Feel like you've seen this all before?
This week's Monday Night Raw gave us the tag team match involving all of the main players in the Cruiserweight Championship feud, as Neville and TJ Perkins got the victory over Austin Aries and Gentleman Jack Gallagher. It was the second tag team match involving those four in the last four weeks on Raw.
The next night on 205 Live, we got TJP and Aries one-on-one, as Neville put Perkins under orders to wear down Aries, and maybe, just maybe, he'll get that title shot.
That's a familiar matchup, too.
TJP turned heel on the April 10 episode of Raw after a match with Aries. Eight days later, Aries defeated Perkins on a 205 Live. They fought again two weeks ago on Raw (an Aries win), and then again on Tuesday's 205 Live. That's a lot of ring time together as they build the story of Perkins fighting the battles for Neville.
The question is, does Neville need those battles fought for him? There's the long-established heel tendency of ducking the fight, but Neville's rise through the division was built on the notion that he was physically dominant over everybody else in the division. His build made that story easy to tell.
Since his victory over Aries at Payback, Neville has had one match, Monday's tag match on Raw. It has left me wanting more Neville, and with three weeks until their title match, there's plenty of opportunity to see what Neville can do, hopefully regaining some of his swagger.
Before Tuesday's match, Aries had a backstage interview, sort of. He used his expert journalistic skills to ask himself the question he saw coming. During the self-induced response, he referred to Perkins as a "lapdog" and shrugged off his knee injury. Neville, playing a true heel, has put Aries in the role of pure babyface. It's not his strongest position on the mic, as Aries needs to push the limits and toe the line to be at his best. But pure face does well-suit his in-ring style.
The match itself focused around Perkins targeting Aries' already-injured knee, and any other body part that he could wear down on behalf of Neville. The injury was well-sold by Aries, and Perkins' striking and submission offense just poured it on.
The pace of the match was mostly slow for that reason. Unfortunately, Aries' offense works best when he's hitting quick combinations, which he still did, while still selling the knee injury.
The finish of this one came abruptly, as Aries reversed the Detonation Kick seamlessly into the Last Chancery for the insta-tap.
Neville, not unexpectedly, rushed the ring immediately after the finish and locked in a submission hold, targeting Aries' knee. Also not unexpectedly, Gallagher came to the rescue, sending Neville/Perkins scrambling.
It was the status quo ending. We've gotten used to seeing opponents get the best of Neville in the impromptu brawls. It happened during the Gallagher feud, and it continues now, but we have three weeks until Extreme Rules. Time for Neville to regain some dominance. Time for Aries to sell his injury storyline. And hopefully, time to spice up the matchups a little bit.
Hits and misses
I loved the Tony Nese-Mustafa Ali match last week, but didn't love what it did to further the Ali vs Drew Gulak feud. This week, Gulak attacked Ali from behind before his rematch with Nese, as Ali took an impressive bump off the ring post. It gave that feud extra juice, as did the reminder that Nese and Gulak are on the same side.
Tony Nese is counting abs and trash-talking fans. His character is starting to develop, and it only means good things.
Gran Metalik made his first 205 Live appearance in about three months, losing to Noam Dar. After making it to the Cruiserweight Classic final, Metalik has been completely off the radar. In fact, luchadors really haven't gained much traction on 205 Live as a whole.