Look: WWE’s main roster programming has by and large been pretty lackluster for a few months now. And complaining about WWE is the official pastime of wrestling fans around the globe. But there is another brand that is technically the “main roster,” features great wrestling and builds logically and intently on established storylines, building to satisfying crescendos every week. And nobody’s watching it.
I’ll just come out and say it: Besides NXT, 205 Live is the best weekly show WWE produces, and you are seriously missing out if you skip out on it.
This week’s episode is a perfect example. Directly after SmackDown Live, the purple brand gave us an excellent Mike Kanellis/Drake Maverick promo battle, where two undervalued Superstars managed to have an affecting, emotional back and forth while seamlessly weaving in the two comedy angles both guys are known for on Raw. This was perhaps Kanellis’s best work in WWE thus far, and shows that given the right material (or hell, even given silly, emasculating material), he can be a star. Kanellis’s mic skills were on full display last night, and him vs. Drake Maverick is low-key one of the most interesting feuds in WWE right now.
Then, in the show’s main event, 205 newcomer Chad Gable went one on one with “Gentleman” Jack Gallagher, in a rematch of their match from a couple weeks ago, where Gallagher reportedly mistimed his re-entry into the ring, resulting in an unscripted count-out victory for Gable.
I am not exaggerating when I say that their rematch is a legitimate contender for WWE main roster match of the year. Seriously, if you value the art of professional wrestling, go out of your way to watch this match. While it received “boring” chants at the beginning from a few jerks apparently unsatisfied with solid wrestling at a wrestling show they paid to see, by the end, Gable and Gallagher received a standing ovation from both the crowd and the announce team for their efforts. No crazy gimmicks, no wacky storyline, just two guys at the top of their game putting together an excellent story in the ring using psychology and their incredible athletic talents. What more could you ask for?
205 Live is often the forgotten stepchild of WWE’s brands, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s barely promoted, it’s filmed in the same arena as SmackDown after the more important show is finished ala late-stage ECW, and generally exists in a different universe than the bright lights of Raw and SmackDown. The strange taping schedule means many fans leave the arena after SmackDown wraps up, leaving only a comparative handful to experience the show live, resulting in muted reactions. But as a weekly product, you’d be hard pressed to find a show more consistently great than this one.
High flying and/or competent grappling from smaller guys not your cup of tea? That’s okay. This isn’t WCW’s Cruiserweight division — there’s more to it than lucha libre and 450 splashes. Take last week’s episode for an example: NXT’s Oney Lorcan took on Ariya Daivari in a brutal anything goes match featuring tables, ladders, kendo sticks, and everything in between. The match only ended when the Boston Brawler delivered a superplex through two tables. Two tables! On a show almost nobody saw!
205 Live is a show more than worthy of your time, and is criminally overlooked. If you’re unsatisfied with the offerings on Raw or SmackDown but still crave solid wrestling, I implore you to give the purple brand a shot. You will not be disappointed.