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Smark Hen-XT (9/5/18): Johnny Failure


Can we just go ahead and name Johnny Gargano the Superstar of the Year?

This dude has had one hell of an arc all year long and his performances have been consistently amazing. The current chapter involving his descent into madness is so compelling that I want to see him unravel even more, because that will make his redemption story even more satisfying.

For starters, that main event between Gargano and Velveteen Dream was my favorite match this week. Seeing Johnny Wrestling snap and take out all his frustrations on Velveteen Dream was a relatable sight. After all, who among us hasn't unfairly taken out our anger on someone who didn't necessarily deserve it? That being said, Dream did provoke Johnny, and he is an asshole in his own right. But Dream isn't the cause of Gargano becoming unhinged. So in a way, Dream asked for it, but he also was a somewhat sympathetic figure as the victim—until he took advantage of Gargano losing it and used it against his opponent for the win.

I really appreciate Gargano acknowledging how he's let his fans and believers down. There's a self-awareness in his portrayal that allows him to walk the line between going completely nuts and knowing that he's going completely nuts. You can see how bothered he is by what he's becoming. It helps that the dueling chants of "Johnny Wrestling! Johnny Failure!" came organically from the fans. It's a great representation of what the Johnny Gargano character has turned into: a shell of a man who has polarized a once-united fanbase.

It was a good call to have Gargano try and injure Dream the way he tried to end Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: Brooklyn 4, only for Dream to turn the tables on Johnny and defeat him. It's a good wake-up call for Johnny and anyone else who's letting their anger consume them. Feel your anger, but don't let it devour you. When you let rage take the wheel, that's when you'll crash and burn. Take it from Johnny Wrestling himself.

What a satisfying main event to cap off another solid episode of NXT. This one gets an A.

Not-So-Full Sails

  • I'm disappointed there weren't more interrogation scenes this week. That said, I loved what they pulled off with Heavy Machinery and Lars Sullivan. I can listen to Otis Dozovic's poop stories all day. I can just as well listen to Lars waxing poetic about drying paint. The man's got a way with words, I tell you.
  • William Regal's legal aide looks so shady, I wouldn't be surprised if that motherfucker was the actual culprit.
  • NXT Women's Champion Kairi Sane's pirate chest with the title inside it was gold.
  • I'm fine with Shayna Baszler coming out and brawling with Kairi. But at some point, they're going to have to mix it up with their interactions. Shayna can't just come out and go after Kairi week after week. That shit'll get boring.
  • An episode without the Undisputed ERA in it? Damn. That was weirdly refreshing.
  • Then again, the ERA still had their fingerprints on the show through the tension that's brewing between Ricochet and Pete Dunne. For what it's worth, we're getting a Champion vs. Champion match in two weeks! I doubt any of these guys will actually be a double champion by the end of that match, but it'll be something totally worth tuning into.
  • It looks like Kassius Ohno's metamorphosis into the grizzled gatekeeper of NXT is complete. I don't mind seeing him in this role, but I just hope it leads to something down the road. It would be a shame if someone of Ohno's talent and experience doesn't go further from here. On that note, I really enjoyed that beatdown on Kona Reeves. I daresay that was the finest.

  • I can get behind The Forgotten Sons. I love how they're presented as guys who've been around for quite some time with a chip on their shoulder and no fucks to give. Their in-ring style looks menacing and deliberate, but I'm not sure if their knee drop to reverse DDT combo finisher is aligned with their no-nonsense approach. I'd rather see something more devastating and impactful. I buy Wesley Blake and Jaxson Ryker as total badasses. As for Steve Cutler, I don't know why he's supposed to be a heel when his time in the Marines is being mentioned. Shouldn't America be thanking this dude for his service?
  • I don't know how to feel about the Street Profits/The Mighty feud going on for a bit longer. On the bright side, it was interesting to see The Mighty as the troublemakers who caused Ford and Dawkins the loss. 
  • NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa's backstage propaganda videos could be a good lowkey reason not to fast-forward through the breaks in the action in every episode. Keep an eye on the Scourge of NXT.
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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