June 13, 2021, CWC, Orlando, Florida
Andy Spoors runs through the explosive action – and all the major talking points – of NXT TakeOver: In Your House…
A large portion of wrestling fans yearn for the ‘good old days’ to return to the industry. An era before wrestlers were ‘Superstars’ and truly felt larger than life. Much like the rest of the world, nostalgia sells in wrestling. When NXT dusted off the In Your House entrance set from yesteryear (the 90s), the WWE Universe was all in.
The pastel colours, house front complete with flowerbeds and legendary presenter Todd Pettengill… what more could fans have hoped for 22 years on from the last In Your House event? Not much apparently, as last year’s event created such a demand that the black and gold brand laid on a 2021 sequel.
But did lightning strike twice? Did NXT deliver or was this PPV about as welcome as a knock on the door just as you’ve got comfortable on the sofa?
Here’s the lowdown on NXT TakeOver: In Your House…
The Winner Takes It All…
Death. Taxes. Excellent opening NXT TakeOver matches.
Some things are just inevitable.
For years, NXT has laid on some of the best PPV style events in all of wrestling. One of the staples of these events, is kicking things off hot with high-octane, action-packed matches.
The initial decision to have North American Champion Bronson Reed team with NXT Tag Team Champions MSK in a winner takes it all match against Legado Del Fantasma may have left some fans confused. By the time Reed, Lee and Carter had their hands raised in victory, few could deny the chemistry displayed throughout an exhilarating match.
With an average age of little over 30, the trio all have their peak years in wrestling ahead of them. MSK’s high flying style feels like a 2021 version of The Hardy Boyz, both Lee and Carter have a devil may care attitude that is every bit as exciting as Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb off a “20 foot” ladder.
Reed has slowly but surely built himself as one of the Superstars of the future, his last month or so, the culmination of refining his laid-back, but destructive abilities. And what of Legado Del Fantasma? The recent release of Andrade raised eyebrows, but the ever-impressive Santos Escobar, feels like a ready-made replacement.
Flanked by Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde, the trio could bring something new to a Raw that is in desperate need of new blood. Sleek, talented and immensely cool all three would breathe new life into a flagging show and bolster its currently lightweight tag division.
Gonzalez Survives, Dakota Thrives
The NXT women’s division has undergone some serious rotation over the last six months. Both Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair are champions on Raw and SmackDown respectively.
New NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship titles were introduced, and Io Shirai was finally dethroned as champion of the brand. Her conqueror, Raquel Gonzalez, has been forging a strong start to her own title reign and a victory over veteran Ember Moon further cements her dominance.
A key part of her win over Moon has to be attributed to Gonzalez’s running buddy, Dakota Kai. In the aforementioned, ever-changing landscape of NXT, Kai finds herself in the rare air of being around the locker room for close to seven years. In that time, she has featured in the Mae Young Classic, Royal Rumble, WarGames and was one half of the first ever NXT Women’s Tag Champions.
Even with those accolades, Kai has always remained on the fringe of being the top woman of the brand. Shawn Michaels himself recently lavished praise on the Kiwi Superstar and predicted big things in her future.
Gonzalez may have been the one holding the Championship aloft, but expect Kai to be on top before long.
Cameron Grimes, even a few weeks ago, was wrestling Marmite. You either loved him or hated him, but you sure as hell couldn’t ignore him. A throwback, cowardly heel character, Grimes added some nuance to his persona while rehabbing an injury earlier in the year.
A big winner playing the stocks and shares market, Grimes became so odious in his new found wealth that a slow transition into a good guy followed. Tongue in cheek references to WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase led to hilarious skits with the man himself.
At NXT TakeOver: In Your House, Grimes took on the silver tongued LA Knight in a ladder match to determine a recipient of DiBiase’s Million Dollar Championship. Even in defeat, Grimes seemed to emerge the big winner of the night, frequently mentioned on social media as the match of the event.
With fans firmly behind him, it will be interesting to see how Grimes adapts his character. With the ability to transition between heel and face, incredible mic skills and in ring talent to match, to steal his catchphrase, it is easy to see Grimes going “to the moon”.
Carry On Kross
The main event of NXT TakeOver: In Your House saw current NXT Champion, Karrion Kross, defend his title against four of the brand’s biggest and brightest Superstars. Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne and Adam Cole all have a wealth of experience and vocal fanbases, but multi-man matches are a difficult undertaking for any wrestler.
There are a number of issues Superstars need to contend with. With five men to concentrate on, the audience can only focus on so much of the action at one time. Fans in attendance will get behind their favourite, which can spread the volume of their support a little too thinly.
Those things are all before you take into account how difficult it can be to shine a spotlight on all involved. NXT did manage to balance the action very well and did so at break-neck speed throughout.
Noticeably the support for the champion was the quietest of the quintet in action. Not only that, but the match seemed to come alive whenever Kross was out of the ring or not involved. The lukewarm reception to his victory here will surely have been noted, especially considering the commentators constantly reminded viewers this was the highest attendance inside the Capitol Wrestling Center to date.
The other issue is who is left to take on Kross? Defeating four of the best in one go adds to a list of commanding victories over Tommaso Ciampa and Finn Balor. With few others on the black and gold brand possessing the believability or experience to challenge or carry the title yet, don’t be surprised if a shock return is on the cards.
Another option could see Kross make the jump to Raw or SmackDown and relinquish the NXT Championship in a move similar to Asuka in 2017. His presentation feels more in line with Raw’s current wheelhouse and could easily walk into the main event scene there.
A sense of bedlam has shrouded NXT in recent weeks.
Backstage brawls, injuries and scathing promos have injected a sense of urgency to proceedings. As Kross stood tall at the end of the main event, the camera cut to NXT General Manager William Regal looking worse for wear.
Followed by a backstage interviewer, Regal dropped a bombshell as NXT went off air, proclaiming, “It’s time for change…” before walking into the night.
Could this be the end of a seven-year stint as NXT boss for Regal? Fans will hope not, as the Blackpool native has provided some fantastic moments in his time (WARRRRRGAAAAMES! anyone?) and should by all rights be inducted to the WWE Hall Of Fame by now.
The rumour mill instantly caught fire, with rumblings of the recently released Samoa Joe making a return to NXT as Regal’s replacement or in an enforcer-style role.
One thing is certain, the landscape is about to change once again…
Header images used courtesy of WWE.