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    Friday, September 22, 2017

    Smark Hen-XT (9/20/17): Pain and Pleasure

    PG doesn’t have to mean boring or stupid. It doesn’t have to be “just for kids.” It can be exciting and intriguing without treating the audience as idiots. This week, NXT proved PG can be sexy without being tacky.

    In a world where the fashion police are literally a thing and an undead necromancer wizard exists, the Velveteen Dream is a gimmick that’s problematic, to say the least. On one hand, we’re being presented with a hypersexualized individual who seemingly gets off on violence and dominance. And yet, in a PG-restricted TV show, NXT is limited to what they can and cannot do as they present him to the audience. This puts the brand in a tough corner as historically speaking, WWE only knows a few ways to treat characters like these, and that’s usually as a joke.

    This changed with Patrick Clark’s Velveteen Dream. Yes, the Prince-inspired look is eccentric and is not for everyone, but his dedication to his gimmick shows through his acting. Behind the eccentricities belies a more menacing motive, and this shows through his facial expressions and body movements. He’s telling more stories with how he carries himself than half the roster who gets more mic time or matches. I’ve said in the past that I want to be a fan of this character, as the man behind it is a good pro wrestler. He just needed the right dance partner and story to work with.

    That is why I think this budding feud with Aleister Black is brilliant. In Black, the Dream finds the perfect straight man to play his eccentric artist gimmick against perfectly. You can feel the sexual tension when the Dream dropped to his knees and stared down the sitting Black right up to his face, and yet with that tension came the sense of danger. Without uttering a threat—even going as far as mouthing “I forgive you” as he slithered away, the Dream’s body language was more threatening than Black kicking the mic out of his hands. NXT has subverted an act of submission when it promised pain rather than pleasure.

    Again, both the Velveteen Dream and this angle might not be for everyone, but you have to admire the courage of NXT’s Creative team and wrestlers for taking on this risk. This could easily turn into a PR nightmare with all the sensuality that doesn’t jive with what most people correlate with PG. But as long as they stay on course and book this carefully, this could be the moment the Dream breaks out.


    The Rest of the Show:

    • Johnny Gargano def. Tino Sabbatelli (w/ Riddick Moss): Oh thank god, this match was shorter than last week’s trainwreck. Sabbatelli looks to be the more complete worker between him and Moss, and his trash talking helped in driving Gargano’s angle more effectively than the extra minutes in the ring his partner got. Gargano’s acting was as crisp as last week, and he continues to thrive as NXT’s newest underdog babyface.

    • Bianca Belair def. Lacey Evans: These two were the standouts from the Performance Center contingent during the Mae Young Classic, and it showed in this match. While not a classic by any stretch, it showed us that these women can go right now while giving us a taste of their potential. Belair has star written all over her and giving her the win made sense, but don’t sleep on Evans just yet. They’re both strong talents with lots of room for growth.

    • Lars Sullivan def. No Way Jose: This squash match was okay. Sullivan showed off his impressive power here, and no doubt, he could be a big thing if he continues to round out his game. One thing I was not a fan off was his use of the diving headbutt. That move must die, and soon. I can’t have any more people fucking up their brains from that dumbass move.

    • reDragon (w/ Adam Cole) def. Mustache Mountain: This was a fine main event to wrap things up. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly’s MMA-inspired style isn’t for everyone, but they used it to great effect to bully their opponents. Trent Seven was a good face in peril, but the true star of the team was Tyler Bate. That man shows how unfair the world is sometimes because at 20 years young, everything he does in the ring was so crisp and perfect. Drew McIntyre and SAnitY showing up after the match to lay a beating on the Undisputed Era was good, as it furthered the angle between all men involved. Unlikely allies standing against a conquering foe is a well-worn trope, but it’s used effectively here. The Undisputed Era has been presented as a credible threat to everyone in the locker room, so having the NXT and Tag Team Champions standing together makes for a great visual to end the episode.


    This week’s episode of NXT was great. There weren’t any real bummer of a match on the card, and there was a good mix of star power and intriguing stories throughout the episode. In a card that featured Adam Cole and Drew McIntyre, the real star of this week’s episode was the Velveteen Dream and the Creative team for having the balls to do what they did this week. The episode gets an A-.

    Like what NXT is doing with the Velveteen Dream? Let us know and drop us a comment below.

    Photo 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 (9/20/17): Pain and Pleasure Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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