Earlier this year, Enzo Amore was released from WWE, leaving the Cruiserweight Title vacant. This was the latest issue for “205 Live”, which has gone through a long list of problems since the show debuted a little over a year ago. We’re now on to another new era for “205 Live” and that means more changes are taking place. This time though, it seems that things are actually starting to work.

Instead of the stories and uninteresting wrestling, the last six weeks have been ALL about the action, with sixteen wrestlers taking part in a tournament to crown the new Cruiserweight Champion. This has made for a heck of a start to 2018, with nothing even resembling a bad match and a streamlined version of the show. Today we’re going to take a quick look at why this is working so well and how WWE can hopefully keep this going as we move forward.

We’ll start with the biggest deal of all: the wrestling. When the show was almost literally the Zo Show, “205 Live” was an homage to Amore. That meant very little wrestling and a focus on Amore’s Zo Train vs. everyone else. You can only do these matches so many times before they stop meaning anything and that was the case just a few weeks into the story. With nothing but an eventual Cruiserweight Title shot on the line, the wins and losses meant as much as the title changes from back in the InVasion days.

New WWE 205 Live GM Drake Maverick announces Cruiserweight Title Tournament: 205 Live, Jan. 30, 2018

The focus of the show was all wrong. It was flat out saying that the point of the show was on a non-wrestler, who was basically banished to the show for the sake of giving it star power. His matches were terrible and the other wrestlers were having to tone themselves way down in the ring so Amore wouldn’t embarrass himself even worse out there. It made the whole show feel like a mockery of the original idea and made fans, including me, feel like they should just wait until the title changed hands before watching the show again. Until then, what was the point in wasting your time?

Now though, the whole show is about the fast paced action with everyone fighting to get a chance at their Wrestlemania moment. Sure it probably means little more than a spot on the Kickoff Show, but that’s certainly better than waiting around while Amore did his stupid dance and rhymed a lot. It gives the wrestlers a reason to put in the effort and that’s a reason to pay attention. The fact that the matches themselves have been awesome are just a bonus, but their higher quality is very obviously tied into the prize that they’re all fighting for.

What else has changed along with the way the wrestling has gone? Drake Maverick. If there has been a bigger surprise in WWE this year, I can’t figure out what it could be. Maverick, formerly known as Rockstar Spud in Impact Wrestling, was viewed as a good hand but too small to mean much. Now he’s in WWE though and running “205 Live” with more success than anyone ever could have expected from him.

I mean…my goodness where did this come from? Maverick has shown that he’s a good talker over the years but he’s traditionally been more manic comedy than serious talking abilities. This time around though, he’s been deadly serious and looking like he’s the most important thing on the show without putting any focus on him.

Drake Maverick reveals his vision for WWE's Cruiserweight division

Whether it’s telling Lucha House Party to go impress him, weighing Buddy Murphy in for the tournament or telling Jack Gallagher to dress like a professional wrestler, Maverick has been acting like a man twice his size with no fear of anything in front of him. That’s exactly what the role called for and it makes Maverick, who isn’t the most well known name in the world, look like someone worthy of the fans’ attention. Maybe he’ll wrestle at some point in the future, but at least what he’s doing now is working very well.

So how can the show keep the momentum going? There’s no way around the fact that the show is going to take a few hits after “Wrestlemania” comes and goes but some stories could work well. Above all else though, they need to avoid having everything go back to what it was before: lame villains, uninteresting angles and almost everything feeling like it’s a brand new show.

Another change that has helped the show is the addition of some fresh names. Some of the talent isn’t all that thrilling and the fresh blood could do a lot of good. I’m not saying they need to keep new names coming in on a regular basis, but they need to get rid of some of the dead weight around the show. Names like Ariya Daivari, Tony Nese and Brian Kendrick, as in wrestlers who aren’t the most thrilling in the world but fit the weight limit, need to be gone. There are better and more exciting talents that can be brought in, which is the kind of addition needed to make the show feel must see.

The show doesn’t need to be some big good vs. evil show or people with various characters coming up with a reason to hate each other. Instead, things need to be built up around fighting over the title. That’s what everything should come down to around this show: fighting for the championship that has made the show that much more interesting. You can have the emotions come up off of that, but the core of the show needs to be about the title itself.

Kalisto vs. Roderick Strong - Cruiserweight Title Tournament Quarterfinals: 205 Live, Feb. 27, 2018

This is where Maverick can be a huge asset. Have him talking about defending the honor of the title and everyone who has defended the title’s prestige over the years. You can have a villain come in and steal the title through nefarious means, though this time around make sure that it’s someone who can actually wrestle a good match and defend the thing instead of looking like a moron.

That’s really all it needs. If it’s a heel champion, maybe give him a bodyguard or someone who can be especially violent, but nothing more than that. Don’t waste time on some kind of a faction when the show is only an hour long. You don’t need to have the show built around one big story when you have the title as the story. The other wrestlers can fight over a shot or maybe a personal issue from a match, but don’t waste time building things up that aren’t between interesting characters and personalities.

Really, at the end of the day, “205 Live” doesn’t need to be a complicated idea. All it needs to be is a show about fast paced, high impact wrestling that excites the fans and makes them feel like it’s something that is going to be exciting. The show doesn’t need to be the greatest thing of all time, but it needs to be a show where you know it’s going to be a fun night without putting too much of a focus on the drama that comes with the main shows. Give it an identity (“Raw” is the flagship, “Smackdown” is the land of opportunity, “NXT” is the up and coming fun show) and see where it can go.

Mark Andrews vs Drew Gulak - Cruiserweight Title Tournament Quarterfinal: WWE 205 Live, Mar. 6, 2018

It’s hard to say where things are going to go from here for “205 Live”, but I know this is the best its been since the show started. There’s no reason to just let it die when there’s potential to actually do something with it. That’s what’s been going on in recent weeks and it’s been a lot of fun. Hopefully that continues because it would be a big waste of potential.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 26 wrestling books. His latest book is the History of the WWE Championship.

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