As I sat down to write the “205 Live” blog (like a dutiful WR bot, if you will), some thoughts began to flood my brain – thoughts I’ve been having for a while. I’ve been covering “205 Live” since October 2017 when the site officially debuted. What I’ve noticed is that after I’m done writing the blog, I am resigned to the fact that it won’t get any action. Of the roughly 30 entries into “The Pickup”, there are a grand total of three comments. The “page views” are somewhere in the forties and fifties each time. What this tells me is that I’m likely not along in my thought processes. I’m not alone in seeing problems with the product WWE gives me every week. More to the point, I’m not alone in my inability to really enjoy it the way I should be able to.
I love wrestling. I really do. I’ve loved it for almost all of my life (and I’m old; that’s been established). I love watching athletic people get into the ring and dazzle me with an athletic display. I love the electricity they generate and I love the feeling I get when a story is well-told in the ring.
I also love what happens outside of the ring. I love a story told verbally through excellent mic work and audience response. I love watching workers play chess with each other on the mic. I love a good plot line followed through on. I love the age-old format of the good guy getting what he’s always wanted after great struggle and the bad guy getting his comeuppance when he does bad things and gets away with them for too long.
I love all of it.
On “205 Live”, I’m really only getting half of what I love. The ring work is and always will be stellar. I reward that ring work with good grades (for all that matters). The truth is, though, that that’s all I’m getting. There are no storylines; there are only a series of matches tethered to each other by almost nothing. The only storyline thing we’ve gotten thus far since the reboot began is the “Buddy Murphy can’t make weight” thing. As a result of that, we have guys on the roster that can’t talk. The champion, the “205 Live” Cruiserweight champion, Cedric Alexander, can’t talk his way out of a paper bag. Did I mention he’s the champion? He’s truly awful in that department and in this environment, he’ll never get better. For proof that he hasn’t; watch last week’s promo – drier than month-old melba toast and less committed than Mariah Carey was in “Glitter”. Tony Nese is beyond boring. Because of that, I can’t care about him one way or the other. If I’m not invested in the characters, I can’t care about the match as much as I might otherwise. People can’t just get in the ring and work; there should be motivation. Since I know I won’t get that here, I choose to overlook it and try to enjoy what they give me. As the weeks go on, this becomes harder.
There are also guys on the roster that absolutely can cut promos and be interesting doing them. Chiefly among those guys is Drew Gulak. His whole “PowerPoint Presentation” schtick was an absolute riot. The “face” version of a Jack Gallagher was a lot of fun too. Brian Kendrick can more than hold his own with a mic in his hand. Mustafa Ali is no car crash either. Neither is Ariya Daivari. Why would a brand not take advantage of that? Really, the only consistent presence on the mic is Drake Maverick. He’s full of passion and can more than get it done.
In short, I want it all and “205 Live” doesn’t let me have it. It’s more like the Cruiserweight Classic – a show that gave me exactly what “205 Live” is giving me, yet left me wanting for the very same thing “205 Live” does. To he honest, I didn’t watch much of that either. I would opine that most wrestling fans are like me. We want the ring work but we also want the storylines to make us care. “205 Live” only gives us half the experience. As a result, it is the least-watched brand of WWE. I doubt that will change either.
They are actually now doing little house show loops as of this year. While I haven’t seen any numbers lately, I know the initial numbers weren’t the most encouraging. We also know that the very first house show in Kingston, Rhode Island’s Ryan Center on January 19th of this year, was completely cancelled. WWE cited “routing and scheduling issues” but that’s likely Yiddish for “we couldn’t get enough people in the building. If they were having “scheduling and routing issues” why has no other show within WWE been affected by that in recent memory? Apparently, it’s one thing to get them to stay after “Smackdown Live!” has ended but it’s quite another to get people to come out just for “205 Live”. Further, the ratings have remained largely stagnant. As I said earlier, they remain the least-watched new show on the network. My fear is that if they don’t “right the ship”, “205 Live” will be cancelled. That would be a real shame for the talented roster they have.
I’ll continue to write “The Pickup”. This is by no means goodbye. Heck, I’ll even enjoy what I can. If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I do. I’m not faking it for the site in the least bit. But for the few who read what I write about the show, allow this article to serve as a bit of a caveat. I understand completely why those articles have low readership. I understand why they get almost no interaction. I also understand why few are interested in the brand. Very soon, “The Pickup” will be done for the week like it always is. I just won’t leave it feeling as satisfied as I should be able to…and we all know why.