Looking back at 205 Live’s short history, one would have to say the past three months have been the best since the cruiserweights returned to WWE in 2016. Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander outshined Undertaker, Triple H, and a host of other top stars at Super Show-Down in Australia. Mustafa Ali is the newest member of Smackdown Live, which, by him pinning Daniel Bryan in a tag team match, shows the company sees value in this once lifeless division. Unfortunately, they are still a long way away from getting the attention they so desperately deserve. However, maybe a little 619 is all 205 Live needs to get to that next level.
When Rey Mysterio made his first WWE appearance in four years at the Royal Rumble, and later returned at The Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia, it was simply a question of when not if he would return to Vince McMahon’s global juggernaut. As fans, we were excited to see our beloved luchador back to hopefully put on some dream matches with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and of course, AJ Styles. Sure, there is a dose of nostalgia when watching Rey Mysterio, but his performances thus far have proven he is far from a nostalgia act. He has most certainly still got “it.”
Now three pay-per-views into his return, one thing is clear, Rey’s not back to main event every show. In fact, at this stage of his career it should be more about giving back, and how fitting would it be if he gives back to the division where he made his name.
The Cruiserweight Classic was a huge success in 2016, and it’s what led to the division getting their own show, and a spot on Monday Night RAW. It gave the likes of Cedric Alexander, Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali, and Brian Kendrick an opportunity to connect with WWE’s main audience on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, those opportunities were restricted by booking random matches and producing segments filled with stupidity. And more often than not, this led to silence, as fans would be sat on their hands waiting for it to be over.
Since Triple H reportedly took over the creative for 205 Live in early 2018, we have seen a shift from focusing on, well, nothing to making the cruiserweight title a prize worth having. There’s more wrestling, more time for superstars like Mustafa Ali to explain their great back stories, and simpler narratives leading to title matches. The payoff at Super Show-Down with hometown hero Buddy Murphy finally capturing gold in front of his fellow Australians was incredibly simple.
Despite the positives, the cruiserweight title does not have a place on either main roster show. Although Buddy Murphy and co have won over recent pay-per-view crowds with great performances, they have to kill themselves with death-defying moves from the get-go to ensure fans pay attention to what they are doing. In comparison, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan can slowly build their matches and then produce a great series of back and forth exchanges at the end, mainly due to the luxury of weeks of build up on SmackDown: Live.
Connecting with the Masses
Connecting with the fanbase on an emotional level is crucial to a wrestler’s success. It’s something NXT stars find out when they get to the main roster. RAW and SmackDown have far more viewers due to them being on national television, while WWE Network shows have a smaller audience, so that’s why superstars like Tyler Breeze and Tye Dillinger struggle. 205 Live does not lack talent but they arguably don’t have a superstar that translates and brings people in. Rey Mysterio is a global icon that has fans from different generations, and that’s why he can be that missing piece of the 205 Live puzzle.
When it comes to moves, there is little he can do that a younger cruiserweight cannot do better. Just watch Ali’s 054 (reverse 450 splash) or Alexander’s standing spanish fly to see how much the athletic bar has risen. Rey is a lot more calculated these days, but amazingly, even at age 44, he finds new innovative manoeuvres like his sliding splash out of the ring to wow the fans.
He can be for 205 Live what John Cena was for so long, the face that guarantees there will be butts in seats and a loud reaction from the live crowd.
Buddy Murphy has been a pivotal part of 205 Live’s recent success. His size and aggression have given Alexander and Ali an opponent that will help them generate sympathy. Murphy has also made the matches more than just an athletic showcase, and more of a big man versus small man battle, while also retaining the high flying aspect. With the Australian as champion, it also gives Rey Mysterio the perfect opponent for a cruiserweight return. Rey’s career has been built off fighting bigger men, and in this case, he’d also be facing a younger superstar as well. The two would definitely produce some exciting matches.
With the amount of money WWE is likely paying Rey, and because of his star status, a run in the cruiserweight division would not be a long-term plan. However, just like Macho Man Randy Savage catapulted Diamond Dallas Page’s career in WCW, Rey Mysterio can do the same thing for Buddy Murphy and the entire division. If ten years from now, 205 Live has a more established position in WWE, and fans follow the show like they do RAW and Smackdown, and it was because of Rey Mysterio’s contributions, it might go down as one of the great stories in wrestling history. A man that made his name as a cruiserweight gave back to the division by bringing them the attention and recognition they needed to achieve a higher status in the WWE.