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Smark Hen-XT (10/19/16): The Great and the Strong


Roderick Strong has to be one of the biggest free agents around. After leaving Ring of Honor earlier this year, everyone expected him in NXT sooner or later. This week, he finally debuted as Austin Aries’ tag team partner for the Dusty Classic, and it was… meh.

I must admit: I’m not a big follower of Strong. I know of him, and I liked what I saw in his match this week, but it felt lacking. There was no fanfare, no hype. He just came in and tagged with his douchebag friend. It didn’t feel special enough to make it look like a big deal, and that colored my view of him.


I understand that NXT caters to a more hardcore fanbase, but there are still people not completely familiar with everyone they bring in. If they couldn’t be bothered to hype up Strong as the big deal I’m supposed to think he should be, I wouldn’t be bothered to care about him. Hell, I was more invested in Otis Dozovic and Tucker Knight during the match, and I knew they weren’t winning.

Still, there is promise. Strong is a vet, and he’s working with the Greatest Man That Ever Lived with whom he shares great chemistry with. Their next opponents, TM61, should give them a great opportunity to strut their stuff. Hopefully Roddy bounces back strongly.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • No Way Jose and Rich Swann def. Tony Nese and Drew Gulak in a First Round match of the Dusty Classic: Swann and Jose are a team I didn’t know I needed until I saw them. They’re a fun duo, and their gimmicks mesh well. The chemistry is there, though it’ll need a bit more seasoning. I wouldn’t mind seeing both guys stick around as a team after the Dusty Classic.

  • Bobby Roode def. Sean Maluta: The match itself was mediocre, but the post match brawl was great. Seeing Tye Dillinger serious was a step in the right direction. There’s a right time to be funny and throw around 10 signs, and this wasn’t it. It’s a nice sign that management is starting to treat Tye like a top babyface.

  • Daniella Kamela def. Nikki Cross via DQ: SAnitY’s Nikki Cross is a great addition to the Women’s division. She brings a unique character to the division full of upstart babyfaces and mean girl heels. She’s laying it on a bit too much though, but that’s a minor gripe at this point. The referee’s decision to reverse his call is a nice touch to show how unhinged Cross, and seeing Eric Young react poorly shows us that the stable still cares about the W’s, which should be the case for any group.

  • Shinsuke Nakamura promo: The NXT Champion delivered a short but nice message against his challenger Samoa Joe to close the show. It was fine given the obvious limitations Nakamura had on the mic, and it did hammer the point that this wasn’t the same guy who made jokes and played mind games. This Nakamura was the bad motherfucker who kneed people’s heads off in Japan. Special shout out to Patrick Clark as well. The guy’s essentially playing a parody of a parody, and he’s committing to it. A mini-run or a soft reboot could do wonders for him.


*****

All in all, this wasn’t a strong episode for NXT. While most of the excitement for this episode was probably generated by Strong’s debut and Nakamura’s promo, it was the bit pieces that were really more enjoyable here. With TakeOver: Toronto looming in the horizon, NXT can’t afford to make missteps like this as it might derail the hype surrounding the network special. 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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