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    Friday, September 9, 2016

    Smark Hen-XT (9/7/16): Barely Contained

    This week, the Era of Strong Style continued as NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura was in action, while Samoa Joe sat in on commentary.

    The former NXT Champion is arguably the best storyteller in the brand right now. Nobody can touch him on that mic, and it showed during the main event. After losing the title at Brooklyn, a more subdued Samoa Joe sat in with Corey Graves and Tom (yes, Joe, that is his name) Phillips to watch Nakamura’s match against up-and-comer Steve Cutler. While I would normally hate guest commentators since they tend to distract from the action, we’ve seen this match a number of times in NXT already, and Joe was just pure gold.

    Beneath the calm voice lies pain and violence. Throughout the match, they would cut to a shot of Joe’s face, and his face screamed hate. While he might say that he respects the champion, you can see loathing in his expressions. This binary opposition adds complexity to Joe’s character. He’s a predator, albeit a wounded one, and it won’t be long before he’s back on the hunt.

    Whether he’s angry at Nakamura for taking his title, or at himself for losing it, this conflicted Joe only means more hurting for anyone in his way. This is the kind of escalation that would only produce a hotter feud. Expect Joe to find his way back to a title match, but I pity anyone who’s going to step in the ring with him next.


    The Rest of the Show:

    • TM61 def. Tony Nese and Ariya Daivari: A pretty exciting opening match. The Cruiserweight Classic competitors had a good showing, but you can see that this was about rebuilding the Aussie duo after their ill-advised clash with the Authors of Pain back in Brooklyn. I’m still waiting for a legit gimmick for TM61, though.

    • Asuka interview: Phillips’ backstage segment with NXT Women’s Champion was fun. Asuka’s English is slowly getting better, and hearing her go back to her native Japanese is a nice touch to add layers to her promo. I still don’t think she should get too much time on the mic, as she’s better at non-verbal storytelling, but her lines about the recent call-ups being “saved” from facing her and that “no one is ready for Asuka” were just the bomb.

    • Ember Moon def. Leah Von: Moon is quickly winning the NXT Universe over with her athleticism. I’m not entirely sure what she’s supposed to be—is she supposed to be some kind of vampire ninja?—but she sure is a joy to watch, and her diving stunner is great. She’ll probably get first dibs against the champion, but it’d be best if she gets into a short program with someone else just to cement what she’s supposed to be.

    • Austin Aries def. Andrade “Cien” Almas: This, by far, is one of Cien’s better showings. He’s been getting matches against top-tier guys, but I don’t think he’s making the most out of them. The hype for him is dying down, and he’s losing the crowd. Creative will need to work hard to get him back on track. Aries, on the other hand, is finding his stride as a midcard heel. I can’t wait for his face to meet Hideo Itami’s knee again.


    The matches this week was far better than last week’s, but outside of Joe on commentary, this was another dud from NXT. You can feel things starting to pick up, though. This set of tapings is all about setting up a new status quo, but it shouldn’t be long before things get exciting again. This episode gets a B-.

    Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know by dropping a comment below!

    Photo from WWE Network


    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 (9/7/16): Barely Contained Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jocs Boncodin
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