Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET marked the arrival of the Mixed Match Challenge, and you would be right to assume that its debut, in a time slot previously occupied by 205 Live, was not a good sign for the former occupants.
They waited an extra 30 minutes to go live on the WWE Network while the Mixed Match Challenge played out on Facebook Watch -- 30 minutes they didn't get back on the tail end -- and there were any number of ways to look at this situation as negative. Once the show started, you could also make the argument that no help was needed for 205 Live to torpedo itself once it actually began.
The addition of Goldust to add some face-painted color to the division was puzzling at first, clunky at best, and has officially reached disastrous status for Cedric Alexander's first foray into the championship picture.
Goldust's relationship with Alexander began with Alexander needing a tag team partner for a one-off match. There might've been a way to make it interesting, and the first night got a small pop, but after weeks of this weird partnership, Goldust's over-the-top silly humor has taken any edge off the title feud between Alexander and Enzo Amore -- further illustrating that Alexander's charisma isn't anywhere near his in-ring skills.
Couldn't you put him in Titus Worldwide to give him a mouthpiece? No, that's a been there, done that situation, as Akira Tozawa, whose contract with Titus Worldwide apparently has expired, has fallen off a cliff in terms of visibility. Perhaps a manager? Nope, Alicia Fox proved that that's not the solution.
But even as he tries his hardest to help Alexander make some level of connection with the crowd, Goldust's contributions to the division continue to hurt everyone on the roster long term. Things hit a new low on Tuesday as he single-handedly dispatched the entirety of the Zo train in a 3-on-1 handicap match.
As if there wasn't already a credibility problem, taking a guy like Goldust, who has been regularly losing or not even appearing on Raw (with all due respect to all of his achievements over the past two decades), and having him beat Drew Gulak, Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari fairly easily -- with Amore directing traffic, no less -- is highly problematic.
But they could turn this around.
Raw 25 is next week, and the excellence at the WWE's depth of legends coming back also offers an opportunity to bring back beloved cruiserweights of the past. Dean Malenko and Billy Kidman already work backstage. Chris Jericho is already going to be there, and perhaps Rey Mysterio could put it over the top. Maybe even La Parka could come back and become the new "Chairman" of 205 Live.
If the current cruiserweight roster isn't mingling more with the main roster with positive takeaways, at least outside of Amore and Nia Jax, a chance for some throwback connections and nostalgia could help form a more positive bond between the audience and a roster that's desperately seeking a game-changer. If the dissension amongst the Zo Train that seemed to heighten during the main event keeps going, an unspoken struggle of "Who's siding with who" and "who will be the first to turn" could increase interest, too. Amore vs. Gulak seems to be the next step they're angling for.
If the damage to the players involved isn't irreparable, and that's open to interpretation at this point, there are talented superstars and avenues to pursue.
Despite the description of the rest of the night, it wasn't all bad. And to prove it, this week's "Hits and Misses" will be rebranded.
- WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) January 17, 2018
Hits, and more hits
Outside of the main event picture, Gran Metalik has broken out over the past few weeks. His offense is at different level creatively, harkening back to the WCW cruiserweight days in terms of "I don't think I've seen that before."
TJP's sniveling and destruction of the ringside area post-losses is also reminiscent of an old WCW cruiserweight feeling -- specifically, Jericho's heel turn in WCW. I would've loved an "I'm not crying, you're crying," from TJP after his backstage, postmatch interview.
"Gentleman" Jack Gallagher owned his warning message to Hideo Itami. Several months ago, it'd be hard to believe that Gallagher, the purest face on the roster, would work as a menacing heel. But it does. Even without "The" Brian Kendrick in tow.
Kendrick's facial injuries at the hands of an Itami GTS were unfortunate, as he's one of the best characters in the division, but it's given the Gallagher-Itami feud another gear it might've had trouble grabbing without it. Itami didn't even show up this week, but Gallagher's own appearance made it feel like that feud took a step forward. Gallagher acknowledged that Itami is a threat, and ramped up the intensity on his own.
I got Drew Gulak in a cowboy hat and boots? That's a positive, but please, give the man a microphone.
Superlatives of the night
Move: Metalik performed a springboard moonsault to the outside, but instead of going from the middle rope, he showed his rare athleticism and balance and performed it from the top rope.
Line: "Everybody has their secrets, Mr. Itami. Whether yours are family, or friends, I will discover them. And then the attack might come from the sky, might come from the ground underneath your feet. It might come from the side or it might just stare you in the face." - Gallagher, with an icy delivery, adding fuel to the feud between him and Itami.
Match: Metalik def. TJP in a match that showcased Metalik. TJP also improved this week, and helped pick up the pace for an audience worn out from a long evening.