Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: In Your House (2021)

For the second year in a row, the black and yellow brand of the WWE goes old school with NXT TakeOver: In Your House. In the main event, the anarchy in the NXT Championship picture will be settled as current champion, Karrion Kross, will defend against four of this top competitors in Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. Rivalries run deep in this Fatal 5-Way match as Kross looks to ensure there is nothing for his challengers to do but fall and pray. The NXT Women’s Championship will also be on the line, as the dominant Raquel Gonzalez defends against Ember Moon. A former champion in her own right, Moon will look to use her experience and elusiveness to out maneuver the powerhouse champion. Meanwhile, seeking to earn the respect of WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase, both Cameron Grimes and L.A. Knight have been trying to one up each other, both inside the ring and out. Boasting an extravagant lifestyle, DiBiase has decided that Grimes and Knight must face off in a Ladder Match, and he will personally anoint the winner as the new Million Dollar Champion.

Also on the show, Xia Li will face off with Mercedes Martinez in a rematch from over four years in the making. With Mei Ying and Boa, of the group known as Tian Sha behind her, Xia Li will look to use her newfound dark side to avenge the loss from the first Mae Young Classic back in 2017. Finally, the trio of the NXT North American Champion, “The Colossal” Bronson Reed and the NXT Tag Team Champions MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) will team up to face the team of Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) in a match where both Reed and MSK’s titles are on the line. If anybody in Legado Del Fantasma scores the winning pinfall or submission, then Escobar will become the NXT North American Champion, and Wilde and Mendoza will become the NXT Tag Team Champions; it’s Winner Takes All. And as always, all of the action will be hosted by Todd Pettengill.

+ Karrion Kross (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly vs Johnny Gargano vs Pete Dunne vs Adam Cole (Fatal 5-Way for the NXT Championship): first and foremost, I am so glad this didn’t go as long as they always make these main events go. The five man dynamic did mean that there were hundreds of possibilities for inner match combinations, and that kept things relatively interesting. Any time Dunne or O’Reilly worked with someone, or better still with each other, the match was at its best, but Kross monstering the others around and Cole sneaking in every now and then were also fun. I don’t quite understand why Gargano deserved to be in this match, and he didn’t really add too much, and I certainly never thought he was going to win. This was a good main event, but it probably should have just been Kross defending one on one against someone
+ Bronson Reed (NXT North American Champion) & MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) (XCT Tag Team Champions) vs Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde) (Winner Takes All): I’m a big fan of most of these guys – in fact, only MSK don’t really do it for me – and the action in this was as good as you’d expect. Even as the NA Champ, Reed is still underrated on NXT, and I can’t believe some of the stuff all of Legado can do when given time to shine. Mendoza is one of the best on the roster. This was a good way to start the show, even if it was a bit predictable

Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Championship): Ember Moon is a really good wrestler, but I find her mannerisms to be really forced and stunted. Raquel, conversely, looks like a monster, but while she certainly has improved drastically in the last year or so, she is still quite limited and inexperienced. This match really didn’t do it for me, as Moon is not small enough to be thrown around by Gonazlez to make the champ look like a monster, and Gonzalez is not quite ready to be putting on the technical showings Moon can do. I didn’t expect this to be any better than it was, but it didn’t feel like a PPV worthy match
Cameron Grimes vs L.A. Knight (Ladder Match for the Million Dollar Championship): I just couldn’t get into this. Ladder matches in wrestling have run their course and need to take some time off. I seem to say it in every single review of a ladder match from any company: there was the spot where it’s wedged into the corner, of course there was a ladder bridge, maybe someone got back dropped onto a ladder leaning against something. They just bore me these days, and I really hope this title is not a ‘real’ title on the show that already struggles to have non-title matches on the card
Mercedes Martinez vs Xia Li (w/ Boa & Mei Ying): Tian Sha is a 10/10 act in wresting right now, and everything about Xia Li screams that she is going to be a huge star, but she’s just not there yet. NXT Women’s division is so strong, especially with veterans like Martinez. I’m invested in the story of Tian Sha as a group, but this was overall not a very good match and I don’t think the aftermath did either superstar a favour

> there is a sub-story going on with William Regal over the past few weeks, and I don’t care for it. I understand what they are doing in the story, but it is just silly
> I had a lot of issues with the WWE Network, as I started watching some twenty minutes after the event went live. Several times, where I was watching would begin looping only to throw me back to live action, including outright spoiling two of the earlier matches by jumping to the winner celebration. Thankfully I didn’t really have an interest in any of the matches…

Should you watch this event: This was not a bad show by any means, but much like the same event from last year, there were no must see matches. Individually, performers like Mendoza, Escobar, Moon, O’Reilly and Dunne were all fantastic, but the matches themselves didn’t feel like they were PPV quality, or had that ‘can’t miss’ feel about them. In the shadow of the Wednesday Night Wars, NXT needs a reset and a refocus lest we get even more middle of the road shows like this.

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