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Smark Hen-XT (2/22/17): Oh Yes


Kassius Ohno returned to NXT in this week’s episode, and it was great. The man formerly known as Chris Hero is probably one of the best talents stateside, and seeing him not just being given another shot in a WWE product but also getting a main event spot is great. Say whatever you want about his weight problem (which honestly isn’t valid at this point since the man proved he can still go with the extra baggage), but NXT is getting another star to bolster a roster which is deceptively thin on the top.


After coming in to save No Way Jose from a post match beatdown by the NXT Champion Bobby Roode, Ohno delivered a serviceable promo about his return. That he’s gunning for the one thing he wasn’t able to get the first time around is a great touch of continuity. He was a great piece for the then newly rebranded NXT—featuring in big programs like the one with now NXT GM William Regal—but he never got a shot at gold. This time around, he’s shooting straight to the top of the card.

Roode was brilliant in this segment as well. He played the condescending and conniving heel perfectly by throwing shade down Ohno’s face and then attacking him from behind. Ohno would turn the tide with elbow strikes to the champ to send Roode scurrying away. Everything he did made you want K.O. (version 1.0?) to elbow the fuck out of him, and that’s great heel work.


Ohno-Roode will be a solid program to either fill the time before we head to Shinsuke Nakamura’s rematch (pretty likely) or to build towards TakeOver: Orlando (hopefully). Roode and Ohno are great wrestlers who could easily draw a good crowd for TakeOver—maybe not as much as Nakamura would—and it’s a never before seen match-up. The Nakamura title chase programs are getting a bit formulaic, so inserting a new face at the top of the card freshens up the title scene. It would at least give us break just in time before we suffer from Nakamura overexposure.

There is that fear that his run won’t be any different from his 2012-13 run, but come to think of it, it wasn’t a terrible run. Yeah, he wasn’t at the top of the card, but it’s not like he was buried. He was in feuds with big names like Regal and the Wyatt Family. Triple H, all-father of NXT, likes him enough to bring him back. And NXT is a completely different beast now, from the roster to the backstage personnel. That he’s in the title picture immediately after returning is a sign that good things are up for Knockout Artist.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Peyton Royce def. Liv Morgan and Ember Moon for the number one contendership to the NXT Women’s Championship: This was a fine opener. Not great, mind you, but serviceable. Royce’s ring work is catching up to her character work, and it showed here. Morgan, god bless her soul, wasn’t too bad and ate the pin. Moon was taken out of the match for most of it, but the times she was in it, she was lit. It’s a bit of a head scratcher why Moon didn’t get the nod here, but who are we kidding? NXT seems bent on giving us Moon-Asuka at TakeOver: Orlando, and this doesn’t change the plan.

  • Pete Dunne def. Mark Andrews: This match wasn’t any better than their semi-final match during the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, but it did reinforce what we all probably knew already: Dunne is the star of the show. His ring work is pristine, and his character work is damn near perfect. He’s a great heel with a solid grasp of ring psychology. Everything he does have purpose, and it’s a thing of beauty to see him work a match. Andrews is going to be a fun cruiserweight competitor and WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate might be the future of British Wrestling, but the Bruiserweight is the real deal now.

  • NXT Champion Bobby Roode def. No Way Jose: This was your typical midcard face meets heel champion affair. Jose got some shots in, but there’s no way (hehe) he’ll get the win. This was another fine, but unremarkable, match, but it’s just here to set up the real main event segment.


*****

Kassius Ohno is back, and it won’t be long before we see elbows smashing into faces. Ohno’s immediate impact shakes up NXT just in time for TakeOver. It doesn’t hurt that almost every match in this episode was watchable. It’s good to see the brand bounce back from a bad show last week. If only we can get this consistently. The 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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