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    Friday, November 23, 2018

    Smark Hen-XT (11/21/18): TakeOver Hangover

    As much as I love TakeOver specials, I'm not fond of having to wait over a week until we get a fresh set of NXT episodes. Sure, the shows that we get immediately after TakeOver serve two very good purposes—(1) they serve as a cool down after an impactful live event, and (2) they allow NXT Superstars who weren't on the TakeOver card to have an opportunity to perform at the big arenas in front of the live crowds. Maybe it's just me being selfish and spoiled as a millennial living in the era of on-demand content.

    Now that that's out of the way, this week's episode served two main storylines. It set up the match between Keith Lee and Lars Sullivan—presumably Lars' NXT swan song before he gets sent to the main roster. And it also featured the blowoff match between Nikki Cross and Candice LeRae.

    I didn't know I wanted to see Keith Lee vs. Lars Sullivan until I saw The Limitless One attack Lars and ask the latter to pick on someone his own size. It should be exciting to see these two behemoths go after one another, showcasing what each of them can do. Since Keith Lee debuted on NXT, he hasn't really had the chance to face someone huge other than Donovan/Chris Dijak Dominik Dijakovic, who's been strangely absent from NXT TV, by the way. Sullivan should be Keith Lee's biggest challenge to date, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when they throw down.

    As for Nikki Cross vs. Candice LeRae, I'm not sure what to feel yet about Mrs. Wrestling slowly turning heel. The match was a slow turn for both women, as Nikki Cross became a sympathetic figure, despite remaining unhinged. Meanwhile, Candice seemed to tap into the same dark side that her husband fully embraced. I like Candice LeRae as an all-around good gal just because she's naturally charming and endearing. Then again, as we saw with Johnny Gargano, Becky Lynch, and Daniel Bryan, the most impactful heel turns are the ones done by the most beloved babyfaces because you're that invested in them, so it hurts to watch it happen as a fan.

    The finish of the match left us with enough questions surrounding both women's respective fates. Is Nikki Cross going to get another opportunity at Shayna Baszler's NXT Women's Championship? Or is she joining her friends from SAnitY on SmackDown Live for good? Has Candice LeRae turned heel? Or is she just getting too affected by Johnny Gargano's issues? Or is Candice just going through a period of self-doubt, only to have her own road of redemption to the title, much like Bayley did during her NXT run?

    Make no mistake. The next few episodes of NXT should be worth keeping an eye on as the deck gets reshuffled once again following TakeOver: WarGames II. I, for one, am doing my best to avoid spoilers just so every reaction is fresh once the episodes get released on the WWE Network. This TakeOver hangover episode gets a grade of C. Pwede na.

    Not-So-Full Sails

    • My dad was watching the Keith Lee/Lars Sullivan interactions with me and he pointed out how hypocritical it was of The Limitless One to tell Lars to pick on someone his own size, when Lee himself faced a tinier man during his own match. That made sense until I told him that Keith Lee didn't choose who his opponent was—management did. And after he'd dispatched of Fidel Bravo, Keith Lee just moved on, as opposed to Lars, who just decimated Keita Murray even after having won decisively.
    • It felt weird not seeing any backstage interviews from the Superstars who were at TakeOver during this episode. I was expecting some sort of fallout, but I guess we'll have to wait for next week.
    Images from WWE


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.

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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (11/21/18): TakeOver Hangover Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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