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Smark Hen-XT (7/27/16): A Dysfunctional Office


We have a busy show this week as a new number one contender for the NXT Championship is announced. We also have five matches on deck, including the NXT debut of Kota Ibushi.

Well, There Goes the Company Picnic


The main event for TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn is set after NXT GM William Regal announced early in the show that Shinsuke Nakamura is the number one contender to Samoa Joe’s NXT Championship. Man, that is going to be lit.


Before the announcement, though, the King of Strong Style got to strut his stuff when he took on Wesley Blake. There wasn’t really any question as to who was going to win this, but both guys did their best to keep it entertaining. Blake’s kisses and Nakamura’s over the top reactions were gold. Swagsuke won with the Kinshasa.


Later in the show, Samoa Joe is belatedly told of Regal’s decision, and an incensed NXT Champion utterly destroys the general manager on the mic. When Regal threatened to strip the Samoan Submission Machine of his NXT title, Joe reluctantly agreed, only to promise to destroy Nakamura like he destroyed Regal’s old golden boy, Finn B├ílor. Nakamura came out to taunt the champ as the credits rolled.

I loved that last segment. I’m excited for the main event of Back to Brooklyn, but I think the bigger feud here is between champion and general manager. We know Joe and Nakamura will deliver a hard-hitting match, but it feels like the challenger is just an extension of Regal’s presence here. NXT reverses the trope, where the beloved babyface is the authority figure and the monster heel as the champion. Regal is just doing his job, to put on a good show, but Joe, in his arrogance and narcissism, only sees this as another affront in a long list of offenses. It’s not as if Joe’s issues are petty—he did have to go through a whole lot of bullshit to get the title—nor is Regal squeaky clean, since even his best business decisions can come as cold and distant. There’s a clear face and heel here, but the depth of both characters gives this angle a sense of realism. It’s a scene that many of us can relate to, as an employee and a boss. We understand where both guys are coming from, so it’s easy to cheer for either guy. I’m so torn; I love it.

The Rest of the Show:


Billie Kay def. Santana Garrett



  • Billie Kay picked up the win after a big boot. 

  • I love Billie Kay’s theme. The rest of her, not so much. She’s still pretty raw, but the gimmick creative is going with right now revolves around her one-off showing on SmackDown and how she became egotistical afterwards. It’s a shallow gimmick, but it’s a gimmick nonetheless. I want to see how it evolves though, as she seems to be a major player in the future of the Women’s division.


TM61 def. Rob Ryzin and Adrian Nails



  • The Australian duo got the win after nailing Thunder Valley.

  • There’s something missing from TM61 that’s stopping me from going all in on them. They’re good, I know that, but they’re just so bland. It’s early in their NXT careers, but they need a gimmick that’ll help them stand out aside from “Well-travelled Australian duo”.

No Way Jose def. Steve Cutler



  • Jose laid out Cutler with a Cobra Clutch Slam.

  • I like this edge from Jose. We’ve seen this a lot before, but somehow, the Puerto Rican makes it work. I really enjoyed the intense promo he dropped after the match. This is why you never mess with a really happy guy, because he might just fuck you up.

Kota Ibushi def. Buddy Murphy



  • The Japanese Cruiserweight Classic competitor picked up the win with an elevated sit-out powerbomb.

  • If you haven’t seen Ibushi before, then you’re missing out on so much awesome. I beg you to watch the CWC, it’s brilliant. Check out our reviews of it here.

  • Back to Ibushi: This pretty boy’s going to hurt you, real bad. He’s a complete wrestler who can fly, strike, and grapple at a high level. He’s going to win the CWC, and he’ll be a big star when he finally signs with WWE. You can quote me on that.

  • Murphy was good here. I think he’s better fit for a singles run than Blake, whose generic offense is better hidden in a tag team.

*****

As NXT starts to build up the next TakeOver special, it seems like we’re reverting to the mini-RAW show that crams so much into one episode. It wasn’t much of a problem this time, but with only so much time left before they head back to Brooklyn, expect things to be more hectic in the coming weeks. This episode had a great debut and a solid closing segment, so it gets a B+.

Thoughts on this week's big announcement? 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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