On 26th September 2017, WWE aired the 44th episode of 205 Live, live on the WWE Network, from the Gina River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The show featured Enzo Amore addressing the Cruiserweight division, as well as appearances from Neville, The Brian Kendrick, TJP, Akira Tozawa and Rich Swann. But was it any good? Lets take a look.
The show began with a recap of what happened on RAW the night before, featuring Neville attacking Enzo Amore during his Certified G Championship celebration, whilst the rest of the Cruiserweight division watched on the ramp. This after RAW General Manager Kurt Angle agreed to put a no-contact clause in place where anyone attacking Amore would not receive another Cruiserweight championship shot.
A defiant Enzo Amore addressed the Cruiserweight Division (8:35)
Enzo Amore's heel turn over the last month or so is finally beginning to pay off and the Cruiserweight champion opening 205 Live this week provided us with a strong promo, that built on the stellar work done the previous night on RAW. Amore coming out tapped up and on crutches, as he hobbled to the ring, sold the beating he'd received, helped by Amore taking his time and milking the injuries for all it was worth. Enzo took his time with his promo as well, playing with some of his mannerisms that initially made him a popular babyface and telling a story about his mother being at ringside on Monday night and how hearing the crowd chant "You deserve it" made her feel. For a man who had previously had a strong connection with the crowd and used it to fuel his initial success, hearing Amore turn on them was particularly powerful as he delivered the promo with a viciousness that has rarely been from Muscles Marinara. The most interesting storyline note, however, is the idea that because of Kurt Angle creating a non-contact clause, all of the Cruiserweight division was now unable to get a shot at the Cruiserweight title. This opens up interesting storytelling possibilities with Amore claiming that he will die with the championship. Perhaps we'll see someone like Hideo Itami, Johnny Gargano or Oney Lorcan get the call-up to challenge Amore at Tables, Ladders and Chairs next month? Either way, I'm actually actively interested in this purple brand story!
Akira Tozawa def. Tony Nese (8:00)
A good opener here with Drew Gulak on commentary helping things along also. Nese has a number of entertaining moves, that work with his gimmick when in control, like the crunch kicks with Tozawa in the tree of woe, whilst Tozawa has proven ability as a scrappy babyface. The Glendale crowd seemed the least up for Tozawa's "Ah" chants, which dented the matches energy a little, but that didn't stop Nese and Tozawa putting on some really good wrestling inside their two minute window. Whilst The Stamina Monster's comeback of running rana and Saito suplex was decent, the gear change as the two exchanged strikes was a brilliant piece of work with the two going back and forth with hard strikes, before launching into a series of reversals that concluded with Nese flipping out off a back suplex to get a two count with a roll-up. Tozawa racked up his third victory in a row with a spinning roundhouse kick, followed up with his Drop Zone diving senton. This wasn't worth going out of your way for, but a pleasant match with one thrilling sequence.
Post-match, Drew Gulak treated us to more of his powerpoint presentation, introducing his idea of Drewtopia and attempting to ban celebrating. This resulted in a spinning roundhouse kick from Tozawa.
Enzo Amore and Ariya Daivari were part of a lengthy backstage conversation, that essentially boiled down to Daivari blaming Monday's attack on "mob mentality" and asking Amore to be in his corner against Neville later on.
Before TJP's match with Lince Dorado could begin, Rich Swann legged it down the ramp to scrap with TJP, who then legged it through the crowd to escape.
Backstage, Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick cut a promo ahead of Gallagher's match with Cedric Alexander next week, bringing up ideas of cruelty and seasons and things.
Neville cut a brilliantly performed promo about last night being the best night of his life..."Keep one eye open buddy, because you never know where this creature will be lurking"
Neville def. Ariya Daivari (5:18)
A pretty basic match here to close the show, but one that did a decent job of introducing the potential that the King of the Cruiserweights has as a babyface. Neville took an absolute beating from Daivari with Byron Saxton and Vic Joseph putting over the idea that he had been thrown by the loss to Enzo and the fact that Amore was at ringside. The former champion got chucked into the barricades on multiple occasions, took an rope-hung reverse DDT, a knee strikes and a forearm and sold well, making a man who hasn't won in his last seven look like a world-beater at points. Neville's offence was limited to a couple of kicks and it seemed like Enzo Amore being at ringside would end up costing him, only for the Geordie to duck Daivari's hammerlock lariat, hit an armdrag and lock in the Rings of Saturn for the submission victory in a crisp flash finish. Whilst it would have been nice to see Neville crack out the Red Arrow for the victory, but the submission victory arguably put over his mindset better. This isn't going to be the happy-go-lucky babyface "Man that Gravity Forgot" that we saw in 2015/16, but a much more focused and violent Neville, an extension of the King of the Cruiserweights character that has blossomed as a villain, except now he's beating the shit into guys like Enzo Amore and Ariya Daivari.
After the match, Enzo Amore almost immediately clobbered Neville with a crutch to the back, before laying in some forearms whilst the referees attempted to remove him.
A solid episode of 205 Live this week, with Enzo Amore's change of character providing an entertaining opening monologue and closing the show with punch and impact. Akira Tozawa vs. Tony Nese was the better of the two matches, but Neville's victory over Ariya Daivari gets the former a chance to put together how his King of the Cruiserweights character is going to work as a fan favourite. This feels like the most exciting time for 205 Live since it's inception with lots of potential for storylines and in-ring clashes, but the show will always suffer for as long as it comes after SmackDown airs live.
Review by James Marston