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Smark Hen-XT (7/20/16): Updraft


A day after the WWE Draft, we take a look at how it changes the NXT landscape. Also on board, Samoa Joe faces Rhyno, American Alpha tries to get back at the Authors of Pain, and Bayley & Nia Jax face off for the third time.

NXT's Big Draft Day


The WWE Draft hit NXT really hard, with six names being plucked from their ranks to bolster the newly divided main roster. A lot of the picks were not really much a surprise for me, but there are still headscratchers. Let’s go through the picks one-by-one.


  • Getting picked fifth overall is a sign that big things are coming for the former NXT Champion Finn Bálor. The leader of the Bálor Club was picked before names like John Cena, Randy Orton, and Roman Reigns. While I think he’d work best as a heel with the his former Bullet Club buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, it does give RAW a main event-calibre babyface that people actually like and probably won’t boo. He got drafted higher than I thought he’d be, but there was no doubt the call-up was happening.


  • Smackdown Live picked up American Alpha in the fifth round. With this, the blue brand gets an excellent tag team that they can build their own tag team division around. The former amateur wrestling standouts will have their time to shine in the heavily hyped show, and it won’t be long until their technical skill and amazing athleticism win over the WWE Universe.


  • Nia Jax is another great pick-up in the fifth round, this time, for the flagship show. Jax already faced the top women of NXT in Bayley and Asuka, with varying success, so the only place to go was up. She’s no longer as green as when she started, but she definitely is not a finished product yet. Hanging out with veteran ring workers like Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Paige will only help her become better.

  • While this might come as a surprise, I actually like Mojo Rawley going to SmackDown Live with his NXT tag team partner Zack Ryder. The former NFL linebacker has grown a lot since his debut, and a lot of it can be attributed to teaming up with Ryder, so I’m hoping they keep the two together.

  • I’m going to group the next two together: Alexa Bliss and Carmella. Both are going to SmackDown Live to bolster the brand’s Women’s division, and they’re pretty solid hands there. I don’t like it though, as there’s an even better superstar that went undrafted: the former NXT Women’s Champion Bayley. If you wanted a marquee women’s division star that can both go in the ring and drive merch sales, look no further than the Hugster. Still though, Battleground is still coming up, and Banks doesn’t have a tag partner yet, and who better to pick than a fellow Horsewoman?


In many ways, NXT both won and lost the WWE Draft held during SmackDown Live. With a high draft pick coming from the yellow brand and other solid call-ups, this proves NXT’s value to the company both as a feeder system and its own star-making machine. That this came at the cost of gutting their Tag Team and Women’s divisions is a bit of a downer, and now the Florida-based brand will have its work cut out for them to rebuild those. NXT, though, has proven that it can bounce back from this, so I’m not too worried. It’s the true beginning of a new era for NXT, and I'm excited to see where it leads.

The Rest of the Show:


Samoa Joe def. Rhyno



  • The NXT Champion got the submission victory against the Man Beast in a fun match.

  • Hoss fights between talented guys are fun, and these two veterans had a solid showing. Rhyno was a good choice for Joe’s opponent this week as he has a big enough name to put the champ over, but I still think someone else would have benefited from the rub of having a good match with Joe.


The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) def. American Alpha



  • The bruising duo of Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani destroyed the former NXT Tag Team Champions.

  • This was a great showcase match for both teams. The Authors of Pain was presented as a dominant team, and American Alpha was a great underdog team with excellent spots. The right team won here, as the AoP needed to establish themselves as legitimate threats to the whole division. Taking out the former champs in decisive fashion is a good way to do that.

  • Also, holy hell, that Gable suplex.


Austin Aries def. Patrick Clark



  • Double-A got the win against the former Tough Enough competitor with the Last Chancery.

  • This was a squash match to give us a taste of a truly heel Aries. The post match beatdown by a furious No Way Jose was great, too. This presents Jose with a much needed edge, which is always great.

  • Much props to Clark as well for rocking tights with the American flag, an eagle, and his face. You gotta have big balls to do that.


Bayley def. Nia Jax



  • Bayley won in a great match against the recently called-up Nia Jax with a Bayley-to-Belly from the second rope.

  • It was a great match, like their previous two bouts. Jax really grew as a performer in her time down at Full Sail, and it showed in this match. She even pulled out a Jackhammer, which she should keep and call the Jax-hammer, just because. Bayley was great as well, and I can’t wait for her inevitable rematch against Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship.

*****

With the WWE Draft done, NXT is poised to move forward even with their ranks thinned. The Tag Team and Women’s divisions might be in for a rocky ride, but NXT will do what it always does, and that’s create new stars. This week was a solid show filled with good in-ring action. As we start inching to Brooklyn, expect the brand to kick it up a notch and start building up the card. This episode gets a B+.

Thoughts on NXT post-WWE Draft? Drop us a comment below!

Photos from WWE.com and Twitter


*****

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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