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    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (4/20/16): Graduation Day

    This week, more goodbyes are said when Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and Apollo Crews have what could be their last matches for the yellow brand as the NXT landscape continues to change.

    Swan Song

    In this episode, we get the swan song for Enzo, Big Cass, and Crews, and what a hell to go it was.

    The opening match had the Realest Guys in the Room taking on the NXT Tag Team Champions American Alpha in a great match. The tag champs took control early with Chad Gable and Jason Jordan keeping the smaller Enzo away from his partner. The second act found Big Cass dominating both amateur wrestling standouts. The hectic finish kicked off with a hot tag to Jordan and he cleaned house and threw Enzo around like a rag doll. The running corner shoulder tackle didn’t connect at first when Cass put himself in harm’s way, but his sacrifice didn’t matter as Jordan nailed his second attempt and it led to Grand Amplitude.

    The Realest Guys in the Room have improved leaps and bounds since they started back in 2012, and it shows when they can hang with the amateur wrestling standouts on the mat. No one expected them to out-wrestle American Alpha, but they did look good in the short time they controlled the match. They’re going to do great things on the main roster—we’ve already seen parts of it at Roadblock and RAW—but on this night, American Alpha was the better team.

    Jordan and Gable continue to impress, showcasing that incredible mix of athleticism, technical acumen, and insane charisma all throughout the match. They’re going to lead NXT’s (and the main roster’s, soon enough) tag division into new heights.

    In the main event, Crews faced off with an angry Samoa Joe and bit off more than he could chew. The Samoan Submission Machine dominated most of the match, grounding the high-flying Crews with stiff strikes and holds. The One-Man Nation tried to fight back using his athleticism and strength, but in the end, he fell short to the more experienced Joe, tapping out to the Coquina Clutch.

    This match best encapsulates Crews’s NXT run. He’s good, really good, but he doesn’t have what it takes to win the big matches. He has all the tools to succeed, but he doesn’t have that edge, that fire, that guys like Samoa Joe and Bálor have. That is the thing that RAW’s Creative team should fix. The gimmick is bland, but with the right angle and some added nuances, he could be a true star. He falls short tonight, as he is wont to do, but if handled properly on the main roster, it shouldn’t stay that way long enough.

    On the other hand, why is Samoa Joe still not NXT Champion (edit: news broke at Friday morning Manila time that Joe defeated Balor for the NXT Championship on a house show at Lowell, Mass)? He’s pretty much your best performer in the brand right now. I still question the decision to give Bálor the win at Dallas. A motivated Samoa Joe can go, but this obsessed one is just plain awesome. He’s menacing, like a hunter stalking his prey, and destroys almost everyone in the way. He could kill it as the leader of the brand with the NXT title, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he dominates on the brighter stage of RAW when the inevitable call up comes.

    So that’s the end of the NXT journeys of Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, and Apollo Crews. It’s been a fun ride for them and I’ve certainly enjoyed their work down at Full Sail. I’m not worried about their future on RAW as all three guys have the tools to succeed and have been given the opportunity early in their run. Hopefully that continues on throughout the rest of their careers.

    The Rest of the Show:

    No Way Jose def. Alexander Wolfe

    • The debuting Dominican Republic native got the W after a Fastball right hand overhead hook.

    • Corey Graves once again shows why he’s the best goddamn color commentator in the WWE by dropping this nugget of awesomeness: “Who is this Jose, and why is he always being denied?”

    • Jose seems to be a weird mix of Fandango and Xavier Woods, which seems to be the over-under on his potential. The gimmick might not fly, but we’ll probably get a dance move out of it. If Jose can show some skill on the mic, he could be a fun midcarder.

    • Awfully confused with his mannerisms in the ring though. Mixing up the whole dancing schtick with baseball mannerisms is weird. I get the dancing since that’s how he’s been presented, but the baseball stuff is a left field reference to him coming from Dominican Republic. Can he just stick with one and drop the other? The name could go either direction
      any way.

    Nia Jax def. Deonna Purazzo

    • Nia Jax utterly destroyed Purazzo in a one-sided match.

    • We’ve seen this before: Nia Jax comes in, dominates, hits her Atomic Leg Drop, and leave. End of match.

    • It looks like they’re building up Jax again as a contender for Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship. I’m certainly excited for that. We’ve seen what the Empress can do with women her size, so I would really like to see how she performs against a much larger opponent. Nia Jax, being the lone true hoss of the division, isn’t a terrible performer, just limited at this time. We’ve seen Bayley carry her to a great match back at London, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Asuka does the same.


    This week’s episode was certainly more fun than last week’s hectic affair. With longer, better crafted matches, this show was a great, if not a bit shorter than usual, episode. It also served as a great farewell to the recently called up guys, as they got to show their stuff even in losing efforts. This episode gets an A-.

    How do you see Crews, Enzo, and Big Cass performing on the main roster? Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know by dropping a comment!

    Photos from WWE.com and Uproxx


    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 (4/20/16): Graduation Day Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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