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Smark Hen-XT (11/8/17): Brawl for All


This week, we had another dream match in NXT’s main event. Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole should be a great match on paper. They didn’t quite nail the execution though.


Make no mistake, both Strong and Cole are talented individuals who can probably put on a great wrestling clinic on any given night. There were sparks of brilliance in their match this week, but having this match as a lead up to TakeOver: WarGames severely limited its potential. Rather than having them go all out, you got the feeling that they were holding back. The match never left first gear, and it’s a shame as Cole needed a big outing to make sure he kept his momentum. The non-finish certainly didn’t help.

The post-match brawl was great though, as it gave the crowd a taste of what would happen at TakeOver. The “Match Beyond” (when all competitors are inside the ring) will definitely be a hot mess, and it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. I’m still questioning the team of Strong and the Authors of Pain. They haven’t done a good job of explaining why they should team up and seeing Akam and Rezar just walking past Roddy with nary a glance told me not to expect much teamwork from the trio. Maybe that is the story of the team? Since they’re not the cohesive units SAnitY and the Undisputed ERA are, they’ll be the team that can’t work together—something necessary for WarGames as history tells us. If that was the case, could they not have tried to make it more apparent?


It also felt like we had this brawl a little too early. I don’t know what NXT’s planning next week, but the brawl would’ve been a great closing segment leading directly to TakeOver. Booking this a week too early dampens the impact of the brawl a bit because it won’t pay off immediately. I’m sure the production team can whip out a great video package to carry the feud next week, but WWE shouldn’t be relying on the production team to fix the mistakes of the creative team.

Do these complaints prevent me from getting excited about TakeOver? No, definitely not. I’m still pretty hyped about WarGames, and I’m invested enough in Cole and Strong to look past these complaints. I still think the WarGames match is going to be lit, simply because we’ve never had a bad TakeOver match, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

*****

The Rest of the Show:


  • Heavy Machinery def. Sean Maluta & Chris Payne: Just when you think their novelty was starting to wear thin, Tucker Knight and Otis Dozovic do something incredibly stupid that you can’t stop watching them. This week, it was Dozovic nailing the Worm elbow drop perfectly. It makes absolutely no sense, but it’s great TV.

  • Kairi Sane def. Billie Kay (w/ Peyton Royce): This was a fine tune-up match for our Pirate Princess before TakeOver: WarGames, and there’s nothing completely wrong with it. It just wasn’t memorable. The outcome was never in doubt here, even with the Iconic Duo’s numbers advantage, so Sane never appeared to be in too much trouble. She still has a gorgeous elbow drop, though.

  • The Velveteen Dream def. Cezar Bononi: Solid outing for the Dream here. He looked great as the aggressor, and taking out Bononi without any problems made him look strong going into his match with Aleister Black at TakeOver. I loved that he used his cartwheel Death Valley Driver to end the match, as it’s a more interesting move than his elbow drop. The post-match promo was okay, but I felt it was a sentence or two longer than it had to be. Otherwise, this was a good segment for the Velveteen Dream.

  • WarGames vignette: Major props to NXT’s production team for absolutely nailing this video package for the WarGames match at TakeOver. It did two things: first, it gave us a Cliffnotes history of WarGames, and why you should be excited about it. Second, it drove home the Dusty Rhodes connection. Dusty’s a beloved figure in NXT, and every time they honor the man, they do it perfectly.


*****

You know you have a good show when an off week can be summed up as “Fine, not great.” And that was the prevailing thought through most of the episode. Outside of massive spots (Dozovic’s Worm, Strong’s Superplex to everyone, the WarGames vignette), the segments weren’t all that interesting, but nothing was truly offensive. It’s a bit of a shame this dip came a few days before arguably their biggest TakeOver, but I don’t see this affecting the hype for the Network special. This episode gets a B.

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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