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Smark Hen-XT (3/18/20): The Recap Episode


This was the second week that NXT aired from the WWE Performance Center, however, things were a lot different this time around. Gone were the screaming fans of the black-and-gold. Gone were the select matches which fans waited for. Instead, the brand decided to do things a lot differently and also allowed their talents to take that much-needed break.

The truth is, I'm a huge fan of documentaries and productions of a similar nature. The way stories develop over the years and the small things which tie up to the bigger picture are ones that pique my interest a lot. They keep me glued to the screen and give me a feeling of nostalgia and joy.

There were three stories highlighted during the episode and this goes to show what the focus for this WrestleMania season is on. The story of Finn Bálor, the rise of Rhea Ripley, and the never-ending rivalry of Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were all put in the spotlight for us to revisit and get reacquainted with just before the big event.



The Ciampa/Gargano rivalry started the show and also took the majority of the episode which makes sense considering that their NXT relationship has lasted for around three years or so. To be honest, I sympathize more with Gargano. The guy has been the workhorse of the brand for the past four years and to be shoved aside in favor of someone who stabbed him in the back (Ciampa) felt like a betrayal by the fans.

Gargano has snapped completely and it's hard to tell if he's a heel right now. While he did exhibit some villainous tendencies here and there, let's not forget that the disdain and angst that he harbors had built up over the span of their feud spanning multiple years. I honestly would like Johnny to come out on top of this.



Meanwhile, Ripley's rise to stardom was also a big focus of this episode. There isn't really much to say about her story that wasn't tackled in the episode. From her awkward start in the first Mae Young Classic to her current disposition, she has really propped herself up on a pedestal and I want to see her beat Charlotte Flair to retain the NXT Women's Championship—not just for her, but also to raise the NXT flag up in the air.

Lastly, Bálor's upcoming showdown with NXT UK Champion WALTER seems inevitable. While the Prince hasn't lost his newfound mean streak, there's no blatant announcement nor signs that he's going back to his babyface ways. Maybe this is just Bálor having his Stone Cold Steve Austin moment wherein he does what he wants when he wants, but this is definitely a major improvement to the stale main roster run he had.



I'm not really sure what they were thinking when they decided to not hold matches—considering that every other WWE show had matches of some sort—but this was a good little break from the usual show and, as I said, allowed the Superstars to catch a short break amidst all that is happening in the world today. That is why I'm refusing to grade this show because it felt so much like a TV show's mid-season break wherein storylines are refreshed for viewers' sakes.

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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 (TheMoxRocks). 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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