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    Sunday, August 21, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (8/20/16): Back to Brooklyn

    On this special edition of Smark Hen-XT, we take a look at TakeOver: Brooklyn II, and boy, was it awesome glorious.

    Austin Aries def. No Way Jose

    We kicked off the show with the Greatest Man that Ever Lived facing No Way Jose. It was a pretty solid match that set the pace for the show. Aries played the cowardly, but dastardly heel here as he tried to avoid Jose until he could have great position. Jose used his size and strength advantage, but was overcome by Aries’s veteran experience. A-Double got the win after locking in the Last Chancery.

    The story of the match though came after the win, when Aries decided to put Jose in the Last Chancery again, only to be stopped by Hideo Itami. After a brief exchange, the Japanese superstar was able to hit the Go to Sleep on Aries, much to the delight of the Brooklyn crowd.

    First things first, Jose looked like he belonged in that ring with a veteran like Aries. He matched his opponent punch for punch. That there already is more to his gimmick outside of "Dancing Latino" is a good sign. He might not be championship material, but he can definitely be more than a comedy guy at the bottom of the card.

    Aries showcased how big he could be as a heel. He’s essentially playing a similar role as Chris Jericho, a veteran heel that can bring out good work for the newcomers. For sure, he has the experience and credibility to be a top level heel at NXT. I’m a bit worried that he might get lost in the shuffle with NXT stacked with great main event players, though. But give credit where credit is due: he might find himself stuck in the midcard, but he can definitely put on a show when he’s on point.

    Lastly, Itami finally hitting the GTS on live TV was brilliant, and the pop for it was insane. After finishing his last two matches with the Busaiku Knee Kick, Itami is finally reclaiming his rightful finishers, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was worried that he wasn’t on the card for this TakeOver, but his segment—though short—puts him in a very nice program with a great opponent. This upcoming Itami-Aries feud can catapult each guy to a title shot.

    Ember Moon def. Billie Kay

    The woman formerly called Athena made her debut on the card’s second match, and she was great. She showcased an athleticism that will surely endear her to the NXT Universe. Her finisher, a diving corkscrew stunner, is pretty insane. There were several miscues, but all in all, a pretty solid introduction to Ember Moon.

    I’ve gotta say, though, Billie Kay wasn't bad here. If anything, she impressed me as well. The loss might stop her momentum a bit, but it shouldn’t completely derail her from being the top heel of the Women’s division. That’s in the future, though, and right now, the division is dangerously thin on top-level competitors. With Bayley on her way out, there aren’t really any true challengers for the champion. Moon looks to be the next top face of the division, but she’ll need to get some more momentum before she becomes a credible challenger. The faster she—and the rest of the division—can develop, the faster the division’s rebuild is going to be.

    Bobby Roode def. Andrade “Cien” Almas

    Bobby Roode made his in-ring debut against Cien in an entertaining match. Roode took control early; he used his strength advantage and veteran know-how to dominate the young Mexican while taunting him. Almas came back using his speed and agility, but the Glorious One was always a step ahead. Roode picked up the win with the Glorious Bomb, his version of the pumphandle drop.

    Everything about Roode in this match screams “Superstar”. His entrance alone made him look like a god descending from the heavens (just for comparison, Cien looked like the male stripper from hell trying to spoil the party). This was clearly a showcase match for the debuting Roode, and it was great. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him.

    Cien Almas still got a lukewarm reception from the Brooklyn crowd, but slowly won them over as the match went on. I still think he could use a heel turn, as the NXT’s usual “indy hero” gimmick clearly isn’t working for him. He could use an edge to his character—something I can latch onto—so that I could care about him.

    The Revival (c) def. Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship

    Holy cow, this match. Tag team wrestling is making a wave down at NXT, and much of the credit for this resurgence has to be given to the current NXT Tag Team Champions, The Revival. These guys just know tag team wrestling.

    The top guys of the Tag Team division showed why they’re ruling the roost right now. Their old-school style was on full display; their psychology was great when they isolated Ciampa and divided the ring so well. They would adapt on the fly when Gargano ran in and targeted his knee for Scott Dawson’s Inverted Figure Four Leglock.

    Gargano and Ciampa, who seem to call themselves #DIY now, fought hard, though. They’ve been on a roll lately, and even in losing, they looked like stars. They showed that they could hang with any team right now. It was only when Ciampa got taken out and Gargano was forced to close the match on his own did their work breakdown.

    The storytelling was on point in this match. The Revival looked like the arrogant champions, while Ciampa and Gargano were the gutsy underdogs. That false finish where the indy darlings were celebrating only for referee Drake Wuertz to wave off the three count was heartbreaking. Everyone was brilliant in telling the story. This has to be one of the best matches not just of the night, but also of the year. I hope there’s a rematch, and when that happens, it’d be going on the main event. These guys deserve it as much as the women did last year.

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

    This had to be the match with the best build-up going in. The much-anticipated rematch between former NXT Women’s Champion Bayley and current champ Asuka was so masterfully hyped. Can anyone beat the Empress of Tomorrow? Can the Hugster recreate that fairytale ending from last year’s Brooklyn show?

    Turns out the answer to both questions was a heartbreaking no, but that didn’t quite matter as we were treated to one of the best matches of the night. Bayley wasn’t quite the underdog as she was last year, but we know the odds were stacked against her. Still, she gave as much as she took, but Asuka was just so dominant.

    There’s no one like the NXT Women’s Champion Asuka. The closest analogy has to be Brock Lesnar. She’s so dominant and violent, but so charismatic that she successfully straddles the heel-face binary. This was in the forefront throughout the match. She enjoyed dishing out pain and punishment on her challenger, but she was just so good at what she does that you couldn’t help but cheer for her. She had an answer for everything Bayley did, and at the end, a sharp kick to the head got her the win.

    It wasn’t quite the heartwarming story that Bayley fans were hoping to see, but you can see why Bayley was called the heart and soul of NXT. She is the purest babyface in the industry, and you can’t help but admire her never say die attitude. If this was her last match for NXT, it was the best way to go.

    Corey Graves had the perfect response when asked if he knew what it took the beat the champ. He didn’t know. I don’t think anybody can beat her right now, but it would be a hell of a rub to anyone who can do it. For now, I’m going to enjoy watching as she continues her path of destruction.

    Shinsuke Nakamura def. Samoa Joe to win the NXT Championship

    Man, this was stiff. This was Strong Style at its best—showcased by two of the best workers in the style. Joe and Nakamura threw everything they had at each other, and boy, it was beautiful violence.

    The start of the match had a very shoot-style, MMA-esque vibe, with both guys trading takedowns and jockeying for position. This was a great way to show that Strong Style isn’t just about punching really hard; it’s about bringing that gritty realism in combat sports to professional wrestling and using it as a storytelling medium. And they told such a great story.

    Joe, as dominant as he can be, isn’t immune to the hubris and anger that are controlling him. Nakamura felt that fury and anger in all those stiff strikes and crushing submission, but the famed Japanese fighting spirit can’t be conquered. The King of Strong Style returned every shot with vicious strikes of his own, and in the end, a couple of Kinshasas spelled the doom for Joe’s title reign and probably his jaw.

    What a way to kickstart Shinsuke Nakamura’s run as the top dog of NXT. Samoa Joe is on another level right now, and beating him gave Nakamura another notch on his already impressive belt. You couldn’t have given a better opponent for Nakamura, as he got an opponent that could match him blow by blow. A rematch should be in the books, and if it’s anything like this first one, it’s going to be brilliant.


    Last year’s TakeOver: Brooklyn was arguably one of the best shows NXT had delivered in its existence. The second one was close to achieving that same level of greatness. The undercard gave us glimpses of a promising future for NXT, while the championship bouts were all supremely brilliant matches. Once again, the main roster has a lot of work to do for SummerSlam to top this show. TakeOver: Brooklyn II gets an A+.

    Thoughts on TakeOver: Brooklyn? 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 (8/20/16): Back to Brooklyn Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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