LOP on Facebook LOP on Twitter LOP on Google Plus LOP on Youtube LOP's RSS Feed

Home | Headlines | News | Results | Columns | Radio | Forums | Contact

Posted in: Just Business
Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – 205 Live and Why 60 Minutes a Week is Always Magic
By Samuel 'Plan
Oct 6, 2017 - 6:54:46 PM

Click here to add me on Facebook!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – 205 Live and Why 60 Minutes a Week is Always Magic

Historical negationism is the practice of distorting the historical record, and if I were to be frank about matters I would say plainly that, ever since Enzo Amore won the Cruiserweight Championship, there has been a sudden increase in such negationism when it comes to 205 Live.

Anyone with their finger on the IWC pulse will know that the self-anointed “Luke Smacktalker” has proven himself quite the hot topic since his catapult push to the top of 205 Live, with the Tuesday night cruiserweight showcase itself quickly following suit. It’s not just down to the evocative stories about his perceived unpopularity backstage that have facilitated this either. His attaining the championship was via something of an abrupt and rather unexpected villainous turn, cheap in nature and on the back of one of the single best title runs we’ve seen in WWE for quite some time – that of Neville in his King of the Cruiserweights guise. It was therefore always going to prove a head-turner of a decision.

It’s fantastic that this has resulted in interest in 205 Live peaking, with more fans now willing to tune in to the one hour Tuesday night show. What is less fantastic is how this series of events has only further fed the post-truth narrative that the cruiserweight division and 205 Live have been little more than a failing experiment since its inception. Enzo Amore winning the title was a great idea in retrospect, and executed with uncharacteristic brilliance by WWE; but what it did not do is suddenly transform a desperately ailing product in dire need of rejuvenation.

The truth is that the product was never ailing in the first place, and such is the topic of discussion Maverick and I will be pursuing in a couple of hours on this week’s edition of LOP Radio’s longest running episodic podcast, The Right Side of the Pond. Sure, 205 Live might not have been altering the industry every week, but it has quietly managed an impressive feat of its own that is all too much of a rarity in WWE today: consistent creative output.

Many have shunned the character-driven nature of the show and, again to be plain, I find that a ludicrous position to take. What is WWE if it has no character? The character-driven nature of 205 Live has allowed it to compile a consistently engaging product highlighted by championship feuds that have been intelligently fleshed out and allowed to rotate on a steady basis. There have been no over-thought ideas; no over-long storylines; no bizarre last minute narrative changes. Instead there has been linearity of story, steady evolution of the characters involved and, arguably most importantly, a gradually formed sense of clear roster positioning.

Don’t agree? Well, that is your perogative of course; Maverick and I will be delving into what we think has made 205 Live quietly the most consistent creative product in WWE these last several months with greater depth on The Right Side of the Pond – airing at 9pm BST tonight. While I’ll save the details for then, the basic concept I can relay to you now: a one hour weekly format.

Those who have followed my work for a while should be familiar now with the fact that my belief is that a weekly one hour show is the absolute Promised Land of pro wrestling format, and for a number of reasons.

First, it becomes physically impossible to get everyone on the show every week. This might seem like an unusual notion to argue as a positive for many modern fans, considering the age we live in and the now orthodox habit of cramming everyone onto everything they can be crammed onto. Yet rather than adversely affect the popularity and ‘relevance’ of top stars, it only serves to boost both of those factors for them by ensuring that, when those top stars do appear, the occasion feels like can’t miss television. Don’t believe me? Well, just look to the positive impact it had on the early editions of Monday Night Raw (MNR), helping to establish it as the flagship of the world’s foremost wrestling promotion. You can even take today’s NXT as a second, more immediate example too. The latter is hardly a domain of failure.

Secondly, because of the increased periods between the appearances of certain stars, storylines possess naturally longer life. Just like you can’t fit everyone on the show every week, you can’t advance every storyline every week either. This doesn’t make television feel less frantic or exciting; it makes the fiction feel more engaging and substantive. Today, WWE struggle to get through a single pay-per-view cycle without running out of story material for the majority of their active feuds; when you only put out one hour a week, such is never the case. The same two examples, of New Gen MNR and today’s NXT will prove the point.

Thirdly, in part but not exclusively because of the above two factors, creating a shared fictional universe becomes all the easier; an idea I cannot stress enough. WWE’s product is always at its vibrant, most colourful best when storylines and characters are allowed to bump up next to each other, overlapping and colliding in exciting and engaging ways. Marvel might have made shared universe storytelling popular in Hollywood this last decade, but WWE have, when at their best at least, been doing it for much longer.

The linearity of a one hour weekly television show format always comes hand in hand with a greater degree of this style of shared universe storytelling. It was an absolute benchmark of the New Generation Era, and though NXT is sometimes guilty of repetition, it too has been able to more easily, more frequently employ the method; of creating a sense of a world occupied by a myriad of clearly developed, three dimensional characters who, though locked in their own stories, will inevitably encounter one another in exciting and enticing ways.

Putting out only one hour a week creates an environment where characters can be more robustly developed, because it creates an environment where stories last longer; that means audiences tire less and are possessed of greater patience and a more forgiving disposition; that means there is less chopping and changing mandated by audience dissatisfaction, and less u-turning amidst narratives in need of specific conclusions to realise intended character arcs; and all of that means an all round more entertaining creative product.

205 Live, following the one hour a week format, has exhibited all of these traits to varying degrees since the moment Neville transformed into its foremost villain at the back end of 2016. Placing Enzo Amore where they have has proven to be, undeniably, an excellent idea, and a wonderful way to follow up on Neville’s utterly stunning run. After all, if you can’t do it better then you’re best doing it differently, right?

But let’s not get things clouded, or engage in unnecessary historical negationism. 205 Live wasn’t a disaster in need of saving. It might not have been what many had expected, or what some even wanted. Nor might it have been a world-altering new paradigm emerging from the fringes of WWE’s overall output. But it followed a proven golden format for any pro wrestling promotion, of putting out only one hour of creative a week, creating a linearity that has allowed for more comfortably evolving storylines, a more nurturing environment to develop character and consistently engaging wrestling matches that, more often than not, are among the very best of the week; sometimes the month; sometimes, even, the year.

205 Live is heading in an exciting direction, but it was already in a perfectly healthy place beforehand.

In just a couple of hours, Maverick and I will be digging into that idea in much greater depth, so if you have any thoughts on the matter do be sure to share them down below in the comments, or with me over on social media; then check out tonight’s latest instalment of LOP Radio’s The Right Side of the Pond!

The Right Side of the Pond airs only on LOP Radio every Friday night, 9pm BST / 4pm EST, or can be listened to on demand at any time via BlogTalkRadio or on iTunes!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of my book, 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die, from the LOP Store or Amazon today! Simply click here to find mine and a host of other books and merchandise on offer, all courtesy of LOP, or on the icon to the left to be taken directly to Amazon!

Click here to add me on Facebook!

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Match(es) of the Year and the Issue of Context

  • Just Business – The Highs and Lows of Another Year in the Ring with WWE: The MVPs

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Who are WWE’s Wrestlers of 2017?

  • Just Business - The Highs and Lows of Another Year in the Ring with WWE: ‘Plan Asks About the Hot Topics of 2017

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Bring It To The Pond: a broken Matt Hardy, a departing Jim Johnston and an ascending AJ Styles (plus more to come!)

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Looking Back at Survivor Series Week and the Call-Ups that Closed It

  • Just Business: Survivor Series 2017 - The Performance Art Review

  • Just Business: The 5 Lessons of the Build to Survivor Series 2017

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Pond – Predicting Survivor Series 2017

  • Just Business: The Preview Side of the Doc Says Special – The Under-Appreciated Work of Bret Hart