To celebrate the 25th anniversary of WWE’s first In Your House PPV, NXT looks set to pay homage to one of the more memorable series of events in the company’s history. Our resident King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, delves into the current affairs of WWE’s heavy metal brand…
Considered as the gateway to the current monthly PPV cycle, the first In Your House aired in May 1995 where a brand-new home in Orlando, Florida was given away in a sweepstake and subsequently won by an 11-year-old! Other highlights included the debut at In Your House: Badd Blood or the infamous Hog Pen match (including real pigs in the arena) between HHH and Henry Godwinn.
Fast forward to 2020 and WWE’s black and gold brand will provide a huge shot of nostalgia with a stellar card to boot. Away from the most apt PPV name in history, NXT has quietly gone about its business to provide storylines and rivalries without over the top gimmicks. Whereas Raw and Smackdown have plumped for shock factor, NXT has always done its talking in the ring.
In previous years, NXT would have to contend with awkward transition phases after Wrestlemania as Superstars are drafted to the ‘main roster’. Thankfully this hasn’t been the case for quite some time. The recent draft of Matt Riddle to Smackdown came naturally after a short but brutal rivalry with Timothy Thatcher.
With stalwarts such as the members of Undisputed Era, Ciampa and Gargano remaining on the brand – and thus providing a measuring stick for quality – other Superstars have been able to find their feet and establish themselves alongside the elite. Velveteen Dream and Keith Lee are just two examples.
Going up each week against AEW has seen ratings go against NXT on a consistent basis but the reintroduction of Finn Balor and Charlotte has added some polish and household names to try and capture more of WWE’s mainstream audience.
With their Takeover event in Tampa cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the brand’s last event was way back in February at NXT Takeover: Portland. Since then, NXT seems to have become stronger, none more so than in their women’s division. With Charlotte capturing the title from Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania, all the female Superstars have stepped up. Io Shirai, in particular, is showing a world-wide audience exactly why she was so revered in Japan.
The triple threat between Io, Charlotte and Ripley will hopefully act as the springboard Shirai has been patiently waiting for. Injuries and bad luck have curtailed most of her opportunities and beating one of the best and the one of the brightest in the company would open up new opportunities for the high-flying whirlwind.
Away from the title picture, the rest of the women’s division clash in a six-woman tag match. With feuds woven throughout the bout, all six women need to view this as an opportunity to put themselves next in line for a shot at the eventual victor of the triple threat championship match.
From the minute they debuted on NXT, all eyes have been firmly fixed upon Karrion Kross and Scarlett. Their grand ring entrance and the ease Kross has demolished opponents with has captured the attention of not only the WWE Universe, but after a sneak attack on Tommaso Ciampa, Superstars seem to have been put on notice too. Kross vs Ciampa could easily steal the show on Sunday night, in what promises to be a brutal encounter. Neither man can afford to lose momentum so, similar to the Balor vs Priest match, the outcome hangs in the balance.
Since costing Ciampa the NXT title in Portland, Gargano has provided some of the more light-hearted moments within recent weeks. His meta references of needing to be a bad guy to win the affections of the WWE Universe, while enjoying dinner with Candice LaRea, have been nothing short of genius. A program against Keith Lee could provide the current North American champ with another match of the year contender and a push towards the NXT Championship at the same time. In wrestling it is possible for losers to ultimately be the winner and Lee going on to face either Cole or Dream makes logical sense…in a nonsensical world anyway.
The main event sees a curiously named Backlot Brawl between Adam Cole and Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship. After a tumultuous past few weeks, fighting off some very serious accusations in real life, this is last chance saloon territory for Dream. Whether true or not, he has his work cut to win back some of the fans lost in recent weeks. The emergence of new Superstars has well and truly overshadowed his progress but with bags full of charisma and his best years ahead of him, Velveteen Dream can still become one of the all-time greats.
In a match that is likely to be cinematic, this is right in his wheelhouse and offers fans another match that will no doubt have the Twittersphere burning by the end of the night. In truth, there is nothing left for Cole to do in NXT. His reign as champion has broken the 365-day mark and the list of opponents left to defeat is growing slimmer by the week.
The curious inclusion of Dexter Lumis adds another level of intrigue. For those not familiar with Lumis, in the very near future you will be. So far, he has remained silent. Never blinking during his matches. Lurking ominously under the ring or subtly watching from side curtains. We expect big things and by the time In Your House finishes, our guess is you will too.
Full match card and Rushonrock predictions:
NXT Championship Backlot Brawl
Adam Cole (c) vs. The Velveteen Dream
John: Adam Cole
Andy: Velveteen Dream
NXT Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai
John: Rhea Ripley
Andy: Io Shirai
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Karrion Kross with Scarlett
John: Karrion Kross
Andy: Karrion Kross
NXT North American Championship
Keith Lee (c) vs. Johnny Gargano
John: Keith Lee
Andy: Johnny Gargano
Finn Bálor vs. Damian Priest
John: Finn Balor
Andy: Finn Balor
Mia Yim, Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai & Raquel González
John: LaRae, Kai & González
Andy: LaRae, Kai & González