By Haydn Gleed, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
How things have changed for 205 Live in the last few weeks. If you had asked me to watch the show at the start of 2018, I would have asked if I could do something more interesting like stare at the grass in my garden grow. But given the circumstances of Enzo Amore’s departure, it has allowed WWE to reevaluate the brand and it appears that WWE are taking proactive steps to fix what has been broken from the start.
I wrote last week that the Royal Rumble did not have any UK talent on the show despite it being just over a year since the huge push of the UK Championship and a potential WWE match of the year between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne at NXT Takeover: Chicago last May. I speculated last week that it could be a case of WWE moving on without really having a plan for the UK talent. But since the reboot of 205 Live, the British talent have been popping up here and there and even my hometown guy Mark Andrews is taking part in the tournament next week.
Since 205 Live started, readers and peers have been talking about the possibility of the UK talent taking part in the show. I’ve always screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO from the rooftops. My fear has always been that instead of propping the show up, the show would drag the talent down. My opinion was the majority of the 205 Live audience would not know who these guys were and I didn’t feel that WWE was doing a good enough job of showcasing the characters and talent of the people already on the show. If you threw in some guys with strange accents (as far the North American viewers are concerned) and no time or effort to introduce the talent they would sink quicker than a stone. The perfect examples as far as I was concerned were Noam Dar and Jack Gallagher who, although being terrific wrestlers, their main strengths were their characters and I felt 205 Live had failed to take their positives and showcase them. Added to my argument was the way they treated the UK talent who were on the show when WWE toured the UK late last year and used them in some NXT in 2010 comedy inspired skit. It was messy, embarrassing, and counterproductive on so many levels.
So with all that being said, would the UK talent be a good fit for the new 205 Live? Yes, I think they would.
First of all, the obvious reason is the shakeup backstage with Triple H taking over the creative side of things. This is the man who brought a fresh feel to developmental with the well respected NXT and was instrumental in the formation of the UK division along with the UK Championship tournament. It would be important for him personally to show that it wasn’t a failure or a flash in the pan. Look at what NXT and by de facto Triple H have done for Johnny Garganno, who is one of the best wrestlers in the world and now people care about him personally. Triple H and his team appear to have a finger on the pulse of what the current wrestling audience wants. This point is quite obvious but I felt it was very important to reiterate.
Secondly, whether people want to admit this or not, the UK talent are on average of smaller size. It doesn’t mean they are less able to work or indeed less talented than the bigger American wrestlers, but when you are trying to introduce people to a larger audience the first impression is always the eye test. I would bet that Tyler Bate is stronger than a large portion of the WWE main roster, but you put him in the ring with a Braun Strowman he will look like a rag doll in comparison. WWE traditionally has gone with bigger men over talent and thus the WWE audience has been conditioned for decades to believe the bigger you are the better you are. That’s not a revaluation, but its also a fact that over the years wrestlers have been getting smaller and smaller. The UK talent, aside from Drew McIntyre and a couple of other exceptions, still appear small. By allowing them to show what they can do in the ring and hopefully (and possibly more importantly) show their characters and personality both inside and outside of the ring on 205 Live with wrestlers of the same stature, when or if they take the next step to Raw or Smackdown the audience should be conditioned to understand it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.
Finally, the biggest reason I would love for the UK talent to be involved in a reinvigorated 205 Live is the potential of the talent already there and the wrestlers who could potentially come in. Imagine a heel Pete Dunne talking down to the 205 live talent. Imagine Dunne being the thorn in the side of new general manager Drake Maverick and eventually they could have a feud in the ring that I think could equal if not surpass the peak of the former Rockstar Spud’s TNA career when he feuded with EC3 a couple of years back. Imagine if Johnny Gargano got called up to 205 live along with Ricochet. Imagine the unbelievable matches you could get between Tyler Bate and both of those talents or indeed Mark Andrews against either. Imagine a more sports entertainment program between the hugely entertaining personalities in Trent Seven and Jack Gallagher. Imagine a feud that could be built between the ultimate heel in Pete Dunne against the ultimate babyface in Johnny Gargano. Yes, under the old 205 Live, you could have those matches but they would be four-minute matches that would be wrestled two or three weeks in the row with the wrestlers trading and ultimately it wouldn’t matter. If the new creative team can bottle even half of what they do on NXT and sprinkle it on any of the above scenarios that I mentioned then it will be magic.
I’m fully aware that my thoughts and opinions are based on assumption that 205 Live will continue to improve at the rate that it has over the last two weeks. I’ll straight out say it’s based on the assumption that Vince McMahon won’t have any involvement in the product. I’m feeling optimistic for the future of WWE cruiserweights for the first time since the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Four weeks ago I would have argued black and blue that 205 Live would be the kiss of death for the UK talent, but now I think it would be a great fit.
As always, feel free to get in touch whether you agree or disagree with my views on the UK talent. You can find me on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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