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Smark Hen-XT (10/14/15): Everybody Wants to Rule the World

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This week on NXT, a new chapter begins for the brand as new stories are set up and new challengers announce their intentions to go for gold.

Here comes your new challengers


In the wake of TakeOver: Respect, all the title scenes are getting a bit of a shake up as new contenders make their intentions felt. Everybody wants a piece of the champions.



NXT Women’s Champion Bayley started the show to talk about history being made last week at Respect. Alexa Bliss, with her boys Blake and Murphy, crashed the party and stepped up as her next challenger.

The promos were not both women’s bests. Bayley sounded a bit off. It’s like she was trying to find the sweet spot between wide-eyed fan and proven champion. Her best promos had always been in response to Sasha Banks, someone who could work the mic better than most Divas on both rosters. Bayley going at it alone felt a bit flat, but there is still room for improvement.

Bliss, God bless her adorbz soul, was good in her cartoony, villainy queen bitch character, but I felt she could have ramped it up a bit more. She could have pushed her flattery more—everyone knew she was insincere anyway—and she could have been more of, for lack of a better word, a diva about going to take the title from Bayley. I dig the line about her “not writing letters to herself when she was 10” though.

I like the choice for Bliss being the first challenger. She was pretty much the star of the Dubstep Cowboys-Vaudevillains feud and she played her character well. I still believe Bliss is a better valet than a wrestler, but if someone on the NXT roster can bring out a good match from her, it’d be the champ, Bayley. Will this feud be as good as the last championship feud? Not sure, but I’m hopeful.

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In the tag team scene, the Vaudevillains finally got back on track after being an afterthought in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. They picked up a win against the team of the jobber team of Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton. Backstage, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson reminded us that they were the ones to take out the champs during the DRTTC, and once they’re done with Enzo and Big Cass, they’re gunning for gold.

I like this match-up. Both teams are skilled workers. The Vaudevillains’ gimmick may have a low ceiling, but their in-ring abilities are making them over. Dash and Dawson are a throwback to old tag teams. They are a pair of no-nonsense beatdown artists, and they’re showing at Respect was good. They’re going to have a great match for the titles.


Last week, it was announced that a battle royal would determine the next number one contender for Finn Balor’s NXT Championship. Throughout the episode, backstage vignettes from many of the participants were shown, telling us why they’ll win. At the end of the night, Apollo Crews was the last man standing and earned a date with Balor for the championship.

The little vignettes were nice. Keeping them short made sure they kept everyone’s attention. I particularly enjoyed Tye Dillinger’s fun delusional self and Rhyno’s throwback boiler room setting, much like his ECW days.

The battle royal itself was a glorious mess. With 23 competitors in the ring, ideas like “order” get thrown out of the ring faster than anyone. Interesting interactions came out of it, though. We’re already seeing the start of the program between the teams of Dash & Dawson and Enzo & Big Cass. After teaming up during the DRTTC successfully, Corbin threw out Rhyno, reigniting tensions between them. Finally, Samoa Joe, who thinks he should be number one contender, got eliminated by Tyler Breeze, which should keep both guys busy before either one of them enters the title scene or the main roster, as rumors might have it. Creative was smart to use the battle royal not just to determine the new contender, but set up new feuds as well.

I’m a little bummed by the decision to go with Crews here, though. I get that he’s over and impressive is an understatement when it comes to his athleticism. Everything else about him feels half-baked though. He doesn’t really have much of a gimmick right now outside of being a face who smiles a lot and is happy to be where he is. This feels rushed and I think he still needs another small feud or two to establish who he is and what he’s about. I would have liked the opportunity going to Joe, as they’ve been teasing the past months. The only reason I can see is that this is potentially when we’re seeing the Balor heel turn. I doubt they’ll run this feud with both of them as faces and Balor is a more natural fit for a heel. That’s something to look forward to, at least.

The rest of the show:

Nia Jax def. Evie


  • After months of teasing, Nia Jax finally debuts and, well, it was something. Essentially a true hoss in the land of barbie dolls, I expected more menace out of her. The blue outfit and disco-pop entrance theme didn’t click with the vignettes. The short squash ended with a nice ura-nage slam, a nice throwback to her cousin The Rock’s finisher.

  • About the other woman in the ring, Evie, she’s from SHINE, an all-woman wrestling fed under Gabe Sapolsky’s WWN. Now I’m not entirely privy to what the working relationship is between Triple H’s baby fed and Sapolsky’s group, but it already is paying dividends in terms of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. The influx of tried and talented wrestlers from WWN bolsters NXT’s TV roster as they continue to develop new guys at the Performance Center. I’m interested to see how this working relationship plays out.

Eva Marie promo

  • Eva Marie sent a video from Paris while she takes some “me time” after her “gruelling matches”.

  • Eva Marie is really good at getting heat now and working it to her advantage. Her promos aren’t any better than her ring work. It sounded like she was reading out of index cards. But it gets her heat, and she’s a heel, so it works in some bizarro logic.


This was a weird show. At first, it looked like a whole lotta nothing happened, with only three matches, two of them squash matches, but the hook here is the set up for future feuds. They started a lot of stories with only promos and small interactions. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if they fine tune this approach, I wouldn’t mind a couple more of episodes like this. The matches felt relevant and the vignettes did a good job of building characters and programs up. I would have liked to see a lot less recap videos, but they’re still riding the wave from Respect, so it’s understandable. I give this show a B.

Photos from WWE


*****

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, smarkhenry.ph's weekly NXT review.

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