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    Friday, January 15, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (1/13/16): Battalia Royale

    This week, we determined the new Number 1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship and three men staked their claim for Finn Balor’s NXT title. Plus, the winners of the NXT Year-End Awards were revealed

    Over the top… rope.

    Over the top rope battle royals are always messy. There’s just too many people to direct for it to be polished, but nevertheless, this week’s main event was fun. A lot of the big moments in the match made sense even if the middle part was chaotic.

    The first decision they got right was having everyone back away from Asuka. This hammered down the point that Asuka isn’t to be fucked with. Everyone knew that. Okay, maybe not Eva Marie, but that’s because her head’s too far up her own ass to acknowledge that. And of course, she got her head kicked in for her troubles, which set up the finish.

    The second decision that was smart was taking Eva Marie out of the whole match. That way, we didn’t have to suffer through 10 minutes of her not knowing what the fuck to do and add more heat to her character. Right now, Eva Marie is the perfect heat magnet, and the idea of her winning when she barely did anything gave Carmella, the eventual winner, more support than anything else she would have done.

    The third decision that really sold me on this battle royal was to have Emma and Asuka dominate the match. Everyone had their little parts, but those two just did most of the work, which was the best thing to do with them. With them being your most talented and experienced girls in the ring, having them carry the match—and the division, alongside NXT Women’s Champion Bayley—was the right call. It would have been so much more of a mess if they didn’t take control.

    A lot of interesting potential match-ups were presented as well. Asuka may well be on a head on collision with Eva Marie, and by extension, Nia Jax. Peyton Royce turning on her former tag partner Billie Kay should give both girls a nice little program to get each other over. Alexa Bliss teeing off with Emma should be fun. Not sure where Liv Morgan was going with the powerbomb spot (which she and Cameron botched badly), but it’s an interesting angle for her to try out power moves. There are plenty of avenues they could explore with the outcome and interactions that were shown.

    All in all, it wasn’t the best battle royal, but it certainly was more than serviceable. I question the decision to give Carmella, a babyface, the win and Number 1 contendership against an insanely over babyface champion, but the Princess of Staten Island is talented and over, so this should be a fun title match.

    A Canadian, a Samoan, and a Werewolf went inside a bar...

    At long last, Full Sail welcomed back Sami Zayn who announced his plan to be the first two-time NXT Champion. Samoa Joe came out to remind Zayn that the last time the Likeable One had a title match, the Samoan Submission Machine had to save his ass. Baron Corbin joined the fray, telling Joe that at least he was victorious at London and proclaimed himself the uncrowned champ. The Lone Wolf ate a Helluva kick for his troubles and Zayn and Joe stared each other down. Later in the the show, it was announced that all three men will face each other in two weeks’ time for the right to face the champ, Finn Balor.

    First off, Zayn hasn’t lost his touch on the mic. He’s still the corny likeable guy that turned him into one of NXT’s biggest stars. We saw that he can still go during NXT’s tour of the UK, so it’s great to see him back in the title mix. Second, Joe’s being the Joe we love seeing. Him threatening Zayn was an easy but effective way to get heat, plus, reminding everyone of his debut is a great nod to their history. I sort of feel Corbin shouldn’t have even come out, though. He felt out of place with two of NXT’s giants in the same ring talking. He was a bit awkward on the mic, and boy, he got schooled by both guys. At this point, he works better as a silent monster but I understand the need for him to develop his promo work.

    The triple threat match should be fun. With Corbin and Joe, expect some stiff strikes, and Zayn rarely gives us a bummer of a match, so this will be good. Any of these guys can deliver on a great program for the title.

    And the winners are…

    NXT quietly had their own little awards thing going on after being left out of the Slammys. First things first, I have to say, the golden ring bell looks far classier than that stupid trophy they use for the Slammys. Now, the fans have voted and here are the winners:

    • TakeOver of the Year: Brooklyn

    • Match of the Year: Sasha Banks (c) vs Bayley, TakeOver: Brooklyn

    • Tag Team of the Year: Enzo and Cass

    • Female Competitor of the Year: Bayley

    • Male Competitor of the Year: Finn Balor

    • Overall Competitor of the Year: Finn Balor

    The only winner I’m scratching my head with would be Balor taking Overall Competitor. I get that he has a lot of fans, but that should have gone to Bayley. Her whole arc from her slump in the beginning of the year, to her redemption arc, to winning and defending the Women’s Championship showed that she anchored her division and shined brighter than anyone. Balor was great, but Bayley was the best.

    I’m also hoping that next time, they add a bit more fanfare to this. It seems like a cop-out that the awarding ceremony and acceptance speeches happened backstage. The fans voted for these guys; they should at least be allowed to celebrate with them.

    The rest of the show:

    Tommaso Ciampa def. Danny Burch

    • Would you look at that, Ciampa won a match! A squash match, for sure, but at least he’s on the right end of things now.

    • If Ciampa is here to stay, then portraying him as a stiff striking SOB is the right way to go. He has enough indy cred to be cheered as a babyface, but he also has a style that could easily translate as a heel fighter.

    NXT Tag Team Champions Dash & Dawson def. The Ascension

    • Already said this before, but I have to say it again, Full Sail sure does love Konnor and Viktor, and them Ascension boys do love performing in front of the NXT faithful. Their best outings since getting called up are, ironically, down at Full Sail, even if they end up losing most of the time. Maybe they need another run down home?

    • Dash & Dawson once again showcased their no nonsense style—no flips, just fists. This is working for them, but honestly, beating the Ascension doesn’t really mean as much now as it did a year ago.

    • I’m excited to see who steps up to face the champs, though. Will Enzo and Big Cass get another shot? Or would the inevitable come to pass and the team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable get the nod?

    “The Drifter” Elias Samson def. Corey Hollis

    • What the fuck is up with Elias Samson? I mean really. Is he supposed to be some guitar slinging hobo? Why is there no guitar slinging then? Is he like a hipster Jeff Jarrett?

    • Not impressed with the squash match, but I sure do like his swinging neckbreaker. Not finisher material in my eyes, but a pretty move nonetheless.


    This week’s episode was a great way to kickoff the new year for NXT. The opening segment and the main event were great. The middle matches could have been better, but at this point, establishing where we’re heading with the top of the card is more important. 2015 was a big year for the brand, and consistently delivering on entertaining shows weekly will be the key to staying ahead of the competition. This episode gets a B+.

    Enjoyed the battle royal? Excited to see Zayn face off against Joe and Corbin? Any idea what “The Drifter” is? Let us know and drop us a comment!

    Photos 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 (1/13/16): Battalia Royale Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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