Greg DeMarco checks in with your WWE Network in-ring show ratings for 205 Live, NXT UK, and WWE NXT (ending 2/6/19). What stood out?
The WWE Network set of shows takes center stage in these ratings!
Mike Kanellis vs. Brian Kendrick – **1/2
“Welcome to 205 Live, where you get high flying, edge of your seat action!” Or you get Mike Kanellis vs. Brian Kendrick. Twi smaller guys working the heavyweight style doesn’t excite me in the least. Maybe your playlist varies. Kanellis is miscast on this brand. And Maria sucks on commentary. And at everything, basically. And I used to be one of her biggest fans!
Side note: Aiden English’s voice is too powerful for commentary.
Fatal 4 Way: Lio Riush vs. Akira Tozawa vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Humberto Carrillo – ****
What has 205 Live done to build Humberto Carrillo at all? Like at all at all? I’ll answer it for you—nothing. I still think Cedric Alexander should follow Mustafa Ali to Smackdown and join The New Day. What’s left for him on 205 Live? This match overall was great, but will you remember it next week?
Side note: Buddy Murphy is great—it’s really him and everyone else for 205 Live.
Side side note: Akira Tozawa hasn’t had a championship opportunity in a year-and-a-half? Was Vic Joseph not at the Royal Rumble?
Overall: This time last year, 205 Live was in the midst of a tournament to crown a new Cruiserweight Champion. This year, they’re putting on preliminary matches with no stakes, and a good main event. The formula works, but it’s going to get old. Raw and Smackdown have really broken their formula in recent weeks. 205 Live could benefit from that as well, they need a jolt of attitude.
WWE NXT UK
Mark Andrews vs. Ligero – ***
Good match, but as much as I hate this phrase: “it never really got out of first gear.” I’d love to see this again. I am surprised Mark Andrews isn’t a bigger deal in WWE NXT. Stupid handshake.
Xia Brookside vs. Candy Floss – ***
Xia Brookside is like a pretty Ruby Riott. As for this match? Another baby vs baby match with a handshake. Blech. Xia really likes to scream when a scream isn’t warranted. Better match than Andrews-Ligero, especially since this was really a showcase for Xia. I actually want to see them do more with Candy Floss—possibly give her a heel attitude? No more Misses Nice Girl?
Side note: Rhea Ripley is fantastic.
Wild Boar Mike Hitchman vs. Joseph Conners – **1/2
I gotta be honest here, Wild Boar does nothing for me. Conners is okay, and he really tried here. But nothing sold me on why he’s mad (I get it, he’s an “original,” but it wasn’t a brand when he was in the tournament). The UK crowd was dead for this, and that’s hard to do. At least Conners won (or, more accurately, Wild Boar lost). Conners banter after the match came across like a low rent Drew McIntyre to me.
Side note: Jinny does NOTHING for me. Give me Nina Samuels any day.
Joe Coffey vs. Ashton Smith – ***
Can someone explain Ashton Smith’s entrance antics to me? Because I don’t get it. He is a good jobber to the stars, though. Which makes sense, because Coffey is a star. I know some didn’t like his position on the first Takeover, but I thought he belonged. Interesting thought about this match against, say, Conners-Hitchman. It was a glorified squash, but people cared about it.
WALTER vs. Mark Coffey – ***1/2
I immediately questioned the decision to feature WALTER in this manner two weeks in a row. I mean I know the smarks won’t complain about him being “shoved down our throat” because they love WALTER and love is blinding. WALTER was made to look vulnerable, and Coffey was made to look credible. You knew it was a matter of time before WALTER overcame all this, but it was still entertaining. WALTER is kinda jiggly, though. Like in a “don’t make Dad mad” sort of way. In the end, this is going to be remembered—by me—as Mark Coffey’s best showing.
Overall: The issue with these “lower brands” like NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live is they all start using the same moves (slingshot DDT, joint manipulation, etc). These NXT UK talents need to differentiate themselves in character and in ring work. Otherwise the only thing that’s different is the color of their gear. This is outside of the major players, who can only do so much.
Side note: I am fine with Velveteen Dream picking Johnny Gargano over Tommaso Ciampa, but he shouldn’t say he doesn’t want the NXT Championship–the richest prize in NXT.
Jaxson Ryker vs. Mansoor – NR
I can’t rate this match as it was barely a squash. But it did allow me to find this gem of a Reddit AMA for Mansoor!
Drew Gulak vs. Eric Bugenhagen – ********************
Where in the hell did Eric Bugenhagen come from! He tapped out, but his encore later in the night (not shown on television but released later) with Kayla Braxton tells me he’s a star.
Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle – ****
There are so many 205 Live stars that I would LOVE to see get a true NXT run. Drew Gulak is one. This match with Matt Riddle–a legit clinic–makes that desire even stronger. I don’t know what’s in the plans for the WrestleMania Friday Takeover, but the rematch of this should be.
Bianca Belair & The Sky Pirates (Io Shirai & Kairi Sane) vs. NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir – ***
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you have all this amazing talent at the WWE Performance Center (Mia Yim, Candice LaRae, Kacy Catanzaro) and you keep carting Duke & Shafir out here? Irresponsible. Have them run interference? Fine. But taking televised spots away from others is not something they should be doing. The division is seriously thin in NXT–this isn’t how you build it. Any semblance of a rating here is thanks to Baszler, Sane, Shirai, and Belair. I know NXT UK is important and all, but we need Rhea Ripley in here, stat! As for the finish, I like Shirai getting the pin and Belair being upset about it. A change in Belair’s attitude could keep the division fresh and give us more match-ups than Baszler vs. a challenger.