Mike Bennett found his passion on 205 Live.
WWE is a huge company will plenty of masters to serve. Don't get it confused, though. Raw, Smackdown, Vince McMahon is still the guy in charge. However, when speaking to Fightful, he explained how things differed on the 205 Live brand.
"RAW and Smackdown is Vince [McMahon]. That’s all Vince. Even with Paul [Heyman] and Bruce [Prichard], everything goes through Vince. That’s just how it’s always been. That’s just the way that the company runs. You can either like it or you can hate it, but at the end of the day you accept it. It’s his company. NXT is all Triple H. Triple H runs everything. I didn’t get on NXT TV, so I don’t really know how NXT TV worked. The house shows for NXT were a blast. Usually Steve Corino was running it or Norman Smiley and they had so much trust in me and Tony that were just like, “Just go do whatever you guys want and have fun.” It was like being on the indies again, and I loved it. I loved being on 205. Triple H ran 205, but it was really Adam Pearce—that was his baby. He had so much pride. He was so great to us. But, the one thing I loved about 205 is we were always given time to have our matches. Like, 15 / 20 minute matches and they didn’t pick it apart as much as they do on RAW and Smackdown. They give you leeway to do whatever you want. There might be a few things we run by Adam and he’d be like, “You know, if the boss is watching that—” ‘cause sometimes he’ll poke his head in, he’d be like, “—that’s probably not a good idea.” He was really good about doing that," Bennett said.
When Bennett got moved to the Cruiserweight 205 Live brand, it meant he more regularly got to wrestle. Earning the paycheck could have been an easy thing for him, but he was motivated there. The placement gave those on the show more leeway, and that wasn't lost on Bennett.
"205 was a blast for me because I would always tell the guys, “Guys, we’re playing with house money right now.” Especially when it was at the end of Smackdown ‘cause this crowd doesn’t give a shit about us. So, if we go out there and they’re quiet, we’ll just come to the back and they’ll go. “Well, they’re tired. They just saw a Roman Reigns versus Baron Corbin. Whatever, they’re tired.” But, if we get them, they’re gonna think we’re the greatest workers in the world. So, whenever we would get them, we’d come to the back and they were like, “You guys are killing it, you guys know what you’re doing.” So 205, actually, I loved. Even if people don’t watch it, I had a blast on it," said Bennett.
Even though they had more leeway on 205 Live, there were some things they couldn't broach. Based on what Bennett has seen, he thinks the chains will be off completely for WWE wrestlers eventually.
"I know the piledriver’s not allowed," Bennett said. "I think they understand to a sense, especially with NXT, they understand where the way wrestling is trending and they understand that to still hook those fans they have to have those kinds of matches. There’s so many guys on that roster that can have those types of matches that it’s gonna be very difficult to tell them, “Okay, you have 20 minutes, but you can’t do this move, this move, this move and that move. So, I think it’s starting to leak in. Honestly, and don’t quote me on this, but I would be shocked if you don’t see a piledriver soon. Or you don’t see Kevin [Owens] doing the package piledriver. Eventually they’ll go, “Alright, do it. Just do it. Leave us alone and do it.” Because you just see every time someone says, “That’s never going to happen,” it’s a guarantee it’s going to happen. Because that’s the way it goes. You start to see these moves leak in and leak in and leak in. So, yeah, I think before you know it, you’ll be able to do every single move you want."
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