Matt Willis, ESPN Staff Writer 348d

WWE finds a way to bring 205 Live out of its bubble


With the majority of the cruiserweight division staying in the United States, and with 205 Live competing directly with the Ric Flair 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN, WWE tried something a little different this week. Their swerve provided a glimpse at what might be the standard if WWE took a totally different approach to the cruiserweight division -- and it was a great decision.

Over the editions of Monday Night Raw and 205 Live from Manchester, England, we got to see Pete Dunne, the UK champion, defeat Enzo Amore in a non-title match. Tuesday's 205 Live saw a tag match with Cedric Alexander and three members of the UK division, and a main event where Amore, somewhat surprisingly, picked up a fairly easy victory over former UK champion, Tyler Bate.

Bate started Tuesday's main event wrestling circles around Amore, including hitting an overhead suplex which sent Amore out of the ring. Amore took control after dropping Bate on the barrier, and then cut off attempts for Bate to get back into the match. The beginning of the end came when Amore knocked Bate off the middle rope, and Bate awkwardly caught his leg in the ropes on the way down. Amore turned Bate inside out with a clothesline, and followed up with a Jaw-donezo to pick up the win and disappoint the Manchester audience.

The match itself wasn't an instant classic, but it got my mind spinning.

WWE has made 205 Live, and the cruiserweight division, exist in a bubble.

Think for a moment that WWE didn't isolate the cruiserweights in their own separate world. Not just a detached segment on Raw, but a weight class that stretched across wrestlers from Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT and, as we saw Tuesday night, its United Kingdom division. Make a title one that could jump from brand to brand, and to wrestlers that are fully integrated into their shows.

Kalisto and Amore had to officially move to 205 Live, as a third brand, in order to compete. But imagine what could happen if the cruiserweight championship was one that could be competed for by wrestlers across all brands, provided they weigh no more than 205 pounds.

It would open up exciting opportunities for the champion to move around shows, but also for cruiserweights to just be members of each brand's roster that happened to fall within the weight limit.

The relationship would go both ways. A duo like Rich Swann and Alexander could add depth to Raw's tag team division. The cruiserweight title could also be heightened by being involved in the likely upcoming NXT feud between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa.

Even though the division has been thrust into the spotlight with the arrival of Amore, it's still going to be limited as long as it stays in isolation. Tuesday's show was evidence of how much talent there is that could be competing in the division.

It also arises questions on if WWE is missing an opportunity at Survivor Series. The cruiserweight title rematch between Amore and Kalisto will take place there, but it's the only match on the card that doesn't follow a Raw-versus-SmackDown theme.

Why not do a pre-show elimination match between the Zo Train and Kalisto's team of faces? Or how about five of 205 Live's best against five of the United Kingdom's cruiserweights?

The qualifying matches could've filled weeks of 205 Live and offered a potential show stealing bout on a card already full of top-notch matches.

Hits and Misses

  • I'm a fan of overall presentation of a wrestler, which is why I like the more-sinister sounding entrance music now accompanying Gentleman Jack Gallagher.

  • Was anybody else wondering why we didn't get another appearance from Pete Dunne after Monday's debut?

  • Amore had a couple off nights in promos, rambling soliloquies that left the crowd chanting boring. On Monday, he even lost the commentary team. Then he ran down the UK cruiserweights, but soon introduced them one-by-one with a mix of positive and negative notes.

Superlatives of the Night

Move: Kalisto's springboard over the top rope, into a somersault senton off the middle rope to the floor was innovative and daredevil-esque.

Line: "Whoever told you money can't buy happiness is a liar." -- Amore, as part of his show-opening message.

Match: The Alexander/Mark Andrews versus James Drake and Joseph Conners match was the best of the night's three.

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