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Smark Hen-XT (11/25/15): Too Good to be True

This week, we were treated to a master class in booking as we avoided the darkest timeline. Plus, we got the contract signing for TakeOver: London’s main event and the rematch for the NXT Tag Team Championship.

What a Glorious Mess

Admit it, you were afraid. Very afraid. The prospect of a barely trained, though very attractive, Eva Marie carrying around the NXT Women’s Championship scared you. It would have been the utmost disrespect to the title that paved the way for the Divas Revolution, the one that the greatest womens wrestlers in this decade have built and fought for. Against all odds, we’ve narrowly avoided it. And damn, that was a hell of a ride.

I loved how during the whole show, the idea that Eva Marie was backed by “Corporate” was fostered. It wouldn’t have been a far-fetched idea, anyway. If the past two decades have told us anything, “Corporate” still had an ideal look for champions, especially for the women. To “succeed” in the Divas division you didn’t have to be really good (sure, that helped), you just had to look a certain way, and Eva Marie certainly fits the bill.

So everything from Michael Cole announcing that “Corporate” booked the match, sending down Charles Robinson to “make sure there was no controversy”, to allowing Nia Jax to be at ringside, and even the the commentary team talking about how it was “best for business”, it made it feel like whoever this “Corporate” is, it wanted Eva Marie as its champ, story-wise.

In reality, it had another effect. It made Bayley get even more support from the crowd (not like she needed that) and Eva Marie get more heat (again, she didn’t need to). Creative brilliantly hijacked both the NXT mob’s love of Bayley and insane hate of Eva Marie and crafted a wonderful little story around it and it was awesome. The challenger backed by the evil capitalist machine against the people’s champ—a classic trope, but with a twist.

On paper, this match had no right being as fun as it was. Granted, it was an overbooked mess, but what a glorious mess it was. It had a couple of ref bumps, multiple outside interferences, and even a good serving of false finishes. And the fans ate it all up. Everyone in the ring was spot on that it didn’t matter that Eva Marie is a terrible wrestler, which surprisingly enough actually helped the whole drama work. Through the lens of sports entertainment, it was bloody fucking fantastic.

With TakeOver: London coming in fast, part of me wants to say I’m glad we got this match out of the way. The other part of me wants to believe that it could have been more brilliant if they milked it a bit more. Nevertheless, we’re heading on to a new program now, with Nia Jax stepping up as Bayley’s next dance partner. They’re trying to redirect some heat from Eva Marie to Jax, but I’m not sure if it’s working just yet. I’m hoping Creative can work its magic again.

The rest of the show:

Contract signing for the NXT Championship match between Finn Balor and Samoa Joe

  • Short and sweet, this one was. Balor came up, talked about shoving his boot down Joe’s throat. Joe came in, without even looking at his opponent, signed the contract, and left. Everything pretty much went well…

  • That was until Joe attacked Balor from behind as the latter was heading up the ramp. It was a pretty even brawl until Joe locked in the Coquina Clutch to put the champ to sleep.

  • I think we can safely say that NXT does contract signing better than RAW. There’s a level of self-awareness during it. We all know the tropes of a WWE-contract signing segment, and NXT does its best to play with them and give us a new twist. Joe coming in and saying nothing, only to attack Balor at the end of the segment is a great way to show how Joe is a no-nonsense destroyer and Balor as your honorable champion.

  • Balor-Joe should be a fun match, and it should be a great match to end NXT’s year. Both are seasoned veterans who can and probably will deliver under the bright lights of London. This additional element of mutual hate will only make this one of the more exciting.

Dash & Dawson def. The Vaudevillains to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship

  • Pretty much a rehash of their last match. The new champs targeted English again, this time working his shoulder. The champs retained after delivering the Shatter Machine to English.

  • I’m more interested in the post match attack by Enzo & Big Cass. London looks to be the place where the Realest Guys in the Room get the shiniest piece of bling. Not that I think Dash & Dawson doesn’t deserve a longer run with the Tag Team title. I just feel like there are better teams, more interesting teams to build the division around. Enzo & Big Cass fit the bill.

Asuka got beat down by Emma before her match against Dana Brooke even started

  • Emma locked Asuka up with the Emma Lock before heading backstage with Dana Brooke. Asuka just took it all with a smile.

  • This Asuka murder smile is starting to lose its appeal. I know the language barrier is a difficult thing to overcome, but without putting the mic on, her character development is stunted. Unless she starts exhibiting a lot more nonverbal cues to express other things, or if she gets a manager, she’s stuck as a one trick pony.

Apollo Crews def. Jesse Sorensen

  • Squash match for Crews. Interesting though, that he barely smiled throughout the match. He was all business. This level of intensity seems to promise that his match against Baron Corbin at TakeOver: London is going to be a hard hitting one.

  • Just a side note, but I’m glad to see Sorensen working again. He’s a young kid that got sidelined with a terrible injury, so props for him to be working again.

This show had a lot of things going for it. From an excellent contract signing segment to the off-the-wall main event, it was a lot of fun to watch. A lot of it is just set up for TakeOver: London, but they did it in a way that I was really excited for the card. Give this show an A.

Your thoughts on the main event? Getting excited for TakeOver: London? Let us know and drop us a comment.

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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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