Tuesday, December 5, 2017

205 Live Is Going on the Road

Coming to an arena in the Northeast near you, Swann and the gang!
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE has four distinct touring entities: RAW, Smackdown, NXT National, and NXT Florida loop. It will soon have a fifth, at least in a limited capacity. Monday, WWE announced via Dot Com that 205 Live will go on the road in January, the weekend before the Royal Rumble. The cruiserweights will hit up the Northeast in three moderate-sized locales: Kingston, RI, Lowell, MA, and Poughkeepsie, NY. Tickets go on sale this Friday. Right now, the tour is being framed as a limited-run of special events. My guess is if it's popular, then, 205 Live will be a touring brand on its own.

I have mixed feelings about this news, as the stratification of weight classes in wrestling is one of my most passionate bugaboos. I was hoping that WWE was winding down on the cruiserweight experiment and allowing guys like Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa, and Rich Swann to transcend weight limits and compete in the main narratives. Additionally, unless Enzo Amore isn't the Champion by that time, which at this point feels like a 50/50 proposition at absolute best, the main event is going to be the weakest part of the show. Then again, since most people going to these shows probably are NXT veterans, they'll be used to that.

However, if you're serious about building a division, having them tour on their own wouldn't be the worst idea. It's a facet of WWE that is wholly different from television presentation, and is also important for fan connection. You go to a house show to see the wrestling, and the actual in-ring work is different than it is on television. It also gives more focus to the entire roster. Cruiserweights touring with the RAW roster gives them limited shine, and they're thrown out in front of an audience that may or may not care about them. Putting them in smaller venues as their own thing gives them a shot to be the main event. In fact, it puts most of the roster at home given their indie roots, as a 205 Live show would be like a corporately-produced imitation DIY show.

But the endgame of all of this is the wrestling, right? The cruiserweight roster is full of guys who can flat-out ball in the ring. Even Amore has had his moments in the past, and if he's in there with the right guy, he could end up stooging his way through a match and making it enjoyable if not jaw-dropping with highspots or technical proficiency. At the end of the day, it's all about crowd reactions, right? For his flaws, Amore plays to the crowd well. Even with the objections, I think this could be an overall positive the wrestlers in the 205 Live division.