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    Friday, July 16, 2021

    Smark Hen-XT (7/14/21): Don't Cross Karrion Kross

    Samoa Joe served as a supporting character in this week's main event, but it's looking more likely that he'll be duking it out with Karrion Kross in the near future. Heck, he's been onscreen with the biggest names in NXT, and he certainly doesn't look like your typical authority figure character.

    With that in mind, seeing Kross successfully defend the NXT Championship was an afterthought. I had always believed Johnny Gargano was only a stepping stone—an eventual big match that needed to happen but had no bearing on the bigger picture. What I found interesting was how the show closed. Joe got choked out—wild, considering Joe's gimmick was choking people out—while Kross stood tall. Will we finally see Joe get cleared for competition? I honestly don't care if it ends up becoming a slow build until he gets cleared. I just hope it happens before the rumored Kross call-up.

    Meanwhile, seeing Ember Moon in singles action just felt more engaging than her run with Shotzi Blackheart (who has since moved to SmackDown). I was probably one of the few that did not enjoy that partnership much, and I'm glad that it's over. However, I can't believe an Ember Moon vs. Dakota Kai matchup had to happen again. How many times has Moon faced either Dakota or Raquel Gonzalez in recent memory? And they handed Ember her loss for a set-up to Xia Li vs. Raquel? Does that even make sense? Not to me for sure, but Li has been one of the more interesting females in the brand as of late, so there's some merit to this choice.

    It also seems I was wrong about things post-Undisputed ERA breakup. Bobby Fish might be getting the short end of the stick. He wasn't featured much in any plotline since then. Plus, he just lost to Diamond Mine's Tyler Rust this week. I think it's building towards a Roderick Strong/Bobby Fish feud, but then KUSHIDA had to insert himself. I think the smart choice would be to bring Fish to turn on KUSHIDA and have him join the Diamond Mine, but I'm not totally sure NXT would be open to that.

    The Sarray/Gigi Dolin bout was okay as a match. With Toni Storm most likely heading to SmackDown now, Sarray had to suddenly move on from that teased feud. This was good for Dolin as it allowed her to insert herself into the spotlight. Though it really felt like a basic match, a big "out of nowhere" moment happened. Mandy Rose made her NXT return in a brave and smart move. The RAW landscape didn't do much for her, and it has been so long since she felt fresh as a character. So this reinvention might allow her to thrive. There was a small tease of something between her and the Robert Stone Brand, but it's too early to tell what they have in store.

    Truth be told, the other matches didn't stand out to me. We had a first-round NXT Breakout Tournament match in which Duke Hudson won, we had a women's tag team match—that I felt was only there to tease dissension within The Robert Stone Brand—and we had a Dexter Lumis/Santos Escobar match that set up the future storylines of both men. Some of the skits/interviews were also uninteresting to me because I thought they felt forced. 

    Why are we getting Adam Cole vs. Bronson Reed? Why are the two angry men (Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher) going up against Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan? It all feels so random to me, and as an added fact, there seems to be too much going on in the brand right now that I can't even process everything. It's a good thing when storylines are organic, but having too many rivalries for Superstars that don't even appear every week seems like too much for me.

    Show Grade: C+

    Match to Watch: NXT Championship Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Karrion Kross (c) with Samoa Joe as Special Guest Referee

    Not-So-Full Sails:

    • The Gigi Dolin/Sarray promo was a little cringy to watch. Dolin seemed to be overacting her character, while Sarray's reaction was unconvincing.
    • Oh! I almost forgot that Legado Del Fantasma still existed. It's been a while since I saw them. NXT? Wassupwitdat?
    • The Cameron Grimes/LA Knight skits seemed to be missing something in terms of wow factor. It might be because of how long the feud has been running. Even so, Cameron Grimes still shone brightly.
    • Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza have come a long way from when they were just brainwashed lackeys. Wilde even mentioned doing "his dance." I'm not sure if I enjoy this character development because I want Legado to be a serious but quiet force rather than making quips like that.
    • Aliyah breaking free from The Robert Stone Brand will be good for her. Besides, what have Stone and his group achieved over the past year?
    • So is it still the Robert Stone Brand or the Franky Monet Brand now? Maybe it'll end up as the Mandy Rose Brand, eh?
    • Bronson Reed isn't going anywhere then. Or is his feud with Adam Cole going to lead towards a "Loser Leaves NXT" type of deal?
    • I totally dig Ikemen Jiro's entrance music. That is all.
    Are you getting confused with all the storylines NXT is juggling? What's your current favorite rivalry in the brand? 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 (7/14/21): Don't Cross Karrion Kross Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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