When a man slaps another man in the face with a glove and challenges him to a duel, the results aren’t going to end up good for one of those men. This week on 205 Live on the WWE Network, we saw Jack Gallagher face off against Ariya Daivari in a duel as well as Neville facing off against Cruiserweight Champion Rich Swann in a non-title match. How did the show perform?
While clunky, it did much better than last week. To start, the crowd in Chicago wanted to be there. That’s a good start. When you start off a show that according to the WWE is “The Hottest Hour in Television!”, seeing a large portion of your audience leave and the arena left in darkness to cover up the fact that most folks have left kills any momentum you’re trying to build. The crowd tonight was into the action and even made some of the dead spots on the show at least tolerable to watch.
I was looking forward most to the duel. Ariya Daivari is just a dud on the mic but Jack Gallagher is great. He’s basically the British Santino Marella. That’s not to knock him or his prowess in the ring because he’s a good performer. (And Santino was great in his role too.) Fact is though, he will never be WWE Champion. He will be that mid card comedy act that helps get heels over. You like his character so you feel sympathy if he gets his ass handed to him in the ring.
I really wish they paired him up with someone other than Ariya. As far as in ring talent goes, Ariya is pretty good. I’m not knocking him as a wrestler. What really irks me as a fan is Ariya on the mic. He’s too forced. I don’t believe a word he says. The best talkers in the business have an air of believability about them. You get that they’re performing, that they’re participating in predetermined athletic bouts. But you still believed it when Ric Flair talked about his jet flying, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing life style. When Ariya talks, it sounds like dialogue written for him by someone who’s never watched a wrestling show in his life. The WWE has the performers recite lines. That’s something that’s not going away. The performers have to do what they can to make those lines their own otherwise they’re going to be back on the independent scene before they know it.
The main event of the show saw Neville face off against Rich Swann in a non-title match. While a solid match, I felt they spent far too much time establishing Neville’s dominance while ignoring Rich Swann. If these two face off again for the title, we have to believe that Rich has a legitimate chance of beating Neville. As it stands, I shudder at the thought of their rematch because it will be atrocious.
Speaking of atrocious, the WWE needs to keep Neville off the mic. They gave him a sit down interview with the great Renee Young and it was minutes from my life I want back. Similar to my criticism of Ariya Daivari, I simply don’t believe a word Neville says. He seems like he’s reciting lines from a script. Of course he is, you may be saying, but the problem is, even with something as basic on the entertainment ladder as professional wrestling, we have to believe what the performers in the ring are saying is real. The moment we don’t, we’re taken out of our suspension of disbelief.
I stand by what I said last week. There are seeds of a good show here. But there are some glaring problems the WWE has seen fit to magnify instead of hide that will quickly turn off the average viewer. We have to care about these people if we’re going to cheer for them. We also have to see them in believable scenarios and speaking dialogue we could imagine them speaking if we are to take them seriously. The more they let performers like Neville and Daivari speak in ways that show them for what they are, performers reading lines given to them, the quicker the audience will ignore what they do in the ring no matter how good they are. Less is more.