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205 Live Undergoes Backstage Changes

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WWE fans who follow 205 Live may have noticed a change in direction with the show that started at the beginning of 2018 – and not just in regards to the Cruiserweight title picture.

The main story on 205 Live is a Cruiserweight title tournament that will culminate with a new champion crowned at Wrestlemania.

In addition to the superstars on 205 Live like TJP and Kallisto, the tournament has featured NXT alumni Roderick Strong, former United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate and the upcoming Mark Andrews.  

The direction of the show has shifted from a character-based show the WWE Universe would normally see on WWE’s Raw and Smackdown Live brands, to a program more focused on presentation akin to NXT or what fans saw in the Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016.

Part of the shift from 205 Live can be attributed to Triple H taking over the direction of the program.

According to a report from PWInsider, WWE CEO Vince McMahon is no longer the lead show runner for  205 Live.

While McMahon had focused on bringing out wrestlers’ personalities on 205 Live and believed that a character-driven show and program was the way to go. Once 205 Live debuted and McMahon took over production of the show, fans started seeing more promo packages and character based work rather than wrestling.

McMahon’s approach worked in some cases. WWE sent Enzo Amore to 205 Live and placing the Cruiserweight title on him to become the face of the program, which generated some buzz.

Drew Gulak entertained the WWE Universe with his powerpoint presentations. Neville also shined with his King of the Cruiserweights persona, though he later became frustrated, walked out and hasn’t been on TV since.

Although the character work on 205 Live has worked on some degree, it hasn’t elevated the program much higher than programming on the WWE Network.

PWInsider’s report noted that while McMahon wanted a character-based show, there were still other members of WWE brass who felt presenting 205 Live in the same manner as the Cruiserweight Classic was the way to go.

It makes some sense because having more character work on 205 doesn’t help the program stand out from Raw and Smackdown Live. Fans loved the Cruiserweight Classic and still talk about fondly.

The report states McMahon handed the reins to Triple H as a way to fix the brand.

While McMahon was more focused on making 205 Live another copy of the main roster brands, Triple H’s approach to 205 Live seems to be more focused on bringing the in-ring work and competition element to the forefront.

The report also states that Jonathon Baeckstrom is the lead writer for 205 Live while former NWA Champion Adam Pearce remains the lead producer for the brand.

Running 205 Live also helps Triple H guide and work with certain NXT talent, specifically the wrestlers at or under 205 pounds, when they are called up to the main roster. It also gives him a place to showcase the United Kingdom talent outside of NXT or a UK special. Image a Cruiserweight title match between Pete Dunne and Strong at Wrestlemania or Summerslam.

On one hand, there’s always a chance McMahon could try and wrestle the reins of 205 Live from Triple H. On the other, McMahon likes to many money and if he sees Triple H’s direction for 205 receiving an overwhelming response from the crowd and benefitting the product, as well as the WWE as a whole, he might just sit back and let him run the show the way he wants to.

If Triple H has success with 205 Live, this could lead to the cruiserweights having a show beyond the Raw roster.

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Triple H Promoted to Chief Content Officer

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Triple H

WWE formally announced today that Paul “Triple H” Levesque has been elevated to Chief Content Officer. Additionally, the company has promoted Frank A. Riddick III to President & Chief Financial Officer.

Triple H has had stellar reviews since taking over creative for WWE in the wake of Vince McMahon’s retirement and legal issues, with a 15% boost in viewership on Monday Night RAW and double-digit boosts in social media engagement.

Now, Levesque will oversee Creative Writing, Talent Relations, Live Events, Talent Development and Creative Services. The role will report to WWE co-CEO Nick Khan.

Here is the official statement from WWE: “WWE is one of the most prolific producers of premium content in the world and I look forward to this amazing opportunity,” said Levesque. “Having spent my entire career in this business, I’m confident that we have the right pieces in place to continue to grow our audience and deliver for our fans around the world.”

Riddick joined WWE as Chief Financial Officer last year, after serving on the company’s Board of Directors for more than 13 years and previously holding the role of interim CFO. During that time, WWE has announced annual and quarterly records for Revenue and Adjusted OIBDA. As President & CFO, Riddick will oversee Financial Planning & Analysis, Strategy, Controllership, Investor Relations, Tax, Data Analytics, Technology, Event Travel and Facilities. He will jointly report to WWE Chairwoman & co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and co-CEO Nick Khan.

“I’ve had the great fortune of working closely with the talented people at WWE in a variety of capacities over the past 15 years,” said Riddick. “Along with Steph, Nick and Paul, we look forward to executing our ambitious plans and delivering for our shareholders.”

“We are excited to announce expanded roles for Paul and Frank, which will enhance WWE’s ability to create premium content for our partners around the world and, ultimately, drive our business forward,” said McMahon and Khan.

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Swerve Strickland Talks Hit Row’s Return to WWE

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Hit Row

AEW superstar Swerve Strickland shared his thoughts on his former faction Hit Row, making their return to WWE. Since Strickland is currently in AEW, and one half of the tag team champions with Keith Lee, he is unable to join them.

“I’m happy for those guys and I’m happy they got their second chance, I really am” Strickland said during an appearance on the Grapsody podcast.

“Some people were like, ‘Are you upset about this? They’re back.’ Good, they deserve to be on TV. Now, this is their chance to be them and do what they do or however they want to do. There were times when I would discuss things and they wanted to do it this way, and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s try to mesh this together.’ It was a lot of teamwork and effort and family-type vibes to put these promos together. I don’t think I brought them up to the main roster, I think we did it together. A lot of people with these comments are trying to separate us and do the dividing thing. No, you’re not going to divide me from my friends. You’re not going to divide me from people that I was really grinding with at the PC [Performance Center] and every week on TV, trying to do something really special and being, literally, probably one of the most creative people in the entire PC because nobody was telling us what to do. We were literally coming up with it ourselves. We did that together to get to the main roster.” (quote courtesy of Fightful.com)

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Braun Strowman Returns to WWE

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After over a year since his release from WWE, Braun Strowman made his surprise return to the company during Monday Night RAW,  during the Fatal-Four Way Number One Contenders tag team match between The New Day, Alpha Academy, Los Lotharios, and The Street Profits.

Now we have more information has come out regarding where Strowman will find himself on the main roster.

According to PWInsider, despite making his return on RAW Strowman will be a member of the SmackDown Live roster, and is slated to be used as a babyface.

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