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Smark Hen-XT (10/3/18): Split Night For Mr. & Mrs. Wrestling


Welcome to a later-than-usual edition of Smark Hen-XT! I apologize for the delay of this week's column. It's been a pretty busy week again for ya boy, so I had no choice but to crank this one out on a Sunday morning, while watching WWE Super Show-Down. Okay, that's enough foreplay. Let's jump right in!

I might be in the minority here, but I'm actually glad that this week's episode of NXT didn't focus too much on the "Whodunnit?" storyline. It was refreshing because of the slow trudge towards the reveal. After all, there are only so many interrogation segments you can actually pull off. Now, granted, Nikki Cross was featured in the episode's cold open, where she said that "she knows." Yes, Nikki. You know it. I know it—wait, Kairi Sane, why are you taking over me right now?!

Okay, now that that's over, the only other reference to the Aleister Black assault came through Tommaso Ciampa's promo, where he began going after... Velveteen Dream?! This makes sense after Dream implied last week that Ciampa was Black's assailant. In that quick promo, Ciampa was able to establish his motivations for going after Dream—he didn't appreciate how Dream accused him through a backstage interview. Meanwhile, Ciampa himself was able to paint a picture of Velveteen Dream using that accusation as a platform to put himself in the NXT Champion's spotlight. So, now it's a story of, "Okay, Dream. You called me out? I'm going to take you out. Ginusto mo 'yan." Good stuff.

But outside of those two segments, it seemed like NXT is ready to focus on other storylines, which they should absolutely do, since TakeOver: War Games II is less than two months away. That said, I was particularly amused by how the episode panned out for Mr. & Mrs. Gargano.


Johnny Gargano looks a lot like the never-say-die underdog we'd all been enamored with again, and that's great. His path to redemption is well underway, and he proved himself very well against Tony Nese—who caught me by surprise on this week's NXT. Speaking of Nese, I'm actually curious why WWE doesn't have 205 Live guys appear on NXT more often. It'd bring us fresher matchups each week, while getting everyone some good TV time every now and then.

As for Johnny Wrestling, this match is exactly what he needs to really get his redemption arc over. He needs to go up against bigger, stronger adversaries and put them in their place. In a way, this angle gets two things done simultaneously. It gets Johnny Wrestling his mojo and self-confidence back; and it also makes us believe in him again.

Sadly, things were a bit different for Candice LeRae. She lost to Lacey Evans this week, in a match that stemmed from the latter's remarks about the Garganos' marriage, and how Candice may not be the best wife around because she'd rather keep her personal and professional lives separate. I'm loving what I'm seeing out of Lacey Evans more and more. She looks really comfortable as an imposing and powerful heel, while maintaining the grace and poise that comes with her character. I wouldn't mind seeing her get built up as the next challenger to Kairi Sane for the NXT Women's Championship, to be honest.

As for Mrs. Wrestling, what else is there to say? She's the female equivalent of Johnny Gargano, so it only makes sense to have her on an uphill battle towards contender status. Besides, it would only help her to gain sympathy from the audience by losing first, kind of like how Gargano went on a losing streak himself after Ciampa turned on him at TakeOver: Chicago last year.

All in all, this episode felt like a tiny whiff of fresh air because I'm getting impatient of the whole "Whodunnit?" angle taking forever to resolve without anything concrete going on. The show was pretty evenly balanced in spreading time out this week, which was a good thing because it pushed several different stories forward. But on the flip side, it also meant that we didn't get a mind-blowing TV main event. That said, I'll take it and give the episode a B.

Not-So-Full Sails

  • I loved that promo for Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. I know I'm not alone in expressing that the main roster shows should bring back the vignettes that allow audience to become more familiar with wrestlers who either haven't debuted yet or just aren't booked for the live episode. There is still value in segments like this because it makes you more attached to these Superstars, even when you can't see them in a match. 
  • I wasn't too attached to the EC3/Lars Sullivan match and story. I can appreciate EC3 and his no-bullshit attitude this week, and I know a lot of people raved over the power game both men put on display. But something about it just didn't do anything for me. Maybe it was the fact that I know EC3 was playing gatekeeper for Lars Sullivan here. Either way, I'm glad this story is over so both men can move on.
  • Give me more Forgotten Sons. They're not cool heels, but I love how crazy savage these three can be, especially Jaxson Ryker. RIP Cesar Rise, Torry Kirsh, and Vinny Mixon.
  • Can we please get to that triple threat match over the North American Championship now? My God.
Image 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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