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Smark Hen-XT (8/30/17): Whose NXT Is It Anyway?


For almost a year, NXT’s main event scene had been dominated by one question: who owns NXT? (Spoiler alert: it’s WWE.) Every NXT Championship match is fought “for the future of NXT,” whatever that means.

Granted, since Bobby Roode’s ascension to the top of the card, he’s built his character around the notion that NXT is his to mold in his image. Shinsuke Nakamura fought for the NXT universe. Hideo Itami did the same for a while. Drew McIntyre claimed the title for the fans as well before declaring that we live in his world this week (an aside, if that doesn’t prove my point about McIntyre’s privilege from a month ago, I don’t know what does.) Even Adam Cole is screaming that this is his NXT after attacking McIntyre again. And that’s why it’s amazing to see Roderick Strong come out and not give a fuck about it.


Strong’s everyman appeal is oddly refreshing in a world filled with over-the-top warriors fighting for the abstract. He wants the title for himself and his family. It’s him against the world, and the only way for his family to get ahead is for him to be the best. That’s why I think he was the perfect foil for Roode’s arrogance and egocentricity. He doesn’t have to proclaim his oneness with the crowd; his actions and story resonate with them.


Roode and Strong’s feud was one of the best stories NXT had come up with. It was simple to follow, and you understood everyone’s motivations. It helped that the people involved were on the top of their game. That makes it incredibly frustrating that we’re not getting their last match on a live special. Both of their matches were great, and did an excellent job at keeping everyone’s attention. Roode had his best matches with Strong: his character work is his best since he had a great foil, and Strong made him look better than people think. Roddy might not be the best promo, but his storytelling in the ring is great enough to hide it. The callbacks this match had from the previous title match provided a sense of continuity. That this isn’t on a Takeover feels like a disservice to both guys.

With Roode now working Tuesday nights and Strong sticking around Full Sail, we’ll probably won’t see this feud continue and get the pay-per-view moment it deserves. We’re back to the war for NXT’s future again; that said, Cole, his cohorts, and McIntyre are all exciting guys, and we’ll be getting good matches out of this. I’ll be missing this feud though.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Peyton Royce (w/ Billie Kay) def. Ruby Riot: I want more of this. The NXT women’s division is in a state of flux right now, with no champion and nobody big enough to fill Asuka’s shoes. This was a solid outing for Royce and Riot, and it’s clear they’ll be a major part of the division moving forward. It’s time for the scene to grow out of the Empress’ shadow, and it’s matches like this that’ll help the women of NXT find their place in the card.

  • Heavy Machinery def. Damien Aweel & Edwin Negron: Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic are a fun tandem, but they’re nowhere ready to work at the top of the tag team division. That’s fine, as they’re still finding their niche as a quasi-comedic face duo that can pose a threat to any opponent, and there’s no problem with that.


*****

This was a very good show, and it did a great job at exploring the fallout from Adam Cole’s debut from TakeOver: Brooklyn III. McIntyre is a credible fighting champion, and the guerilla (heh) warfare Cole, Fish, and O’Reilly are waging is a tried and trusted angle that can put eyes on the show. More than that, Strong and Roode delivered on a TakeOver-caliber main event. 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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