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    Friday, October 18, 2019

    Smark Hen-XT (10/16/19): The Ciampa's Here

    This week's big opening featured the official in-ring return of Tommaso Ciampa, and Angel Garza had the honor of being his first opponent. However, regardless of who was on the opposite end, I'm sure Ciampa wouldn't have had a hard time dispatching him. It does feel weird seeing him cheered because I've gotten used to the boos, but at this point, although I think he's being positioned to take a tweener role between Adam Cole and Finn Bálor.

    The more important part of this opener is the fact that The Undisputed ERA quickly stormed the stage at the end of the bout. It looked like they were going to storm the stage but held off at the last second as Kyle O'Reilly handed Mauro Ranallo a flash drivea drive that contained footage of Velveteen Dream being manhandled by the ERA.

    This is one of the great aspects of NXT. They handle their stories fluidly, which then allows the rivalries to bleed into other feuds as well. While initially, most of their actions don't immediately lead to one another, when they deliver that connecting segment, it feels as if natural and not forced in any way.

    With the way they're running things, my initial guess is that Ciampa, Dream, and Bálor will be put into a makeshift team to face the ERA in a WarGames match. WarGames season is upon us, so this idea is highly probable. It also helps keep the title on Adam Cole while delaying the inevitable big money one-on-one match between either man for Royal Rumble or WrestleMania weekend.

    Option two would be to put them in a three-way. Although if they do this, it will end up with someone losing momentum, and I don't think that's the plan with these three right now. Honestly, it's such a fun time to be a fan of NXT because the brand is flourishing with main event talent, and it will be a waste to kill their pushes as early as now.

    We then move on to the Dominik Dijakovic-Keith Lee showdown. It is slightly getting boring again because this is, what, their fourth bout in less than a year and it seems we're getting another next week. Now, don't get me wrong. I love it when these two big boys battle, but too much is just too much. They haven't really had much to fight for until today's stipulation.

    This next encounter does have a twist though which makes it more interesting than their previous ones. Roderick Strong will be in the middle of it all as the NXT North American Championship will be on the line for a three-way. I'm looking forward to Roddy trying to weasel his way out of this match or even just surviving until the end.

    My gut feeling tells me that he'll be retaining the championship, but I'm interested in seeing how it'll happen. His opponents just had a no-contest and if they let Roddy win easily, it will somehow invalidate how strongly they were made to look had during their feud's run. Hey NXT, let's prove to the world how to not book yourself into a corner just as your main roster brethren have done so earlier this month *cough* Hell in a Cell *cough*.

    Lastly, the main event of the night was a surprising choice. I already expected the rivalry between Damian Priest and Pete Dunne to materialize soon, but to see them do a one-on-one as early as now felt too fast. I was expecting a slow build between these two bruisers but the thought may be to have this feud to be part of the next NXT TakeOver.

    They can still develop the feud properly but, again, I didn't think it was smart for Priest to resort to cheating. It somehow eliminates the mystique of his character but does give Dunne a strong look. I'd love for NXT to hold off matches between the two for a while and just have backstage interactions or interruptions until the eventual blow-off match.

    Besides, as I said earlier about storylines intertwining, Killian Dain might have just put himself on Dunne's sights so expect these two bruisers to cross paths again soon. This could serve as a slight deviation for Dunne to avoid oversaturation of Dunne/Priest matches. The Dunne/Priest match could pass as a PPV match, so they need to hold off until at least next month.

    For the rest of the show, we saw the first Io Shirai/Rhea Ripley stand-off. We did not see this coming as we had imagined Belair would have had first dibs on Shirai. We also saw Imperium take care of resident tag jobbers, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. Tegan Nox's return against Taynara was also showcased. We also had Boa tap out to Dain via submission. Finally, Matt Riddle defeated Bronson Reed to complete this week's card.

    This week wasn't too bad; however, I think what NXT needs to do is to focus on developing a storyline that could help tie the start of the show to the end of it just as any of the main roster shows do. This is also why I enjoyed the very first two-hour USA Network episode, the show started and ended with the best faction in the brand. I felt this week still lacked the punch needed to knock AEW out but with the way it's turning out, I think it's still a close battle between the two.

    Grade: B+

    Match to Watch: Damian Priest vs. Pete Dunne

    Not-So-Full Sails

    • NXT UK wrestlers are being heavily featured on NXT. While I don't want to see the dissolution of NXT UK, it does feel weird to have them be a separate one when they also appear elsewhere.
    • As it stands, we have too many main-eventers on the show. It's a good problem to have but could turn into a bad one if they don't manage everybody's time properly. That said, I don't want to see names such as Velveteen Dream, Johnny Gargano, and Adam Cole on RAW or SmackDown Live for fear of being lost in the shuffle
    Who won this week's edition of the #WednesdayNightWars? Should Adam Cole face off against Tommaso Ciampa or Finn Bálor? Are you still excited for another Dominik Dijakovic vs. Keith Lee match? Sound off in the comments section below.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed style icon and NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of everything music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) as he sets on his journey to completely do things spontaneously. You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE2K19 (or any PS4) skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life being (and trying to be) an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (10/16/19): The Ciampa's Here Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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