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Smark Hen-XT (8/10/16): Poking the Bear



This week, NXT Champion Samoa Joe gets in the ring with SmackDown Live draftee Mojo Rawley. Also on deck, NXT Women’s Champion Asuka and Bayley sign the contract for their match at TakeOver.

King or Jester?


A visibly irate Samoa Joe headlined this week’s episode against Mojo Rawley. What everybody expected to be a squash match turned out to be a fairly good match, but don’t let that fool you. We all know who’s going to win here.


SmackDown Live’s newest draftee came out of the gate swinging and taking it to the NXT Champion. Joe withstood the early storm, and his experience shined through here. While the former NFL defensive lineman would try to mount a comeback and stop the Muscle Buster, he fell prey to the Coquina Clutch and had to tap out.

After the match, Joe once again locked in his submission, only to be stopped by Nakamura’s theme playing. As Swagsuke danced his way down the ramp, security came in and tried to hold the champ back. This gave the challenger the opening to taunt his opponent as the show wound down.


There are a few characters who could believably get away with playing mind games with an obviously furious Samoa Joe, and one of them is Shinsuke Nakamura. The King of Strong Style’s body of work in and outside the WWE tells everyone that he can afford to not give a fuck about who he’s messing with, since he can back it up with stiff striking and solid wrestling. While presented as a babyface in NXT, people forget he used to be one of the biggest dicks running around NJPW. He is a heel at heart, a bad man who believe he can get away with anything, but he’s also so cool and charismatic that people sometimes don’t care. He is as much a rogue as he is a king.

This was a step in the right direction for this feud. With Nakamura now getting physically involved in the set-up, he now becomes the target of Joe’s ire. It just wasn’t the step I thought Creative would go with. I get that they’d want to emphasize the Japanese superstar’s eccentric charisma, but seeing him not take the Champion seriously takes away from the gravity of the feud. He’s supposed to be the good guy in this match, and yet Samoa Joe looks like he’s the one who has a legitimate grievance and Nakamura is the dick preventing the champ from getting justice. I would have liked to see them forgo the fun and games, and just go straight away with the punching. That would have at least pushed this feud into a more intense level.

Sign the Dotted Line


NXT had pretty much deconstructed the contract signing trope and distilled it into what we really need out of it: escalation. A lot of the similar segments down at Full Sail doesn’t end with punches being thrown and bodies driven through tables. With solid promos and proper intensity, NXT delivers on proper segments that furthers feuds. This opening segment between NXT Women’s Champion Asuka and Bayley was a great example of this.


Say what you want about Bayley’s promo, but it was great. She hit all the right emotional notes here, and she hit the crescendo when she threatened to lay waste to the champ if she doesn’t sign the contract. Asuka was equally brilliant, as she settled into the role of confident champion. Her English skills might be lacking, but the way she just straight up told her challenger that she doesn’t have what it takes to beat the champ was the perfect line for this feud. Anyway, she tells so much with her non-verbal cues—from her body movements to her facial expressions—to make up for her barely existent mic skills.

This title bout might be Bayley’s last match down at NXT, and they’re doing a hell of a job building it up. I’m hyped for TakeOver.

The Rest of the Show:


The Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) def. Rob Ryzin and Adrian Nails



  • Ellering’s new team continued their dominating ways after picking up the win against enhancement talents with the Russian Legsweep-Lariat combination. As they were about to continue destroying their opponents, TM61 came in to stop, only to be laid to waste.

  • Creative is doing a good job at building up AoP. We haven’t really seen a team like this down at NXT since the Wyatts ruled the roost, but this new duo seems poised to be more dominant. I can’t see anyone stopping them if they decide to gun for the tag belts.

  • The same could not be said for TM61. The Aussie duo is just stuck right now, and this beat down is a disservice to them. This is sad though, as we can see that they’re really talented. Some might think it’s a bit too early, but I think they’re in massive need of a reboot to their NXT runs.

Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Angelo Dawkins



  • The former luchador enmascarado got the win after hitting a Hammerlock DDT. He was then glorious interrupted by Bobby Roode, who announced that on TakeOver: Brooklyn, both guys would face each other.

  • I’m still not entirely sold on Cien. I know he’s good, but he doesn’t really click for me. Outside of his Chippendale-esque entrance outfit, he doesn’t really have much of a gimmick. I’m not sure how putting him against a massively over debuting talent like Roode is supposed to help him, unless he starts going back to his ungovernable roots.

  • Roode is unsurprisingly glorious. The guy is a high level talent and pitting him against a guy with indy cred is a smart move. Those are the kind of guys he should be going after if he wants to replace the Full Sail crowd with Fortune 500 CEOs and presidents.


Billie Kay def. Liv Morgan



  • The Aussie superstar beat the New Jersey native with a big boot.

  • Both ladies still have a long way to go before they establish themselves as big time players in the division, but we can already see flashes here and there. Billie Kay is being groomed to be a top heel, and her developing mean streak is definitely going to be a big help. Not a big fan of her finisher though. She could probably work out something more impressive that highlights her long legs.

  • Liv Morgan is fun. With solid development, she can grow into a similar role as Bayley. Seeing her as the next great underdog of the NXT Women’s division isn’t much of a stretch.


Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa def.. Patrick Clark and Tucker Knight



  • Gargano and Ciampa got the win after hitting the Superkick-Running Knee combination

  • For two guys who’re really singles competitors in the indy scene, Gargano and Ciampa have developed great chemistry as a tag team. It was a bit awkward at first when they started their NXT runs, but they’re working seamlessly now as they head to their NXT Tag Team Championship match at TakeOver. If they pick up the win there, it’d be an awesome ending to a great success story for both guys.

*****

This week’s episode didn’t really have much stand out moments as the last one, but it was a solid show as the next TakeOver looms in the horizon. The special’s card is filled with great matches, and this episode did it’s job of building up to the card. It deserves a B.

Tune in next week as I give you a rundown of the TakeOver: Brooklyn card, as well as my predictions.

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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