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    Friday, March 25, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (3/23/16): Inching Towards Dallas

    This week, number one contender Asuka once again locks up with Emma. Also on deck, both NXT Champion Finn Bálor and his challenger Samoa Joe makes their statements heading into Dallas.

    Once more, with feelings

    The joshi legend Asuka faced the evil Aussie Emma in this week’s main event in a rematch of their TakeOver: London bout. While not quite as memorable as their first match, both ladies put on a show. It was a back-and-forth affair showcasing vicious striking and some solid grappling. After a quick start from the number one contender to the Women’s Championship, Emma took control by bending the rules with some hair grabbing. Asuka fights back, and it turns into a strike fest that wouldn’t be out of place in an NJPW NEVER title match. The Empress of Tomorrow picked up the win after locking in the Asuka lock.

    Both women’s best matches have so far come from facing off from each. And with Emma recently re-debuting on the main roster, this might be the last time both ladies faced each other in a long time. While a win might not have been on the table, this is at least a great send off for the Aussie. On the other hand, with this feud coming to a close, it frees up Asuka for other match-ups after her title match at Dallas. This is a great win-win situation for the NXT Women’s division.

    The Rest of the Show:

    Johnny Gargano def. Elias Samson

    • Johnny Wrestling rolled up the Drifter for the win, and got beat down for his efforts. Apollo Crews ran in for the save.

    • Gargano picking up the win was a weird call, seeing as NXT Creative was hell-bent on making Samson look strong. Now he’s lost and whatever goodwill winning over him was wasted on someone who isn’t even signed. They probably should have milked Full Sail’s disdain for him a bit more, or waited for Dallas to do that.

    • That being said, Crews-Samson is going to be a stinker. I’d rather they’d have that match on the post-TakeOver episode than on the special itself, because honestly, these guys will probably just get buried behind the sheer star power of the rest of the card. Hell, I would rather have the usual 8-man tag match NXT is so fond of during their forays outside Florida on the main card than Crews-Samson.

    NXT Champion Finn Bálor def. Rich Swann in a non-title match

    • The NXT Champ picked up the win after nailing his newly re-christened 1916 single underhook lifting DDT.

    • I loved the music Swann came out to. It’s so fucking catchy. While it worries me that Creative might just drop him with your generic dancing African-American gimmick, at least this guy can move. It’s early into his WWE career, though, so once he establishes himself, we’ll hopefully see more to him than his awesome moves, both in the ring and on the dance floor.

    • Is Bálor turning heel? Not yet. He’ll probably do so soon, but as of now, he’s not really a heel yet. At this point, he’s just really intense, as if he just realized he barely survived his first match with Samoa Joe and now he has to go do that again at Dallas. This is a man who’s looking for a way to win, and seeing him channel his inner Joe and go for a more grappling-based offense in this match to get into the mindset his challenger will probably take.

    • Fun fact: 1916 is a reference to the Easter Rising, an armed insurrection in Ireland that lead to almost 500 deaths and thousands wounded. So in reality, he really didn’t tone down the name of Bloody Sunday.

    Alexa Bliss def. Sarah Dobson

    • Bliss picked up the win after the Sparkle Splash on Dobson.

    • Man, this was messy. It had several miscues—and a particularly scary botched diving crossbody where Dobson’s knee met Bliss’s nose—that really took away from the match. What should have been a great highlight for Blake & Murphy’s girl turned out really bad for both competitors.

    Samoa Joe destroyed Bull Dempsey and Danny Burch

    • Dempsey vs. Burch never started after Joe ran in and choked everyone out.

    • In exactly a minute and a half, Joe came in, delivered his statement, and got the story moving. That, my friends, is effective and efficient storytelling. He didn’t have to ramble for 20 minutes. A minute and a half was all that was needed and you’re already hyped for the main event of TakeOver: Dallas.


    With this week’s episode, the card for TakeOver: Dallas is finalized and everyone’s road to Texas is cleared. The main event was a great match and a fitting goodbye for Emma, and both Bálor’s match and Joe’s segment hyped up the NXT Championship match. This episode gets a B.

    Excited to see Bálor-Joe 2? Thoughts on the main event? Let us know by dropping 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 (3/23/16): Inching Towards Dallas Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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