WWE 205 Live for November 29, 2016
Watch: WWE Network
Colonial Life Arena – Columbia, SC
WWE comes to us from the Colonial Arena in Columbia, South Carolina , tonight for the debut edition of 205 Live. After narrowly escaping several title matches with T.J. Perkins, Brian Kendrick puts his Cruiserweight Championship on the line against Rich Swann in the main event. Also advertised for tonight’s show are Akira Tozawa and Jack Gallagher, two standout talents that have yet to appear on Monday Night RAW. With that out of the way, let’s get into the show.
Austin Aries joins Corey Graves and Mauro Ranallo on commentary, saying that he’s here to provide his expert analysis until he decides it’s time to take the Cruiserweight Title. Before we get into the action, we are introduced to the 205 Live roster. The names announced for the show are as follows: Rich Swann, T.J. Perkins, Jack Gallagher, Ho Ho Lun, The Bollywood Boyz, Noam Dar, Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari, Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado, Akira Tozawa, Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik and Brian Kendrick.
The Bollywood Boyz (Gurv & Harv Sihra) def. Tony Nese & Drew Gulak
Before the match, there was an emotional introductory video package for the Bollywood Boyz. To summarize, they said that they’re doing this to represent their home country and make their grandfather proud. Just as it appeared the Bollywood Boyz were picking up steam, Nese and Gulak were there to cut them off, but ultimately, the latter team came up short. Not much of note happened, but this was a fine opening tag match that allowed the Bollywood Boyz to show off their high-flying abilities. Dasha Fuentes hosted an interview with Gulak and Nese after the match, during which Gulak comically said: “Bollywood, that’s not even a real place. Do you even know where they’re from?” Nese then blamed their loss on greasy ropes and an uneven mat and they stormed off.
A Noam Dar video package aired.
Tom Phillips interview Brian Kendrick about his upcoming title match with Rich Swann. Kendrick says that he and Swann have a lot in common, in that they’re both gambling men. But, in the end, he feels that Swann’s high-risk offense will come back to cost him and when it does, he will be there to seize the opportunity. Kendrick was interrupted by the former Cruiserweight Champion, T.J. Perkins, who claimed that he was still owed a rematch for the title. Good promo from Kendrick, who came across as someone who was willing to do anything necessary to retain his title.
A Gran Metalik video package aired.
Jack Gallagher def. Ariya Daivari
Referee Charles Robinson added to the match as well, asking Daivari if he wanted to quit when Gallagher tied up him in a knot. But, my favorite part of the match came when Gallagher did a headstand on the top rope, then pedaled his feet forward every time Daivari attempted to go on the offensive. This was a heavily one-sided match, and mostly a showcase for Gallagher, but one I found to be quite enjoyable for its place on the card. Up to this point, this had more crowd engagement than anything else on the show, likely because the fans appeared to be captivated by Gallagher’s escapology techniques. No complaints about this one, since Daivari was just there to make his opponent look good. Mission accomplished.
A Lince Dorado video package aired.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Rich Swann def. Brian Kendrick (c)
We get an emotional pre-match video package, where Swann explains his backstory. Things started off slowly, but the match quickly picked up with a series of rapid-fire counters. It was clear both competitors had their opponents scouted in a way neither of them was anticipating. Take Swann, for example, who escapes the Captain’s Hook by grabbing Kendrick’s fingers. Ever the resourceful veteran, Kendrick uses the ropes and turnbuckle to his advantage, delivering a vicious neck breaker that sends Swann to the outside. Swann fought valiantly to get back in the ring, and a stellar near-fall came when he kicked out of a top-rope Sliced Bread #2. All the wily veteran tactics Kendrick had scraped up wouldn’t be enough here; at last, he’d met his match. Swann is eventually able to muster the strength to deliver three final kicks in succession, and that’s enough to win him the match. A very good match that provided a number of well-placed near-falls, a fully-engaged crowd, and most importantly, gave us a heartfelt moment to end the debut edition of 205 Live. Post-match, Swann gives a brief, yet touching interview in which he says that although she may not be in Columbia, South Carolina, physically, his mother is with him in spirit. We also get a brief interview from Brian Kendrick, who claims that he was robbed and “This (Swann’s title reign) won’t last long.”
WWE 205 LIVE FOR 11/29/16
Decent - 6.5/10
Although it was slow to start, the debut edition of 205 Live picked up with the final two matches. The Cruiserweight Championship match between Swann and Kendrick ended up being very good, and was a nice way to send the crowd home happy. I think bringing back the pre-match video packages and post-match interviews was the right call, as they provide insight into the competitors' backstories and gives you a reason to invest in their characters as a viewer. The cruiserweight division is far from being saved, but 205 Live was a much-needed step in the right direction and it was enough to keep me coming back next week. Still, there's plenty of room for improvement and I don't think airing directly after SmackDown will do this show any favors. Overall, not too shabby for a first showing.