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Smark Hen-XT (05/13/2015) - The Last Stop Before Unstoppable.

Welcome to Smark Hen-XT. This week, final touches to the TakeOver card are made, Prince Pretty kicks everyone, and the Likeable One touches a nerve. Let’s get down to it.

It’s real personal now

Sami Zayn and NXT Champion Kevin Owens had their final stare down before their big match for the NXT Championship and they both brought their A-game. Aside from the weird post-prod dub about the shoulder injury, Zayn gets into the champ’s head by targeting the most important thing to him, his family. This is an odd choice to go with. It’s heelish, and doesn’t quite fit the good guy image. I know he has some edge to him now, but to go after Owen (Kevin Owens’s son and namesake) is pretty low. Owens walking out is something I can get behind. Him having his back turned on Zayn while delivering his threats is insanely good.

On one side, the whole feud is insanely simple. Two guys hate each other and they fight. But looking at how NXT Creative really crafted a complex and rich mythos around the two of them is a thing of beauty. Compare it, say, to the Rollins-Ambrose feud—that feud was personal, but they kept the focus on the Shield and its fall.

The Zayn-Owens feud goes deeper than that, referencing their history even before the WWE. Dropping the kid bomb was a low blow, but it highlights the fact that NXT is willing to show that it is not dissociating themselves from reality and history. Zayn and Owens really hate each other now, and this is more than for the Championship. What they’re going to have isn’t going to be a match; it’s a blood feud. It’s more than personal.

The rest of the show:

  • Wasn’t really big on Solomon Crowe before. His entrance theme is good, and he can move, but I felt his gimmick fell flat. This week brings massive changes to his gimmick. First, he gets a new haircut and a lighter tan. No longer does he look like a chubby Jersey Shore troll. He also has new music. More important, though, is his new gimmick. They’re moving away from a hacker to a representative of “the misunderstood, the freaks and nerds.” Still a bit vague, but definitely better than something they barely tried to incorporate.

  • I once thought Baron Corbin's gimmick was a weak rip-off or like a werewolf version of the Biker-Taker/American Bad Ass gimmick. Just putting it out there.

  • The NXT Universe turning on Corbin is not unexpected. Chant of the night goes to "Baron's gonna bore you!" I'm surprised it took this long for them to do that. Seems Creative had the foresight, though, to have Corbin work heel. That's a step in the right direction. Tweener Lone Wolf is boring, really; sadistic heel Lone Wolf is better. Now if only we can do something about his ring work—he's still a bit awkward at some points, but catching Crowe and turning it into the End of Days is a great spot. I would like to see him do that a bit more.

  • The weakest part of the Corbin-Rhyno feud is the part when they talk. They should have just let them brawl every single night. Fuck talking, more fighting.

  • Finn Bálor's talking head spot was weak. I like what he was saying, but the way he was saying it made it look weak. A big positive is that they're pushing the demon gimmick. Tyler Breeze, in his own interview, says pretty much the same thing, but with more character. He's still probably not gonna win. Hideo Itami says mostly the same thing, but his words towards NXT champ Kevin Owens are interesting. Simple, but effective in planting seeds for a future feud. Now I want to see him win the triple threat and go on to face the bad man that he doesn't respect.

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  • Sasha Banks' pre-match promo is BOSS, and she really has gone a long way when it comes to working a gimmick. The match was a great showcase for the champ.

  • Surprisingly, the NXT Universe dumps on the jobber. They usually love them nameless losers, but ole' Blue Pants set the bar pretty high when it comes to Diva jobbers, which makes sense. Leva Bates is an indy darling. Black Shorts just couldn't measure up.

  • Two Divas matches on TakeOver: Unstoppable. YES! Also, I said this last week, but it bears repeating, I love it when Charlotte acts like Bayley's big sister. It's not something they actively come out and say, but it's the little things like the look she gave Bayley after the latter's “Woo!” that makes the former look more experienced and mature than she really is.

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  • I'm still surprised how Creative thinks that having Carmella heel when she's inside the ring and a face when she's around Enzo and Cass is working. There's some consistency there, unlike Justin Gabriel's or Alicia Fox's situation where it seems like a coin flip before every match decides if they're coming out as a face or a heel, but it's still fucking confusing.

  • Alexa Bliss' struggle/pained face is still very adorbz, and from now on, that word shall only be reserved for Alexa Bliss. She is adorbz personified. It sounds creepy, I know, but that's the easiest way to describe whatever the fuck her gimmick is. That does not excuse her, however, for botching the top rope arm drag.

  • The Dubstep Cowboys costing Carmella the win and the subsequent post-match promo are great ways to push the Tag Team title match without having Enzo and Cass on-screen. As annoying as her voice is, Carmella delivers on hyping up the Realest Guys in the Room. Also, Full Sail's second good chant tonight is "No means no!" Remember that, kids.

  • Adam Rose without the Rosebuds looks sad. Like he's the guy who never got the memo that the party's over. They should really take advantage of all the sympathy the E:60 documentary created for him; tie it up, and do some reality era magic on that shit to make a story.

  • Good main event. Miscommunication costs the team of Itami and Bálor the match. Must-see spot goes to Rose though. His ring work is crisp, and when he hit DAT SPINEBUSTER and transitioned it to a Boston Crab was a thing of beauty. He should do that a lot more. I'd dig that as his finisher. And Prince Pretty should really start taking more selfies with his fallen opponents.

Overall, we had a great show. It had great matches, developed characters and story and made me more excited about TakeOver: Unstoppable. That’s everything you want from a go-home show.


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