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    Saturday, April 11, 2020

    Smark Hen-XT (4/8/20): Rebel Heart's Rebel Wife

    Part 2 of not-NXT TakeOver: Tampa took place during the episode as we found two of our original TakeOver matches on this week's card. The supposed final encounter between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was on the main event while the six-woman ladder match opened the show both to puzzling but better results than the previous weeks.

    First off, I'm happy with Io Shirai getting the win and having her face new NXT Women's Champion Charlotte Flair... Unless Flair's second reign becomes one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it runs, then this simply means Shirai is there to give the Queen her first solid feud—you know that first feud which is meant to establish dominance? This is that one.

    Still, I'm not too sad about it. I've always enjoyed Shirai's work and a chance to work with Flair means an opportunity to showcase her skills. Maybe that'll help pull her out of that booking rut they have had her in over the past year. For all we know, this could be her ticket to move her to SmackDown or RAW seeing as a lot of new names have come up over the past weeks.

    Meanwhile, Candice LeRae seems to have kept herself busy after failing to secure the victory in this ladder match. She made her presence felt the whole night as she also inserted herself during the main event. She teased playing a tweener to the two before turning on Johnny only to double-cross Tommaso Ciampa in the end.

    If this is the finale of Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, I'm all up for it. But if this is going to be the start of an evil power couple run between Johnny and Candice, then, by all means, sign me up. Candice has been used sparingly in the brand and this could be the fresh start she needs. This is also the boost that Johnny needs to reinvent himself apart from playing the plucky underdog.

    What does this all mean for Ciampa though? I am not totally sure but maybe that Killer Kross appearance during the end of the show could be a clue. Sure, it wasn't really acknowledged, but I doubt they're there for Johnny and Candice. It'd make more sense for a psycho like Kross to target the biggest fish in NXT (besides the champion), which is Ciampa.

    As for Johnny, he could move forward and perhaps set his sights on Keith Lee's NXT North American Championship? That's if Velveteen Dream doesn't capture the gold from Adam Cole in the coming weeks. I can totally see Candice going after Charlotte so maybe that's her next goal after Shirai/Flair is done. But Johnny? He should keep himself busy with Lee until the chance to target Dream (and possible gold) arises.

    This show was a little better than I expected, although it felt longer than I would have preferred—especially that main event match which felt like hours to me. Was the finale good? Yes, because of the camera cuts used and the drama surrounding the match. But also, no, because as I've said over the past month, this has been going on for far too long and this ran like forever.

    I did like the twist ending—contrary to other Smark Henry writers' opinions—so that's a positive. But then, it also leaves things open-ended. So Ciampa apologized but Gargano still turned on him. I'm sure Ciampa's not a man to let that go, but it looks like Mr. and Mrs. Gargano are both moving forward. It's a little confusing but I'm sure this will all be addressed in the coming weeks.

    NXT has a bright future ahead of it as always—but that's if they stick with the programs that they are looking to build. Please, no more Gargano/Ciampa matches for the time being and, please, don't drop the ball with Shirai. With NXT stars moving left and right to RAW and SmackDown, the Black and Gold needs to pick stars who they'll focus their resources on while also looking to the future and investing in the rookies—like Rinku, Saurav, and Malcolm Bivens.

    Grade: B-
    Match to Watch: Six-Woman Ladder Match


    • Even with the history between Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai, I didn't feel any heat between them. Their interactions were lackluster for my taste.
    • So will Chelsea Green (and Robert Stone) ever accomplish anything here? They've been around for some time but I still can't feel their importance.
    • That's it. Ciampa apologized. Should we go and forget about their history now?
    Were you perplexed by Candice LeRae's complex heel turn? Did you agree with the winner of the six-woman ladder match? When is Adam Cole going to face Velveteen Dream? Hit us up in the comments section below.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your master NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) while he pursues his musical career courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxRocks). 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 as an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (4/8/20): Rebel Heart's Rebel Wife Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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