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Smark Hen-XT (8/5/15): Brooklyn Bound

This week, not so surprising announcements about NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn are made and we’re treated to two great matches. Also, my thoughts on Bull Dempsey’s current angle.

Bright lights in New York

Massive announcements were made on NXT about the TakeOver: Brooklyn card. Let’s run it down for you:

  • Kevin Owens lays down the challenge for NXT Champion Finn Balor for a Ladder match in Brooklyn. In a bid to prevent himself getting screwed, Owens requests for a match that doesn’t need a referee to function. This is an excellent move as, first, it plays well with Owens’ rising paranoia and Balor’s risk-taking. Second, and excuse me for being a bit lit majory here, but this match becomes the perfect metaphor for a fight to the top. Believe me, it’s highly unlikely that Owens wins this match, and it’ll become the appropriate symbolism for Balor being on top of the NXT ladder.

  • Tyler Breeze will face Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger. There a huge level of trust and respect laid on to Breeze with him getting the nod to face such a big and beloved name in pro-wrestling everywhere. Liger is a legend, he’s old, but he’ll still deliver compelling matches. With Breeze, who’s a somewhat of a homegrown talent on the WWE developmental circuit, getting to do work with him shows that you don’t have to be an indy darling to succeed. You just need to work hard and look good. Expect Breeze to go over.

  • The wrestler formerly known as Uhaa Nation is now billed as Apollo Crews and will debut on Brooklyn. Crews is an excellent athlete who can be a huge breakout star for the company if handled well. I actually dig the name. Apollo Creed is my favorite character from the Rocky movies and Crews actually looks like the babyfaced brother of Terry Crews. His match wouldn’t be anything more than a showcase of his athleticism, so don’t expect a highly competitive match, but he will be entertaining. I’m still hoping though, that they let him walk out to “Dschinghis Khan.”

  • Either Bayley or Becky Lynch will face up against NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. Bayley, who’s been on a roll in her Road to Redemption-esque character arc will face up next week against the Lass Kicker Becky Lynch for the right to face Banks at Brooklyn. Expect Bayley to get the nod there and on special as Lynch, Charlotte, and Banks to transition fully to the main roster.

  • The Vaudevillains gets a rematch against NXT Tag Team Champions Blake and Murphy. Their last match was highly entertaining, as I’ve said last week, so great things are expected from this match. And seeing the evil yet very much adorbz Alexa Bliss is an excellent bonus.

The card for TakeOver: Brooklyn is shaping up to be a great one. In what is their biggest show to date, expectations are running high and NXT is poised to deliver.


I’d like to take this time to talk about Bull Dempsey. Dempsey is not a bad talent. He needs a bit more polishing in the ring, but he’s decent. He’s actually really good on the mic. The only negative thing I’ve seen thrown at him is that he’s, well, fat. He’s not even fat obese. He’s strong man fat.

In a universe where…

  • Kevin Owens, a chunky dude, was the top dog of the developmental system for more than half a year;

  • Rusev, a bulky Russian, was the biggest heel in the main roster for almost a year;

  • Bray Wyatt, a husky cult leader, is the new “Face of Fear”; and

  • Dusty Rhodes, a chunky son of a plumber, is a beloved legend,

NXT creative decided that Dempsey’s girth was something to work an angle on.

What the flying fuck?

This reeks of lazy writing. But more than that, it fucking annoys me that the only thing they can work with the guy is a fat angle. There is more to him than being fat. But no. “Fuck the whole ‘throwback to a bygone era brawler’ gimmick. Let’s make him the fat guy!” said Creative. Forget that he had promos of him being all Paul Bunyan-esque and chopping wood. Forget that he was built up as a monster heel. No, right now, he’s just the fat guy.

As an unabashedly chunky guy myself, I am appalled by what the message of this whole angle is. Rather than telling the audience to be better than what we are and take care of our bodies and be inspirational, they decide to ridicule and threaten the guy for being bigger than others. I’m not saying it’s good to be fat. No, there are health risks with being a huge guy. But there is a way for NXT to say it’s better if we get some exercise without ridiculing him into action. To be fair, it had a promising premise. Stress eating is a reality for a lot of people. Not everyone is going to have an impressive physique. Some people are naturally predisposed to be bulky. But the way they went about it was immature. It’s mean-spirited and cowardly and it goes against the whole Be A Star campaign they’ve been running as their social-corporate responsibility program. Fucking hypocrites.

Honestly, it’s nigh impossible for Dempsey to become the chiseled guy with the six-pack. Unless they suddenly decide to run this angle for the next six months and actually show Dempsey turn into an adonis of a man, it’s not gonna work. He’s still going to be chunky and, since you’ve already started on the path NXT creative, people will always think of him as the fat guy.

The second vignette this episode showed Dempsey succeeding in his workout. Him standing tall on top of the tire he flipped should have been inspirational. To me, it felt like a pyrrhic victory. NXT creative has given Bull Dempsey the kiss of death. And I fucking hate it.

The rest of the show:

Bayley vs Charlotte

  • Great match to open the show. It started up a bit slow, but both girls delivered on an excellent showing. Bayley looked more intense and ready to lead the women’s division and Charlotte couldn’t have gotten a better send-off.

  • Moment of the match had to be Bayley walking up the turnbuckles to counter a backslide to a Bayley-to-Belly Hugplex. Also, I would like to propose a HugPlex City for Bayley.

Baron Corbin vs Steve Cutler

  • Boring squash match. We can only have some much of this before it starts damaging Corbin’s credibility any more than it already has.

HypeBros vs Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder

  • The team of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley just might be the one thing to resuscitate Ryder’s career and give Rawley a way to hide his shortcomings by limiting his time in the ring. I hope they do well.

  • Dawson and Wilder is in a weird spot right now. They could be a good heel team, but with a great heel team on top in the champs Dubstep Cowboys and a better team just waiting to breakout in Gable and Jordan, they face tough competition if they want to be the top heel team.

Samoa Joe vs Rhyno

  • In what could probably be the most ironic main event in a developmental show, two grizzled veterans delivered in a hard-hitting match.

  • Samoa Joe needs no more acclimating with the WWE style, but I understand the necessity of keeping him on NXT for now. WWE has seen what could happen if they rush a talent into the main roster *cough*SIN CARA*cough*. What he does need now is a story to make his stay meaningful. The feud with Owens would have been great, but since it has been aborted, he’ll need a feud with someone, even if it was put that guy over. How about another dominant big guy who’s been squashing people?

Tonight’s show has been full of surprises. With the TakeOver: Brooklyn card shaping up nicely, all NXT have to do now is to deliver on building up not only on the hype but the story of each match. More episodes like this one, where actually had more than one meaningful match, is a step towards the right direction.

But storylines like Bull Dempsey’s was like taking ten steps back. NXT should be the most progressive show WWE ever had, but giving in to stupid immature creative directions reminds me that they can only do so much when they guys at the top of the food chain still hold on to backwards beliefs of what entertainment is.

Thoughts on how the NXT TakeOver card is shaping up? Reactions to Bull Dempsey's story? Let us know and drop us a comment.

Photos from and NXT twitter.

Jocs Boncodin (@caboncodin) is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry. He answers tweets 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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