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Smark Hen-XT (1/22/20): Baskin' Roddy (and Keith Lee)


Oh! Bask in his glory!

This week's episode marked Keith Lee's first championship win in WWE—specifically, as part of NXT. As I said during the previous week, Survivor Series felt like Lee's rebirth in the company; his official debut was lackluster, leading to an injury and a string of losses. Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and he has become such a success story that there are even rumors of him graduating to the main roster.



First, let's talk about how he achieved this feat. He defeated Roderick Strong in a stellar main event that was super entertaining to watch. While I would've wanted Roddy to hold on to the NXT North American Championship for a little longer, it only makes sense to keep pushing Lee because he has built this momentum from his performances late last year. I guess this means we'll be seeing more of Lee in the black-and-gold brand since he's now a champion.

On the other hand, could this loss lead to the downfall of the Era? Or maybe this could lead to an eventual call-up for the Messiah of the Backbreaker (and The Undisputed Era by extension?). I personally don't want to lose the Era on Wednesday nights so I just hope this loss leads to different goals for the faction. Maybe NXT should refresh Roddy by having him feud with Cole?


Anyway, Roddy is the most underappreciated member of the faction, and for him to lose this title as early as now probably means they have something better planned. I hope Roddy really gets to mix it up with the main eventers of NXT, even if it means going up against Cole. If not, then I'd love to see him mix it up with Finn Bálor and the rest of the guys. Even for this short title reign, Strong gets so much love from me. His defenses were some of the most entertaining ones I've watched.

We also got the continuation of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with the semi-finals taking place in this episode. Seriously, these brackets ruined my predictions of an Imperium vs. Undisputed ERA showdown, however, I did forget about Worlds Collide, where the faction war will be happening, so I'm not too sad.



The Grizzled Young Veterans picked up the shocking victory against The Undisputed ERA albeit via the expected distraction from Imperium. It seems they're really giving the Young Vets nuclear heat by allowing them to defeat the favorites of the tournament. I won't be too peeved if they push these boys because, as I keep saying, superstars from NXT UK really need to be featured more in the mainstream programming and this is their chance to shine.

Likewise, the makeshift team of the Broserweights (Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle) also advanced by defeating Imperium. Like I said in last week's review, I enjoyed both Riddle's and Dunne's work and would like to see them work together. However, the armchair booker in me feels that one of them is swerving at or after the finals. I feel that it'll be Dunne turning this time. I'm glad if a Riddle/Dunne feud comes out of this because it'll be new, although I still wouldn't mind seeing them team up a bit more because the dynamic is really refreshing.


So with those matches done, we've got the Broserweights vs. Grizzled Young Veterans for the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and it's looking lit (even if it wasn't what I expected to see initially). I'm getting the feeling that the Young Vets will take this one only so I can see my previous statement of Riddle/Dunne come to fruition. This, plus it will help boost NXT UK's stock by putting them on top of the tag team card.

In other matches, Shayna Baszler, Finn Bálor, and Toni Storm won their respective matches, however, they felt more like filler material. Especially since the main takeaway from these are mostly their matches for Worlds Collide (and future PPVs). There were a few vignettes and backstage angles that helped the build-up for the current feuds, but honestly, I didn't care for some of them, except maybe the Imperium vs. The Undisputed ERA confrontations which were prevalent in the whole episode.



All in all, watch this show so you can be a part of history. Also, do it so you can bask in his (Keith Lee's) glory and celebrate this moment. As many (including CM Punk) predict, Lee is going to be a star soon and this might be the catalyst for his future success in the WWE. As a bonus, the tag team matches were also A+ and worth the watch.

Grade: A

Match to Watch: Keith Lee vs. Roderick Strong (c) for the NXT North American Championship

Not-So-Full-Sails:

  • WTF is with Matt Riddle's hairdo? It's weird and it bothers me a bit.
  • Does NXT really not care about Io Shirai? Please tell me she'll get huge exposure during the Royal Rumble so I can at least feel good about her losing this many matches. I wouldn't even mind seeing her as a third member of the Kabuki Warriors.
  • Roderick Strong was the last member to hold gold in The Undisputed ERA. He's also the first to lose his.
  • Dominik Dijakovic may want to reignite his feud with Keith Lee now that the NXT North American Championship is in Lee's possession.
  • I enjoyed the closing shots of the night as the Imperium vs. The Undisputed ERA is fire. We need more of these simple yet effective rivalries.
What do you think is next for The Undisputed ERA? With Royal Rumble happening this weekend, who are you expecting to show up from the black-and-gold brand? 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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