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Smark Hen-XT (6/26/19): A Breakout, A Big Break, And A Breakup


NXT delivered yet another jam-packed episode this week by giving us not one, not two, but four matches. These weren't throwaway matches toowell, except for one. The night's card involved big names and big stories that I definitely appreciated. As the title says, there was a Breakout (Tournament), a big break for a certain tag team and a break-up between a short-lived alliance.



We had our first look at the NXT Breakouts when Angel Garza (formerly Garza Jr.) faced off against Joaquin Wilde (formerly DJZ) in a fast-paced match which Garza won via today's #FinisherFriday subject, the L-Bomb.


The two "rookies" were impressive in the ring, however, I can't quite put to words why I felt slightly unsatisfied during the match. Maybe WWE does have a different style of presentation or maybe it's the way they sold their moves. Either way, it felt a little off even if I enjoyed the exchanges between the two. Maybe the next set of matches in the tournament will get me in the zone and will get me behind the newcomers. Sadly, I'm not sure who my next pick is now that Joaquin Wilde is out of the brackets.

The follow-up to that was a continuation of the Street Profits/Forgotten Sons rivalry where both teams squared off in a bout that ended via disqualification. It certainly looks like a Jaxson Ryker push is in the cards and the tag team titles may take a backseat with how this ended. Ryker being an unstoppable and unpredictable monster while Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler support him could be an interesting dynamic between the three.


The post-match beatdown saw Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan come out to even the odds against The Sons. This is a good segue that could lead to a possible title match between The Profits and The Brit-Am Brawlers. Do remember that The Brawlers defeated The Undisputed ERA previously so the title defense could make sense if they push through with it.

It's a smart decision as it gives the Street Profits someone fresh to trade barbs with and a team they can most likely retain the championships against. This also gives both Lorcan and Burch ample screen time and a mini-push of sorts.



I still believe The Brawlers won't win the gold because of their booking. However, as consolation, it could give them a chance to steal the spotlight and possibly carry over any momentum once they come back to NXT UK. Either way, this feud will hold everything in place until a new and worthy contender comes up through the ranks of the tag team division.

The third match was a squash match involving Keith Lee. It served its purpose in building Lee as a force to be reckoned with. While I dislike squash matches, I do love seeing Lee manhandle his opponentsespecially with that Pounce of hisso let's see if this win takes him anywhere closer to an actual storyline. I'm still afraid he might get lost in the shuffle especially now that more new (and old) talent are on their way to NXT.



Lastly, we have the finale. Io Shirai has finally snapped. This still felt fresh even if she did slightly tease a meltdown during NXT TakeOver XXV. I can now see this story going two ways; (1) Candice LeRae will be the recipient of Shirai's fury which should help keep LeRae busy until her eventual feud with NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler; and (2) this could help refresh Shirai and possibly differentiate her from those who have the same background as her.


I've observed that most Superstars who come from Asia (or specifically in Shirai's caseJapan) are, more often than not, booked initially as either mystical, oriental, or over-the-top babyface characters. The Genius of the Sky has always come to the ring in her cartoonish-looking mask and does her kawaii-like pose during her entrances. I do think it's fun but it's hard to take a character seriously as a contender when they leave that pa-cute impression.

Now is the perfect time for this change in character especially when the only credible female heel on the NXT roster is Shayna Baszler.

Maybe in the eventual Shirai/LeRae feud, LeRae will come out on top, but as a welcome development, Shirai can bring her new badass gimmick to the main roster and feud with the other girlsThe Kabuki Warriors included. We've yet to see joshi puroresu in the WWE so this could be a chance to do that.


While the Lee match was the only red flag I had for the episode, it was so short that it ended up not ruining my mood. I'm looking forward to the continuation of the NXT Breakout Tournament. I'm okay with seeing the Street Profits face off against The Brit-Am Brawlers. I'm definitely excited to find out what's next for Io Shirai and what state the women's division will be in after this. Everything in this episode felt like it will lead to something really special in the next few weeks so I'll have to give this one a high grade.

Grade: A


Not-So-Full Sails:

  • Nykos Rikos is such a weird name that rolls off of my tongue. Oddly enough, his ring gear was the weirdest mish-mash of things I've seen in a while.
  • After seeing Joaquin Wilde, I slightly miss TJP. I know TJ said he was excited to possibly work with the then-DJZ in the WWE to represent Pinoys everywhere. I hope he does come back someday.
What do you think about the Io Shirai turn? Did you enjoy the first match of the NXT Breakout Tournament? Hit us up in the comments section below.

Photos and videos from WWE

*****

Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed style icon and NXT reviewer 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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