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    Friday, June 30, 2017

    Smark Hen-XT (6/28/17): Kill Your Darlings

    For the third day in a row, the women close out their respective shows with a great match as NXT Women's Champion Asuka defended her title against SAnitY’s Nikki Cross in a Last Woman Standing match. This had been a feud almost half a year in the making, and finally getting to see them work one-on-one is brilliant.

    The stipulation brought out the best of both women. Cross thrived in the chaos; she delivered one of the best hardcore performances in WWE in ages. But it wasn’t just the spots—her character work was brilliant here. That deranged smile of hers makes her one of the best characters in the division, and it was on full display here, even in her loss. You can see the honest glee every time she got to do something totally insane. And even as she was getting her ass handed to her by the champion, she was smiling and biding her time before she can smash her way back into the match. (Also, much props to CFO$ for giving Cross her own SAnitY theme remix. I dig the techno-horror vibes)

    Asuka herself was no slouch. We already know how dangerous the Empress is with her hands and feet, but she matched Cross for each hardcore spot as well. Trapping Cross in the trash can and kicking the living shit out of her opponent was one of the best spots of the night. She also sold Cross’s offense well, and I legitimately felt worried about her after a couple of spots. It’s a miracle she isn’t dead after that powerbomb spot on the chairs and ramp. If there were any doubt about how tough the NXT Women’s Champion is, this match erased it. She’s the baddest woman in the company, and she looks even more unstoppable now. You can only imagine the pop when someone—maybe Ember Moon—finally dethrones the Empress.

    I’ve been waiting for the Asuka/Nikki Cross one-on-one match ever since January, and to see it unfold in a Last Woman Standing match was a dream come true. When you have two of the best wrestlers in the company killing themselves for your entertainment, you can’t help but stand in awe. Every spot made sense in some sick twisted logic, and the action kept on escalating at just the right pace. You really have to watch this match to see how fucking impressive it was.


    The Rest of the Show:

    • Mauro Ranallo joined NXT’s commentary team: It’s great to have Ranallo back on commentary. He’s someone who’s passionate about the business, and you can hear it when he speaks. NXT is a better environment for him, as he can anchor the booth well and he has a great partner that matches his style well in Nigel McGuinness. Here’s hoping everything turns out well for the man.
    • Velveteen Dream def. HoHo Lun: This was not the best way to start the show. HoHo Lun was arguably the worst performer to reach the second round of the Cruiserweight Classic, and the jury’s still out on Dream. He’s young and promising, and his commitment to the gimmick is laudable. That said, there’s still work to be done with his skill inside the ring, and his finisher still sucks.
    • Hideo Itami def. Oney Lorcan: You had to realize it was just a matter of time before these two guys legitimately hurt each other in their stiff strike fests. Lo and behold, Lorcan wrecked Itami’s nose with his first move. The Creative team did a great job at working around the injury. Having Itami walk back out to the ring even after having his nose broken made him look tough, and we still got the hard-hitting match we know both guys could put on. Itami taking advantage of an “injured” Lorcan was a great way to get some heat. Itami called out Kassius Ohno after the match to work on their budding beef, but they got jumped by SAnitY.
    • SAnitY promo: Man, this was different. Who knew Alexander Wolfe can work the mic? He said nothing new and just reiterated Eric Young’s mission statement, but he was solid on the stick. Between his body movements (on a side note, I would love to see him rock a whole promo while laying on the ground) and his thick accent, the promo accentuated the madman persona he’s been developing as part of SAnitY. Good job.


    You can skip the first five minutes of the show, no problem, but everything after that is gold. The Itami/Lorcan match was stiff as hell, and the visual of a bloody Itami destroying Lorcan is a sight to see. The Last Woman Standing match is definitely must-see TV this week. We have a couple more title defenses in the next few weeks, as Bobby Roode defends the NXT Championship against Roderick Strong next week, and Heavy Machinery getting a shot at the Authors of Pain’s Tag Team Championship the week after, but they’ll be hard pressed to outdo this match. This week’s episode gets an A-.

    Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know by dropping 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 (6/28/17): Kill Your Darlings Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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