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Smark Hen-XT (5/25/16): The Beginning of the End


On this episode, we have a triple threat match to determine the number one contender to Asuka’s NXT Women’s Championship. Also on board, a massive match is announced for TakeOver: The End...

Three-Way Dance


The show started with NXT GM William Regal announcing that Bayley isn’t medically cleared after last week’s beating. This means her rematch for the NXT Women’s Championship is put on hold, and a new number one contender will be crowned in this week’s main event: a triple threat match between Nia Jax, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss.


The story of the match was Jax’s overwhelming size and strength advantage against the two smaller ladies. Bliss and Carmella, however, fought hard and had Jax momentarily down near the end. The finish saw Carmella locking in the Inverted Triangle Hold on Bliss, only for the latter to be pulled away by Jax. A spinebuster and a leg drop on Carmella later and Jax picked up the W. After the match, the NXT Women’s Champion Asuka came down and stared down the larger Jax.

I must admit that those three women aren’t the most polished talents. Hell, it was a big risk to put them in a match where they looked really green without a guiding veteran hand. Thankfully, this was a serviceable match, if not a little formulaic. Jax was the clear-cut favorite to win the match, after last week’s main event, but her work wasn’t quite as nice as her previous match. Still, she’s in a unique position compared to the other women in NXT as she’s the only hoss, so she has her size and continuing development to thank for her second shot at the NXT Women’s title. Both Bliss and Carmella showed flashes of brilliance, but consistency will be the key for them. Their ring work is pretty much set already, and now it’s about bringing it each and every night.


Let’s face facts, though. Jax might be the number one contender, but she ain’t winning the title. Bayley might be out for now, but with another TakeOver scheduled for SummerSlam weekend, it wouldn’t be surprising if NXT was holding out on the bigger match for the show. Jax is a solid first challenger for Asuka—she’s an imposing, but beatable, partner for the new champ—but the Empress’s biggest challenge is when the Hugster comes back for her rematch.

No Misunderstandings


Austin Aries showed up and cut a promo, essentially declaring himself the greatest and announcing his intention to go after the NXT Championship. Shinsuke Nakamura came out to counter, saying that the championship won’t go to greatness, but to the King of Strong Style. William Regal then announced from the ramp that the two will face each other at TakeOver: The End…


Everything about this segment was near perfect. Aries was once again showing glimpses of the narcissistic heel he can be, and rambled on with his promo about the difference between the best and the greatest. Nakamura’s charisma was off the charts, dropping bits of humor and eccentricity that belied the huge ego he himself has. Regal came out with that smile of his that he brings when he, as a person, is marking out with excitement. This is a big fight, and while it’s the only one of the announced matches to not have a title on the line, you can practically feel the importance of this match. These are two guys who can potentially change the landscape if they win the title, and this is the first step to that goal. More than any match on the card, this could potentially steal the show.

The only thing that could have made this better would be to announce that this was for number one contendership. Double-A and Swagsuke are both potential challengers, but legitimizing their title aspirations by giving a title shot to the winner would have made this more must-watch. It’s a long time between The End... and (possibly) Brooklyn 2, so there might be plans for a different number one contendership feud between the winner and someone else. But whatever is in store for the future, I’m way too excited for Nakamura-Aries on June 8th.

The Rest of the Show:


Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa def. TM-61



  • Gargano and Ciampa picked up the win against the debuting duo in a great opener.

  • Excellent debut for the Aussie duo, the newly christened Shane Thorn and Nick Miller. They showed up and proved that they can go in the ring. They have a good mix of technical ability, awesome athleticism, and team chemistry that will serve them well. They’ll need to work on their mic skills, but that will come with experience. They might have lost their debuts, but as a first step to their NXT journeys, this isn’t bad. While they’re a good team with an international following, they’re not as established yet in the U.S. audience’s minds, so a slow start will give them time to build up their cred.

  • The commentary duo of Corey Graves and Tom Phillips did a great job trying to build up both teams. They built up TM-61 as a great, well-travelled team, and Ciampa and Gargano’s participation in the CWC was once again brought to the forefront.

No Way Jose def. Jonathan Ortagun



  • No Way Jose danced his way to a victory, and danced a bit more afterwards.

  • The gimmick is fun, no doubt, but it gets tiring. NXT is once again falling to the same trap that they do to build up a debuting Performance Center product. Yes, we know he’s athletic, and yes, maybe his hips don’t lie, but I need motivation. I want to know why he’s always dancing, and how this all fits in the jungle of NXT. Give him a story, even one that’s minor, just to see what makes him tick. I don’t need squash match after squash match after squash match.

  • Also, the Cobra Clutch Slam is still a bit clunky, but the more I see it, the more it fits the dancing gimmick. It looks like a twirl by a ballroom dancer, though a bit unrefined, so for now it gets a pass. It better have an awesome name though, like most dance moves do.

*****

This was a pretty solid show all throughout. We had a great opening tag match, a great in-ring promo segment between two of the biggest stars of the brand, and a solid main event. Hell, even No Way Jose’s squash match was fun. This was a great episode to get the fans ready for TakeOver. This episode gets an A-.

Excited for Aries-Nakamura, or Jax-Asuka? 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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