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Smark Hen-XT (9/21/16): Ultimatum


I can live with Samoa Joe starting each episode of NXT with a promo. As I’ve said a million times before, the man is untouchable on the mic. Whether it’s a promo or a match, Joe’s segments are becoming must-watch, and this week’s opening promo continues that trend.


Everything about the opening segment worked. From Joe reading the doctor’s diagnosis of Shinsuke Nakamura, to William Regal’s reaction to the former champ’s threat of laying out the whole locker room, NXT has done a bang up job building up the title situation. With Joe upping his heel game, the stakes feel properly raised, and this feud has more weight now. Regal is great in his role as a boss seeing everything spiral out of control. Taking Nakamura out of the picture allows the two stronger players on the angle to work wonders, while setting up a huge pop for the NXT Champion’s eventual return.

All that’s left is to see if whether or not Joe follows through with his ultimatum. Judging by his look, no one is safe.

*****

On the other end of the show, Cruiserweight Classic standout Cedric Alexander debuted in the main event against Andrade “Cien” Almas. I’m not sure how the Cruiserweight division is going to be handled on RAW down the road (though it did have an impressive start), but giving someone like Alexander time down at Florida allows him to shine outside the division.


This was an entertaining match that showcased both guys’ strengths. It was fast-paced and hard-hitting, and it allowed both guys to shine. Alexander has that perfect underdog charisma—not that it wasn’t apparent in his CWC match against Kota Ibushi—and it’ll serve him well as he grows into his role both in NXT and RAW. Cien was showing more desperation with every failed pinfall attempt, underlining the fact that he knew he needed the win to get back on track. A hug to end the show felt warranted, and it was a perfect feel-good moment to kick off Alexander’s NXT run.

While I’m not sure how Alexander’s NXT stint is going to play out, the creative team made the right call to slot him as a big midcard face. Realistically speaking, he’s not going to stay in Florida for a long time, but if they’re able to maximize his stay with matches like this, it’ll give Alexander a great springboard to kickstart any push he’ll inevitably receive on RAW’s Cruiserweight division. Also, it won’t hurt to see more of Cien and Alexander out-flipping each other.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Austin Aries def. Oney Lorcan: Aries is a great heel—that’s something we already know. Lorcan can work in the ring, but his generic jobber package isn’t going to win people over. Aries calling out Hideo Itami then bailing when the latter showed up is old-school heeling and is A-Double’s bread and butter. 

  • Billie Kay def. Aliyah: With all the brilliant matches NXT’s Women’s division has had the past year, it’s easy to forget that they all started as developmental talents. With most of the players in the division now on the main roster, seeing green talents jockeying for the opportunity to get kicked in the head by Women’s Champion Asuka isn’t fun.



*****

After a handful of weeks treading water, it seems that NXT's finally back on track. With the next TakeOver already in mind, the yellow brand is slowly setting up the pieces for Toronto. With the NXT Championship angle already on its way and the introduction of a new face for the midcard, NXT has an inkling of direction, which was missing from the past weeks’ episodes. It gets a B+ this week.

Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know by dropping a comment below!

Photo 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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