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    Friday, April 8, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (4/6/16): Not Much

    This week, we get a quick recap of the awesome TakeOver: Dallas. We’re also looking at the recent call-ups. Finally, we get that match between Apollo Crews and Elias Samson that nobody wanted.

    Replay City

    Majority of this week’s episode was a recap of last Friday’s network special. After a quick introduction from Corey Graves and Tom Phillips, we’re brought to Stamford, Connecticut with their new interviewer Cathy Kelley. A lot of this is already on YouTube, especially the “network exclusive” post-match interviews. Nothing new here, but it’s always fun to see Nakamura-Zayn, even if it’s a Sparknotes edit of match.

    In all honesty, if you’ve seen TakeOver: Dallas, you can easily skip this episode with no problems. Why is this is even important, you might ask. Well, truth be told, this episode was for everyone who doesn’t have the WWE Network (which is a lot of people) and those where NXT primarily broadcasts from TV channels—like here in the Philippines on FOX. By presenting the matches in small, manageable pieces, you catch people’s interests while keeping them up to date with what’s happening.

    Another reason this episode is important for the WWE is to help out Cathy Kelley, their newest on-screen personality. She’s cut from the same vein as Renee Young: a TV host brought in by the WWE as a correspondent. It won’t be surprising to see Kelley compared a lot to Young—and that’s a tough act to follow—but I’m excited to see what she brings to the table. She mostly read from the prompter and didn’t have many insights to add to the recaps, but that would change as soon as she gets more comfortable on-screen and when WWE starts trusting her with more responsibilities. I’d love to see her work the commentary table with Graves and Phillips in the future.

    Gutting the Roster

    Something I want to touch on is the group of recent call-ups on RAW and SmackDown. This week saw the main roster debuts of Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, and The Vaudevillains. That’s a solid group of guys that can help the main roster.

    Crews’ call-up is the head scratcher for me. He never really achieved anything on NXT, so seeing him get this nod is weird. Then again, he is an exceptional athlete with a great look, so his high-octane style will be a hit with the casual crowd. Not sure what his ceiling is, but depending on how his character gets written, he can either end up being one of WWE’s spot-specialists (think Kofi Kingston in the Royal Rumble match) or close to the top of the card.

    Corbin is a great big heel. Winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is a nice way to introduce him to the main roster, as it immediately puts a spotlight on him. His actions on RAW places him in a feud with Dolph Ziggler, an internet darling that’ll make him look strong.

    Enzo and Big Cass were over as fuck during their debut, and they got right to what they do best: talk. Their promo was a solid introduction of who they are and what they do. Feuding with the Dudley Boyz might not be my definition of high-profile match-up but the Dudleys still are a well-known team that are solid in the ring and can put-over the Realest Guys in the Room.

    The Vaudevillains got to strut their stuff on SmackDown when they faced the Lucha Dragons, so that should be fun as these two teams know each other well. Not sure how the larger crowd would take to their gimmick, but they are a talented duo. With the Realest Guys in the Room, they’ll inject some new life to the flailing main roster tag team division.

    Just Nope

    We finally get to our one match of the episode, the Crews-Samson match from Dallas. All things considered, this was an okay match. Samson wanted to sing his new song for Dallas, Crews came in, they fought, and the One-Man Nation won with the Toss Powerbomb. I just really couldn’t care about it.

    The “build up” to the match was mediocre. If there’s one thing worse than Samson’s Drifter gimmick, it’s him actually trying to sing—and failing miserably. I’m still awfully confused as to what the hell Samson is supposed to be (it would be okay if they just stick with him being a hobo), but a singer shouldn’t be one of them. I sure hope the next time WWE tries a singer gimmick, the person they get can actually do it. There’s nothing menacing about the Drifter, and him trying to terrorize people with singing doesn’t result in fear, it just fuels my annoyance. He’s still getting booed at, but I could feel it’s more directed to the guy rather than the gimmick, which is bad.

    Crews was his usual “video-game cheat mode” self. It’s impressive to see him do his thing from the no-hand kip up to the standing moonsault and the Toss Powerbomb, and he does it with so much ease. But without a great character backing all of it up, it’s all shallow to me. With the main roster call-up, I’d be really disappointed if this is it for Crews on NXT. He could have been really big on the yellow brand, but it feels like he didn’t achieve his full potential there. Here’s to hoping he can achieve more on the main roster.


    That’s it for this week’s TakeOver: Dallas recap episode. There’s not really much to grade here, so this week’s show gets an incomplete. No worries, though. Next week, we have the first of the post-TakeOver tapings and it features Shinsuke Nakamura and Austin Aries, so that should be fun!

    Still hungover from TakeOver: Dallas? Thoughts on Cathy Kelley? Let us know by dropping a comment!

    Photos from WWE.com


    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 (4/6/16): Not Much Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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