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Smark Hen-XT (10/21/15): Riders on the Storm

This week, the Man Beast goes toe to toe with the Lone Wolf and a new star debuts.

Jumping ship

I feel bad for TNA. Their future is in question. They’re badly mismanaged. Worst of all, most of their top talents are leaving and succeeding outside their company. The latest escapee of the sinking ship that is TNA? None other than the Cowboy James Storm.

This is a pretty big coup for NXT. Storm is a great proven talent. He shined as a tag team wrestler, both as a member of America’s Most Wanted (with Chris Harris) and Beer Money Inc. (with Bobby Roode). He’s also proven himself as a dependable top-tier singles competitor, having a solid run at the top of Impact Wrestling as its champion as well as the leader of the Revolution. He has the skills both in the ring and with a mic. That he’s a beer-drinking cowboy SOB is a bonus in my eyes.

As many introductory squash matches go, Storm’s debut was typical. He had fun, soaking in the “You Belong Here” from Full Sail crowd at the start of the match. The decision to go with the Eight Second Ride finisher is interesting. I was expecting the Eye of the Storm crucifix toss or the Last Call superkick.

But what do you do with a talent like James Storm in a developmental third brand? Not much, I guess. I project a similar trajectory as fellow TNA alumnus Samoa Joe. Expect him to be thrown in a feud with a big name and help guys develop before probably being a given a stint at the main roster. If his stint at Florida will be anything like Joe’s, expect a revitalized Storm delivering his best work in recent years.

The Rest of the Show:

Asuka def. Billie Kay

  • Billie Kay looked like she was channelling her fellow Aussie Evil Emma in this match with her ring gear, the pre-match taped promo, and ring work. I like the swagger coming out, even if we all knew she was jobbing for the red hot joshi superstar. It’s so misplaced and unearned, it’s basic heeling 101. Once she strings up a couple of wins, she’d work great as the next top female heel of the brand.

  • Asuka, though, once again proves she’s one of the baddest women in the WWE right now. Her stiff strikes mixed in with her technical expertise makes her so much fun to watch. Particularly loved that sequence where she caught her opponent with a rolling armbar that she transitioned to a seated fujiwara armbar. Beautiful.

Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady def. Dash & Dawson

  • The more I see Dash and Dawson work, the more I like them as a team. As I’ve said before, their no-nonsense attitude and their ruthlessness puts them apart of the other teams on NXT. And their finisher, the Shatter Machine, looks as badass as it sounds. They might have taken the pinfall, but they stood over a broken Enzo and Cass at the end.

  • Right now, I like them as the next challengers to the Vaudevillains. Let them work with the champs as the other hot team of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan figure out if they’re better as heels or faces.

  • On the other hand, I feel really bad for the Realest Guys in the Room. No matter how over they are, it seems like they’re stuck in neutral right now. They’re out of the title scene and even with this win, it feels like they’ve lost. Outside of a breakup—which possibly might be the worst decision to do for the guys—I can’t think of a way to freshen up their gimmick and gain some much needed momentum. Being over with the crowd can only take you so far when creative has nothing for you.

Alexa Bliss def. Peyton Royce

  • I was a bit confused with Peyton Royce. While Billie Kay seems to be finding her footing, Royce seems to be treading as a positionless jobber. Her showing was less impressive, and while she had the crowd’s support, she takes the loss against Bliss.

  • Bliss, though, showing some improvement with her ring work. She still only has two memorable moves, the Glitz Flip moonsault knee drop and her finisher the Sparkle Splash, so I’m hoping to see more from her ring work.

  • Her post-match promo was better than last week. She upped upon that false sincerity last week but she added a bit more of a growl in her speech. She sounded like a legit contender. Again, her heel work over the past couple of months is a revelation. With a bit more polishing, Bliss could be a great star for the women’s division. She may not win the belt from Bayley, but she will soon enough.

Apollo Crews mini-documentary

  • It looks like Crews is getting a similar introspective video, like the champ Finn Balor, before his title shot. This is a great move as it actually shows more of Crews’ character. He already has the fans behind him with his freakish athleticism; giving him more character will only make him more relatable. 

Baron Corbin def. Rhyno

  • Hoss fight for the main event! We’ve seen this match-up before, but with Corbin having more experience under his belt and the better chemistry between the two guys, this was definitely better than their last showing. Corbin kicking out after the Gore showed a bit of his resiliency. While it wasn’t the “wow” match nobody expected it to be, it was still a good match from both of them.

  • That being said, at least they got this out of the way already. Corbin will need more dominant wins against better competition as he marches on to his inevitable title match. He’s being positioned as the next big baddie in NXT, and at the rate he’s improving, that role will be his sooner rather than later.

  • Rhyno is proving to be a great top-tier gate keeper. His experience and credibility gives anyone winning against him a great boost. I highly doubt he’ll ever be champ, but his position right now is perfect for him.

Tyler Breeze and Samoa Joe promos

  • Earlier in the show, Breeze delivered a great promo to hype the first match in his graduation tour. For those who don’t know, Prince Pretty just debuted on Smackdown and looks to be facing off against Dolph Ziggler. The promo was short but succinct. He thinks he should be #1 contender, and if he isn’t, well, Joe isn’t going to be.

  • Joe on the other hand, delivers another intense promo to close the show. As I’ve said, Joe looked revitalized and his promo work was great. He promised to inflict pain and ugliness in such passion I haven’t seen since the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens feud. It was brilliant.

A storm just came through Full Sail Arena as James Storm is poised to make a big splash in NXT. The matches were good as we see more from Asuka and the improvements guys like Dash & Dawson, Bliss, and Corbin were highlighted. The promo at the end of the show really just sold the next episode as well. The lack of a really great match and the continued absence of NXT Champion Finn Balor hurt the episode a bit, but it still gets a solid 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,'s weekly NXT review.

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