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Smark Hen-XT (1/10/18): Let's Get It On, Mamon


Happy new year, everyone! Your girl is back from her two-week holiday break for your weekly dose of Smark Hen-XT!

NXT kicked off the year with a bang with an excellent episode. I know I already sound like a broken record because I say it all the time, but hey, can’t really blame them for delivering the goods every single week.

This week’s main event was supposed to be SAnitY vs. Undisputed ERA for the tag titles, but man, the things we went through to get to our actual main event.

The ERA attacked Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain backstage, so that didn’t happen. Aside from an angry Nikki Cross about to kill the Undisputed ERA (I’m this close to making a #SetTheBansheeFree campaign. COME ON, GUYS), what came out of it was an unexpected team of Roderick Strong and Aleister Black.


There was so much history that was called back in this segment that it made me so happy. Everything just tied up all together. Roddy and Aleister both have their issues with the ERA, so it’s reasonable for them to team up. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly made their debuts with Black, but they both lost to him. As the GM, Regal has been putting the ERA in their place since making their debut, so pushing through with the tag title match still seemed logical.

(Wow, it’s not so hard to make sense of things after all, WWE.)

Since Roddy and Aleister weren’t really a team, Aleister made a simple mistake of chasing after Adam Cole after he interjected during the match, leaving Roddy on his own to eat the pinfall.

The Undisputed ERA laid Black out post-match, and in classic NXT fashion when we think the show was about to end, a plot twist is thrown at us. Regal came out again and announced that Cole vs. Black at TakeOver: Philadelphia is going to be an Extreme Rules match.


Man, what a show.

Now that TakeOver: Philadelphia is also around the corner, we can expect that things are just going to get better from here.

*****
Rest of the show: 

-Shayna Baszler def. Dakota Kai: The Queen of Spades made her debut two weeks ago by choking the lights out of Kairi Sane, who came out after a title match between Ember Moon and Sonya Deville.

This week, Shayna made her NXT in-ring debut and wow, isn’t she the biggest a$$hole right now?

Shayna made her way to the ring with a theme that has the sound of horses at the start (*cough*FOUR HORSEWOMEN?*cough*). It was a short, brutal match that showed what Shayna is all about: hurting people.

After the match, Shayna still choked the bejeezus out of Dakota, until Ember Moon made the save. They seemingly teased an Ember/Shayna feud that will eventually lead to a title match.

The Queen of Spades’ in-ring debut was perfect in establishing her as the new badass on the block. I became a Shayna fan during the Mae Young Classic, but man, I hated her so much after she (work) injured Dakota Kai. Aw man, sweet, nice (and kicky) Dakota Kai.


-Kassius Ohno def. Raul Mendoza: This was one of two obligatory we-know-who’s-going-to-win matches on NXT this week, but I’m not complaining. These matches, while they don’t serve a purpose storyline-wise most of the time, are usually loads of fun.

It was a treat to see contrasting styles battle it out in the ring. Flippy, high-flying Mendoza was no match for the hard-hitting Ohno, who kept him grounded after a vicious elbow at the back of his head.

I still want an Ohno NXT title reign sometime in the future, but his gatekeeper role for the young’uns is also good for him. He (and the booking of the match) benefits his opponents, who are usually the new ones, since they still look good even in defeat.

This is how you book gatekeepers, WWE main roster.

-Zelina Vega addresses the press; Velveteen Dream is back: Andrade “Cien” Almas’ business associate, Zelina Vega, raised an interesting point in this segment: she questioned if Johnny Gargano indeed earned his number 1 contender spot when he only pinned Aleister Black after the Undisputed ERA attacked him (in a phenomenal Fatal four-way match two weeks ago). I honestly forgot about this because Gargano’s win was so fulfilling, so it’s great that she brought it up.

This angle did a lot of things for the upcoming NXT Championship match. For one, it’s another point for the Almas camp in terms of psychological advantage. It also added a layer to Johnny Wrestling’s character: was it really fair for him to take advantage of a despicable action for his own benefit?

After this, we segued to an interview with Gargano himself, that was interrupted by a returning Velveteen Dream. Dream demanded that he “say it”—not his name—but to thank him for the slot in the qualifying match. He further questioned Gargano’s credibility in this really good segment.

-Lars Sullivan def. Lio Rush: This was the second we-know-who’s-going-to-win match for this week, but unlike the first one, this may actually do something for Lio Rush’s character development.

But Lio isn’t the one in the spotlight for this one; it’s the gargantuan Lars Sullivan. While Rush was too fast for him, Lars was still able to impose his dominance after he got a win with a Freak Accident.

After the match, Lars called out Killian Dain (!!!) who ticked a few of his nerves during the Fatal four-way match. Man. Sign me. The heck up. For this hoss fight!

But Lars wasn’t finished yet. He got up the second rope for a super Freak Accident on Lio post-match. It was a great exclamation point for the start of a gigantic feud (literally and figuratively).


*****
The road to TakeOver: Philadelphia technically began a few weeks ago, but it was only during this week that the NXT Creative got things going outside of the title picture. We had really good (reasonable) squashes topped with a great main event that had a much better build. Promos were also at point which added layers to existing angles. With those said, NXT this week gets an A.


Photos from WWE.com


*****
Ardelle Costuna works for a news organization somewhere along Timog Avenue whenever she's not watching wrestling. A renewed fan, she only knew of Shawn Michaels' (her wrestling first love) retirement just two years ago. She's currently drowning in a lot of shows she missed, but she's loving every minute of it. You can catch her crying over some damn good wrestling and swooning over Kenny Omega at @ardellelledra.

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