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    Friday, May 21, 2021

    Smark Hen-XT (5/18/21): Bronson Reed's Gold Rush

    Hey hey! It's your boy, Migz, and I'm back to give you the down-low from the Black and Gold. I've been away from watching full wrestling shows for over a year now. I still follow some of the big storylines and debuts, but somehow, the concept of trying to dissect and understand everything happening on the show feels like a chore. But after watching the much enjoyable Most Wanted Treasures and hearing about show mainstay AJ Francis's debut on the NXT roster, I found myself checking out what's new with my favorite brand in WWE.

    I was surprised with how NXT basically gave away a PPV-quality match in Bronson Reed vs. Johnny Gargano on free TV. The championship stakes along with the big match stipulation really made the match a spectacle that you'd expect in a TakeOver show. The truth is, while I'm not a fan of putting the championship on Reed, I'd say Gargano probably doesn't need the title or that much exposure as well. He's been the heart of the brand since his feud with Ciampa—and that's been a long while. This championship win opens the chance for Reed to feud with a lot of top heels while Johnny goes back to leading his protege Austin Theory and their troubles with Dexter Lumis.

    Speaking of The Way and Dexter Lumis, it looks like we're still seeing more of this pseudo-love story between Indi Hartwell and Lumis as this week's skit ended Hartwell declaring that "he still loves me." Maybe this one is more for Theory and Gargano to feud with Lumis, but you somehow have to wonder how the NXT Women's Tag Team Championship would fit into this storyline. I actually do wonder why they even gave Indi and Candice LeRae the titles when Johnny would lose his a week after.

    Perhaps the best thing going on in the brand right now is Cameron Grimes's skit-loaded feud with "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. It's exaggeratedly humorous, but Grimes carries the part well that I don't really question even if things go outlandish. He's a talented in-ring performer as well so the guy has tons of potential. It might be difficult to take a gimmick like this to the main event, but I can affirm that a run with the NXT North American Championship might do the guy wonders.

    Seeing the new faces being in the center of multiple storylines, I just had to try and identify which ones I could get into and which ones I felt needed more work. I like how Hit Row presented themselves but I'm not so sure about that name, though I dig the hip-hop vibes they bring to the table. For some reason, I feel they're trying too hard that it feels very cartoonish at times, kinda like those Saturday Night Live Blizzard Man skits, but only with more swagger. Their sign-off is dope though, so maybe they just need some time to get comfortable—and maybe I need to get AJ Francis' Most Wanted Treasures appearances off my head.

    We also got to see Sarray in action against Aliyah and Zoey Stark face off against Toni Storm. To be honest, I do like how they're just building the Women's Division with new faces again. But, I still have to ask why we've stuck stars like Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart into a tag team when they could be used elsewhere to help build the new stars. I guess it's the same thing with the Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher tag team—which, by the way, tried their hand at some comedy during a backstage interview. I can't find the value in keeping these two together when there are other things they could be doing.

    I suppose that's one of the things that the brand is dealing with at this point in time. We've got so many stars who would probably prefer to be held back on NXT (instead of being promoted to the main roster) and they've all faced each other in some fashion that we're stuck with so many named stars and plots that make less sense. So we're stuck with trying to make something fresh yet off-ish that I don't really know how to feel.

    NXT feels much different from when I last watched a full show. The new faces and the new storylines don't feel as engaging as they used to. I'm not totally an ageist. I do enjoy comedy or pop culture sometimes even if some of the things aren't up in my alley. I don't want the brand to be the same old people on top—Undisputed ERA, The Gargano's, Ciampa, Velveteen Dream (who's gone now, by the way). Okay, maybe I do miss the ERA a little. But only because I can't find anybody on this roster who is as cohesive and oozing charisma as the names I mentioned previously. Maybe I'll need to start investing time in the brand again, but as of now, I'm not as thrilled as I used to be.

    Show Grade: C+

    Match to Watch: Bronson Reed vs. Johnny Gargano (c) in a Steel Cage Match for the NXT North American Championship

    Not-So-Full Sails:

    • Toni Storm's new finisher is literally breath-taking.
    • I like B-Fab's look, but something about the way she talks bothers me. Maybe it reminds me of how Carmella used to talk?
    • Alexander Wolfe's surprise removal from Imperium was due to his contract expiring. There's not much to say besides the fact that I didn't really see it coming.
    Do you agree with the NXT North American title change? Are you happy with how the new faces in the NXT Women's Division are being built? How can NXT bounce back in terms of storylines? Hit us up in the comments section below.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (5/18/21): Bronson Reed's Gold Rush Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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