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Smark Hen-XT (3/8/17): Return of the King


Shinsuke Nakamura returned after almost seven weeks out of action and faced TJ Perkins in this week’s main event. It’s a pretty fun match between two talented workers. TJP is a logical opponent for Nakamura, who’s returning from a knee “injury”, because of his kneebar. It’s a pretty fresh match-up that people haven’t seen before, and both guys can go if they wanted to.


TJP was good in this match—he mixed up his smooth technical wrestling with his weird “hip and cool” skits. Nakamura had a partner he could work his Strong Style with that’s familiar with it, and he could play off with his eccentricities. This match was fine, not brilliant, but seeing Nakamura dab is admittedly stupid fun.


As much as “dream matches” go, this was pretty tame, but it’s easy to see why NXT sticks to the “dream match” booking. We’ll probably get one in a set of tapings. On one hand, it’s easy to hype matches and drive viewers to watch the show. The problem with this is it doesn’t really help with building up stories and characters. There is only so much you can do with “these are two big names in the indies”. At best, we’ll get a couple of weeks of build up. At worse, we get a throwaway match to just because. Nakamura/TJP could be an interesting little feud, but no, we get one promo minutes before the match.

I don’t see this booking style changing anytime soon as long as NXT can bring up people from the indies. People will want to watch their favorite stars face each other, and NXT will do their best to give it to the people, even if it hurts their homegrown talents’ development. But it’s hard to take any criticism of this seriously—even by myself—when I’m salivating about next week’s main event between Bobby Roode and Kassius Ohno.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young didn’t even start: Dillinger/Young II didn’t even get to start as SANitY brought out a beaten up Roderick Strong, causing Dillinger to go to his friend’s aid. Together with No Way Jose, they tried to fight back only to fall to the numbers game. It’s a bit of a bummer that we didn’t get a match, but it does push the Dillinger/SAnitY feud, which is fun.

  • Ember Moon def. Billie Kay: It looks like they’re finally setting up the Moon/Asuka feud, and I cannot get hyped for it. This was meant to make Moon look strong and set up the announcement that she's number one contender, but I’m not entirely sure how “script a fake injury after the match” does that. We still don’t know anything about Moon aside from her penchant for moon-based puns. I’m not excited.

  • Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Ho Ho Lun: Oh, Ho Ho, you poor bastard. El ├Źdolo looked good here, which is great since he needed to look strong after suffering big losses one after another. I’m not sure how Cien fits in the scheme of things, and that’s sad, because he’s finally getting his act together. He’s probably getting a match at Takeover: Orlando—and he’ll probably kill himself trying to entertain the crowd again—but it’ll be another throwaway match he’ll probably lose.

  • The Revival vs. The Ealy Brothers did not even start: This is the second time The Ealy twins tried to have a match only to be destroyed by monsters. I’m perfectly fine with that gimmick though. The Authors of Pain looked dominant, and while it’s a shame to not have a Revival match, it pushes the tag team title angle.


*****

It was a pretty weak show. If you’re a fan of Nakamura, TJP, or both, you’ll probably want to watch the main event, but it’s a bit of a chore to get there. The two non-starts and the mediocre matches really hurt the episode, and considering we’re so close to TakeOver, it’s not a good way to get the hype rolling. We did get some direction as to the card for April 1st, with the Women's title match set between Asuka and Ember Moon, and the news that Shinsuke Nakamura faces whoever wins next week's NXT Championship match. Still, these weren't enough to keep my enthusiasm for show itself, and the episode gets a B-

Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know by dropping a comment below!

Photo from @WWENXT


*****

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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