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Smark Hen-XT (3/16/16): The Hype is Real


This week, the road to Dallas takes a strong turn as new number one contenders are announced and a new King made his presence felt.

Long Live the King


After months of waiting, Shinsuke Nakamura, the King of Strong Style himself, is finally on WWE TV. Well, a video of him, that is. But hey, Shiny is on NXT! While we’ll have to wait for his in-ring debut at TakeOver: Dallas, those 10 seconds of him rambling created enough hype for an already stacked card.


Shinsuke Nakamura-Sami Zayn is a great match on paper. They’re two great talents on polar opposites of their respective NXT journey. Nakamura is immediately given a top spot on the card as he’s being paired up with one of NXT’s biggest stars. Zayn, on the other hand, is given a great partner for what could be his swansong for the yellow brand. You just know both guys are going to be on top of their game come the 1st of April.

While the approval of the Full Sail faithful is resounding, the question of whether or not Nakamura’s unique brand of showmanship and charisma would translate well to WWE’s wider market remains. Assigning him to NXT for some time will allow him to build up some recognizability, and coupled with WWE’s media push for him the past week, this should allow the King of Strong Style’s star to rise even for the more casual of fans.

Shinsuke Nakamura could very well be the biggest coup WWE has scored in recent years. As his journey begins, I, for one, cannot wait to see it unfold.

Here Comes Your New Challengers


Two number one contenders were crowned this week. First up, NXT GM William Regal announced that Asuka will take on the huggable champ Bayley for the Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Dallas. Second, the main event saw American Alpha winning the right to face The Revival for the Tag Team Championship.


Bayley and Asuka teamed up this week to face the team of Nia Jax and Eva Marie. A costly mistake, where Jax accidentally nailed Eva Marie with a leg drop, gave the champion and her challenger the opening to hit a kick by Asuka and the Bayley-to-Belly to pick up the win.

I’m excited for the matchup between the stiff striking joshi legend and the charismatic champion. They’re two of the most talented women on the brand, and both are over with the crowd. It’ll be interesting to see who the Dallas crowd will back in this title match. Nevertheless, expect this match to be in the discussion when we talk about the best match of WrestleMania weekend.


The team of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable once again knocked off the recently turned Vaudevillains in this week’s main event to earn the right to to challenge for tag team gold. It was a good, but not too memorable, match between teams who’ve already faced off against one another. A hectic sequence led to Jordan nailing Aiden English with a shoulder tackle in the corner that led to Grand Amplitude and the pin.

As mediocre as the match was, it’s a great vehicle for American Alpha to be crowned number one contenders. They’ve been on a roll, facing and defeating former tag champs, so defeating another further strengthens my belief that the amateur wrestling standouts are on their way to win gold at Dallas. The Revival, as good as they are, obviously isn’t on the same level in terms of charisma as Jordan and Gable. Dawson and Wilder are in for a tough fight if they want to retain their titles.

The Rest of the Show:


The Hype Bros def. Angelo Dawkins and Kenneth Crawford



  • Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley picked up the win after hitting the Hype Ryder on Crawford.

  • Rawley—for all the intensity he supposedly brings—bores me. He’s been around NXT for quite some time now and yet he’s never really developed beyond what he initially was. He still looks a bit gassed after his entrance and leans on his catchphrases too much. I’ve hoped that teaming with a vet like Ryder would hasten his improvement, but it’s obvious that it’s just barely hiding his deficiencies at this point. The former U.S. Champion deserves so much better than this.

  • So Dawkins has a new tag team partner? I wonder how long this one lasts.

Emma def. Deonna Purrazzo



  • The Aussie-born heel locked in the Emma Lock to win against the Jersey-native jobber.

  • I love how delusional Evil Emma has become that even Corey Graves even called her out for wearing shades indoors. Granted, that was petty, but everything else about her egotistical attitude screams delusional, especially after getting beat by the new number one contender, Asuka. And it’s perfect. This is what Eva Marie is trying to be, only Emma does it infinitely better.

  • I wonder if Purrazzo’s getting picked up soon. She’s definitely on Based Haitch and friends’ radar if she’s performing on TV, and looking at her work in the indies, she’s a few steps away from being a star. She’s someone to keep an eye on, folks.

Tommasso Ciampa def. Jesse Sorensen



  • In the battle between two unsigned wrestlers, the Sicilian Psychopath got the W with his modified armbar.

  • NXT’s booking of Ciampa is weird as fuck. They haven’t signed him, so he’s jobbing for marquee names, but they’re giving him squash wins as if they’re building up to something. He’s good—I get that—but it feels like he’ll never get to do his best on the biggest stage as long as a contract is not on the table.

  • I like NXT’s use of outsiders to take on jobber roles. It allows them to build up their top guys (or whatever the hell Ciampa is supposed to be) without having to sacrifice every developing talent on their roster. Plus, there’s the added bonus of seeing some great guys and gals you’ll never think to see in a WWE match ever.

  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love seeing Sorensen bouncing back after being dealt such a terrible hand a couple of years ago. Fuck TNA.

*****

In a episode where the talking segments greatly overshadowed the work in the ring, this week’s show was still pretty fun. Getting to see one of the best wrestlers in the world finally making his presence known in the WWE already makes this must-watch. Asuka and American Alpha earning their title shots just sweetens the deal. The road to Dallas is kicking off in a great way. This week’s show gets a B+.

What do you think of Shinsuke Nakamura's appearance? Think the new number one contenders can knock of the current champs? Let us know by dropping us a comment!

Photos from WWE.com


*****

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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