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Smark Hen-XT (6/15/16): Iconoclast


A week after TakeOver: The End, NXT dives straight into action as Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Bálor get into each other’s faces. Also, Tye Dillinger gets a rematch against Andrade “Cien” Almas and the Authors of Pain have their in-ring debut.

The Demon and the King


When you talk about the “Icons” of NXT, names like Seth Rollins, Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, as well as the Four Horsewomen, come to mind. These are the stars who helped shape NXT into the awesome thing that it is. Finn Bálor deserves to be part of that group. From his much-hyped debut to his title reign, the Irishman has helped NXT grow as a brand and became its face for much of last year.


A week after his historic Steel Cage match for the NXT Championship, we begin Bálor’s farewell tour of NXT. There isn’t a lot left for the Demon to do down at Full Sail, and with his former running mates in Japan finding their stride on the main roster, it’s only a matter of time before he debuts on RAW or SmackDown. So he stood in the ring to lay down a challenge, and Shinsuke Nakamura answered his call. The King of Strong Style put the former champ over by praising him as an icon of NXT, but followed it up by claiming that if Nakamura was to be champion, he would have to beat the icon first.

This was a brilliant segment. Bálor knows his time down at Florida is up, and he put over NXT as a whole quite well in his promo. Nakamura, though, was on a different level altogether. His over the top mannerisms and charisma meshed well with Bálor’s straight-laced schtick. Hell, both guys’ facial expressions were on point. This set up a dream match, and a reason to exist. Bálor will put over Nakamura as the former’s last great act in NXT, and Nakamura’s claim to contendership becomes stronger as he destroys the last few obstacles between him and the champion, Samoa Joe.

This feud has “must watch” written all over it, and it sure as hell had the Full Sail crowd losing their shit. I cannot wait for this match to happen.

The Rest of the Show:


The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) def. two local talents



  • Ellering’s new bruising duo destroyed their opponents with a Legsweep-Lariat combo.

  • Short and sweet. The Authors of Pain made the most of their short time in the ring by looking dominant and showcasing some tandem moves. The equally short deflection from Ellering during the backstage interview adds a level of intrigue to the team. It’s obvious that they’re down at NXT to destroy other teams, but a little bit of mystery never hurts.

Carmella def. Tessa Blanchard



  • The Princess of Staten Island picked up the win after locking in the newly-named Code of Silence.

  • Man, it’s insane to see how much Carmella has grown as a performer in the past year. She’s never going to be the best technical wrestler in the women’s division, but she’s grown into a style that fits perfectly with her gimmick. Not really digging the name of the finisher, though.

  • Another interesting thing about Carmella’s gimmick is that it’s really defined by her relationship to other people. She’s either Enzo and Cass’s girl, or she’s Bayley’s bestie. With those three players either out of NXT or on the way out, it’d be interesting to see how Carmella stays afloat. I can see how they’re trying to recreate the Bayley-underdog feel with her, but I don’t think she has the same charisma.

  • I’m slightly annoyed that Blanchard chose to work heel by screaming Carmella’s catchphrase one too many times. She’s good in the ring, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I get that mocking an opponent’s catchphrase is an easy way to get heat, but it was just not pleasant to the ears.


TM61 def. Blake and Murphy



  • The Australian duo won the match after hitting Thunder Valley on Murphy.

  • After an excellent debut a couple of weeks back, it’s great to see TM61 finally pick up their first win. They’re an exciting young team that will help build up a renewed tag team division. It won’t be long before they’re going for the NXT Tag titles.

  • Seeing Blake and Murphy is just disappointing right now. What was once a solid team with a title reign under their belts is now a pair of glorified enhancement talents. I was hoping they’d just go through the break up angle and not backtrack this week, but they at least explained themselves in their backstage segment.

  • Corey Graves went a bit overboard with his jokes on commentary during this match with the whole Thunderdome shtick. It amazes me that he did that, and it failed to overshadow the match. Just goes to show how skilled he is on the mic. He might crack a joke, but he’ll still put the match over.

Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Tye Dillinger



  • The former masked luchador once again defeated the Perfect 10 after a Running Double Knee Strike in the corner.

  • Creative has to get Cien as far away as possible from Dillinger if they want to get people cheering for him. It’s obvious that he’s good, but he’ll never get the NXT Universe to back him if he keeps on facing a beloved star like the Perfect 10. I can see why NXT would like to keep him as a babyface, but at the rate they’re going, Full Sail will turn him heel before the year’s end.

  • Props for Dillinger for referring to Cathy Kelly as a “six,” like it’s the worst thing ever. I would have rated her higher, though. I like how Dillinger is trying to be a dick, but he’s still more lovable than most of the guys in the company. I really hope the powers that be will give this man the push he so rightfully deserves.

*****

NXT got right back into business after TakeOver, and it’s a great way to start this new chapter for them. We had really entertaining matches throughout the night, but the last segment with Bálor and Nakamura was just awesome. If the new chapter of NXT is just like this episode, we’re in for a great ride. This episode gets an A-.

Excited for Bálor-Nakamura? Thoughts on this week's episode? Drop us a comment below!

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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