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Smark Hen-XT (10/18/17): Seeds of War


Rumors might suggest that the plans for TakeOver: WarGames came together at the last minute, but you wouldn’t have thought of that from this week’s episode. Either the rumors aren’t true and the idea for a War Games match had been in the works for ages, or the Creative team called a good audible based on this week’s main event.


SAnitY vs. the Undisputed ERA, on paper, is a great feud. Both stables are over with the NXT Universe, and every single member of both groups is solid in the ring. The execution, though, wasn’t as amazing as it could have been. The match itself wasn’t spectacular, but it did a good job at setting up the pieces for the future. Adam Cole and company told a simple but effective story with their heel work. They did a good job at bullying Eric Young by isolating him and constantly tagging in and out. After Killian Dain cleared the ring, Cole looked great as a smarmy heel trying to talk his way out of trouble. I would’ve loved a definitive finish, but I understand the need to save that for a bigger stage.


The Authors of Pain’s involvement was a great call. AoP had been largely absent since TakeOver: Brooklyn III, and I was wondering what the plans were for the young bruising tandem. It’s great to see Akam and Rezar sticking around NXT for now, as it’ll give them time to polish the last kinks out of their game while helping out a rebuilding tag team division. Plus, their interference gave the Undisputed ERA a way out of the match without getting pinned, which made them look more like the dicks they should be. I’d love to see AoP tangle with the Undisputed ERA soon.

We live in a time where fans have a great awareness of what’s happening behind the scenes. We have entire websites entirely dedicated to exactly that. So it’s a bit amazing that even if War Games came at the last moment, NXT’s Creative team had already laid down the foundations for it. They’ve done a bang up job at setting it up without even meaning to, and that either means they’re mad genius or really lucky bastards. Either way, I’m excited about TakeOver: WarGames.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Ember Moon def. Ruby Riot and Sonya Deville to qualify for the NXT Women’s Championship match at TakeOver: WarGames: This is Ember Moon’s first match since TakeOver: Brooklyn III, and I didn’t exactly miss her. The post-Asuka era of NXT’s women’s division had been moving along, and Moon’s presence hadn’t been needed for me to enjoy the ride. That said, Moon’s presence in the title scene makes sense—she’s still one of the best in-ring worker in the division—and it adds another exciting name to the NXT Women’s Championship match. Deville had her best match, even in defeat. Her MMA-inspired style worked well against Riot’s unpredictability or Moon’s athleticism. Riot did great as well, even if she did eat the pin, as she thrived to the chaos of the Triple Threat match. She was pedal to the metal for most of the match and made Deville and Moon look great.

  • Aleister Black def. Raul Mendoza: The Black/Velveteen Dream feud had been great, and this match did solid job building to the story. Dream coming in to play mind games without being directly involved. The match itself was your typical Black squash match, but the Dutchman’s aggression was highlighted here. At some point, we expect Black and Dream to get physical, but the slow tease had been doing a good job at getting people invested.

  • Drew McIntyre backstage interview: This segment did two great things: it gave us another reason to cheer for the NXT Champion, and it set up a new challenger for the Scot. McIntyre spent a lot of time talking about his family here, and it did a great job at humanizing the champion and making him more sympathetic. It’s exactly the same thing they did with Roderick Strong, but the Creative team had done a great job at not making this feel like a rehash. Zelina Vega did great when she inserted herself in the segment. She’s a great mouthpiece for Andrade Almas. It felt slightly weird for her to proclaim that Drew was ducking Cien as they’ve never set anything up before, so I wish they’d build that up. That said, McIntyre/Almas sounds like a great idea for a title shot match.

  • Kassius Ohno def. Cezar Bononi: I don’t understand what’s up with Ohno. His second round of NXT feels even more disappointing than his first one, and his first run was bad enough. After coming in strong, Ohno’s been relegated to the midcard, and they’ve failed to capitalize on his experience. His feud against Hideo Itami came up short, and now, he doesn’t have anything going. That is a waste of a great asset.


*****

NXT spent another week setting things up for TakeOver: WarGames, and that’s not a bad thing. Stories need to be built up so we as consumers can make sense of what’s happening. Ember Moon’s punched her ticket to the NXT Women’s Championship match with her win. Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream continue to their deadly dance. Drew McIntyre has a new challenger in Andrade “Cien” Almas. And the seeds of War Games are being planted with this week’s main event. This episode gets an A-.

Thoughts on this week's episode? Let us know in the comments section.


Photos 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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