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Smark Hen-XT (7/1/15): Let Them Fight

With just days before the NXT Championship match on the Beast in the East special, NXT delivers on an entertaining main event featuring number one contender Finn Bálor and NXT Champion Kevin Owens in opposite sides of a tag team match.

Face off

For the first time since winning the #1 contendership again on Unstoppable, Finn Bálor gets in the ring with his foe this Saturday, NXT Champ Kevin Owens, in a tag match that also features Samoa Joe and Rhyno. Get this straight: this is about Bálor and Owens. Joe and Rhyno add to the match with their talent and intensity, but the focus is rightly on the guys on top of the NXT pecking order.

The upcoming Championship match is an interesting case. No doubt, it features two of the best guys in the NXT roster—actually, the whole WWE. What’s interesting is that the outcome is not quite clear-cut. There’s a lot of ways it could finish; either Bálor or Owens can justifiably end the night with the NXT title around their waist. That’s the beauty of it.

A lot of the championship matches we’ve seen from the WWE are easily predictable. This match? Not so much. Bálor can win this and usher in a new era under Demon in war paint. Owens can retain and continue to feud with Cena to show how NXT is equal to the main roster. Both are honestly plausible outcomes, and both are ones we don’t have many complaints with.

This episode’s main event gave us a quick preview of what we can expect. Owens showed his dominance, Balor his tenacity and skill. Bálor motioned for the title before delivering the Coup de Grâce to Owens. Now the question remains: Can the Demon within help him take the title from the monster that is Owens? I wanna say I’m going with going with Bálor winning the belt, if only because it would allow creative to have a singular focus for Owens, the Cena feud.

Signs of life

The other titles in NXT, the Tag Team and Women’s Championships, are given some focus on this week’s episodes, which is a great thing. The past few weeks, they’ve been pushed aside in favor of the main event scene, and that has honestly hurt their stock. Hell, tonight marks the first time in a month that we’ve seen The Boss and NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks.

This episode sets up a number one contender’s match for the tag titles between the Realest Guys in the Room and the Vaudevillains, while on the women’s side, Emma and Dana Brooke announce their intention to go after the Women’s title and gets challenged by Banks to a tag match.

It would serve NXT well to give the other divisions a lot more time. Both tag and women’s divisions have proven to be reliable parts of the show, delivering quality matches with some regularity. That it has been pushed aside in favor of Samoa Joe and the NXT title match is a travesty. There was very little stopping Creative to skillfully manage all three titles and balancing them in a one hour weekly show; they do that before every TakeOver. Hopefully, that ends tonight.

The rest of the show:

The Vaudevillains vs Dash & Dawson

  • New music for Gotch and English, which I’m guessing means they’re faces now. To be fair, it’s hard not to cheer for the manly duo. They’re good in the ring, and they’re entertaining as hell. They really got their gimmick down, and they’ve proven that they can move away from comedy and be menacing. They win with the Whirling Dervish on one of the bearded guys. Honestly, I couldn’t tell who was who.

  • I’m hoping this means a renewed push for The Vaudevillains. Their feud with the Lucha Dragons was great. I just wonder what it would mean for the Realest Guys—I like Amore and Big Cass, but the team of Gotch and English is just a more complete and polished team right now.

Baron Corbin vs Tucker Knight

  • Boring squash match. I wish all these Corbin squash matches actually lead into something.

  • I must say, though: That was a big guy Corbin lifted for the End of Days. That’s pretty impressive.

Who Is Finn Bálor, Part 3

  • This week, the focus is on Balor’s experiences in NXT.

  • This right here shows the problem with kayfabe being “dead” (it’s not, it just smells funny). Balor explaining the war paint doesn’t jive with the story they’re telling with the vignettes. It’s honestly stupid and not helpful. It would have been fine if Bálor decided to be all mysterious and vague about it, like the vignette, but they had to have him explain it in such mundane terms that it hurts the mystique of the war paint.

  • Hey, Karl Anderson on NXT!

Emma vs Carmella

  • Evil Emma has a new mix for her entrance. I’m digging it. It fits well with the gimmick of ironic, disenchanted heel.

  • Carmella isn’t as over when she’s not with the Realest Guys. And honestly, she’s still very awkward in the ring. She taps when Emma locks in the Emma Lock.

Quick aside: I’m not a fan of the fat guy gimmick on Bull Dempsey, or anyone at that. But Bull’s doing a lot with it. Acting was on point for the backstage segment.

Tyler Breeze vs Tye Dillinger

  • Is Prince Pretty working face? 

  • I wish creative would just let Dillinger use the “Perfect 10” gimmick on TV. Don’t just give it a throwaway line at the beginning of the match. They should really push that gimmick. Just have him take a seat on the stage during random matches and let him raise score cards like it was the dunk contest.

The main event carried this show. A lot of the matches were decent to mediocre, and a lot of the backstage and interview packages were more interesting. It only furthers the idea of NXT being RAW lite. As I’ve said, it should help them to better streamline their product and manage their time better so they can focus on more than the NXT title. One thing for sure, I’m hella excited for the NXT Championship match this Saturday.

Excited for the Championship match? Let us know in the comments!

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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,'s weekly NXT review. 


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