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    Friday, August 19, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (8/17/16): The Eve of War

    This week, we check out the card for this Saturday’s (or Sunday, MNL time) TakeOver: Brooklyn and make predictions. Also this week, Hideo Itami’s in action, and three new superstars debut for the Women’s division.

    Prediction Time

    There are six announced matches for TakeOver, including three title matches and two big debuts. Let’s take a look:

    • Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe (c) for the NXT Championship - This is going to be a brawl. Joe and Nakamura are two of the best strikers in the WWE right now, so expect stiff shots and a whole lot of hurt for both guys. The buildup wasn’t quite up to par for me—with a bigger focus being put on Joe’s beef with GM William Regal—but Nakamura’s mind games these past two weeks have put him squarely in the champion’s sights. At this point, I think Nakamura has to win the title. WWE and NXT have invested a lot into his brand right now, so losing isn’t going to cut it. Plus, losing the title would only further incense Joe, which adds more fuel to the fire against Regal.

    • Bayley v Asuka (c) for the NXT Women’s Championship - The rematch is finally going to happen, and it’s quite fitting that Bayley works what could be her last match for NXT in the same place she first won the title. Asuka has played the role of confident champion quite well, and this confidence had led to a far more dangerous opponent. She showed that when she toyed with Aliyah a couple of weeks ago. Bayley claims to have changed since the match at Dallas, but I don’t think that would be enough to stop the Empress of Tomorrow. Asuka retains the title, and Bayley’s getting called up to the main roster soon enough.

    • Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs The Revival (c) for the NXT Tag Team Championship - The Revival is arguably the best tag team in the WWE, but Gargano and Ciampa are two of the hottest acts right now. The indy darlings have racked up some great wins against NXT tag teams and showcased great chemistry. Add an excellent showing in their match in the Cruiserweight Classic, and their stock is as high as it could be. I can’t decide who needs the belt more, though. Realistically, The Revival is bound for a call-up sooner or later. But only have reclaimed the title at the last TakeOver, it seems like a poor choice to have them drop the title again this soon. The timing for Gargano and Ciampa winning the championship couldn’t be better, but can they keep the viewers interested once the CWC hype dies down? It’s a tough call, but I’m willing to gamble on Gargano and Ciampa here.

    • Bobby Roode vs Andrade “Cien” Almas - Ah, Andrade, we hardly knew you. After a lukewarm reception from the NXT Universe, the luchador formerly known as La Sombra is set to go against NXT’s newest superstar, Bobby Roode. Honestly, Roode’s going to win this. I cannot see him losing in his debut match. I feel bad that Cien is ending up jobbing to a better guy a couple of months after debuting, but with his run never really taking off, this is a good time to reboot him. Maybe turn him heel, you know, and act like he’s Ingobernable.

    • Austin Aries vs No Way Jose - The Greatest Man that Ever Lived isn’t doing quite great this past few months, coming off a loss against current number one contender, Nakamura, at The End…, but the heel turn was a welcome change. Let him be the dick he truly is, and build him up again as a legitimate threat to anyone. This is also a great opportunity for Jose to showcase himself to a larger crowd. His career will really take off with a great performance at Brooklyn, win or lose. Aries gets the W here.

    • Ember Moon vs Billie Kay - The wrestler formerly known as Athena finally debuts at TakeOver, and I am excited for this. With the Women’s division gutted during the WWE Draft, NXT needed to stock up on talent, and my biggest fear was that everyone would look green. This certainly isn’t the case for Moon, as she’s a talented worker with great indy experience. Look for her to quickly rise up the ranks. I’m a bit bummed with her opponent though. There really aren’t any top tier heels in the division, and feeding the one person who seems to be in line for the spot to a debuting star is going to kill Billie Kay’s momentum. I hope she can bounce back when Moon defeats her.

    That’s a stacked card poised to once again steal the show this weekend. Comparisons to last year’s Brooklyn show are inevitable, but I, for one, believe that this year’s edition has what it takes to live up to the hype. This going to be a great show.

    The Rest of the Show:

    Hideo Itami def. Mustafa Ali

    • Itami once again destroyed a former CWC contender with the Busaiku Knee Kick as he tries to bounce back from his year-long absence.

    • The odds are really stacked against Itami this time. When he first debuted, he was unique. Now he’s probably sharing the spotlight with Nakamura, and that is an unenviable task. I liked the aggressiveness he’s showing, and the commentary team is really doing a good job playing up the feeling of frustration Itami probably felt during his year on the shelf. A heel turn might be in line somewhere in the future, and that might be a great option for Creative to consider.

    Carmella, Liv Morgan, and Nikki Glencross def. Alexa Bliss, Mandy Rose, and Daria Berenato

    • Two recent SmackDown Live call-ups teamed up with rookies in a showcase match for the future of the Women’s division.

    • Carmella might have picked up the win for her team, but it’s clear that this was for the newcomers. Morgan played a great face-in-peril, Berenato, cuts an imposing figure, and Glencross had great energy throughout the match. The jury’s still out on Mandy Rose, but with her stint in Total Divas last season, she has a ready-made heel angle to work with.

    • Still, as newcomers are, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Morgan, Glencross, Berenato, and Rose will have to improve leaps and bounds before they can truly touch the likes of Asuka and the debuting Ember Moon. I have no worries though. If NXT could produce a great crop of talent in the Four Horsewomen, as well as Bliss and Carmella, they could do wonders for the new girls.

    Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe interview

    • Before they face off at Brooklyn, both champion and challenger have a sit down interview with Byron Saxton while surrounded by security.

    • I gotta love that Joe used that small line by Regal where he had to consult Asuka first before finalizing the Women’s Championship match, while he had no qualms about declaring a number one contender without any input from the NXT Champion. I love that attention to detail, and it further justifies Joe’s heat against the GM.

    • Nakamura is his usual eccentric self here, which further infuriates the champ. I like mind games, and Nakamura comes off as extremely confident here, but it makes the champ look like he’s not a threat. I understand the point was to show how unbalanced the champ is with his anger seemingly controlling him right now, but the champ look ineffective without Nakamura getting some sort of comeuppance before the match.


    With TakeOver: Brooklyn just days away, NXT did a great job shaping the card. It’s a stacked card with potential match of the year candidates there, so I have high hopes for the show. As for a go home show, this episode certainly delivered on hyping up the live event while teasing the future of the show. This gets a B+.

    Excited for TakeOver? Thoughts about the card? Drop us a comment below!

    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 (8/17/16): The Eve of War Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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