Today the WWE once again cut a significant portion of its roster. This time, it was focused on the 205 Live division primarily and took a rather substantial amount of their roster. The 205 Live writing has been on the wall for a number of years as the company viewed the show more as a modern day Velocity than a promotion that could make them money.
Despite being home to some of the top matches in WWE this decade (Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy’s series of clinics immediately comes to mind), the WWE hasn’t put the machine behind it any and has left a lot to be desired with what they could’ve done. In fact, looking at the former faces of the brand, most aren’t with the company anymore. Early faces such as TJ Perkins and Rich Swann are currently in Impact Wrestling, while Adrian Neville was in the World Championship match at this year’s Double or Nothing. Enzo Amore was released while champion due to an investigation in sexual misconduct, while Buddy Murphy was released earlier this month. The Cruiserweight Championship wasn’t even primarily featured on 205 Live following its move to NXT in 2019, yet former NXT Cruiserweight Champion Lio Rush has since announced his retirement. The former 205 Live participants on the main roster today include Cedric Alexander, who’s floundered since the breakup of the Hurt Business, Drew Gulak who has been getting roses shoved up his gluteus maximus, and despite being highly entertaining in his role, Akira Tozawa is running around with ninjas. Today, WWE released yet another Cruiserweight Champion.
It’s unfortunate as a long time viewer who had once adored the 205 Live product that the WWE never did anything to even attempt to get the casual fan invested. It’s even more unfortunate, depending on the case, the number of talents that have been released. An example like PAC who clearly was unhappy is a release I’m happy for, especially since he’s being much better utilized in AEW right now. It’s the unexpected releases that are heartbreaking, especially for such talent individuals who never got a true opportunity to shine in front of the proverbial “WWE Universe.”
As a long-time fan of Anthony Greene, this may end up being the one that got away from the WWE. August Grey, armed with one of the boppiest theme songs in wrestling (a literal love-letter to the mid-2000s), was one of their most innovative performers as well. His finisher, a springboard unprettier, still wasn’t the most groundbreaking thing in his arsenal, such as the way he’d run the ropes. The curious thing about Grey is that he didn’t make his 205 Live debut until during the pandemic but since has been its biggest mainstay.
At only 27 years old and such a great in-ring presence, Grey also has one of the best outside of the ring presences in the industry today. Grey commands your attention with his colorful wardrobe, his natural, oozing charisma and unique yet badass look. Grey is also easily likable and can speak, truly a wrestler with every tool to be a big star and age on his side. Judging by his work in Evolve with Brandi Lauren, another recent Performance Center cut, he also has the ability to be a top heel. With only a 30 day no-compete, Grey should be back in the forefront relatively quickly and will absolutely make noise wherever he ends up. For me, this is the biggest piece to keep an eye on going forward.
You can watch August Grey’s final WWE match against Grayson Waller tonight, and enjoy a little bit of Grey’s sense of humor.
There was a time where these two superstars, solo acts, were floundering with one dimensional characters and so they pitched becoming a tag team. They became the most entertaining tag team on the main roster with their exploits on “The Fashion Files.” Eventually moving back to NXT, they would become NXT Tag Team Champions just within the last year.
Fandango, who’s career was derailed by injuries numerous times, came in with a chip on his shoulder as “Johnny Curtis” before debuting the Fandango character at WrestleMania 29 defeating Chris Jericho in his debut. Known at first for his theme music, which garnered media attention and charted on iTunes, Fandango ended up proving that he’s one of the best hands in wrestling. A very crisp worker, it’s hard to find somebody more fundamentally sound from bell-to-bell. As a personality, Fandango offered something rather unique with his deep, somewhat sensual voice. Fandango took a character that was at best mediocre and turned it into something extremely memorable, and that’s all on the man behind the character. Fandango saw his glass ceiling as the character, shattered and extended his expiration date by many years.
Tyler Breeze is in similar vein. Known to NXT audiences as “Prince Pretty” who wanted to eradicate the world of “uggos,” the bonafide supermodel bombed on the main roster due to how one dimensional his character is. Through his own ideas, Breeze added the dimensions the character needed to evolve into what it became and was one of the NXT’s most popular acts. Tyler Breeze played a pivotal role in the infant years of NXT, including the Fatal Four Way with Tyson Kidd, Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville. A phenomenal worker and great human being, Tyler Breeze will likely land on his feet almost immediately. It’s hard to find a more beloved figure backstage than Tyler Breeze.
The Singh Brothers:
Perhaps the most heartbreaking of today’s releases, The Bollywood Boyz were 205 Live mainstays from day one and tremendous at everything that they did. Growing up as lifetime fans, it showed in everything that they did. Trained by Rip Rogers, one of the best wrestling trainers ever, the Singh’s were good at the little details required in the job. Yet, it was their bumping where they excelled.
The Singh’s also had a boatload of charisma and added a much needed element to acts such as Jinder Mahal during Mahal’s 2017 WWE Championship run. The brothers were so humble and down to earth and all around great workers that never truly got their due.
Tony Nese won the Cruiserweight Championship at the 35th annual WrestleMania in New York City just two short years ago. Despite not having the most obvious personality in the world, Nese still brought a lot to the table for the WWE and 205 live, as well as its faithful. With the look of an action figure, “the Premiere Athlete” is one of the most naturally-gifted athletes WWE has ever seen. More importantly, one thing that always stood out to me was how logical his matches were. Small, minor details such as the drop down tripping people with regularity to give him an advantage eliminated some of the more silly tropes in wrestling. His personality was beginning to shine during this heel run.
Yet another excellent performer, Daivari was essentially 205 Live’s Final Boss heel from day one, despite never winning the main championship. A standout performance in the Cruiserweight Classic during his match with HoHo Lun, Daivari was signed swiftly and brought a different element and style to contrast the usual cruiserweight style on WWE television. After an absence from television, Ariya returned and had a killer program with Jake Atlas before aligning himself with Tony Nese as a heel duo, upset that the new blood doesn’t respect its veterans.
Much like Greene, Daivari had a rather humorous tweet about the news:
Another surprising cut today was hard-hitting Curt Stallion. Stallion, like Grey, debuted during the pandemic after being a stalwart on the Independents and a big name for Evolve Wrestling. One of the most creative in-ring performers in the world, the thirty-year-old Texan looked destined for WWE success when he entered a program with then-NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar and seemingly was going to win the championship. That is until a poorly-timed injury to Stallion’s wrist took him out of action in mid-March. Stallion has a big personality, even if he’s still not entirely comfortable on the microphone, and he just never received the opportunity to really show such.
Featured on NXT as recently as this week, the release of Matt Martel and Chase Parker surprised many as they have become one of NXT’s best novelty acts. There’s an old adage in wrestling: maximize your minutes. As a team that didn’t receive much time, Ever-Rise used NXT and WWE’s social media platforms to create their own Saturday morning news show titled “Ever-Rise Live” that was their own personal version of the Dirt Sheet, just a more conservative presentation with the duo as news anchors. Ever-Rise fought their way onto television and even into a current program with Hit Row. They had recently inked new WWE deals and Kevin Owens was wearing their merchandise on episodes of SmackDown. The team did everything in their power to “maximize their minutes” like performers are told and it, evidently, still was not good enough to alter WWE’s potential plans.
WWE released nine of its top talents in NXT under the 205 weight limit, as well as Fandango, the partner of one of those nine superstars. The brand is about to receive a major facelift, potentially for the worst. Regardless, all eleven of these pro wrestlers are brilliant in their own way and look to carve their own path in a world where there is ample opportunity outside of the WWE. I personally want to wish each one of them the best of luck.
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