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Smark Hen-XT (4/12/17): New Era


In a system designed to be as transient as NXT, change is constant. As old faces leave, new ones are primed to take their spots. Such was the case this week as Full Sail says goodbye to the recently called-up Shinsuke Nakamura and welcomes back the returning Drew McIntyre.


One of the bigger changes to NXT comes in the form of a new theme song and redesigned graphics. Gone is “Roar of the Crowd” and has been replaced by a track named “Rage”. It’s a track that’s more in-your-face and fits well with the new Street Fighter-esque graphics. Honestly, “Rage” isn’t my cup of tea (it sounds too much like that old RAW CFO$ theme that wasn’t good), and I’m already missing the old school poster type font and graphic they had. I’ll take some time to get used to this.


Something I’m totally on board with is Drew McIntyre. The former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion came out with a bang this week and showcased the more hard-hitting style he’s been using in the indies. He looked every part like the returning conqueror he’s been billed, and that’s great. Oney Lorcan was an inspired choice for a first opponent; both guys delivered in a great stiff match that looked beautifully violent. His gimmick might be a well-worn trope at this point—we already have a returning badass in Kassius Ohno—but it fits him quite well. I wish he got to keep “Broken Dreams” as his theme, though. His new entrance song, “Gallantry”, might feature bagpipes, but his old theme would have been perfect.


Also a big up for me was Shinsuke Nakamura’s farewell. This was a tasteful and poignant way to say goodbye to one of the biggest stars in NXT history. Full Sail really does love the guy, and it’s always nice to see the stars return the love. Nakamura’s time down in Florida might not be his most memorable run, but for his first real foray to break through the international market, it was a huge success. It was great to see Finn B├ílor show up to help send Nakamura off to SmackDown Live. Here’s to a successful main roster run for the King of Strong Style.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Aleister Black def. Corey Hollis: Holy fuck, this was perfect. Black knocking out Hollis with one kick presents the Dutchman as a violent and dangerous foe, and his gimmick, as bare bones as it is right now, is that right mix of mysterious and eccentric that’s intriguing. I want to see more of this.

  • #DIY def. Dylan Miley and Michael Blais: An interesting little story developed during this match. The former tag champs were powerless against the monster Miley, but once the Seth Rollins cosplayer got in the match, #DIY took advantage of their opening. Miley then destroyed his partner after the match. If the point of the match was to present Miley as a big deal, then good job NXT—I’m interested. Throwing around former Tag Team Champions made Miley look like a boss. You might want to give him knee pads, though.

  • Ruby Riot def. Kimberly Frankele: This could’ve been better, given the indy cred in the ring, but as a reintroduction to Riot, it did its thing. The match itself was nothing special, but Nikki Cross’s appearance tells me that the Cross/Riot feud is just going to continue. That’s interesting as both women have the potential to develop into two of the more interesting characters in the roster. Now if I only knew why Riot wants Cross’s head…


*****

This episode sets a good tone for this new NXT WWE seems interested in pushing. Black, Miley, Riot, and even McIntyre are great fresh faces to put in the forefront of a rebrand. Each are interesting characters who can grow into great centerpieces for the company in the next year. Yes, this is all a set-up to bigger things, but the show did a fun job of getting me interested, and maybe even invested, in these new faces. This episode gets a B+ for that.

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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