I don’t know about you, but I thought it was a joke when I saw it come across social media.
Scrolling through Facebook late yesterday afternoon expecting to see what would be on SmackDown, I came across a picture of Daniel Bryan and Mustafa Ali with the SmackDown background. The obvious first thought was that someone out there is pretty good with Photoshop, that almost looks real
Holy Hell! It is real! Someone that has been relegated to 205Live is getting a match on SmackDown…against a SmackDown Superstar…against the WWE Champion…against WWE Champion Daniel Bryan! Could it be that WWE is actually making 205Live look like more than just a throw away show?
Let’s be honest, probably not – but it’s fun to hope!
Since the Cruiserweight Classic was held in 2016, WWE has had a pretty deep roster of Cruiserweights – so much so that they created 205Live on the WWE Network as a way to showcase their talents.
It was an idea that was good…in theory. But since it’s debut, 205Live, and unfortunately the Cruiserweights, have become a bit of an afterthought.
The old adage is that Vince McMahon only showcases the big, muscular, Hulk Hogan type wrestlers. I personally have never fully bought in to that (and I think the likes of Rey Mysterio, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would tend to agree) but his handling of the Cruiserweights hasn’t exactly been a solid argument against the statement.
Any sort of reference to Cruiserweights has been made out to be a separate entity from WWE’s main show’s like Raw and SmackDown. We would have a segment or two with the Cruiserweights on Raw every week at first, but even that felt like McMahon was going to great lengths to make sure that people knew that this was not a part of “his” Raw.
Before the Cruiserweight matches the ring crew would come in and change the ring mats to include the Cruiserweight logos, the ropes would be given a purple covering, the entire arena would be lit purple – you were no longer watching Raw, pal!
To a point, the changes for their matches may have been good…again, in theory.
To figure out how to properly showcase the talents of the Cruiserweights, McMahon need look no farther than his greatest fallen enemy…other than the Federal Government I guess…that’s a pretty big enemy!
Yes, WCW made a LOT of mistakes which would ultimately result in their demise in 2001, but there were reasons that Monday Nitro beat Raw in the ratings for 83 straight weeks. The obvious reason is the nWo, but another reason was thanks to their Cruiserweights.
In an effort to “be different” from Raw, WCW Executive VP Eric Bischoff went out and signed Cruiserweight talent from all over the world. He didn’t put them on Saturday Night or the Power Hour though. Cruiserweights and Cruiserweight matches would just be a part of Nitro. A Juentud Guerrera vs Psichosis match would get the same treatment as a Lex Luger vs Kevin Nash match would.
Not only that, but the Cruiserweights at times would have interactions outside of their weigh class. This did nothing but help build notoriety for the global stars who had not yet established a big American following. Thanks to this formula we were given current and future Hall of Famers like Mysterio, Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero.
Seeing Ali on SmackDown wrestling Bryan is hopefully the start of a new road for the Cruiserweights, and it may come at just the right time. Ever since the two have seemingly taken over NXT with what has arguably been the best story told on WWE programming in years, rumors have swirled around that Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano would make their main roster debut not on Raw or SmackDown, but on 205Live.
Hopefully the success that the two have seen in 2018 would be enough to get them on Monday or Tuesday nights, but they are smaller in stature so you never know. If that is the case though, maybe not just the match itself, but how good Ali looked against the WWE Champion would just be a start to seeing more Cruiserweights on the two main shows in programs with more top talent.
It wouldn’t make Ciampa and Gargano being on 205Live acceptable, but it would at least help.
If anything, this may have brought the 205Live roster together to up their game and show the likes of McMahon that they can be players as well. A photo was floating around social media last night of several 205Live stars huddled around a monitor watching their comrade in action. Solidarity is the foundation of a great lockerroom and in turn a great show.
But let’s just stop and let whatever happens happen. For now, there is only one thing that needs to be said…
Great job, Mustafa!