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Smark Hen-XT (2/26/20): The Fresh Prinxe And Flair/Belair


It looks like NXT's main focus moving forward will be the women's WrestleMania match pitting Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley. I sincerely hope they don't mess this up like they almost did last year with Becky Lynch's WrestleMania moment; while most people would probably appreciate a triple threat that would bring Bianca Belair into the mix, I feel that a Flair/Ripley showdown will make the moment grander and will help bring NXT completely into the fold as it takes its rightful place as an actual "main roster" brand.



The company has devoted consecutive episodes spanning different shows and brands just to add some intrigue and mystery to the direction of Flair's earned title opportunity—with NXT using its closing segments for the last few weeks to make this angle into a big deal. This week saw Charlotte compete in an NXT ring for the first time in years to face off against the talented Belair in which Flair was expected to dominate.

To be honest, I've found myself enjoying Ripley's work ever since the lead-up to her NXT Women's Championship win, however, I didn't feel that this was her best night. Maybe it comes down to timing issues, or how they planned the end scene out, but I felt that she wasn't all in it during the closing minutes. I just found myself not as engaged and invested, unlike their previous segments in the past. It's still okay because we've still got a month to work this feud out. Maybe this was just an off night. I'm still looking forward to the WrestleMania match wherein Ripley defeats Charlotte and just carries the NXT banner proudly.



The second point of focus would be Finn Bálor. While the segment actually started with him running his mouth and acting heelish, the sudden appearance of Imperium towards the end made it feel like he's doing a turn. Sure, as it stands maybe it's just a shade of babyface that I felt, but all signs may be pointing to a WALTER vs. Bálor at NXT Takeover: Dublin even if Finn is working the heel role right now.

Now, If they're doing this face-off, one thing I have to point out is that I hope they don't go with Demon Bálor. I think it doesn't fit the Prinxe's character right now, plus, while not blatantly said, I feel that The Demon is a babyface gimmick (even if it does represent a demon which is probably a semi-evil supernatural belief). Besides, if they are indeed doing it in Dublin, we can just easily attribute it as a hometown hero's welcome without turning him into a good guy again. For what it's worth, I love his current work and I think there's a lot more he can do before he returns to his natural babyface ways.



As for the other segments and matches, I didn't really enjoy them as much as I wanted to. Maybe Damian Priest vs. Dominik Dijakovic or Keith Lee is interesting, but I think I'm more interested in Cameron Grimes getting an opportunity to face Lee instead, only because it would feel a little more fresh to me. Likewise, as I said during the previous weeks, I'm not too fond of another Gargano/Ciampa feud, so I'm not too thrilled about the stories they'll start running this time around. It was pretty good to see Austin Theory in action this week so that's a plus.

Meanwhile, The Grizzled Young Veterans seem to have continued their excursion on the main NXT brand as they scored a win over the babyface(?) Forgotten Sons. While I feel that this fits the Sons' storytelling, I don't buy Jaxson Ryker as a face (nor Blake for that matter). If I didn't care for them before, I don't think I'd care about them now because they really haven't done anything engaging. The same would probably go to Killian Dain, Mia Yim, or Xia Li who I didn't feel connected to at any point. I know this is supposed to be the start of their future rivalries with other Superstars, but I just found it difficult to care about them by this point. We'll have to see what happens in the coming weeks for me to comment more.



As it stands, this week wasn't the best and I'm surely not surprised that NXT lost the ratings war big time against Dynamite. While I'm a fan of the Ripley/Flair story, it was the only actual part of the show the I looked forward to. The Bálor angle was surprising and it did make me mark out for a bit, but then, that's just two small angles that I really cared about. Everything else after that was the same old show.

Grade: C

Match to Watch: Bianca Belair vs. Charlotte Flair

Not-So-Full Sails

  • Can we just bring Bianca Belair to SmackDown so that Bayley has something to do come WrestleMania season?
  • As much as I love The Undisputed ERA, this prophecy thing is getting on my nerves a bit. The prophecy was cut short. Can we move on to another engaging tagline or story?
  • Speaking of the ERA, what's next for Adam Cole? There was no mention of who his next opponent just might be. Meanwhile, his stablemates are knee-deep with getting back at their respective tormentors. Velveteen Dream for Roderick Strong and the Broserweights for Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly.
  • Is NXT going overboard in terms of trying to compete with AEW on Wednesday nights? We'll be having cage matches galore next week. I'm not a fan of going too gimmicky when it comes to weekly shows.
Who's your bet between Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley for WrestleMania? Are you still excited about Gargano/Ciampa? How much are you looking forward to for Balor vs. WALTER? Hit us up in the comments section below.

Photos and videos from WWE

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Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your master NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) while he pursues his musical career courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). 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 as an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.

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