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Smark Hen-XT (10/12/16): Not Again


In a week that featured the debut of a new stable led by a high-profile talent and the return of the NXT Champion from injury, the biggest news happened away from our screens and in a live show. After being on the receiving end of a botched powerslam, Hideo Itami suffered a neck injury and is out indefinitely.

In a WWE Network exclusive interview, the Japanese superstar confirmed his injury and pulled out of the Dusty Classic, but promised to be in NXT’s Osaka show in December. Hopefully, he’ll be in his ring gear and not in a suit.


Injuries are part of the world of wrestling, and as much as you try to avoid them, they do happen. But this is Itami’s second big injury in three years; the last one took him out for over a year. At 35, he's no spring chicken, and injuries will get harder and harder to bounce back from. I’m hoping he’s fine by December, but this is another serious blow to his momentum.

His return from his shoulder injury might not have been met with much fanfare, but his work since had been his best yet. He looked a lot more comfortable in the ring, and his English has improved a lot. Plus, bringing back the GTS upped his profile a lot. With him out for allegedly another two months, it puts a serious damper on his hot feud with Austin Aries, which was a promising program that could only help both guys. It also robs us a great pairing with Kota Ibushi, and I was hoping for some vicious head-kicking action from the Japanese duo. Itami’s been replaced by WWE Cruiserweight Champion and Cruiserweight Classic winner TJ Perkins, but it’s just not the same. In short, this injury sucks big time for everyone involved, including the fans.

I wish Itami a speedy recovery. Hopefully we’ll see him back in the ring sooner than the last time.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • SAnitY def. Tye Dillinger and Bobby Roode in a First Round match of the Dusty Classic: Yes, this was a glorified squash match for the new Eric Young-led stable, but I loved it. It puts over the team as a credible threat, and it sets up the feud between Dillinger and Roode perfectly. Roode is a delightfully fun douchebag, and his revisionist view on history hits the right spots. I can’t wait to see him get his comeuppance.

  • Billie Kay (w/ Peyton Royce) def. Liv Morgan: This was not pretty. Far from it, honestly. At some point, the “growing pains” excuse isn’t going to cut it anymore, and bad matches will just be that. I am enjoying Kay and Royce’s character work though, but their ring work has to keep pace.

  • TM61 def. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss in a First Round match of the Dusty Classic: The match was a fairly generic without any real standout moments. The Aussie pair was fine—aside from their general blandness—while the team of former football stars didn’t look too terrible. With Aries and his mystery partner most likely to advance to the next round, hopefully TM61 finally gets a stellar match under their belts then.

  • Buddy Murphy vs. Wesley Blake ended in a no-contest after Samoa Joe destroyed them: Beating up Blake and Murphy isn’t really all that great, but it delivered Joe’s point here. Shinsuke Nakamura’s return was brilliant here. The NXT Champion brought an intensity that hasn’t been seen from him since his debut. No jokes or pranks here; just Swagsuke punching and kneeing people’s faces—all while dressed in a sparkly red blouse. If Samoa Joe escalated this feud, then Nakamura showed that he too can play at that level.


*****

While this might be a bad week for Hideo Itami, the rest of NXT is gearing up as we get closer to the next TakeOver. With half the First Round matches done, the Dusty Classic is shaping up to be a very interesting one with the inclusion of SAnitY. The NXT Championship feud as well have stepped up a notch with Nakamura’s hot return. The middle of the show though felt like a drag. This episode gets a B.

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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