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    Friday, December 18, 2015

    Smark Hen-XT (12/16/15): British Invasion

    On this special edition of Smark Hen-XT, we take a look at NXT’s first foray across the pond as they took over London.

    The matches:

    Asuka def. Emma

    • Last week, I told you this match would be good, and it was. This was a hard-hitting match between the two talented ladies and a great start to the show. It was a back and forth affair featuring hard-strikes (including hip attacks that actually look painful) and great grappling exchanges. A distraction from Dana Brooke at ringside side didn’t work as Asuka finished the match with a kick to the face.

    • Emma was on point that night. With the sunglasses during the entrance, her look was perfect for a conniving, egotistical heel. Her moves were on point and her heel work was perfect. Dana Brooke was great as an annoying over-the-top manager as well. I don’t see their partnership lasting any longer, but it’d be exciting to see where both ladies go after this feud.

    • Asuka was also great. This was the first time seeing her in true trouble at NXT, and even then, she played a great face in peril. I would have done without the weird squealing. She had a great little interaction backstage with Nia Jax later on, so it’s interesting to see how that goes.

    Dash & Dawson (c) def. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship

    • NXT’s tag team division has had its ups and downs, but this match was one of the high points. Enzo and Big Cass came in guns-a-blazing but the Mechanics slowed down the pace. A Shatter Machine from the second rope closed the match with the tag champs picking up the win.

    • It’s so easy to cheer for Enzo and Cass because they’re just so charismatic. You wanted them to win not just because they’re a fun team, but because they’ve busted their asses and entertained us. That should be enough, right? But it isn’t, mainly because there are better teams than they are. And that is what works so great about this match. This was an emotional affair that took you on a rollercoaster. You wanted the good guys to win because they’ve earned it after busting their asses over the past 3 years. Where do they go after this? Not sure, but I’m hoping for a call-up.

    • I’m sort of thankful that I got this was wrong. Dash and Dawson are a pretty solid team. But more importantly, they’re going to be a great foil to Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, who are being built to be the team of the Tag Team division.

    Baron Corbin def. Apollo Crews

    • If this was on the main roster, we would be praising this match. As it’s in the middle of an already impressive NXT card, it hurts them a bit. Either way, this is a pretty solid match from both competitors. Corbin countered Crews’ Modified Blue Thunder Bomb by holding on to the ropes and nailed the End of Days to pick up the W.

    • Corbin was the star of this match, even if it was only for this one line: “You should have stayed in Ring of Honor!” Why is this line so important? Because Crews was never in Ring of Honor. This made Corbin look like the fool who probably just thought of the most familiar indy fed and screamed it at the indy darling. Suddenly, he’s the perfect poster boy for the WWE-manufactured superstar who thinks himself above and beyond those who’ve toiled under the indies. And guess what, NXT’s stacked with guys like that and people like cheering for them.

    • Crews’ winning streak has finally come to a close, so where does he go? He’s still pretty much a top tier talent down at NXT, but it’d be interesting to see how he reacts to this loss. He obviously won’t be in line for the title match soon, but it’d be a great character arc to see him bounce back.

    Bayley (c) def. Nia Jax to retain the NXT Women’s Championship

    • This match is a testament to how good NXT’s bookers are. On paper, it shouldn’t have been as good as it was. But everyone made this work. Jax dominated this match as she was wont to do, and Bayley was the ultimate underdog—pulling out all the stops and finally secured the win with a third Guillotine choke.

    • The story here was great. Bayley was made to look like she had a game plan for her opponent. She didn’t try a single Bayley-to-Belly, because honestly, who would have bought the idea that she could hit that move on someone of Jax’s size? She moved around a lot and relied on submissions and sheer tenacity to get the win. She looked like a true veteran beside the green Jax.

    • Not that Jax didn’t pull her weight. She hossed out simply because that’s what she’s good at and what gave her this title match, and she did control most of this match. She isn’t just ready to hold the division together yet, but she will. As I’ve pointed out earlier, she had a nice little segment with Asuka during the show, so that could be a great direction for Jax. Working with a really talented wrestler will help her development along.

    Finn Bálor (c) def. Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship

    • This was a great match that wouldn’t have been out of place in Ring of Honor or New Japan. That it was on WWE programming makes it all the more special. While it might not have reached blood feud levels ala Zayn-Owens at TakeOver: Rival, it was still a hard-hitting affair that left one of the guys bloody and the other so badly beaten, he could barely celebrate his win. Bálor survived the onslaught from Joe and eked out a win after the Coup de Grace.

    • In a vacuum, it would have been perfectly fine to describe the match as I’ve did and leave it at that, but context dictates that I say this: compared to the other matches, this one fell flat. When you already had a stiffly worked Divas match, an emotional Tag Team Championship match, a main-roster styled hoss fight, and a Women’s Championship match that was brilliantly booked, this felt like it was just another Bálor match, or another Joe match, and we’ve seen a lot of those. While Bálor might end up being one of the most celebrated champions in NXT history, he has the unenviable task of trying to stand out in a field full of standouts. This is NXT’s renaissance right now, and his matches, as great as they are, are being overshadowed by better matches on the same card.

    • So where do both guys go after this? Well, there’s a very well-liked former champion who’s returning to NXT very soon, so either one of these guys could dance with him.

    Closing Words

    TakeOver: London was a great show, as TakeOvers usually are. It gave you what you wanted and then some. But honestly, it could have been more. The main event felt lacking and a lot of fan favorites aren’t even on the show. Still, this is two great hours of wrestling that you should watch. This live special earns a B+.


    Jocs Boncodin (@caboncodin) is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry. He answers tweets by day and watches wrestling by night. An aspiring writer, Jocs spends most of his idle time fantasy booking angles and overthinking wrestling storylines. A big fan of the WWE, his introduction to the local online wrestling community Smark Gilas-Pilipinas has opened his eyes to the wonders of puroresu and lucha libre. He currently handles Smark Hen-XT, smarkhenry.ph's weekly NXT review.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (12/16/15): British Invasion Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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