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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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WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? April 16, 2019

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The Good

For Raw, they got the best addition from the shakeup to their show, which was AJ Styles. After Styles really made his mark on Smackdown, it seemed like WWE creative was running out of ideas of what to do with Styles on Smackdown. So, having him on Raw is really intriguing now and it should be interesting to see what the future holds for him on Raw.  

For Smackdown, their biggest addition from the shakeup was Roman Reigns and the way they introduced him to the show was entertaining. After Vince McMahon announced that the “biggest addition in Smackdown history” was Elias, Roman Reigns interrupted and ended up clearing out the ring and declaring that Smackdown is his yard now. Reigns needed a change of scenery after being on Raw for few years, so this is something the WWE universe should be excited for.

The Bad

For Raw, while it was great to see an NXT tag team called up, the name they gave him is horrible. Formerly known as the War Raiders, who are the current NXT tag team champions were called up to Monday nights. But, they decided to change their name to the Viking Experience, which is one of the worst name changes in WWE history.

For Smackdown, they had a match between Carmella and Charlotte Flair and this felt like filler. After all the new names that they brought onto Smackdown during the shakeup for the women’s division, they could have had one of them in this match instead of putting them all together in the 8-women tag match that was featured on the show later. 

The Final Verdict

For these being the superstar shakeup episodes, both shows felt a little underwhelming. While we are able to think of the possibility of matchups that we will see in the future because of this shakeup, the introduction of these new names felt like they should have been a bigger deal. Along with that, it seemed like WWE either was confused on how to handle some of these shakeups or they purposely wanted to confuse the fans. A prime example is how Finn Balor went to Smackdown with the Intercontinental championship. Since this was introduced to us on Smackdown, is there no secondary belt now on Raw? Or did Samoa Joe just automatically move to Raw because he currently was holding the original secondary belt on Smackdown? Overall, as to who had the better show, I will have to say that Raw had the better show. The additions of the Miz, the Usos, Rey Mysterio, Andrade, AJ Styles, and Naomi are all new faces that were due for this. In conclusion, while the shakeup could’ve been handled better, the future should be intriguing as WWE prepares to fully move on from Wrestlemania.

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Matt Hardy Responds to John Oliver’s WWE Segment

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John Oliver, host of HBO’s popular ‘Last Week Tonight’, took WWE to task in a recent episode over their lack of healthcare for their performers, bringing a dark element of the treatment of WWE superstars to light.

Since then, wrestlers have spoken out, both in support of Oliver’s segment and coming to the defense of WWE.

One of those coming to WWE’s defense is WWE superstar and future Hall of Famer Matt Hardy, who praised WWE and how far they have come over the years.

“When I first started here [1997/1998] the locker room, everything was like the wild wild west then” Hardy said in an interview with FOX Sports (h/t Wrestling Inc). ”  The change that has happened in those 20-plus years has been unreal. I mean, now the drug testing is very stringent. … You have to be here, and you have to be good and you have to be on top of your game. You have to be a professional. The physicals they do as far as cardiovascular and just checking you over and over — [there have] been several guys they caught that have had serious [health] issues that could have been life threatening if they didn’t catch it here, and just the way they take care of you. “

“Every surgery I ever had, WWE has paid for. They’re very faithful and very good about that. It’s just some of the stuff that the John talked about was kind of passé, kind of outdated because now they really do [take care of wrestlers’ health]. They take care of everything especially stuff that happens in house. As far as the whole health insurance thing, that’s kind of a different argument, because we do a different gig in many many ways. But WWE has never done anything but be great to me.

“They’ve taking care of me in every capacity, every front. And they’ve given me a great life. I mean one of the characters I play is ‘Big Money’ Matt, who’s like this millionaire that’s been around for a long time, and you know there’s a lot of truth to it in some ways, and I wouldn’t have that persona and I wouldn’t have the great life that I have right now if it wasn’t for WWE.”

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WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray Talks Not Joining WWE After WCW Buyout

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WWE Hall of Famer Stevie Ray, who was inducted as part of Harlem Heat, alongside his brother Booker 2, in this year’s WWE Hall of Fame, recently discussed why he never joined WWE following his career in WCW.

Stevie Ray recently appeared on an episdoe of ‘Conversations with the Big Guy’ with host, and former WWE superstar, Ryback and talked about his thinking when WWE bought WCW.

Although his brother Booker T went on to WWE, Stevie Ray didn’t want to do the same.

“I didn’t want to go to WWF (WWE). As a matter of fact, the last WCW Nitro, I didn’t even attend and they sent me a ticket. Bu,t I was always in the mindset of this is competition to me. This is NFL vs AFL, or National League versus American League in baseball. WCW vs WWF, to be honest with you, bro, I didn’t want to go out like a bitch.”

The Monday Night Wars were hard to get past for Stevie Ray.

“We had been fighting for the team (WCW). But when I heard Vince McMahon had come in, and stuff like that, which I knew was coming, it’s like, you saw the writing on the wall and you put it in the back of your mind.

But at the end of the day I knew it was going to happen. But I didn’t attend the last show because my brother [Booker T] said that they (WWE) are going to be auditioning people. I told him that he should do it, but I’m done.”

Stevie Ray was concerned that WWE would change to Harlem Heat, stripping them of the elements that made that tag team so special.

“I wanted people to remember Harlem Heat as an ass-kicking tag team of color, you see what I’m saying? I didn’t want us to be something else. I didn’t want us to turn into a “Doink the Clown”. So, I’m not saying that they would have done this with Harlem Heat, but, I didn’t want to lose the edge that we once had as Harlem Heat.”

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