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    Monday, March 19, 2018

    Smark Hen-XT (3/14/18): LeRae of Sunshine

    It's now official, ladies and smarks: NXT Champion Andrade "Cien" Almas is going to defend his title against Aleister Black in NXT TakeOver: New Orleans.

    It was a good segment, as per tradition with NXT TV's contract signing segments, but instead of hyping the match between Andrade and Aleister, what we got instead was a pay off of some sorts after Zelina Vega's wily tactics to one-up her client's opponents. Almas was not present during the formalities, and boy, was it the worst mistake she made.

    Aleister sure didn't receive the shorter end (get it? Because it's Zelina Vega heh) of the stick as he threw one-liner after one-liner of height jokes toward Zelina, getting under her skin in the process. But the real cake under all the icing was when Aleister brought out Candice LeRae to beat the bejeezus out of her.

    You never mess with the wife of someone who just lost his job.

    A lot of people might have mixed feelings about Aleister Black: The Jokester, but I personally saw it as Black being more than just the stoic Dutch Destroyer who kicks heads out of their shoulders. It showed that he has been observing on the sidelines on how Vega deals with their opponents, and finally applying it against her now that the time has come.

    Hyping Almas vs. Black can be done much later (maybe even on the go-home episode), and that only shows how they are as workers and how they were built as two of the main guys on the brand.

    The two women have actually been involved in mixed tag matches in NXT's house shows, and I cannot wait for them to face-off in a one-on-one match in TakeOver: Chicago, maybe?

    Rest of the show:
    • SAnitY (Alexander Wolfe and Eric Young) def. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli to advance to the second round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: I really liked the much more intense Moss and Sabbatelli in this match, and the teases for a breakup are still there. As for SAnitY's side, it looked like that Killian Dain took a backseat after his loss against Aleister Black last week, with the commentary even focusing more on how the group was formed during the 2016 tournament.

      I was honestly expecting something more from SAnitY. Let's be blunt about this, but from Moss and Sabbatelli, not so much (though I have confirmed that Sabbatelli was the much better one, in my opinion). Nikki Cross once again stole the show after a crossbody on Moss on the outside, while Wolfe and EY do their suplex-neckbreaker combo for the win.

    • This week's episode of Everybody Hates Tommaso Ciampa was still bloody entertaining, but it wasn't as good as last week's, methinks. He didn't bring his crutch with him this time, but it seemed that the crowd was more intent on booing the Sicilian Psychopath. The sea of Gargano signs was a very nice visual too. It's only a matter of time before he blows his fuse.
    • Dakota Kai def. Lacey Evans: I love Lacey Evans' gimmick and the way she handles herself, but this loss didn't do a lot for her. Lacey got a lot of offense in, focusing on Dakota's shoulder, but she was beaten via rollup in just almost two minutes. But then we'll find out later on that this was a setup for Women's Champion Ember Moon to lay down a challenge to Shayna Baszler, who came out and threatened Dakota post-match.

      Dakota was able to get back at Shayna when she delivered her patented Helluva-esque Kick from the apron, making her vulnerable for a beautiful one-hand Eclipse from the champion (which Shayna sold like a champ). After this segment, it looked like the NXT Creative is making a long-term storyline between Dakota and Shayna that could conclude in a championship match in the future. It's brilliant.
    Everyone looked great in this segment, but come on, let's have something for Lacey here, shall we?
    • Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) def. Heavy Machinery (Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic) to advance to the second round of Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic: Fun little match from four of the strongest (comical) characters in the roster! Everything in this match was just a blast, from Ford's peace offering of his cup to Dozer, his reactions to Dozer, to him being used as a battering ram against Angelo Dawkins. If you want some mindless fun (in a good way), then check this match out.
    • Pete Dunne def. Adam Cole via disqualification to retain the WWE UK Championship: The DQ finish did a lot to Adam Cole, because the Panama City Playboy can't afford to get another L here, especially if he's being built as one of the guys that will hold down the yellow and black fort. This was a really good 10-minute match that made me want to see more Dunne vs. Cole.

      The Undisputed ERA stopped caring about the UK title, and just proceeded to beat up Dunne, until Roderick Strong came out for the save. When it was Roddy's turn to be outnumbered, the wily UK champion didn't back down from the fight and reinserted himself into the melee! Character development!

      After clearing the ring, Roddy offered his hand for a handshake, to which Dunne only acknowledged with a tap on the shoulder, therefore maybe not fully completing a babyface turn, which is fine. But could we be seeing a temporary alliance between the Bruiserweight and the Messiah of the Backbreaker (*spoiler warning*)?


    Storyline-wise, I like how the pieces are moving slowly but surely as we inch closer toward TakeOver: New Orleans. I love how the Creative are still churning out fresh new ways to forward existing angles, and for this episode, they made use of in-ring interactions. This week's episode gets a B+.

    Photo from WWE

    Ardelle Costuna works for a news organization somewhere along Timog Avenue whenever she's not watching wrestling. A renewed fan, she only knew of Shawn Michaels' (her wrestling first love) retirement just two years ago. She's currently drowning in a lot of shows she missed, but she's loving every minute of it. You can catch her crying over some damn good wrestling and swooning over Kenny Omega at @aandthejets.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (3/14/18): LeRae of Sunshine Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ardelle Costuna
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