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Smark Hen-XT (7/5/17): No End to the Heartache


NXT did an incredible job at building up Roderick Strong as a babyface. They found a way for him to connect with the audience at a primal level—they molded him as the “perfect” family man. By giving us a glimpse of his life, from his rough childhood to his newfound fatherhood, it allowed him to resonate with the audience. He was the underdog who had to scratch and claw his way to the top, and he’s doing it for all the right reasons. That made it harder for me to see him lose.

In what could arguably be the best NXT Championship match in years, Strong came out and had the match of his life—and still fell short.


Bobby Roode deserves all the credit in the world for being the perfect villain in Strong’s story. He’s presented as the antithesis of Strong: rich, arrogant, and selfish. And he played his role very well—from taunting his opponent at every opportunity to staring down Strong’s fiancee Marina Shafir as he delivered a Glorious DDT on the outside. He took every advantage he could get. He didn’t look dominant in this victory; he, once again, looked lucky to escape with the title still around his waist. It’s even more reason to hate the guy, and that is the mark of a great heel. Imagine the pop when his luck finally runs out, and someone takes the title from him.


I get the argument that this could’ve been a great time for the title to change hands. It was as if everything was aligned for Strong to get the title. He’s finally gotten over with the NXT Universe, he’d overcame the odds of SAnitY, and he worked a hell of a story in this match, but would it had been an effective ending to the story? I don’t thinks so. Great heroes overcome great losses, and this was a big loss for Strong. And yet, even in defeat, he looked extremely good. Expect him to work his way back to the title scene again, and when he finally becomes champion, it’ll be so much sweeter.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • SAnitY def. Hideo Itami and Kassius Ohno: I know this match was meant to further the feud between Itami and Ohno (it did, sort of), but I couldn’t take my eyes off Alexander Wolfe. Holy shit, this man is doing all the right things to get himself over. From his erratic movement to his weird but effective facial expressions, he created a gimmick out of nothing, and by God, he’s making it work. Props to the German. Back to Itami and Ohno for a sec: it’s getting a bit weird to side with Ohno’s “honorable way” here when all he does is lose. It only makes Itami’s frustrations seem more understandable. On the other hand, it doesn’t help Itami's case when he overcompensates to make up for his shortcomings by acting all macho. Who the hell am I supposed to cheer for here?

  • Backstage segments galore: We only had two matches, but we had a ton of backstage segments in between them, so let’s have a quick blitz. Ember Moon and Ruby Riot both want a shot at Asuka, but the champ gives no fucks about them. Drew McIntyre also doesn’t care who’s the champ, as long as he gets a title shot. And Andrade Almas and his lady friend (the yet unnamed Thea Trinidad) out-screamed the Iconic Duo. Who would've thought that could happen? Still, there were some minor but effective movements in the stories of all those involved, so not bad.


*****

The main event dominated much of the show, and it was the right call. NXT hasn’t given us a a really good NXT Championship match in a while, so it’s great to see them go all in with this one. Both Strong and Roode brought their A-game in this episode. It might be a heartbreaking ending for some, but tragedies make for great TV. This episode gets an A.

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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