205 Live cleared a pretty big hurdle on Mar. 27.
This was the first episode of the DRAKE MAVERICK era which didn’t feature a match in the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament announced by the General Manager when he was appointed to the role following the release of former champ Enzo Amore.
Would a revamp modeled after the competition-first, ever-match-has-defineable-stakes Cruiserweight Classic retain its appeal on an edition that didn’t have a “win or go home” bout?
You bet your butts.
It was helped by the fact that while neither of the matches we got on Tuesday night had a definitive prize on the line, MAVERICK and announcers Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness consistently reminded us where they fit in the larger competitive picture. It didn’t hurt that both were very good exhibitions that showcased the wrestlers strengths, tied into ongoing rivalries like Mark Andrews and Tony Nese’s issues with Drew Gulak (Andrews win did result in DM THE GM booking him to face Gulak next week), and Lucha House Party’s beef with Akira Tozawa and Hideo Itami. It also delivered fresh outcomes. The problems with the purple brand weren’t the fault of mainstays like TJP and Nese, but it’s smart to push people like the UK Title scene’s Andrews and the impressive former NXT tag champ Buddy Murphy to send a clear signal this is a new era.
A lot of those elements were present in the interview DRAKE MAVERICK conducted with the two finalists from the tournament, Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. Those two have been staples of 205 Live since its inception, and they use that history to their advantage in their promos. It allows them to validate Triple H and team’s decision to go face vs. face for their championship match at WrestleMania 34, too.
Ceddy is the guy who’s supposed to be the protagonist, and for many he will be. But Ali’s story is just as compelling, and he’s not only playing mind games when he points out Alexander’s failure (sometimes on his part, often due to the actions of others) to win the big one. They both get to deliver badass sounding lines about stomping out hearts, and MAVERICK sells it all with his facial expressions.
There’s a lot of wrestling out there, so it’s understandable if folks have written off 205 Live. I’d recommend giving it another chance, especially since it’s delivering a really compelling build to what should be a killer WrestleMania match... whether it happens before or after 7PM Eastern on April 8.