It was an interesting week of crossovers in WWE. Prince Pretty was back on NXT for the first time in several years, and the Heart of 205 Live got some shine as the New Daniel Bryan’s opponent on the Dec. 11 SmackDown.
Both moves inspired some fan wishes and fantasy booking. Triple H has been talking about moving people laterally around all of WWE’s brands (as opposed to strictly viewing NXT to Raw or SmackDown as a permanent “call up”) for a while. It was seeing a prominent cruiserweight on the blue brand, though, that really felt new - and potentially exciting.
Since their debut as part of the main roster in late 2016, 205 Live has filmed with SmackDown on Tuesdays. But whenever they get broadcast television time, it’s come on Monday during Raw. That was initially the case when the division got the kind of multi-person matches WWE often uses to remind us there are women outside the title picture on the show, along with an occassional Cruiserweight title-related story segment. Lately, it’s meant using guys from the 205 Live roster as managers for members of Team Red, and Lucha House Party rules matches.
It makes sense in that WWE has an extra hour of airtime to fill on Mondays, and (even with Mixed Match Challenge) filming the cruisers WWE Network show on Tuesdays made for a roughly equal amount of wrestling for folks who paid to see the SmackDown taping in person.
But the current cruiserweight division - born out of a tournament show, and overseen by an authority figure
with bladder control problems who holds weigh-ins & explains the reasoning behind his match-making to the audience - never really felt like a good fit on the soap opera/variety show of Raw. Okay, maybe it did during the Enzo Amore era. But wouldn’t it make more sense on the brand anchored by a workhorse like AJ Styles?
Plus, while it’s still nine months away, Fox is said to want a more sports-like show when SmackDown moves to their network. The cruisers may be the most sports-like presentation WWE has to offer. Sure, there’s some acrobatics that some say make it difficult to suspend disbelief, but there’s no shortage of technical grappling and MMA striking on Drake Maverick’s roster.
And hey! Ali’s already booked out months worth of TV matches...
#205Live vs. #SDLive Part 1— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@MustafaAliWWE) December 13, 2018
-@DrewGulak & @GentlemanJackG vs. @WWECesaro & @WWESheamus
-@CedricAlexander vs. @AJStylesOrg
-@WWE_Murphy vs. @reymysterio
-@RealMikeBennett & @MariaLKanellis vs. @RonKillings & @CarmellaWWE
#205Live vs. #SDLive Part 2— Mustafa Ali / Adeel Alam (@MustafaAliWWE) December 13, 2018
-@KalistoWWE/ @LuchadorLD/ @WWEGranMetalik vs. @XavierWoodsPhD/@WWEBigE/@TrueKofi
-@mrbriankendrick vs. @WWEDanielBryan
-@TozawaAkira vs. @ShinsukeN @HideoItami vs. @AndradeCienWWE @AriyaDaivariWWE vs. @JEFFHARDYBRAND @TonyNese vs. @RusevBUL
The big challenge would be the time crunch on a show which already hasn’t found a way to routinely work some potential big stars into their rotation. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. And especially if they follow Ali’s example/suggestion of mixing the cruiserweights in with the “regular” talent, bouts can be presented as legitimate competition while the announcers sell ongoing blue and purple brand storylines featuring the participants.
It’s an idea that’s not without some issues, but given that ratings and viewership don’t appear to be trending up for either brand, WWE should be willing to try something different to see if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Just do it.