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    Friday, April 15, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (4/13/16): A Whole Lot of Nothing

    This week, NXT makes up for the lack of action last week by churning out six matches, including Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura’s TV debuts.

    The King and the Jester

    In this week’s main event, Shinsuke Nakamura debuted on NXT TV against Tye Dillinger. Now it wasn’t the 30-minute classic that his match with Zayn at TakeOver: Dallas was, but the King of Strong Style made it a fun affair nonetheless.

    This was a showcase match for Nakamura, which you might think is weird since there wasn’t any better showcase for him than the aforementioned Zayn match. But not every match he’ll have is going to be a 30-minute war. There are days where he’s going to do a six-minute squash match against a jobber and this was one of those days.

    Matching Dillinger’s natural comedic timing and Nakamura’s over the top charisma was a great call. Dillinger played the perfect fool for the King, and Nakamura played it up as well. Seeing him having to ask the referee to explain whatever the fuck the “Perfect 10” hand sign is was funny as hell. At the end of the day, Swagsuke did what Swagsuke does and kneed his opponent’s face off to pick up the win.

    If anything, this match proves Nakamura will entertain no matter what match he’s in. It would have been easy for him to just coast through the main event and it would have been understandable, but he still did his best to make it enjoyable. He’ll probably work another squash match before we actually see any story for him—hopefully it’ll be against someone like Samoa Joe or Finn Bálor—but if it’s going to be as fun as this one, I wouldn’t mind.

    Also, props for DIllinger for grading Alex Reyes a 3 and sticking a card with that number to his coat. That’s the kind of stupid shit I expect him doing all the time now.

    The Rest of the Show:

    Austin Aries def. Angelo Dawkins

    • Also debuting on NXT TV, A-Double nailed Dawkins with a Rolling Elbow to pick up the win.

    • This is the second time in a row that the Greatest Man That Ever Lived wasn’t really engaging. He was just there doing Austin Aries things. It doesn’t help that Angelo Dawkins is one of NXT’s token jobbers ever since he debuted 3 years ago. I wish they’d continued the feud with Baron Corbin. At least that gave him purpose.

    • I’ll say this though: the Rolling Elbow is a nice finisher. It’s a simple but high-impact move he can pull out of nowhere, so if Creative’s planning to keep him as a face, it’s a good move to get a great pop.

    • I feel bad for Angelo Dawkins. He’s been through a handful of gimmick changes by now and he’s still the same jobber as he was when he debuted. It sucks that he got shafted after Shoot Nation didn’t push through. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets the next pink slip.

    Alexa Bliss def. Tessa Blanchard

    • Another short match finds Bliss hit the Glitz Flip to put away Blanchard.

    • Bliss’ growth as a performer is amazing, but her matches are still a bit clunky and not fluid. Maybe it’s because she had to carry this match, but it’s apparent she’s not really all that good at calling matches.

    • I love her over-the-top reactions though. Widening her eyes before that chokehold slam was too campy, since she’s one of the smaller girls in the division, but it’s one of those cartoony villain things she does well.

    • Not much to say about Tully Blanchard’s daughter. She’s fine. Not too familiar with her work in the indies, but she might be worth checking out.

    Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano def. The Vaudevillains

    • Ciampa secured the win for his team after making Simon Gotch tap out to his Bridging Fujiwara armbar.

    • With their contract situation settled for now, I’m happy to see Ciampa and Gargano moving forward and picking up some wins now. I don’t see why The Vaudevillains, former NXT Tag Team Champions and recent main roster call-ups, are taking the loss here. If this is their last match down at NXT, it seems like a poor way to go as they didn’t really look strong in the loss.. It seems to hurt their credibility more than put the indy darlings over.

    Baron Corbin def. Tucker Knight

    • The Lone Wolf planted the larger Knight with the End of Days

    • Why is this still a thing? I would have thought Corbin destroying random NXT jobbers will have stopped being a thing when he got called up and started destroying main roster jobbers.

    Bayley def. Liv Morgan

    • The former NXT Women's Champion got the win over the Jersey native after the Bayley-to-Belly.

    • I thought Bayley could have sold the defeat to Asuka more—she did just lose the NXT Women’s Championship. Then again, even when she was the champion, she still had that “happy to be here” naïveté to her gimmick, so seeing her smiling every time Morgan would hit a good move, like the springboard handstand headscissor takedown, makes sense. 

    • Her post-match promo wasn’t too amazing, but it works. It’d be refreshing to see her as the person doing the chasing now after months of having everyone chase after her title.


    NXT Creative really filled this episode to the brim with matches, even if it really didn’t push any new stories. It is a fine start though, as they transition to a post-TakeOver: Dallas world where a lot of the old guards are moving on from the brand and a lot of new guys are establishing themselves. Still, the main event was fun, so this episode gets a B.

    Thoughts on this week's matches? 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 (4/13/16): A Whole Lot of Nothing Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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