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Smark Hen-XT (2/15/17): Moustache Mountain


Not gonna lie, I’m a big fan of the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament. That was fun, and a number of the guys that competed were incredible. Two of the competitors, Trent Seven and tournament winner and WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate, had a great showcase match in NXT this week.

While I wasn’t keen to the idea of a secondary NXT title, having the WWE UK Championship being defended on NXT is interesting. WWE is still trying to get a UK-based show running, so keeping the championship visible on WWE shows makes sure that whatever momentum they built up from the UKCT doesn’t wane too much. Having the UK title defense on NXT is great way to reintroduce the major players—champion Bate and challenger and former tag team partner Seven, to the NXT faithful—which will probably be the main target demographic of the eventual UK show outside the United Kingdom. Add the fact that other tournament standouts like Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews will be in a match next week, and that’s a great way to gauge interest for the product.


The match itself was fine. The first part was slower than I’d expect it to be, but it did lead to fun, comedic spots from both guys. The mustache twirling rope breaks and the shoulder check spots weren’t just fun to watch; it also showed a lot of character from both guys. It’s easy to be lulled into both guys’ eccentric personalities, but when the second half of the match kicked in, it did so with stiff strikes and solid technical wrestling befitting of the British Strong Style moniker.

I guess the biggest weakness of this match was it needed more psychology from both guys. The lack of a clear face/heel dynamic didn’t help. I feel like Bate needs a clearer, more dominant heel to play off his charming, unassuming persona. Seven played heel a bit, but it came off as a bit half-baked. Hopefully as they continue to build up the UK title scene, we’ll get more characters to surround the champion.


Still, as a first title defense, it couldn’t have been better. It was a solid match between two good competitors who have great chemistry together. The Full Sail crowd also got into the match a lot. If management needed any more reason to really push for a UK-based show to highlight guys from across the pond, having matches like this would help a lot.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • NXT Tag Team Champions the Authors of Pain (w/ Paul Ellering) def. Lance Anoi’a and Garrison Spears: This squash match reveals the biggest issue with the NXT tag team division—it’s only three, maybe four, teams deep at the moment. As impressive as these three teams are, it shows a lack of foresight from creative. AoP are champs now, and having them squash a bunch of no names does not help build them up.

  • Billie Kay and Peyton Royce def. Liv Morgan and Ember Moon: Again, this feud has got to stop. With Kay and Royce already being inches away from winning the title at TakeOver: San Antonio, having them face Morgan and Moon again feels like the program has already jumped the shark. We really didn’t learn anything new here. What’s dumber is that the team that lost is in next week’s triple threat match to determine a number one contender against Peyton Royce, but Billie Kay isn’t. Shouldn’t Morgan, who ate the pin, not be there? What the hell?!

  • #DIY asks for their NXT Tag Team Championship rematch: Making up for the head-scratcher of a squash match earlier, former Tag Team Champions Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano picked up the thread of the championship program. While their promo might have been generic as it gets, it was the other teams’ interactions that really got the ball rolling. AoP was intimidating, and Ellering is still great on the mic when he’s not rambling. Having the Revival jump #DIY furthers not just their feud from last year, but also strengthen their claim for a title shot. These three teams might be what remains of the tag team division, but it’s an impressive group of teams.


*****

This was a very uneven show; it had a largely forgettable first half and a decent second half. They did a lot to build up the women’s and tag team title scenes, as well as keep interest up for the UK title picture, but you can skip the first 21 minutes of the show, trust me. For a show that only gets less than an hour a week, it’s not a good thing to waste half your time with filler and redundant segments. This episode 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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