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Smark Hen-XT (4/27/16): A New Day Rising


We’re finally at the final episode of the WrestleMania Axxess tapings, and to close out the set, Eva Marie and Elias Samson line up to get their heads caved in. Also, we get highlights from Samoa Joe’s NXT title win over Finn Bálor.

Passing the Torch


Last week, at a live show, Samoa Joe finally exorcised his demon as he defeated Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship.


First things first, what?

This was an odd choice for this big moment. I get that NXT has this special relationship with the fans, but to give this title win on a live show, away from the TV cameras, feels like a cop-out. It was like they just wanted to give Bálor the record of longest reign (he ended his reign at 292 days, just four days longer than Adrian Neville’s reign as champ) before letting him drop it. If the plan was for the champ to beat the record, they could have done it a week later, during their TV Tapings and air it on tape delay. I get that the plan was to give the belt to Joe to free up the former champ for a call-up, but why do it at a house show in Lowell, MA? They could have given it more fanfare. Hell, they should have just done it at Dallas.


Second, well fucking finally. I was getting bored with the reign of the Demon. Bálor’s great, but his bland gimmick (or lack thereof) was grinding on me already. Heck, he barely shows up on TV. You could probably blame Creative for that, but at the end of the day, this was really a mediocre reign. Yes, his title defenses were great, but the angles were overshadowed with the resurgence of the other divisions. Hell, the Sami Zayn-Samoa Joe mini-feud for the number one contendership was better than the build up to TakeOver: Dallas.

With Joe holding the championship, it shakes up the landscape and presents new possible and interesting matchups. I’d love to see Shinsuke Nakamura or Austin Aries step up for the title. If Hideo Itami finally heals up, it’d be great to see him in the mix.

A new king was crowned at Lowell, and we are now living in the world of the Destroyer.

The Rest of the Show:


Asuka def. Eva Marie



  • This was a surprisingly hard-fought match for the new NXT Women’s Champion, but Asuka picked up the win against Eva Marie with a Spin Kick.

  • I scratch my head at this match’s booking, seeing as Asuka didn’t look like the dominant beast she was and Eva Marie looked stronger than she had any right to be. Coming after the break, Eva Marie took over with no real reason to show how she did that. Why not let the Empress destroy her first opponent? Make her look strong since she is your champion.

  • That being said, that staredown with Nia Jax—who was at ringside—and Asuka is nice. Jax presents herself as someone who isn’t scared of the joshi legend, and there’s a great story and a potential for character growth here. How does the ass kicking champ beat someone who isn’t intimidated by her? Who is possibly more intimidating than Empress? Will the champ survive the encounter?

  • The commentary during this match was great. Corey Graves’ caustic commentary is entertaining, but his irrational love for All Red Everything is awesome. Tom Phillips playing the straight man is brilliant, pretty much being the voice of everyone else, while never trying to overshadow the real star in the booth.

The Revival def. Matt Lee and Jeff Parker



  • The former Tag Team Champions utterly destroyed Chikara’s 3.0.

  • There’s something beautiful about how Dash and Dawson annihilated their opponents. When they claimed to be the best tag team in the world after the match, I wanted to believe them—then I remembered American Alpha existed. Still though, they are one of the best tag teams in the WWE, and even in squash matches, you can see why.

Hype Bros def Blake & Murphy





  • Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder got the win against the former Tag Team Champions with the Hype Ryder.

  • I’m not convinced that this tag team is the best use of Ryder’s talents. He still has untapped potential as a singles wrestler in the midcard, probably with a lengthy title reign. But no, like him, we’re stuck with Mojo Rawley.

  • The beatdown by The Revival was perfect. This has to be their thing now, just destroy everyone on their way to a rematch for the NXT Tag Team Championship.

  • Graves is right: the best part of Blake & Murphy is Alexa Bliss. Without her, they’re just two guys who look alike. Also, if they’re being buried in the tag team division, why still insist on keeping those two as a tag team? Murphy is pretty solid in the ring, and with Alexa as his mouthpiece, he could do well. Blake is charismatic enough, and with his eccentric hair, he could play a good comedy jobber, or tag with Tye Dillinger and see who has the more outrageous hair cut.

Shinsuke Nakamura def. Elias Samson



  • Swagsuke took care of business and put away the Drifter with the Kinshasa.

  • Yet another squash match to showcase the King of Strong Style in the main event. I love me some Nakamura on my screen, but they have to start building up to something. We have a little under six weeks until the next TakeOver event, and it would be a given that he’ll be in a high-profile match. They’ll need to start building that up soon.

  • Drift away, Samson. Just drift away.

*****

This week wasn’t really exciting. When the most competitive match of the night was an Eva Marie match, you know there’s a booking problem. It’s hard to keep people’s attention with a series of squash matches. That being said, we’re finally done with the WrestleMania Axxess episodes, which was pretty much NXT showing off to the WM fans, so I didn’t really expect any epic storylines to kick off. Next week, we’re back at Full Sail and the real fun begins. This episode gets a B-.

Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know and drop 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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