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Smark Hen-XT (1/23/19): Candace LeRae, Your Guardian Angel (Plus TakeOver: Pheonix Predictions)


As NXT TakeOver: Phoenix approaches this Sunday (Manila Time), this week's show did not hold back in terms of hyping up what is expected to be another blowout episode for the brand.

Before we proceed with the predictions, I'd like to take the time out to highlight the most engaging part of the show for me: the show-closing promo between Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, and Tommaso Ciampa.


What started out as a rebound promo from Ricochet turned out into an all-out massive brawl to extend this multi-tiered rivalry between all four men. It's interesting to see how this feud has evolved from only Gargano/Ciampa to include Black and Ricochet as well.



A part of me feels that Gargano and Ciampa will end up being at the forefront of NXT for months, if not years, to come with them serving as a centerpiece while the roster rotates rivalries and matches around them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as we can see from how each show brings an element of "Well, this is new."

The most interesting addition to this story was the most obvious choiceCandace LeRae. She appeared in the last segment to serve as her husband's conscience, reminding him of Ciampa's betrayal, leading to Gargano pulling back and having second thoughts. Again, this adds another layer to this story so we'll have to tune in for more at TakeOver: Phoenix.


And speaking of TakeOver: Phoenix, that's our cue to round up the article with some quick predictions for the PPV!


Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno 

Matt Riddle for the win, however, I see Keith Lee factoring in this feud so an appearance is more than welcome to extend the storyline.

Ricochet (c) vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship.

I see Gargano capturing the title using underhanded means (possibly a Ciampa appearance) with Candace LeRae voicing out her disapproval.


Bianca Belair vs. Shayna Baszler (c) for the NXT Women's Championship

Hands down, Bianca Belair should remain un-de-fea-ted. Shayna can enter the Royal Rumble Match the following day, and this could also factor into a possible confrontation between the Four Horsewomen at the Rumble.

The War Raiders (Rowe and Hanson) vs. The Undisputed ERA (Roderick Strong and Kyle O'Reilly) (c) for the NXT Tag Team Championship


While I wouldn't want the Raiders to lose their first title opportunity, The Undisputed ERA promised a strong 2019 ahead so they have to retain this one.

Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa (c) for the NXT Championship


Tommaso Ciampa needs to retain so Black can be welcomed into the main roster via a Royal Rumble Match appearance. Also, a Johnny Gargano assist (even an accidental one) would be more than welcome so Ricochet can try to make the save to lead into a Ricochet vs. Ciampa feud for the next NXT TakeOver.

Grade: B

The episode was a solid B in the sense that it did its job to hype up the upcoming PPV, but also fell flat in offering what was basically a bunch of generic matches put together for the sake of putting people on TV (see both tag team matches.) I know these matches will lead to something in future episodes or to build up the characters, but with this one being so close to TakeOver: Phoenix, I feel they could've shoehorned some of the feuds into the matches. Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish was very welcome in my book though, so that gets plus points.


Not So Full Sails


  • Why is Velveteen Dream not a part of TakeOver: Phoenix? I feel that with his position in the NXT ranks, he could've at least been put in a storyline with anybody at it still would've worked. Foreshadowing for the Royal Rumble perhaps?
  • Throwing back to my review the week before last, the tag teams of Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch still feel generic to me (Ugh. Those black jackets.)
  • Both Lorcan and Burch were very enjoyable but I feel like I'd like to see more character from them. Fabian Aichner was impressive, as well. I can't say the same Marcel Barthel though. He looked lost several times during the match.
  • The Tommaso Ciampa and Aleister Black promo was very well produced. NXT has been pumping out the freshest and most interesting vignettes and promos. I'd love to have more of this kind of dedication on the main shows.
  • Tanea "Rebel" Brooks of Impact Wrestling fame had a match on NXT. Does this signal signing for NXT or is this one of those one-off gigs that could have been her tryout? Only time will tell as there is no word yet but she's in good company if she signs as she used to team up with current NXT superstar Mia Yim during her Impact Wrestling days.
  • NXT continues to give us quality matches by giving Velveteen Dream versus Bobby Fish. I'll be a very sad wrestling fan if I don't see one of these two be part of the Royal Rumble Match or WrestleMania.


Do you agree with The Migz's predictions for TakeOver: Phoenix? What's your take on the state of Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa's relationship? Share your comments and speculations at the comments section below.

Photos and Videos from WWE


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Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed fashion guru and semi-young boy at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of everything music, wrestling, videogames and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) as he sets on his journey to completely do things spontaneously. You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE2K19 (or any PS4) skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life being (and trying to be) an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.

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