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Smark Hen-XT (5/6/2015): Friendship is Overrated



This week on NXT, we have the contract signing for the Women’s Championship match at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, friendships thrown aside, and a bunch of wrestling. Let’s get down to it!

#FriendshipOver

A recurring theme as NXT builds up toward the TakeOver special is the idea that friends make the worst enemies. Take for example the NXT Championship match. In two interview segments held by Michael Cole, a big chunk of the interview was focused on NXT champ Kevin Owens’ long, documented friendship and apparent betrayal of number one contender Sami Zayn. This, of course, pisses the champ off. He goes on about the match not being personal, being about business, to provide for his family and all that shit; and Cole calls him out on his bullshit. Zayn, in his subsequent interview, goes on about the impact of this betrayal on their friendship, or what’s left of it.


Then we go on to the Women’s Championship scene. The partnership of Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks was bound to break apart once Banks won the championship. It was a given. Banks’ ego just doesn’t allow her to share anything with anyone. That happened with Charlotte and now it’s happening to Lynch.  The challenger, though, paints herself as someone who is working hard to not play second fiddle. It comes off weak. Rather than being portrayed as your typical hard working underdog ala Daniel Bryan or the aforementioned Zayn, she just comes off as whiny.


The third example of this theme would be what’s happening with Hideo Itami and Finn Bálor. In what your run of the mill match between Itami and Tyler Breeze, Bálor’s presence on ringside added a bit more drama, especially with the finish, where we see Itami kicking Bálor in the face. The accidental finisher trope is a well-used on in recent years in wrestling, but it’s a good trope to incite dissent between friends. They’ll fight against each other honorably, but fuck, there is tension between them, and tension—when utilized properly—often leads to good confrontations.

Three friendships over. This is as overused an archetype in wrestling as there ever was, but when it does sell seats, and they certainly are entertaining to see. They did say the top of the mountain is a lonely place to be in, and these men and women are certainly near the top.

The rest of the show:

Photo from WWE.com
  • I love Dark Emma. The contrast between awkward goofy dancer and ironic jerk is awesome. The fake out during the entrance, e.g. teasing the headband giveaway and the skinning the cat entrance, makes you feel that she just doesn't give a fuck anymore about the NXT Universe.

  • If you think she would probably just not give a fuck about working a match well though, you'd be mistaken. Emma's heel work is spot on. Nothing simpler, ring psychology wise, than actually targeting an injury.

  • Charlotte, on the other hand, needs a bit more polishing as a face worker. I love that little side of her character right now when she acts like Bayley's big sister looking out for her and stuff. And no, FullSail, that spear was not better than Reigns'.

Photo from WWE.com. Also, not Bayley
  • Bayley needs a better finisher than the Hug-plex/Bayley-to-belly.

  • I've finally realized why I love the current two-man commentary group of Corey Graves and Rich Brennan. The latter plays the straight man to the former's cynic schtick. Graves can just fucking dump on everyone and still push a story, which makes him infinitely better than JBL. 

  • How the mighty had fallen. Bull Dempsey was quite a talented worker for a big man, but now he's just a jobber. And we get official confirmation for the Rhyno-Corbin match.


  • Uhaa Nation sighting! Though no word yet on what name he's using. But that's good news. A lot of main roster call ups have happened and are being discussed, so NXT needs a lot of new faces to get going.

  • I like the off-screen beating by Blake and Murphy. It keeps the focus on the damage, and the Realest Guys in the Room were pretty damaged. Carmella still confuses me, though, but at least we're sure she's on the side of Enzo and Cass, face or heel.

Overall, the matches were OK. Stories were pushed. It was a bit below NXT's usual lofty standard, but even then the time you spent watching this show is better than most of the time you waste watching the main roster. Action was still pretty solid, and barely any moment was wasted. It just fell flat compared to the lofty standards we've come to expect from NXT.

A quick note: The road to TakeOver: Unstoppable may as well have hit a roadblock. Word is out that Sami Zayn might be legit injured with a torn rotator cuff suffered during his match on RAW. More worrying though, that similar rumors are out that the injury bug has bitten Hideo Itami and it might put him on the shelf for 6-8 months. More on this when more information comes in.

*****

Jocs Boncodin is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry. He answers emails by day and watches wrestling by night. An aspiring writer, Jocs spends most of his idle time fantasy booking angles and overthinking wrestling storylines. A big fan of the WWE, his introduction to the local online wrestling community Smark Gilas-Pilipinas has opened his eyes to the wonders of puroresu and lucha libre. He currently handles Smark Hen-XT, smarkhenry.ph's weekly NXT review.

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