It isn’t uncommon to see some people say that they think 205 Live can be a bit boring, even if I do think it’s some of WWE’s best action. What caused me pause last week was hearing a fan say they weren’t even sure what was going on with the feuds there, though. Out of everything WWE is putting out currently, the cruiserweights benefit from the most consistent and easy to follow storylines, making use of classic face and heel roles with simple and relatable elements. Each week these stories are concisely recapped before having little bits added to them and setting them up to be further developed on the next show with understandable, but not entirely predictable, follow through. It’s everywhere on the show.
Each segment of the show involved established stars in conflicts that we have seen for a while now, with everyone having clear cut intentions. A while back Drew Gulak began showing up in a suit and watching Mustafa Ali. He did this for a bit before approaching and laying his new schtick down. It’s a simple thing, the old gimmick of the wrestler who wants to keep the action on the mat and hates high flyers, and it is easy to pull off in a division of people that are quite familiar with the ropes. After Gulak watched a few matches and had spoken to Ali without the desired results he actually visited the ring during the matches and on this recent episode interfered. This is solid progression over several weeks of television that will now lead to a proper feud.
TJ Perkins is going through a classic heel turn, letting a bigger villain (in this case, Neville) whisper into his ear and convincing him to fight the champion’s battles for him while feeding off of the mentor’s praise. Some people were saying that TJP has been boring since the end of the Cruiserweight Classic, and here’s an example of a turn being exactly what a wrestler needs. Pairing him with Neville was smart; it uses Neville’s nuclear heat to push TJP as a heel with some ease, but the story is also relatable—we’ve all felt undervalued at one point—and almost makes us root for Perkins as the underdog bad guy. He’s more like the understudy, though, as the title-holding devil whispers about TJP’s talents in his ear, pumps him up, and says he deserves more respect. Neville did it again this week by saying that Perkins might be the only other wrestler in the division on his level—but not better than him, of course. The announcers have helped build the story, as they should, already foreshadowing Perkins getting burned by this association, which I can’t wait for. It’s a turn that made sense, making the switch to antagonist easier to follow and get involved with.
The best example I can give though is the reverse of my last, a would-be mentor and student relationship that began early with its feud in a simple three act play built around Brian Kendrick’s condescension and lack of respect for Akira Tozawa. Brian Kendrick tries to impart lessons about the “big leagues” to Akira Tozawa, not acknowledging Tozawa’s years of experience. The build to this each week has seen Kendrick “teach” his lessons, then Tozawa return them back upon Kendrick. This gives ample time for both superstars to look good and the fans are behind it with a charismatic face and an angry heel that could still come out on top.
All three stories have had an elegantly slow burn and have been following simple, laid out plans. It’s all basic writing, simple motivations, and they don’t have to worry about special guests, gimmick events, or any of that other silliness interrupting what has been planned, making it easier to get invested. That’s why I look forward to 205 Live each week; it’s wrestling that keeps everything simple and makes for easy, fun watching.
Stephen Wilds is a freelance author with a flair for retro videogames, old cartoons, and bad movies. He has written for Playboy, Unwinnable and others.