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Smark Hen-XT (12/18/19): Ending The Decade With The Women's Evolution


After a short hiatus by your resident NXT reviewer, I'm back and ready to give you the full scoop for this week's show. Christmas may have come early as this week's NXT episode provided a match card fit for the yuletide season. Imagine starting the show with a grade-A main event and ending it with another one as well. That's what we all got, and it was a great present for all of us fans.

The big story of the night was Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women's Championship. I know I've said a lot of things regarding Shayna's reign, but let it be known that after that Survivor Series weekend, I knew for sure that Rhea was going to defeat Shayna sooner rather than later. It made sense in so many ways with how they've booked both women during the past months. Add the fact that I have a suspicion that they'll set up a Shayna vs. Becky WrestleMania moment and it was surely bound to happen soon.


With Ronda Rousey still out of the picture, the matchup that makes the most sense would be what I previously mentioned and the only way to do that is by promoting Shayna to the main roster. However, the question in my head is, where does this leave lackeys Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke? The Smark Henry team shares a common belief that both women are still green but I also personally think that part of Shayna's charm is that she has these two ladies as her crew.

Maybe this all leads to a Four Horsewomen showdown in 2020 and maybe Ronda eventually returns. But for now, let's all enjoy the fact that because of this likelihood, Ripley has dethroned the longest-reigning NXT Women's Champion. I'm all for a Rhea vs. Io Shirai showdown early next year if you ask me what's next for Rhea.



Moving back to the start of the show, then it seems fitting that it was the men who were in the opening salvo. Adam Cole vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship was what started the big night and they delivered like it was a Takeover match. While I didn't really expect Balor to win, I knew that something big would happen. I mean, come on? Would you really waste Cole vs. Balor on a TV episode with no payoff?

That wildcard payoff would be in the form of Johnny Gargano (making his return after a month-long hiatus). We're about to transition to the Road to WrestleMania and what better way to make shocking and memorable NXT moments than to start feeding the Balor/Gargano feud and hype up a big-money bout.



Gargano showed up to cost Finn his title shot and reignite the rivalry cut short and set his sights on the guy who injured him. Honestly, I'm not amused that Johnny would inadvertently help Cole retain because of their longstanding history, but I suppose this is the way WWE works right now. We've got stories that overlap each other and no friendship or feud is safe.

The rest of the show was also jampacked. With matches like Killian Dain vs. Damian Priest, Pete Dunne vs. Travis Banks, Io Shirai vs. Santana Garrett, and KUSHIDA vs. Cameron Grimes, it feels like NXT wants to end this year (and decade) with a bang.


And while there's still another episode before the year ends, this show did its job by setting the stage for 2020. It's going to be a new NXT landscape next year and with a new NXT Women's Champion and new feuds to open the year. It's going to be pretty interesting.

Grade: B+

Match to Watch: Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler (c) for the NXT Women's Championship

Not-So-Full Sails

  • I know I praised NXT's handling of storylinesspecifically, of storylines which bleed into others—however, there's such a thing as too much. I felt that the feuds are crossing over too much at this point.
  • That said, I'm still excited about how Adam Cole fits into this story. Could our WrestleMania NXT match be a four-way match between Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano, Finn Balor, and Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT Championship?
  • I wonder how they'll bring up Shayna to the main roster RAW or SmackDown. Then again, I wonder if this is all a swerve and they'll eventually keep her in NXT.
  • This win makes Rhea Ripley the first and only person to hold both NXT and NXT UK Women's Championships.
Are you glad that Rhea Ripley is the new NXT Women's Champion? Are you looking forward to Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano? 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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