Remember when WWE announced the return of the Cruiserweight Division? Recall at how all those hugely impressive names from the wrestling indie scenes sounded like money to be made? That all feels like an age ago, as the current state of the division resembles a disaster zone. From audience apathy to tragically awful storylines, it’s clear that the Cruiserweight dream has all but evaporated – and 205 Live is the mess left behind.
It’s not just me being cynical either. A few weeks back, the show failed to track in the WWE Networks Top 20 viewed list – a feat that underlines just how few people tune in to the show. WWE’s cruiserweight experiment hasn’t just hit the rocks, it’s tumbled into the ocean and floated away over the horizon. To say most of WWE’s audience don’t care is an understatement – made all the more awkward that the only cruiserweight match at Wrestlemania 33 was relegated to the cutting room floor.
What’s more frustrating is that the Cruiserweight Classic laid such solid foundations. TJ Perkins and his crew of cruiserweights not only stole the show, they made everything on the WWE main roster feel slow by comparison. Fans were excited by the idea of these guys being given a weekly show – yet for some awkward reason this hasn’t translated onto the Network show.
Instead of being thrilled by some of the best wrestling action around – we get bogged down matches, lacking the pace or excitement that seemed to be the central premise of the entire show. Christ knows who made the decision to gut the division of its high-flying, fast paced spots – but they should be fired into the sun. It’s killed the potential of the division stone dead.
Perhaps the most damning evidence of this was the not-so-subtle attempt to slide Sasha Banks into the division. No offence to Sasha Banks but her inclusion in this past weeks show only serves to highlight just how desperate WWE are to get view=ers watching the show. Her being on 205 Live feels like a relegation for one of the company’s top Superstars – a sentiment shared by a good portion of her fan base (Not helped by Sasha amusingly calling the show 125 Live on Twitter).
The reality is that the current format of the show doesn’t work. Audiences don’t care for these Superstars because their characters are so underwhelming. The likes of Adrian Neville are immune to this, because audiences already know of him. But the likes of Mustafa Ali barely get a response because audiences frankly don’t care. Without his dazzling in-ring performances to get him over, he’s nothing. He’s another face in the crowd – one that audiences are given no reason to care about.
There are plenty of things WWE could do to try and fix the problem. Moving 205 Live away from exhausted Smackdown Live audiences (Who have to sit through two hours of wrestling before the show begins) would be a good start. One of the reasons NXT works so well was because the live audience are so into the product. Many of the Superstars who’ve gone on to become main eventers within the company were helped along by the Full Sail audience, who gave them the reaction to make audiences care. Contrast this with 205 Live, where audiences of 8000+ sit on their hands, waiting for the chance to go home.
Another area for improvement would be WWE allowing its stars to actually wrestle at a faster pace. The slow matches that currently populate 205 Live fail to stand out, equally failing to get fans talking. There needs to be a buzz around the show again – something that currently is missing.
205 Live certainly isn’t dead, but it’s well on the way to that state unless the company addresses the root causes of the issue. It’s an hour-long show that fans have little appetite for. With some of the best talent in the company within the roster – that’s just insanely wasteful.
How would you fix WWE’s 205 Live problem?