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Smark Hen-XT (3/1/17): Gold Rush


This week, we have a pair of title matches to headline the show. Ever since the TakeOver events started, championship bouts in regular NXT episodes don’t really hold the same element of prestige as before. Most of the time, they’re very run-of-the-mill affairs. Outside of a couple outliers, title changes are reserved for TakeOvers, and that robs the weekly show of a sense of urgency. That doesn’t mean we can enjoy them. Predictable doesn’t always equate to boring.

First up was Asuka defending her NXT Women’s Championship against Peyton Royce. Right off the bat, we knew the Empress was retaining—especially when Creative seems hellbent on pitting Asuka against the also undefeated Ember Moon. That doesn’t mean the match with Royce was pointless. The Aussie was a game opponent for the champion, and she showed she can hang with the best the brand has to offer. She’s finally meshing her strong character work with her improving ring skills, and you can’t help but be excited to see when Creative finally cashes in on her.


The post-match beatdown and the Ember Moon run-in is supposed to make you excited for Moon and Asuka, but it does nothing for me. Yeah, Moon’s probably one of the more exciting ring workers in NXT, but Creative has done a piss-poor job of building her up as a character. Then again, NXT has a history of having incredibly bland babyfaces, so no surprises here. A match at TakeOver: Orlando will be fun to watch, but getting there will be a pain.

The second championship match was between current NXT Tag Team Champions the Authors of Pain and former champs #DIY in a rematch of the TakeOver: San Antonio match. Again, having AoP work with incredibly talented performers like Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa will only help them. The hoss duo are figuring out how to maximize their strengths, and having guys who can carry them to a great match will only help them. Gargano and Ciampa are awesome as always, and their ability to not have a bad match is a credit to NXT.


The match ended with a run-in from the Revival causing a disqualification finish. This is brilliant, as it allowed #DIY to look strong while letting AoP keep the title. Seeing the Revival destroy everyone was great as well—the Shatter Machine to Akam was beautiful. Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson are the best tag team in the company, and seeing them owning people feels right. It also sets up a potentially great triple threat situation for TakeOver: Orlando. What a great way to close a solid show.

*****

The Rest of the Show:



  • Patrick Clark def. Sean Maluta: Okay, there are so many things wrong with Clark’s gimmick, and this will probably blow up in their faces. The whole hypersexualized gimmick needs both deft writing and complete commitment, and neither seem present in this match. Clarke tries to be cocky and obnoxious, but it feels half-baked. All the while, the commentary team talked about how he overcame parents who never accepted his being different and how he tries to be himself like he was some babyface. It’s a confusing mess. The best way for them to pull this off is to look at how ROH presents Dalton Castle. Better yet, give Clark something different and just bring in Castle himself.

*****


Outside of the first match, NXT had a solid show this week. The title matches were fun affairs. While we didn’t expect any title changes, everyone involved made sure it was worth watching. It also did a great job of setting up potential matches for TakeOver: Orlando. Moon/Asuka and the tag team triple threat are interesting matches on paper, and I’m digging that. If only the first match wasn’t so problematic, this week’s show would have been perfect. 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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