The debut episode of WWE Network’s new 205 Live saved the best for last.
Heading into the main event, a Cruiserweight title showdown between champion Brian Kendrick and Rich Swann, Kendrick had a locker room confrontation with his old nemesis TJ Perkins, while Swann was the focus of a biographical video package chronicling the life obstacles he’d overcome to reach the WWE.
The two men shook hands at the outset, matching the division’s attention to sportsmanship it’s demonstrated since the Cruiserweight Classic berthed it this past Summer. From there, we got a more traditional heel/face battle that grew from the pre-bout scenes... and that won over a Columbia, South Carolina crowd which wasn’t sure what to make of the show through much of its hour-long runtime.
Kendrick showed the willingness to fight dirty he’s displayed throughout his current run, and logically targeted Swann’s neck in order to set up his Captain’s Hook submission finisher. But the Baltimore native wasn’t going to go quietly, barely breaking a ten count after having his neck snapped across the turnbuckle, and reaching the ropes to break the move formerly known as the Bully Choke.
In the end, Swann kicked out of a top rope Sliced Bread #2, and caught a stunned Kendrick with three consecutive spinning heel kicks to pin the veteran and become the third man to hold this title.
The new champion dedicated the win to his mother, who died when he was 16. The deposed titleholder vowed to make sure Swann had a short reign. Mauro Ranallo told us to follow the story as it continued on Raw.
The long-term future of WWE’s cruiserweights isn’t clear, but it’s short-term prospects seem better with Swann as the face of the division.