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Smark Hen-XT (8/15/18): Bound For Brooklyn


BROOKLYN! BROOKLYN!

Sorry, I just can't help but remember Cryme Tyme whenever I see the word, "Brooklyn." But since I mentioned the city that will be hosting TakeOver this weekend, I might as well remind you that we are literally days away from another NXT live special that is sure to blow our brains off our heads, like they always do.

The excitement was palpable throughout this episode of NXT, which was littered with vignettes and promos, much more than your usual serving of the Yellow Brand. We had three matches, but none of them were the type to steal the thunder of the upcoming TakeOver special.

The Street Profits got to advance their feud against The Mighty by picking up a win over the Aussies via the same grab-the-tights shenanigans that they were previously victims to. On that note, I honestly have never been a fan of the commentators' double standards towards dirty tactics over the years. I get why they ought to condemn heels for doing this. But shouldn't they also chastise the babyfaces for stooping to the heels' level when they return the favor? Whatever happened to "two wrongs don't make a right?"

Kairi Sane displayed her own version of a mean streak, submitting Aliyah via the Anchor leglock. It was great seeing this different side to the normally cute and plucky Pirate Princess. Layers like these are important in getting us invested in characters because they keep them from being one-dimensional. Yes, Kairi's still a babyface here, but she sent NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler a message by showing she can also play the same game come TakeOver.


And then in the main event, we got a solid TV main event between Roderick Strong and Tyler Bate. More than anything, this match was a fun appetizer for what Moustache Mountain and The Undisputed ERA have to offer this Sunday (Manila time). I'll tell you more about my thoughts on the match in the predictions below. But what I can't seem to fathom right now is why Pete Dunne just stopped having Moustache Mountain's back here. What happened to that feud between British Strong Style and The Undisputed ERA, when all three Brits have been victims of the ERA's shenanigans over the last few months?

This week's go-home show was underwhelming because most of it consisted of promos and vignettes that we're likely to see again this Sunday at TakeOver. On the bright side, that's also because NXT has done a solid job establishing these stories and fleshing them out over the last month or two. That said, NXT has always had a high bar for episodes because of its superior quality relative to the main roster shows, so we'll have to give this one a B-.

Not-So-Full Sails

  • I really don't understand how wrestlers can afford to wear those fancy suits and nice dress shirts and be willing to get physical in them. Can you even get clothes that look that nice—but can wrestle in—at a Ross or TJ Maxx?
  • You have to appreciate the effort NXT is putting into the "Whodunnit?" angle to write Aleister Black out. But let's be real. Are we really going to believe that the likes of newcomer Marcel Barthel, or Cezar Bononi, or Steve Blake's new redneck faction—WHO WE'VE NEVER SEEN ON TV, BY THE WAY—are responsible for Black's attack? And come the F on. Are we really going to paint Candice LeRae and Kairi Sane as potential suspects? Oh, and of all the frames of Ricochet to freeze, they had to pick one that makes him look like he's about to have a seizure. What disrespect for the beautiful man that he is.
  • I officially hate The Undisputed ERA's backstage segments, not because they're doing it right as heels, but because it comes across clunky and awkward. Who has a casual conversation with their buddies by a set and allows it to be filmed? I also don't see the logic in talking among yourselves and then addressing the camera when it's convenient for you. And I still don't understand why their theme music has to be playing in the background. Somebody stop this.
  • That Gargano/Ciampa video package is fucking awesome. But a part of me still sees Johnny Wrestling as a loser for descending into madness the way he has.
  • Aliyah's got to be the female version of Kona Reeves, right? We were first introduced to her under her real name, Nhooph, on Breaking Ground. That was in 2015 and she's been repackaged more times than we've had TakeOver specials in Brooklyn. Womp womp.
Okay, time for predictions (please).


NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 Predictions

  • Velveteen Dream vs. EC3: It wouldn't surprise me if this is EC3's farewell match on NXT. I totally see him showing up on the main roster (please, please, please let him go to SmackDown Live) right after SummerSlam. Then again, I don't know how they can make the most out of him when the main roster is as stacked as it currently is. EC3's stock doesn't really drop with a loss here. And I think a win for the Velveteen Dream is going to add to his credentials as he builds his resumé towards an eventual run with the NXT Championship. Dream over, EC3.
  • NXT Tag Team Championship: Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) vs. The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong) (c): As much as I love Moustache Mountain, I think they only got the tag titles at the Royal Albert Hall for the hometown pop. This was a great story while it lasted, but looking at the tag team landscape, a successful title defense for Undisputed ERA is more likely because the War Raiders are looming as the next challengers. Hanson and Rowe look more like the team that'll dethrone Roddy and KOR—and give them a bludgeoning, while they're at it.
  • NXT North American Championship: Ricochet vs. Adam Cole (c): Score another win for the ERA because by the end of the show, the North American Champion will still be ADAM COLE, BAYBAY! Maybe a run with the North American title is in Ricochet's future. But I want to see him chase after it longer, just so the climb to the top will be more satisfying. Watch out for this match as a potential show-stealer, though.
  • NXT Women's Championship: Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler (c): Much like how I think Ricochet has to chase after Adam Cole for a bit before eventually winning the title, I also believe Kairi has to do some chasing of her own before becoming NXT Women's Champion. Looking at how Shayna Baszler is booked, it's not hard to see her as a more clearly heel version of Asuka during her NXT run. If anyone's toppling down the Queen of Spades' house of cards, it has to be an underdog babyface that the NXT Universe will unilaterally show their love for. As much as I want that to be Kairi Sane, I think that spot's going to one Candice LeRae.
  • Last Man Standing match for the NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (c): Obviously, Aleister Black's injury really threw a wrench into Creative's plans here. I initially thought Ciampa would retain here, but that would mean that he'd be up 2-1 in this series against Gargano. I don't think they'll extend this feud all the way to January—take note, the next two TakeOver specials aren't until November, and then January—just so Gargano can eventually come back and win 3-2. Besides, Last Man Standing matches are typically reserved as feud-ending bouts to establish a winner once and for all. Johnny Gargano is walking out of Brooklyn with the NXT Championship. And I'll be preparing my tissues for the moment.
Who do you think is walking out on top come TakeOver: Brooklyn 4? Drop your predictions in the comments below! See you (online) this Sunday morning!

Images from WWE

*****



Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.

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