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Smark Hen-XT (1/25/17): Don’t Poke the Bear


With only a couple of days left before TakeOver: San Antonio, it’s time again for another round of PREDICTION TIME! I must admit, this is not the strongest card the yellow brand has put together for a live special, and this might just break the trend of TakeOvers overshadowing the bigger main roster pay-per-views. That being said, there’s still a lot to be excited about this show. Let’s run down through the matches:


  • Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Roderick Strong: Think of this match as a second chance for a debut match for both these two talented wrestlers. Both Cien and Strong have had a rocky start to their NXT careers (with ACA just barely turning a page on his run with his much-needed heel turn), and this match would be a great way to reintroduce these guys to the larger WWE universe and to find their footing in NXT. There’s really not much of a story here, but the in-ring skills and the chemistry both these guys have should be enough to make this a serviceable opening match. Almas should win here to keep the momentum he has with his El Ídolo gimmick.


  • Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young: On one hand, the Perfect 10 has taken on the tried and test role of “biggest underdog” in NXT; a position once held by the likes of Sami Zayn and Bayley. On the other hand, there hasn’t really been anything like SAnitY down at NXT, and with the likes of Nikki Cross and Damo Killian Dain, it’s hard not to get excited for this group. Dillinger’s descent to hell arc needs a little more seasoning before we finally get the big payoff redemption story, and SAnitY needs a big defining win, so expect Young to pick up the W with a healthy dose of interference from Alexander Wolfe and Dain.


  • #DIY (c) vs. The Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag Team Championship: I love what Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano had done in the past year, but they’re going to die. The champs will put up a valiant effort and sell the beatdown like death, but expect them to be just outmatched by Akam and Rezar. NXT missed the boat on building up this match more—we haven’t heard anything from either teams about the match in two weeks—but that hasn’t really stopped the tag team division from pulling out great stories told in the the ring. The Authors of Pain will walk out of San Antonio as champions and cement their place as the big monster heels of NXT.


  • Asuka (c) vs. Peyton Royce vs. Billie Kay vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship in a fatal 4-way match: NXT might just have found a way to take the title off the Empress of Tomorrow without her getting pinned, and it’s awesome. Asuka’s run in NXT had been brilliant, but her record-setting title reign is on the verge of being stale. You can’t have someone so unbeatable at the helm of the division—it’ll make everyone look bad. It’s time to put another person at the top of the mountain, and I can’t think of anyone better right now than Nikki Cross. She’s fully immersed herself in the SAnitY gimmick, and with her in-ring skills, she’ll be the perfect heel for the babyfaces women’s division to overcome. She might not become the arrogant champion Asuka is, but she can be the monster everyone tries to slay. Cross gets the title, but she pins one of the Aussies for the win.


  • Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship: The King of Strong Style’s run at the top of the card has been a bit uneven. It’s not his fault his first major title feud was rushed, but Nakamura’s program with Samoa Joe could’ve been better handled. Now he needs a solid feud to make him look like the badass he truly is, but—I can’t believe I’m saying this—Roode might not be the guy for the job. Not to say that Roode is a bad choice for a dance partner, he’s a great performer, but it feels like they’re once again accelerating plans just to get a big draw fight on the top of the card. Neither guy can afford to lose right now, but someone has to, and that’s just bad for business. That being said, Nakamura will probably retain, and we’ll get another match down the line, maybe at WrestleMania weekend. That’d be a better time for a glorious coronation.

TakeOver: San Antonio might not be the most exciting card, but it is one filled with solid workers who can deliver on big matches. The road to WrestleMania starts this weekend, and business is about to pick-up for the whole company, NXT included. They need to stay solid in a time when everyone’s expected to up their game. So don’t sleep on the show; it just might surprise you.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Ember Moon def. Liv Morgan: This was a largely forgettable match. Morgan might be steadily improving, but she still has a long way to go before she’s ready to run anywhere near the top of the division. Moon, on the other hand, is still floating around aimlessly, and even worse, she’s being passed over by another relative newcomer in Nikki Cross. It’d be best to put into a program and develop her character now, so when the title picture clears up, she’ll finally have something to make us cheer for her when she goes against whoever is holding the title then.

  • No Way Jose def. Kona Reeves: Again, you can skip this match and not miss a thing. Reeves getting the same treatment as Elias Samson (who got involved in a post-match segment) from Corey Graves and co. was weird, but didn’t really add to the match. The segment between Samson and Jose also does nothing for me.

  • Eric Young (w/ SAnitY) def. Chris Atkins: The squash match was a good call since SAnitY needs to look like a legitimate threat to Dillinger, but again, you can skip this as it adds nothing new to the feud. Young is still the unhinged madman leading a group of unhinged and dangerous people.

  • Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Nikki Cross, and NXT Women’s Champion Asuka faced off: This was easily the best segment of the night. Seeing Royce and Kay go from arrogance to kick off the segment to just shock and fear as the show closed was perfect. It’s as if they’ve just realized what a boneheaded move it was to piss off two of the most dangerous women on the planet. Asuka looked every bit of the vengeful empress that she is, and Cross upped the insanity to prove she’ll do whatever it takes to hurt people and take the title. So much character building in such a short segment.


*****

If it wasn’t for that last segment, I wouldn’t have bothered to watch this week’s episode. To think that NXT’s been doing a decent job the past few weeks to build up to TakeOver: San Antonio, just to suffer a bad misstep by giving us a near missable go-home show is a bit disappointing. They could’ve used more time to polish the card, but they decided to throw together a bunch of skippable matches. That being said, the segment between Asuka, Cross, Kay, and Royce hyped up the one match I’m really excited for, so it’s not all bad. It still only gets a C+ though.

Thoughts on this week's episode? Predictions for TakeOver: San Antonio? 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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