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    Friday, June 18, 2021

    Smark Hen-XT (6/15/21): Joe Is Gonna Kill You

    Okay. Hold up. Right off the bat, I will tell it to you straight. This week is what NXT exactly needed to re-energize its stale product. I'm not exaggerating when I say that just the small shake-up was enough to pique my interest in the black-and-gold, but it's true. This episode was jam-packed and felt totally fresh than what we're used to every week.

    Before anything else, allow me to praise the show opener for what it is. I've previously raved about how interesting a character Karrion Kross was, but from the previous weeks up to this moment, I've totally enjoyed how infectious his passion in delivering promos. You almost certainly feel scared when he ramps the intensity up and then slowly backs down again as he ravages you with the words he spits.

    Likewise, the opening speech by NXT General Manager William Regal was heartfelt—akin to the Mark Henry retirement speech from some years back—wherein it was such a great promo, we all actually fell for the tease. Now, that's not to say we didn't kind of see this coming. The way NXT TakeOver: In Your House 2021 ended, we knew Regal was almost stepping down as GM. But alas, it was not meant to be, and instead, we're taken into a bigger swerve where the previously rumored Samoa Joe return turned into an even bigger deal.

    Joe's return definitely brought the product to life in more ways than one. GM figures aren't new to wrestling (and sports entertainment), but the "enforcer" role makes it so that some authority figure is always felt on TV—unlike Regal's semi-passive role. This shocking return also gives Samoan Submission Machine the opportunity to still retain his wrestling chops—a thing that most Superstars seem to lose when transitioning into managerial, announcing, or backstage roles—and be the bad-ass that he totally is. Remember those days when he was a commentator for RAW and he took one-shots to knock him out? Well, this is not that Joe. This affords him the ability to (sort of) mix it up with NXT Superstars without actually getting in the ring and risking injuring himself even more. I'm totally looking forward to the Regal-Joe dynamic as NXT moves forward.

    Meanwhile, storyline-wise, it seems that they're also advancing a lot of Superstars' stories into different directions (fresh ones at that) and we're getting some new match-ups.

    First off, we've got KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O'Reilly. I expect that it's going to be a total banger, although deep inside, I have this tingling sensation that they're eventually turning one of the boys heel when the time comes. Still, this is a bold but interesting move to put Kyle in as I don't really think he fits in the Kross main event landscape at the moment.

    Then, we're seeing the odd but still fresh partnership of Io Shirai and Zoey Stark. Again, I can't help but feel that they might turn Stark against Io eventually, but until then I feel this is still a fresh take on a somewhat familiar rivalry between The Way's Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell vs. Stark and Shirai.

    Now, on to the continuations of the other rivalries, I don't mind the (expected) turning of LA Knight against Ted DiBiase. It's what makes more sense and can help bring Cameron Grimes more babyface pops once he eventually avenges Ted, however, I'm really confused about what role Ted played previously so at least this one helps right the ambiguous nature of his involvement in the feud.

    Finally, for the things I didn't really like, I still don't enjoy the Tommaso Ciampa/Timothy Thatcher rivalry against the Grizzled Young Veterans. It just feels tacked on for me—especially with how they seemed like an afterthought for TakeOver night. The same goes with the Breezango/Imperium one. The good thing is, this week seemed to imply that they're moving on to better things, so at least that's done (hopefully)

    Truth is, for as much as I felt overloaded with tag team matches this week (there was also a Raquel Gonzalez/Dakota Kai vs. Kacy Catanzaro/Kayden Carter match that felt random to me), just the introduction of Samoa Joe felt like a big sweeping change coming to the brand. I suppose only time will tell if they can sustain this change until the coming weeks, but color me impressed with this one because this can really change the whole NXT landscape.

    Show Grade: A

    Match to Watch: Trey Baxter vs. KUSHIDA (c)

    Not-So-Full Sails:

    • I'm not looking forward to Thatcher/Ciampa vs. MSK, but maybe they can change my mind on this.
    • Oh? We're still getting more Tian Sha vs. Mercedes Martinez? Really?
    • Color me surprised as they didn't just pair off Shirai with fellow Japanese Superstar Sarray—though it's a welcome surprise for me.
    • So, what's the plan with Raquel Gonzalez again?
    • Seriously, NXT?!? Three tag team matches?
    • Where's Finn Bálor? (He's on vacation. —Ed.)
    • Samoa Joe is going to kill you. That's it. That's my final note.
    What do you expect to see now that Samoa Joe has this enforcer role? Did you think this week was too tag-team-heavy? Were you surprised with how NXT turned out this week? Hit us up in the comments section below.

    Photos and videos from WWE


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (6/15/21): Joe Is Gonna Kill You Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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