By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
NXT Takeover In Your House Hits
Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai for the NXT Women’s Championship: This didn’t feel like the main event going into the show and yet it totally worked in that slot. Ripley has cooled off since losing to Flair at WrestleMania, but there seems to be a redemption story in the works given the way Paul Levesque spoke about Ripley’s losses to Flair and now in this match on the Takeover media calls. Shirai’s moonsault at the end looked so rough that it actually took me out of the moment. Upon further review, it appeared to be a near miss. Either way, it was close enough that it took me out of the moment and distracted me from the title change. It looked like Flair was doing her best to free her leg from the Figure Four so that it would actually make sense for Shirai to be credited with the win rather than it being a double pin. She didn’t quite pull the leg away, so it’s another case of this clunky finish.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Karrion Kross: It’s not easy to look gothic while making your entrance from Ward and June Cleaver’s family home, but Kross and Scarlett pulled it off. Anyway, the thing I loved about this match is that it wasn’t about stealing the show. This was about putting Kross over strong in his Takeover debut. I have no doubt that they could have competed for best match of the night and they probably will on a future Takeover, but this was all about establishing Kross with a quick and decisive win over one of NXT’s most successful wrestlers. Ciampa has earned more than enough credibility that this loss won’t damage him if the followup is strong, but it definitely made Kross out to be a major player.
Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream in a Backlot Brawl for the NXT Championship: I haven’t been a big fan of all of the pro wrestling cinematic matches, but this was fine. This match didn’t feel like a movie or an acid trip, it was a fight in a unique setting. I could have done without the cutesy Uber driver moment and I was never wowed by what I was seeing. It This wasn’t as hot as the Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher cage fight and I can’t say that I’ll be anxious to see another Backlot Brawl once things get back to normal, but it provided a nice break from the Full Sail studio and I was pleased to see Cole retain the championship. Dream has cooled off and it just wasn’t the right time for a title change.
Keith Lee vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship: There was an adjustment period, but I’m really starting to enjoy Gargano as a heel. In fact, I thought they might put the North American Title on him in this match and put Lee in chase mode. Instead, Lee went over clean and I’m not sure where they go next, but this feud has been entertaining enough that I’m looking forward to finding out.
Finn Balor vs. Damian Priest: A strong back and forth match. The bump that Priest took from the apron onto the ring steps was insane and apparently went well given that he seemed fine afterward. I was hopeful that Priest taking the loss is a prelude to him being moved to Raw. Drew McIntyre needs some quality big man challengers, so there’s a need for guys such as Priest and Dominik Dijakovic. However, Paul Levesque stated during his post show media call that this was a breakout performance for Priest. And given the way he spoke about Priest, I got the feeling that Priest is just now getting to the level where Levesque wants him, so that probably means he’ll be spending more time in NXT.
Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox, and Mia Yim vs. Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, and Candice LeRae: A hot opening six-woman tag match with nonstop action from bell to bell. I was a bit surprised to see the babyfaces go over and even more surprised to see Nox get a measure of revenge on Kai by scoring the pin. My only concern is that it feels like Nox and Kai are just trading wins and that their feud isn’t building to a crescendo, but NXT booking is strong enough to warrant benefit of the doubt.
NXT Takeover In Your House Misses
None: A good show that likely would have been a great show if it could have been held in front of an arena packed with fans. It was hard to find any major flaws aside from the lack of energy and enthusiasm that fans provide. The spectator wrestlers are definitely a big improvement over not having any noise, but there’s no replacing the passionate live crowds who attend pro wrestling events. WWE deserves credit for being wise enough not to overstay their welcome with their network specials held during the pandemic. Money in the Bank and now Takeover were both briefer than usual shows, which is the right move during these strange times. The use of Todd Pettengill and some of the nostalgic moments were fun. I’m not really sure how many fans feel a strong sense of nostalgia for the forgettable In Your House era, but the segments were fun for those who have fond memories, yet they didn’t go too far to alienate newer fans.