My transparent preference for heels in WWE continues this week with a return to 205 Live to look more in-depth at someone who, to put it very bluntly, is a total arsehole! The “my body is better than yours” gimmick has been done over the decades with varying levels of success with the likes of Lex Luger in the nineties, and Chris Masters in the noughties. I’m sure there have been many more along the way, but those two stand out; Luger for the showmanship of it all, and Masters for the controversy surrounding his methods for obtaining such a sculpted “bod”.
205 Live’s Tony Nese is the latest in a long line of wrestlers who flexes his ‘ceps for all to marvel (or groan) over, however, what I really like about Nese is how he incorporates his body perfecting exercises into his in-ring offense. Halting his opponents in the middle of an Irish-whip fest to take a knee and curl his arm is nothing new, but the ab-crunching bicycle kicks to his opponents’ faces when they are in the tree of woe? That is arrogant to the point of ridiculous, but I can’t help but smile from ear to ear and satisfyingly sigh at the character work on display here.
Like Drew Gulak, he was one of those competitors in the Cruiserweight Classic who was just “there”. There wasn’t a narrative regarding his progression in the tournament. That was kept for the likes of TJ Perkins, Brian Kendrick, and the likes. But again, like Drew Gulak, Nese has become one of the more entertaining aspects of the Cruiserweight Division show.
Take the Halloween week recently. I wasn’t overly critical of the dodgy segments and matches we got that week. It was Halloween after all, and WWE has a penchant for slapstick comedy around the holiday season. But the best bit of all the TV that week for me was during 205 Live’s “Fright Night” Fatal-4-Way, where Mr. Nese seized an opportunity in keeping with his character that I’ll remember for quite some time.
With his opponent in a tree of woe, he used some of the many pumpkins littering ringside and proceeded to treat them like medicine balls, throwing them right into Mustafa Ali’s face while doing sit-up crunches. I marked out like a schoolgirl at a Justin Beiber concert for this. What a joyous moment! Halloween humor used for character continuity! Yay!
There are however still some things that need to be ironed out before Nese is the total package (no pun intended, Mr. Luger). A common trope for heels to adopt is being mouthy in the ring. Kevin Owens comes to mind as someone who is a master at this. Nese is getting there, and I understand his character is supposed to be smarmy, but a bit more bite at these instances would be appreciated. Nevertheless, I do like the monologue he has during his entrance music, coming to the ring and telling everyone why there are one, two, three…… seven, EIGHT reasons why he is the Premier Athlete. Have to say, I love that bit!
Nese’s wrestling style is actually quite understated. Fans, myself included, are too distracted by his fitter-than-thou attitude to see he is quite an accomplished athlete. He showed in the Cruiserweight Classic that he had some oomph and power, but displayed enough impressive high-flying offense to wow the Full Sail crowd. It was a cruiserweight competition after all.
But Nese can be deadly when he wants to be. In one of the many Fatal-5-Way matches on 205 Live, the usual chaos ensued, as you would expect in a multi-man affair. However, somewhere in the middle, Nese sprinted along ringside and hurled his knee through Brian Kendrick, demolishing the timekeeping area in the process. It was not something you would expect to see outside of a big time match on a main roster PPV, so this stuck out as a moment of welcome brutality.
It might seem a null and void question when discussing the talent on 205 Live, what with any glass ceiling or sideways door being very far out of reach at the moment, but what does the future hold for Tony Nese? It’s actually a bit of a concern that Nese, along with many of the other cruiserweights, hasn’t really flirted with the main event of 205 Live. Including currently Enzo Amore, four of the last five title reigns have been held by Superstars drafted in from the main roster. There was Akira Tozawa for a short spell, but in the grand scheme of things, that won’t really be remembered. Does Creative not see any potential in them? Does Creative not trust them to hold the Cruiserweight Title?
If by some miracle, the original 205 Live Superstars are entrusted with the responsibility of carrying the brand, then Tony Nese would be great at the top. If he harnessed his cockiness into more in-ring aggression and incorporated more of his physical prowess into his offense (but with less humor), he could be a force to be reckoned with. I know that Vince has a preference for big guys with muscles stacked on more muscles. Can you imagine if Tony Nese was six or seven inches taller? With that body? With that narcissism? He could easily be a top heel on either Raw or Smackdown. There have been many “smaller” guys who have made a real name for themselves when Vince takes his blinkers off. Maybe one day, if and when 205 Live stars are allowed more time on the main roster, Tony Nese can flex his pecs with the big boys, and gain the plaudits he rightly deserves.