From No Mercy, through Raw and onto 205 Live this week, it’s clear that stories in the cruiserweight division will revolve around its new champion, Enzo Amore.
Based on the Sept. 26 episode of the post-SmackDown WWE Network show focused on the cruisers, Dave Meltzer thinks that’s the plan to improve 205 Live’s numbers. As he said on Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required but recommended) Thursday:
“They’ve been looking at revamping 205 Live because the viewership isn’t there. So, it was just a question of what they were gonna do and I think that what they’re doing is is that they’re going from it being a wrestling show to it being the Enzo Amore show. They had two matches - neither of which were focused on as far as matches - and it was all Enzo, over and over and over again.”
While Zo is obviously central to their plans for the show and division, I think there could be more than one strategy at play here.
For one thing, Meltzer himself was talking earlier this week about Amore not having delivered a consistently increased audience for 205 Live since he arrived after SummerSlam. For another, it hasn’t been “a wrestling show” for a while. Even before Enzo arrived, there was usually one big bout per week at either the end or beginning of 50 minutes worth of interviews, promos, matches with non-finishes that further storylines, etc.
In other words, WWE turned 205 Live into a sports entertainment show a while ago. Now they’re just adding more Zo.
Even more than “more Zo”, the big difference is his role. With the title and a kayfabe reason why he doesn’t have to defend it against anyone currently on the roster (the beatdown on and after Raw he took despite the “no contact clause” General Manager Kurt Angle gave him), it makes more sense for him to be the star than when he was an upstart nobody took seriously as a wrestler.
Now he’s a jerk who nobody takes seriously as a wrestler AND he’s holding the belt hostage.
It’s a key difference. But will it work when WWE seems to be hedging their bets and trying to keep him popular enough to sell merchandise while also using him as a heel in the story of an entire show?
We’ll find out.