Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Vanilla Midget Report: Vol. 3, Issue 4

Hark, a title match!
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It's title week on 205 Live . The tension was palpable. Would Cedric Alexander keep the title after not wrestling for over a month, or would Hideo Itami take the belt with him on excursion to Pro Wrestling NOAH? Well, it's not the time to be a laggard, it's time to dive the fuck in, alright? Alright!

I'm With Buddy

Those fuckin' matracas are the only thing that I'd call a negative about the Lucha House Party, but my god, are they annoying. What makes it worse is that they seem to be prominently miced. They're more prominent in the broadcast than the commentary team. I don't know, maybe I'm just an old guy who doesn't want the kids on his lawn, but when Vic Joseph and Percy Watson call the matracas fun, my face contorts in pained configurations. From the looks of the happenings on the outside of the Tony Nese/Kalisto match, Buddy Murphy agrees with me.

For a match between two usually sure things, the focus was rightfully on last week's main event loser. In addition to mollifying his alliance with Nese, Murphy's outburst had the extra consequence of building off the frustration of his loss to Mustafa Ali the prior week. Coupled with the highlight packages, that match is looking more and more like a signpost, not just for Ali, who'll no doubt be one of the next challengers for the Big Purple Belt, but for Murphy. He's got extra reason to be mad and to take things out those innocent yet annoying Lucha House Partiers.

As for the match itself, well, Kalisto seemed off, loose even. He's been one of the more consistent guys in the division since being shunted over, but tonight he left windows open and felt off on timing. Nese continues to be one of the most refreshing performers in the division with his hammering fists and thunderous power, but this issue seems far from over, and I'm betting the masked marauders will have more than enough opportunities in the coming weeks to create some magic. At least they won't have to worry about Gulak coming to take their faces anymore, as he stated emphatically later on in the show that he was DONE with the House Party and was moving onto bigger and better things. I'm here for Drew Gulak, Cruiserweight Champion, what about you?

I'm Not Askin' For A Miracle

Okay, maybe I am. Noam Dar coming back and hamming it up with Drake Maverick is fine, but please, for the love of Danielson, can you just give me a reason why I should care about his return feud being TJP? Why not bring Pete Dunne over? At least I care somewhat about his ugly-ass mug. Or better yet, can WWE let Chad Gable work the arrogant, coasting-on-natural-talent heel role on 205 Live if he's not gonna do anything worthy on RAW and let TJP be, I don't know, the official envoy for the company to Jordan Peterson's camp or something.

Colin Delaney!

Last week, Akira Tozawa got to roughhouse local talent while Lio Rush waited on the outside to instigate conflict. This week, Rush got the enhancement opponent, who was none other than former WWECW and Chikara great Colin Delaney while Tozawa got to lay in wait to retaliate. It's almost unfair to Rush and Tozawa to have to continue their narrative while a good portion of 205 Live's faithful audience made googily eyes at Delaney, whose only move of note in the match was an insanely tight school boy roll-up worthy of a highlight reel. Sadly, he was only there to get rope-a-doped, kicked in the face, and frogsplashed by the new hotness of 205 Live, which is fine. I mean, I could watch Lio Rush appear to defy the laws of physics by stopping on dimes and jumping with incredibly small amounts of thrust behind him all day.

And that's what I'll get to do next week, as Maverick didn't take kindly to Tozawa, who luckily cut his promo in 2018 and not sometime in the '90s so he didn't have to make the "YOU HAVE NO MARBLES" reference from Major League 2, and Rush trying to make a match all by themselves. Their match, which I hope gets main event billing just for the time, will be as close to Dragon Gate as anything WWE will ever get, at least until Ricochet goes to RAW and works Apollo Crews in some kind of enhancement match which will finally get Crews somewhat over in spite of his diminished role. But now I'm just getting ahead of myself here.

In another, more troubling note, I did catch Tozawa calling Rush "boy" during his response promo. On one hand, I'm not sure Tozawa knows the racial implications of saying that word to address a Black man, but on the other, either I hope someone tells him on the off chance he wasn't scripted, or the person who scripted that shit should probably get a timeout for a couple of weeks to ruminate on what they actually scripted. In fucking 2018, you don't have a promo where someone who's ostensibly the fucking babyface calling a Black man "boy."

Oh, So 205 Live DOES Have a Champion Who Wrestles

For the first time in two months, Cedric Alexander wrestled on 205 Live, which would be fine if he were defending the Cruiserweight Championship on pay-per-view pre-shows or RAW. Well, about that, he hasn't. While it's not like he's been wanting for screentime, and his match with Hideo Itami did have a proper buildup, one would like to see the grand prize of the division put on the line more than once every other lunar cycle. The match itself didn't really disappoint, luckily. 205 Live main events often have succulent closing stretches that will either enhance or absolve action beforehand, depending on how good it is, obviously. In this case, it was closer to absolve, but it's not like either wrestler was bad, per se.

I think the main problem, and it was a problem last week with Murphy as well, is that WWE agents lean too hard on heel heat segments relying on restholds. I can understand wanting to use them as a heat-building mechanism on the main roster with burly, traditional-style workers who may or may not be limited in their range. Maybe they don't want Itami getting cheered, but one has to think that you can get a dude his share of boos without putting the skids on a match. It just doesn't feel like a stylistic fit, at least in the way executed. If I want a guy doing headlocks and body scissors mid-match, maybe give me someone who can do them with the same enthusiasm as Oney Lorcan. If not, then let Itami do some other grinding shit, like stomping or kicking or even some kind of submission that he doesn't have to be PORKIN on to make it look lording and effective.

But again, these closing stretches are some of the best wrestling in the world today. It's the realization of the cruiserweight roster's vision and scope. The best wrestlers in the world doing the most cutting edge wrestling, steeped in drama, and dripping with the big spots everyone loves. Whether it's the obvious stuff like that counter sequence that ended with Itami slapping the taste out of Alexander's mouth, or the little things like Itami's deep cover out of the Neuralizer miss, they hit every note in perfect sync for some of the best pure wrestling in wWE of the year. That is what should compel everyone with access to a WWE Network stream to tune in.