars – so maybe giving them the respect they have earned would be a way to keep the big talents around.
So, that’s my two pence on the subject. 205 Live is full of a lot of talented men with a lot left to give, and it’d be a shame if the majority of the WWE Universe turned a blind eye to it. There are many episodes to watch on the WWE Network, including some great pay-per-view and Monday Night RAW segments. So if you haven’t seen them, go binge the show and become mesmerised by the talented men of the purple brand!
What do you think WWE could do to improve the show’s ratings and content? Do you agree with any of the above statements?