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Smark Hen-XT (2/1/17): Cradle to the Grave


This week, we’re getting a relatively typical post-TakeOver episode from NXT featuring last Sunday’s (Manila time) dark matches. All in all, they weren’t bad matches and are largely forgettable, but they aren’t the biggest takeaways from this episode.

As announced during the TakeOver pre-show, former NXT Tag Team Champion and color commentator Corey Graves is stepping away from the NXT commentary team. He’ll be replaced by Nigel McGuinness who was last seen working side by side with Michael Cole during the WWE UK Championship Tournament. Man, that’s a bummer.


Graves is a great feel-good story—here’s a guy whose dreams were cut short way too soon, but loved the industry enough to completely reinvent himself just to stay. He was the guy who made the most of a bad situation and came out on top. He wasn’t the best guy on the mic, but it was clear that, like me, he was a fan. He brought this joie de vivre when he spoke, and it was easy to get lost in the stories he was telling. It’s been great to have seen his development week in and out, and you just can’t help but feel a bit sad that NXT’s losing another pillar.

McGuinness was an inspired choice as a replacement. His work during the UKCT was great—a bit uneven, but he meshed well with Cole. He’ll bring decades of experience from the indy scene to the booth, and he just have this calm energy that would be a change of pace from what we’ve had the past two years. William Regal would be a great template for him. The current NXT general manager brought great insight to build up matches without overshadowing the action. I can’t wait to see him work with Tom Phillips next week.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Ember Moon def. Aliyah: Whoop-de-fucking-doo, they’re finally doing something with the Ember Moon character. It’s still pretty bare bones, but now that she’s aiming for the NXT Women’s Championship, there’s a bit more edge to her. Asuka’s throwaway line (“Who’s Ember Moon? She works here?”) was a great way to really co-opt the issue with Moon’s gimmick and just give us a direction to aim for. Now that she has a clear goal, it’s up to creative to figure out an interesting path getting there.

  • WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate def. Oney Lorcan: It looks like the WWE UK-based show still has a long way to go, so this is a great way to keep interest up for their UK talent. Bate is clearly one of the franchise cornerstones, so giving him a match (even a dark match) at NXT’s biggest stage is a good move to showcase him. That he had a dance partner who’s no slouch like Lorcan was a bonus.

  • No Way Jose def. Elias Samson: This wasn’t entirely an offensive match, which considering who’s in the ring, is not a bad thing. Both guys just aren’t clicking the right way, which is a shame since Jose looks to be a fun guy, and no one draws heat like Samson (outside of Eva Marie, that is). I get the fact that not everyone’s going to be the top dogs, but you might as well throw these guys a bone, right? Give Jose a babyface push to so that people don’t just cheer him because he dances. Turn Samson into a threat so people have another reason to boo him besides his general presence. The NXT roster is thin at the moment, and by giving us the illusion that these guys have a chance is enough to beef up the roster (even if it’s a bit superficial).


*****

It’s a missable show as most post-TakeOver episodes are, but there are nice parts to it. NXT whipped up a great video package for Corey Graves, and Bate/Lorcan was a fine short match, but you can catch all those on YouTube. Just take this time to ready yourself for next week’s all-new, all-GLORIOUS NXT. This one, though, gets a C+.

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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