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Smark Hen-XT (10/4/17): A Chiropractor's Nightmare


This week’s episode of NXT featured Drew McIntyre’s first title defense and it was against Roderick Strong. You can’t go wrong with this pairing; Drew and Roddy are two of the best wrestlers on the brand. Both guys know how to put on a good match, and a good match they had.


I’m buying into Drew Mcintyre as a fighting champion. He has the physique of a warrior god and all his moves look devastating. There aren’t many people in NXT who can match up to him physically, and he uses his size and strength well. The brashness of his youth in his first WWE run has been replaced by this quiet confidence, and it fits well with his simple gimmick as a man who just fights.

On the other hand, I don’t know what Strong has against nice, healthy backs, but I wholly approve of his vendetta against them. Strong’s creativity for delivering cruel backbreakers was showcased here, especially in the spot where he dropped McIntyre on the steel steps. The rest of his game was on point as well. His moves were crisp and his selling was great, so he still looked strong in defeat.


The Undisputed Era coming out after the match to console the defeated Strong didn’t mesh with the modus operandi of Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly ganging up on everyone. I figure based on their history before the WWE, it would make sense for the Ring of Honor alumni to reach out to one another, but it doesn’t fit the Undisputed Era’s gimmick as brash upstarts. It’s something that NXT’ll have to explain as it heads towards TakeOver: Houston WarGames.

That said, as far as first title defenses go, this was a pretty good one for McIntyre. While the NXT Championship had been contested under good matches, there hasn’t been one that was truly spectacular for a couple of years now. It’s been largely overshadowed by the other titles in terms of match quality, but it’s defenses like this that make me excited for the possibilities. Does that mean we’ll finally have that transcendent title match under McIntyre’s reign? I don’t know, but the potential is there. NXT will just have to take advantage of it.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross def. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce: It was a weird booking choice for NXT to play this rematch almost exactly like the first match three weeks ago. You can’t ask viewers to suspend their disbelief and wonder if Cross will help Riot out when they already did that. That said, this ended up being a better match than their previous bout, mostly because they’ve crammed more action in the time they got. I’m a fan of what all four women can do, and with the Women’s Championship vacant at the moment, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them inserted in the title match at TakeOver: WarGames.

  • Aleister Black vs. Lio Rush didn’t start; the Velveteen Dream attacked Rush: I enjoyed this segment way too much. First, what a great tease by NXT. Rush is one of the best prospects in pro wrestling right now. The 22-year old high flyer made a name for himself during his ROH run, and he can only continue to develop as part of the Performance Center. By putting him out there and then pulling the rug on the match, now I’m more interested in what this kid can do. Second, the Velveteen Dream’s character work was utter brilliance. Seeing him practically beg Black to say his name is a nice callback to the Dutchman’s backstage interview from a couple of weeks ago. By revealing that insecurity within him—the need for acknowledgement—it added the perfect wrinkle to Dream’s heel gimmick. Behind the sensual persona is a boy starved for affection. Again, the sexual undertones aren’t for everyone, but this is great storytelling from everyone involved. Also, Full Sail singing “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child was stupid fun.

  • Kairi Sane def. Aliyah: This was a great showcase match for Sane. The Pirate Princess is a favorite to win the Women’s title at TakeOver: WarGames, and if the Mae Young Classic wasn’t enough to get you on board the hype train (hype ship?), then I don’t know what else they can do to let you buy into her. She’ll have a good career in the WWE just coasting by on her charisma, but she has the wrestling chops to back it up. Her theatricality is fantastic, her selling is great, and her Elbow Drop is brilliant. You can’t ask for more from a highly regarded signee.


*****


This episode of NXT was solid—all of the matches were interesting and filled with purpose. The post-Asuka era of the brand’s women’s division is shaping up to be great, and most of the major players in the division were showcased throughout the night. The Velveteen Dream and Aleister Black continued their rivalry with a solid segment. And the main event match between McIntyre and Strong was easily a TakeOver-quality match that had huge storyline implications moving towards TakeOver: WarGames. All in all, this was an A+ episode.

Thoughts on Drew McIntyre's first title defense? 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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