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Smark Hen-XT (5/10/17): Break Your Back


Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami was a match I never thought I needed until I saw it. Granted, this had probably happened before in their pre-WWE days, but man, this was just good. Itami’s been injured for a good chunk of his time under NXT, but he’s still one of the high profile guys on the roster. The Creative team had done such good work at building up Strong over the past two weeks with great vignettes. They were two top guys on a collision course, and what a collision it was.


Strong was every bit the Messiah of the Backbreaker in this match. Every time he grabbed hold of Itami to deliver one, it was spine-tingling. Itami looked like the ass-kicker he promised to be. His kicks were stiff and crisp. They had great chemistry, and everything they did looked brutal and beautiful. This was a great main event that continued the streak of great content NXT has been giving us in the past month.

Itami winning makes sense. He already tussled with NXT Champion Bobby Roode, and the Glorious One is certainly worried about getting kneed in the face again. Itami’s no-nonsense attitude would work well with the squirrelly and arrogant champ. Plus, it just feels great that after years of being out of action because of various injuries, Itami’s finally getting the chance to really shine and be the man we thought he could be when he signed back in 2014.


It’s a shame that NXT decided to cut out SAnitY’s post-match attack on Strong and put it up as a “web exclusive” instead. I understand wanting to end the show with the guy facing the NXT Champion, but it would have been more effective to add the beatdown at the end of the show. You’ve already shown Roddy working his ass off in the previous match, so immediately showing SAnitY jumping him would have been a more effective way to get people to rally behind Strong. Either way, feuding with SAnitY makes a lot of sense for Strong as he was already involved during the tail end of the SAnity/Tye Dillinger feud. Eric Young and friends coming after him since they can’t get their hands on Dillinger is something they could easily spin.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Aleister Black def. Cezar Bononi: We’re getting another squash match with Black, but oddly enough, I’m still not souring on this. Black’s work is still entertaining, even in short bursts, and Black Mass is a great move that’ll get pops. I’m still hoping for a big name match that lasts more than two minutes after his debut with Andrade Almas.

  • #DIY def. Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss: This was a surprisingly competitive match, but it was no wonder #DIY won. Sabbatelli and Moss have the opportunity to be a good heel team. They already have great punchable faces, and if they can manage the heat that gives them, they could be great. The most important part was the post-match announcement NXT GM William Regal made. #DIY vs the Authors of Pain in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championship has the makings of a beautiful trainwreck.

  • Vignette galores: About half of the show was full of vignettes, and it felt like it dragged on a bit in some parts. The Nikki Cross “interview” was fun and creepy and weird in a good way. The Ruby Riot video felt a bit generic, and the update on Ember Moon’s injury gave us a good shake-up for the NXT Women’s Championship match at TakeOver. There were also two backstage interviews with Kassius Ohno and Drew McIntyre that set up some matches in the future as well as a pair of vignettes to reintroduce Pete Dunne and UK Champion Tyler Bate before their title match in Chicago. I understand the need for these videos, but they didn’t help in keeping up the momentum of the show. With only three matches, and two of them not even longer than four minutes, there wasn’t enough action to keep me interested in the first half of the show. Plus if these vignettes were the reason they had to cut SAnitY’s beatdown from the show, then it’s a shame.


*****

Just for the main event alone, NXT this week was worth watching. If you can go through the first half an hour, then you’ll be treated with this week’s best match. Other than that, Black continued to be entertaining, and we got updates about the NXT Women’s and Tag Team Championship scenes. It does get a bit slow during the video package segments, but all is forgiven once the main event starts. 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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