John: Welcome to the TJRWrestling WWE NXT Takeover In Your House 2021 Preview. It’s the second year in a row where NXT is using the In Your House theme for a Takeover event. I like it because it’s a nice bit of nostalgia and there are cool graphics for it. The biggest NXT name missing this show is Finn Balor, who has been off for a few weeks and it makes me think he’ll be heading to Raw or Smackdown next month when fans are back at WWE shows. The main event is a unique match for a Takeover since they don’t do Fatal 5-Way matches very often. I think it could have been set up a bit better, but in the end all people are going to care about is if it’s an awesome match and it should be. The rest of the card isn’t as strong as the best Takeover cards, but there’s still a lot to like here. Some of the matches are a bit predictable too, so that might hurt the overall enjoyment of the show a bit.
Joining me for the preview are two guys that used to write about NXT weekly for us on TJRWrestling: Kurt Zamora and Lance Augustine. Here’s Kurt with some opening thoughts.
Kurt: It’s incredible that NXT can have 5 of, if not the, top guys on the brand in one match. Not have the likes of Io Shirai, Finn Balor, Tommaso Ciampa, the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, on the card. Yet, have a fairly strong 5 match card. Really speaks to the depth of the roster right now, especially in the women’s division. It’s not the strongest card on paper, but I’ve yet to see a Takeover not deliver.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.)
Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
Kurt: My wife has been into wrestling roughly as long as we’ve been married, so a little over 7 years. In that time period, the people she’s instantly gravitated to are The Miz, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley, Karrion Kross, Keith Lee, & Aleister Black. Now added to that list, Xia Li. Now, my wife’s list doesn’t mean anything to anyone besides her, but just interesting to me to see from the outside looking in, as that list doesn’t have many misses. I love the presentation of Xia and definitely think there’s something there, but I’m just waiting for it to be tapped into more. Mercedes has been on a wild and weird ride where she’s been a heel and a face multiple times, and called up to the main roster for a day before saying, “thanks but no thanks” in what may be the smartest decision anyone in WWE has made. Mercedes could use a nice win here, but obviously the focus is on Xia and establishing that character. If she wins, it shows what NXT truly thinks of her. If Mercedes wins, it clearly slots Xia at a certain level and no higher.
Prediction: Xia Li
Lance: This match dates all the way back to the Mae Young classic where Martinez picked up a win over Li. Xia is back for revenge now and is looking to get the win back. This is probably the match with the least amount of heat, at least for me, and it’s hard to see where they are going with this. Because it’s on a Takeover, I assume they are going to get a little bit of time and that should allow them to have some high spots in the match. I am going with Li to pick up the win here leading to a rubber match down the road.
Winner: Xia Li
John: This one seems easy to predict since Xia Li is a rising star that has a mysterious gimmick where NXT spent weeks building her up in this new persona. I think Martinez has a role in NXT where she gets put over the lower level women on the roster, then they build her to a match with Raquel Gonzalez to put Raquel over and now Martinez will put Li over. I think what hurts a match like this is there isn’t much of a story and they are both heelish characters, so I think there might be a lack of crowd interest. We have this listed first because it’s the least interesting match, but I wouldn’t put this match on first.
Winner: Xia Li
Ladder Match for the Million Dollar Championship: Cameron Grimes vs. LA Knight
(Note: Ted Dibiase’s legendary Million Dollar Championship will be hanging from the ceiling. The first man to climb a ladder to retrieve the title will be the new Million Dollar Champion.)
Kurt: Cameron Grimes and Johnny Gargano are my favorite acts going in NXT currently. Now that Grimes is a babyface, I would absolutely love to see those two have an angle together. I always enjoy a heel who is so damn good at his work, that he has no choice to become a babyface, and that’s exactly what’s happened with Grimes. He leaned all the way into this character and now hopefully this match will be the reward for all that work. LA Knight on the other hand SEEMS like a can’t miss prospect. Great look, even better on the mic, and is good enough in the ring to be a complete package. However, whereas this feels like a chance for Grimes to officially level up, it comes across as Knight just treading water and needing something more/better. It’s difficult to explain, as a whole I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this feud. However, this was made for Grimes and Knight feels pigeonholed.
NXT loves their ladder matches as they just had one at the last Takeover. I’m sure these guys know it’s a big spot for them and even though WWE/NXT does not need another title, this should be fantastic match and hopefully the culmination for Grimes.
Prediction: Cameron Grimes is the NEW Million Dollar Champion
Lance: This should be fun with two guys that deserve to be on the card. LA Knight has made less of an impact since joining the brand than I had anticipated he might, but it’s still cool that he gets on the show. Cameron Grimes has always been a little underrated and I am assuming NXT is trying to put him over by associating him with DiBiase over the last couple of weeks. Do I think it’ll be a title that is defended regularly? No way, but I do think it has some nostalgic value to it. It might be something defended on special occasions, but that’s about it. I expect a pretty good match here and with the ladder match stipulation, I can see that adding a layer to it overall. It seems like Grimes is having himself a little bit of a push recently, so I will go with him picking up the win.
Winner and NEW Million Dollar Champion: Cameron Grimes
John: I like both wrestlers a lot. It is a bit strange that they are doing a Ladder Match just like at the last Takeover, but I guess when you have Shawn Michaels as part of the creative team then you’re going to have Ladder Matches more than the main roster. That’s not a complaint, by the way. The story going on featuring Ted Dibiase has provided us with some fun moments especially when Grimes has interacted with Dibiase. It also seems like they have turned Grimes into a babyface during this feud, but it hasn’t fully taken place yet. LA Knight is an experienced wrestler that could be one of those guys isn’t in NXT for that long because he’s got an act that is suited for Raw or Smackdown. I think Grimes is ready to break out in a big way, yet he hasn’t really had a big win at a Takeover…until now. It should be a win for Grimes.
As for the Million Dollar Title, I doubt it’s going to be defended. I think it will just be something that is carried around and more of a prop than anything.
Winner: Cameron Grimes
NXT Women’s Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs. Ember Moon
Kurt: It appears this match came out of necessity due to Shotzi Blackheart being injured. Ember is a credible opponent for Raquel but it’s a predictable match as I don’t think anyone sees Ember beating Raquel, so that does takeaway from the match a bit. The story to me is, as I discussed in the last Takeover when Raquel won the title, it’s almost a certainty that Dakota & Raquel are going to break up and feud over the title. I’m actually surprised they haven’t done it already, but credit to NXT for sticking to some long term booking. It was good to see Dakota in a long, competitive match against Ember this week, because I do think fans may start to forget how good she is in the ring, when she is basically just backing up Raquel most of the time. This should be a definitive win for Raquel to continue making her look as strong as possible.
Prediction: Raquel Gonzalez retains
Lance: I am a big fan of both of these women, which I am looking forward to. Every time we have one of these previews come up with NXT, I always gush about their women’s division. It’s the deepest and most productive in all of wrestling. Raquel Gonzalez is really good in the ring and her reign at the top was due. She hadn’t been a singles star long beforehand, but she got some momentum going she really showed what she could do. Moon came back to NXT after a run on the main roster and I feel like she is better suited for the black and yellow brand, at least right now. I think she’s good in the ring and I like the character, but she is best used to helping younger talent get over than fading away on Raw or Smackdown. This will be competitive, but I can’t see Raquel losing the title just yet.
Winner and STILL NXT Women’s Champion: Raquel Gonzalez
John: This is the easiest match to predict. Ember Moon is in the match to take a beating from Gonzalez to make Gonzalez look like a dominant champion. I know Moon will do a good job of it because she’s an awesome wrestler that sells very well, so they’ll have a solid match here. The NXT brand loves having long title reigns for their Women’s Champion as we have seen in the past with the likes of Asuka, Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley, and former champion Io Shirai.
I think the story long-term for Gonzalez is going to lead to a split with Kai with Gonzalez possibly becoming the babyface after Kai is jealous of her, so then maybe Kai is the one that takes the title from her. Then again, they have a lot of women in NXT that are very good options as well. Moon will come close to winning several times during this match, but I think Gonzalez is definitely going to get the win here.
Winner: Raquel Gonzalez
Winner Take All Match for NXT North American and NXT Tag Team Championships: Bronson Reed (c) and MSK – Wes Lee & Nash Carter (c) vs. Legado del Fantasma – Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza
(Note: Reed is the NXT North American Champion and MSK are the NXT Tag Team Champions. If their team loses this one fall match then Escobar will be the NXT North American Champion and Wilde/Mendoza will be the NXT Tag Team Champions.)
Kurt: I’m all for unique matches and when you want to stick to your five match format, but want to showcase two new up and coming acts/champions on your brand, this is a great way to do just that. I’m not on the MSK bandwagon like a lot of fans are. In the last Takeover preview, I mentioned how I don’t get them, and that’s still the case. I think they’re good in the ring, but not great. I know I’m in the minority there and I’m trying to see what everyone else does, but I just don’t. Bronson on the other hand, I’m a big fan of. I’m a bigger guy, so when I see someone with the size and ability of a Bronson Reed or a Keith Lee, I’m immediately drawn to that. Even with my doubts on MSK, I do like the fact that they’re pairing them with Bronson and showcasing the new crop of superstars together like this.
Legado is just solid in everything they do, and I like the fact that Santos is moving up from the Cruiserweight division and challenging for the North American Title. We all know, though, that this is just a showcase match for the new champions, and I don’t have a problem with that.
Prediction: Bronson Reed & MSK retain
Lance: This, along with the main event, are easily the matches of the night. MSK and Bronson Reed have recently been crowned their respective champions and I have enjoyed all of their work through the first part of the year. Bronson Reed is an agile big man, and I think he can be a star. Winning the title from Johnny Gargano was a huge moment for him and I feel like it was the start of a big push. MSK also won their titles recently and have really proven they can carry the tag team division. On the other side, Legado del Fantasma has had some standout moments as well and a lot of people seem to think that Santos Escobar has a run at the top of the card coming soon. I don’t know if I am there with him yet, but I think he is a great competitor nonetheless.
This should be fun with a lot of nonstop action. Look for a lot of high-flying as well as some slower pace stuff when it comes to Reed. I can’t see them taking the titles off of any of these guys yet, but that doesn’t take away from the match that much. This should be awesome.
Winner(s) and STILL NXT North American and Tag Team Champions: Bronson Reed & MSK
John: This will be an awesome match full of action. I think the result is predictable here as well since Reed only won the title a few weeks ago while MSK won the titles a few months ago and should have a longer reign. There’s been a long story between MSK and the Legado boys while Escobar is a smart choice as a rival for the NXT North American Champion Reed. What’s cool about the Legado trio is they work so well together. Some of the tag team moves that Wilde/Mendoza really stand out while Escobar fits in well when they do six-man tag team matches. MSK is an outstanding team that’s very likable. I think NXT needs to continue to develop their characters more.
My only complaint is a mild one and it’s that I don’t like singles titles being on the line in a six-man tag team match. I get why they are doing it to present a special match with multiple titles on the line in one match, but I don’t really like it as a match concept. With that said, since the outcome is predictable and I know it’s going to be a great match, I’m okay with it. The main event is likely going to be the best match, but I think this will be second best.
Winners: Bronson Reed and MSK – Wes Lee & Nash Carter
Fatal 5 Way for the NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (c) vs. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Pete Dunne vs. Johnny Gargano
Kurt: I love this match as it’s one of the rare instances when you get 3 or more participants in a match and can make a realistic case for each one of them winning. Kross, as the defending champion, is everything you’d want to have in your top guy. The look, the entrance, the persona. He could very easily retain the title, especially with it being his first defense. However, there’s always the thought that someone with the package like Kross, is more made for the main roster. With fans coming back in July, it seems like a perfect time to debut him on Raw or Smackdown.
The counter to that is with Finn’s absence very noticeable on NXT since losing the title, and also not in this match, I think it’s clear he’s moving back to the main roster and so would NXT want to lose two top guys? Adam Cole is, in my mind, the most over guy on either NXT or WWE. Maybe Roman Reigns in his current persona, but Cole just oozes Superstar. Making him champion again is a no brainer. Kyle O’Reilly is the new top babyface they’ve groomed since they broke up Undisputed Era, and what better way to follow up the big win he got against Cole than to become NXT Champion? Pete Dunne is the wild card in the match and maybe the hardest to make a case for as champion. However, he’s as real as they get, looks like a killer nowadays, and would be completely believable as champion. Gargano is making the most of his heel turn and never got a legitimate shot as champion when he was a babyface. I would love to see what he could do as a heel while being “the guy”.
I’m sure these matches are hard to plot out, but there is so much talent in this match, there’s no way this isn’t a barnburner. I can very easily see Kross not being involved in the decision, so he never had to be pinned and keeps him super strong as he moves up, but ultimately I can’t see him losing the title this quickly, especially since his first reign never got to get started.
Prediction: Karrion Kross retains
Lance: So, full disclosure, I didn’t know much about Karrion Kross before he got to NXT, other than the fact that his indy name was Killer Kross. With that being said, he is now on my radar as a great talent in NXT. He had a really good match with Finn Balor, capturing the NXT title in the process, and the guy looks and feels like someone who can do some damage as time goes on. Having him defend the title in a match that is absolutely loaded is probably the right way to go to put him over in a big way. You could make the argument that these five guys are all at the top of their games and have been carrying NXT for the last couple of years. Cole and Gargano have been main roster ready for over a year now, but I am glad they have shown restraint in moving them up. Dunne and O’Reilly are fantastic in the ring and this should be one that we remember for a while.
Fatal 5-Way’s don’t happen that often so it is also a refreshing match type. I feel like Kross will be elevated to their level and the match will not slow down much. This is the type of match that makes people care about the title and this has a big fight feel going into it. I look for Kross to retain, but not before an absolute battle between all five guys. Count me in.
Winner and STILL NXT Champion: Karrion Kross
John: This should be an excellent match with five of the best wrestlers in NXT. I know Kross isn’t as good in the ring as the other four guys, but as an overall character, he’s done very well in his first year in NXT. I like the way it was set up with Kross saying he would take on all comers, so that’s how they set this up. Could it have been set up better? Sure, but the last couple of weeks of NXT have been good in terms of putting over how big of a match this is.
It’s a tough match to call. Guys like Dunne and O’Reilly haven’t been NXT Champions yet, but I think that’s coming in the future for both guys. Cole and Gargano are two of the best NXT guys ever, so either one of them winning back the title would be cool with me. I think in Cole’s case, it would make sense for him to move to Raw or Smackdown by the end of the summer, whether that’s in July when fans are back or late August during the next WWE Draft. Karrion Kross only won the title at the last Takeover (from Finn Balor), so should he have his reign cut short considering he was hurt the last time he was champion? No. I think Kross should retain. Like Cole, I think Kross is a guy that could be on Raw or Smackdown by the end of summer, so maybe he’ll lose the title here. I don’t know, though.
I think it should be an outstanding match that is over the four-star level. I would prefer if it was an elimination match because then you can tell a lot of different stories throughout the match instead of just having one fall for the finish. If there’s a title change, I’m fine with that because all five guys are very good at what they do, but I’m picking Kross to retain.
Winner: Karrion Kross
The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most
Kurt: Too much talent in the main event not to say that one.
Lance: It’s tied between the six-man tag and the Fatal 5 Way.
John: The Fatal 5-Way main event for sure.
The Match I Care About The Least
Kurt: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
Lance: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
John: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
Kurt: NXT Title Fatal 5-Way Match.
Lance: Fatal 5 Way. I am assuming it gets at least 25 minutes.
John: It’s the NXT Title Fatal 5-Way Match likely going around 30 minutes.
Kurt: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
Lance: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
John: Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez.
Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)
Kurt: It’s Takeover, so I don’t think I can below a 9. No brand delivers consistently like NXT and this card looks to be no different. There should be a lot of awesome moments.
Lance: It’s between a 6-7. I know it’s not going to be a bad show because it’s a Takeover event, but Xia/Mercedes feels like a TV match and there’s two matches as I described above that are very predictable. I like the potential in the Ladder Match and NXT Title Main Event.
John: I’ll go with a 7.5 because it’s going to be a very good Takeover as usual. With that said, the lineup at the last Takeover (over two nights) was better overall, so I can’t say it’s the most anticipated Takeover of the year. The main event should be awesome, the six-man tag team match should be great and then the other matches should be solid. It’s not like they are going to have bad matches. We know Takeover shows always deliver the goods and I expect that to be the case here as well.
John: I’ll be back with a review of WWE NXT Takeover In Your House on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night. Check it out live or on Monday or whenever it’s convenient for you.
If you want to send an email, send it to me at [email protected] as well. Thanks for reading.