205 Live, How You Doin?
Have you watched 205 Live lately? Stop laughing, it’s a real question. I have and I’m holding my gouged out eyes in the palm of my hand because of it. It’s a tough watch right now, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be.
WWE has done a great job on 50 percent of that show and with the Cruiserweight Division as a whole. They’ve built Neville up to incredible heights as a dangerous heel champion and his career has flourished because of it. 205 Live hasn’t, though. For as good as Neville is, the problem is he’s a miscalculated character to base a television show around. Nobody wants to watch the dangerous bad guy win constantly. It would be like watching Star Wars and only seeing Darth Vader destroy the Jedi throughout the entire film. That isn’t a story that people will buy into, be passionate about, and connect with.
Same goes for Neville. He’s fun to watch, but he’s a bad guy. The real fun is seeing him get beat. The WWE has failed miserably with the other 50 percent of the equation. They haven’t brought in, built up, or created any significant babyface star to truly carry the brand and chase Neville for the championship. A heel champion isn’t a reason to watch the show, but a babyface star is. 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Division needs its Hulk Hogan for fans to get behind and specifically tune in to see. That star is on the Raw roster, and his name is Enzo Amore. How you doin?
Enzo Amore is a Certified G and now a certified singles act in the WWE. Since catching steam in NXT with former tag team partner, Big Cass, Enzo has consistently been one of the most charismatic Superstars on the WWE roster. The guy exudes an out-of-this-world level of confidence that connects with his audience and he’s able to tap into that connection when he needs to in order to tell his story properly.
Since his abrupt split from Big Cass, we’ve seen that Enzo Amore also has depth. He is more than just a shine-producing sidekick in a babyface tag team. The WWE Universe feels what he’s doing and saying. They pop for him because he’s real. The realist guy in the room, as he says. It’s true, though. When Enzo hits the ring, you don’t see a person playing a character, you just see him. He’s a natural in the pro wrestling world with an “it” factor that can’t be taught.
This all prompts the question: What is Enzo’s ceiling in the WWE? The answer? A top draw and main event level superstar. It just won’t be in the traditional sense that we’re used to. It’ll be on 205 Live and in the cruiserweight division.
From a business perspective, this move is a no brainer for Vince McMahon and WWE. Enzo Amore is already a made star. Plus, he’s a star that is loved from the main roster. People know him. Enzo Amore got over with the sharks on Raw and that gives him more credibility than any other outsider who could be brought in for a premiere role on 205 Live.
205 Live tapes its show live after Smackdown on Tuesday nights. One of the main problems that results is that the audience leaves the arena due to the fact that there aren’t known stars on 205 Live to stay and watch. Enzo Amore would immediately alleviate that stigma.
Enzo is a phenomenal talker who can rival the best in terms of creating catchphrases that appear on t-shirts. Enzo’s act lends itself perfectly to merchandising. You name it, and he’s worn it to the ring at some point in his career. His wardrobe sold to the masses would sell well on WWEShop.com. Enzo appeals to everyone in the massive WWE target demographic. Kids are wearing his toy wigs, women blush and are mesmerized by his confidence, and men want to hit the bars and have a beer with the guy. Finally, Enzo is a corporate guy who plays well within the WWE company landscape. He’s been in a multitude of commercials and special corporate programs that show he gets his place within their corporate structure.
A move to become the face of 205 Live and the cruiserweight Division makes sense for Enzo Amore, the character, as well. Throughout his feud with Cass he’s stated on multiple occasions that being the best and winning is his long term goal. Given his size, cultivating and achieving that goal on 205 Live is realistic.
WWE can tell a story where Neville mocks Enzo for his goals of winning a championship and ridicules him for being a failure in the tag team division. This is an effective way to build more heat for Neville and gain sympathy for Enzo, all while positioning Enzo for a jump to the main event scene on 205 Live. Then, chasing his goals and winning a championship can take place with an eventual victory over Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship.
Yes, I do see the elephant in the room here. Enzo Amore isn’t a good enough in-ring worker to hang with the cruiserweights on 205 Live. Who cares? Noam Dar can have 11 star matches, but they are meaningless if the audience isn’t invested in the character and story. Realistically, a five star match can’t truly exist without a worthwhile storyline. It’s time to ignore the pointless elephant and move on. The in-ring issue would be significant if people were watching 205 Live in droves and the performers on the show were having regular four star, hard-hitting classics like they did during the Cruiserweight Classic. The fact of the matter is neither one of those things is happening.
Injecting the show with a premiere character like Enzo Amore gives 205 Live a star and a story to build around. At this point in its existence, branding 205 Live and giving the audience a star to look forward to is more important than five star matches. Hulk Hogan wasn’t a great in-ring technician. He was a big personality with loads of charisma that people were drawn to. The WWE brand was built around those intangible elements that you can’t teach. Enzo Amore brings the same intangibles to the table for 205 Live.
In today’s WWE world, the company is looking to feature different shows on the WWE Network for different fans. For that business plan to work, WWE needs star power positioned strategically across these different shows so people will buy the Network each month to watch them. NXT does a tremendous job in this effort. The WWE Universe only sees NXT stars like Bobby Roode and DIY on the NXT brand. When they are on that show, it’s presented as a big deal. That formula needs to be implemented on 205 Live and the guy to implement it around is Enzo Amore.
Enzo’s main job as a singles competitor right now on Monday Night Raw is to facilitate Big Cass getting over as a heel. Because Enzo is as good as he is, it’s working like a charm. Cass has his direction after the Enzo feud. Enzo has earned a concrete direction as well, but has a defined ceiling while on the main WWE roster. The sky is the limit for him on the 205 Live brand.
There used to be a time where heavyweights ruled the fight game and pro wrestling world. Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture, Hulk Hogan, and The Rock were big guys who occupied top spots in their respective businesses. Now, its guys such as Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather, Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins who rule. They are smaller guys with big personalities. Those big guys had great personalities too and that’s the point. Personality is the common denominator.
Big or small, a radiant personality and character is what draws money, puts butts in seats, and attracts eyes to television shows. 205 Live needs that personality and Enzo Amore serves it up on a silver platter.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS RECENT EDITORIAL: EDITORIAL: Juice Robinson’s inspirational New Japan journey is off to a great start, but also far from complete