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    Saturday, September 29, 2018

    Smark Hen-XT (9/26/18): Heavy Underdog

    Tommaso Ciampa vs. Otis Dozovic should have just been a one-off throwaway match on NXT TV. It wasn't a match I was excited about and it certainly wasn't a match I thought I'd speak highly of after having watched it.

    My oh my, was I wrong.

    There was a built-in story here since Dozovic accused Ciampa of being Aleister Black's attacker, which ties in to the larger "Whodunnit?" story arc that the rest of NXT has been revolving around since Black got injured. But there was also the secondary story of Ciampa asserting himself as the top dog on NXT now that he's NXT Champion. Dozovic represented someone who dared stand up and defy him—regardless of how silly Heavy Machinery normally are. That's still someone who didn't want to cower in fear to him, therefore, he had to be put down.

    Given that context into the match, I enjoyed how Dozovic displayed moxie in the ring by hanging with Ciampa. It was logical to see him dominate early on because of his size and power advantage. Once the champ got the upper hand, however, we got to see the cunning and opportunism that led him to the title. Dozovic was never meant to have a 5-star classic NXT main event and be catapulted into #1 contender status after this week's episode. But that wouldn't have crossed your mind as you saw this match.

    You also have to give it to Ciampa, who really sold Dozovic's offense and made his opponent look like a million bucks. During Dozovic's comeback, there was a small part of me that actually began to believe that he could actually pull out a surprise victory. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, even after Tucker Knight showed up to block Ciampa's exit and force the champ back in the ring.

    Side note: because of Knight's body language, I actually thought he'd turn on Dozovic. Then again, why would they do that? There wouldn't be much of a story to go on if Heavy Machinery were to break up. Oh, wrestling logic. Why do you mess with my brain this way?

    Anyway, that was a really good match to close the show. Dozovic proved me wrong and really earned his place in the main event, while Ciampa continues to show the world why he is the true top guy on NXT today.

    Not-So-Full Sails

    • Props to NXT GM William Regal for not backing down, even when The Undisputed ERA were trying to intimidate him in the ring. Hell, I love the two title matches he booked them in for the next couple of weeks. But why couldn't Mr. Regal get on with his announcement regarding Aleister Black's attack? I mean, he put the ERA in their place. Why couldn't he just have made his announcement after the fact? 
    • I'm beginning to have confidence in Nikki Cross' role in this whole story. It's not farfetched that the crazy character actually knows who the actual culprit is. Mr. Regal, it is absolutely your responsibility to figure out what Nikki knows.
    • Vanessa Borne seems more and more comfortable in the ring, which is great as NXT continues to build the rest of the women's division. It's also good that Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women's Championship is officially set for Evolution. In the meantime, can we have someone like Funaki serve as a mouthpiece for our Japanese Superstars while they're trying to improve their English? Or better yet, why can't we just have the Japanese stars speak in Japanese the way the Mexican luchadors speak in Spanish (with English subtitles at the bottom of the screen) in Lucha Underground?
    • You know, Lacey Evans is actually in the right here. Why should we cut Candice some slack for not standing by Johnny Gargano's side at his lowest? The whole "separating my personal life and career" argument doesn't really work when you're supposed to be by your husband's side at his darkest. What happened to the shit couples promise one another in their wedding vows? Jeez, Candice.

    • The Velveteen Dream isn't a snitch. Sure. So why is he telling Cathy Kelley that "the writing is on the wall" anyway?
    • I am really looking forward to seeing Keith Lee make quick work out of Kona Reeves. Then again, based on how Keith Lee seemed to mock Kona, he isn't exactly 100% babyface either. To the uninitiated, Keith Lee could very well come across as a smarmy, arrogant prick. 
    • Welcome back, EC3! Apparently, he's so well-off that he could afford to throw his dress shirt into the audience after attacking Lars Sullivan in corporate attire. I really don't know how this man can pull it off without looking so restricted.
    • The Mighty are pretty good as heels. Hell, they look much better now, too. I don't know why it took us this long to get here. It's also hit me how deep the tag division is. From War Raiders to The Undisputed ERA, to The Mighty, Street Profits, Heavy Machinery, The Brit-Am Brawlers, Moustache Mountain, The Forgotten Sons, and maybe Cezar Bononi & Adrian Jaoude... That's at least nine teams. Now, when are we going to see a multi-team feud over the NXT Tag Team Championships?
    NXT went back to its more regularly-used format of having four quick TV matches, with a boatload of backstage and interview segments peppered in between. There's nothing too wrong with it. It just gets a bit stale the more it's used over and over. That said, Street Profits vs. The Mighty was solid, and Dozovic vs. Ciampa exceeded expectations. I'm not a fan of the "Whodunnit?" angle being stretched out way too much. At this point, I'm ready for William Regal to make an update and the fact that he withheld it from us just because The Undisputed ERA interrupted him screams "stretch, stretch!" That brings this week's episode down to a solid, but respectable B.

    Have you narrowed down your suspects for who attacked Aleister Black? Let's compare notes in the comments section below!

    Image from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (9/26/18): Heavy Underdog Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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