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Smark Hen-XT (1/9/19): Hello Johnny, Goodbye Nikki and EC3


This week’s episode of NXT did well in drumming up interest for NXT Takeover: Phoenix by dedicating a segment each to the upcoming PPV’s title matches. This show felt like a better way to start NXT’s new year by refreshing people’s holiday-riddled minds of the backstories for the brand’s rivalries and feuds and why we’re so invested in them. Let’s discuss the major points of the episode further.




The opening segment continued Johnny Gargano’s ambiguous character arc with him denouncing his partnership with Tommaso Ciampa. He did mention that he was still after the NXT title, yet for some reason he’s also after Ricochet’s NXT North American Championship. I feel that Gargano’s character is evolving into this delusional everyman who thinks he will be the only one deserving of all the titles. Maybe a #DIY reunion to eventually challenge for the NXT Tag Titles is in the works? I don’t know, but it feels like a story arc I’d follow so I can find out how Johnny's downfall will happen. 

This promo would continue with appearances from Ricochet, Ciampa, and even Aleister Black to set up a good mish-mash of main eventers and what could most likely end up in a future match between all four competitors. Whether it be a tag team match or a Fatal 4-Way, I know I’d like that match to happen in the near future just to see another five-star quality outing from them.



The show also advanced what seemed like another small push for Bianca Belair's legitimacy, but also equally seemed like a farewell to Nikki Cross—who had already been announced for a main roster call-up. This match was perfect in how Belair was presented, but also because Cross gave the rub before her departure from NXT. Belair looked strong as always and is really being presented as a serious threat to Shayna Baszler’s title so the champ better watch out given what the EST of NXT can do. 



EC3 and Adam Cole closed out the show in a continuation of the EC3 and Undisputed ERA rivalry. EC3 lost this outing (most likely as he is also on his way to the main roster), however, this set up the ERA going for a post-match beatdown on him, which in turn would see the War Raiders try to make the save. While I'd like to see the Raiders win their first one, I have a feeling the ERA will become the longest reigning team on NXT so a win in their match at NXT Takeover: Phoenix might be in the cards.

All in all, the show really felt like a refresher course on NXT’s storylines so that everybody could get their bearings on the future of the brand. Also, only time will tell if this was EC3’s last match on the brand as Nikki seems to have made her farewell from the WWE PC YouTube channel. 


Grade: A- 



Not So Full Sails 


  • Marcelle Barthel and Fabian Aichner give me generic vibes. Don’t they just seem like the German/Italian version of Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan? The plain gear and jackets do give out that similar feel. Speaking of that, just watch this.
  • Coming from my last point, I’m half-sad that TM-61’s Nick Miller is gone. WWE or NXT could have made an actual World Cup type of tournament because of the diverse nationalities of the NXT competitors now. 
  • Adding to that last point, I’m curious what constitutes an NXT or NXT UK roster spot. Remember when Aleister Black appeared on the United Kingdom Tournament special? Wouldn’t it be smarter to put Barthel and Aichner on NXT UK instead?
  • The Gargano/Ciampa saga has evolved so much that it’s still probably the hottest storyline in NXT. It certainly feels like our TV’s will still have these two men for another year, which is exciting yet saddening since I’d like to see more new faces develop stories in the brand.

Photos from WWE

*****

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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