Triple H described NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day as getting “back to the brand” and that is what fans have asked for with all their hearts.
Only six weeks have passed in 2021, but NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day is an early front-runner for the wrestling card of the year. Each match delivered in its own way and at the end of the night, there was an angle that builds intrigue into what is yet to come. It has been a while that those words are used to describe an NXT WWE Network special. But Vengeance Day felt like a throwback to when NXT TakeOver events and the brand were consistently high points in professional wrestling.
When it was announced that NXT was moving to USA Network in 2019, anxiety raged in fans of the yellow and black brand. The fear was that the show would fall into the same booking troupes that plagued main roster content seen on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown. It was not long before that became the issue and main complaint about NXT.
While there were some high moments, the move to the USA Network did cause NXT to lose some of the qualities that made the entire brand special. It did not help that WWE faced stiff competition from All Elite Wrestling on the same evening. Still, there were things going on within the NXT brand that felt more commonplace on Raw and SmackDown. Distraction finishes, disjointed booking, 50/50 booking, and start/stop pushes slowly began to seep into NXT and the TakeOver events that were supposed to be some of the best wrestling that WWE had to offer. NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day sets the stage to correct all of that.
“You could look across this card and say every match on this card can steal the show. It was that kind of card and across the board, they didn’t disappoint,” Triple H said during the post-event media call (audio from Fightful). “I felt like this was a TakeOver that felt like it was back to the beginning and back to the brand.”
Sunday’s TakeOver felt like a love letter to NXT fans on Valentine’s Day. New stars in MSK emerged. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were tabbed as the two to face Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, with hopes to correct some of the issues in the WWE Women’s Tag Team division. Johnny Gargano reminded everyone why he is “Johnny Wrestling,” even though it came with a questionable clean victory over the surging Kushida. Io Shirai retains her title and can segue into another immediate storyline with Toni Storm. Then there is the madness to ensure between the fractured Undisputed Era.
All these moments create excitement about what is to come. One of the main issues plaguing main roster WWE content is that a lot of the matches lack stakes, and it seems like nothing matters, even what occurs on network specials as the same matches are replayed over and over. These outcomes at TakeOver create a space where the brand can move into new angles for all the performers involved – creating the fresh angles and matches that fans want to see. Then there was the appearance of Eli Drake/LA Knight – another throwback to the TakeOver new signee crowd shot of past events.
Nearly everything about NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day worked. No distraction or “Dusty” finishes. No highly scripted promos. Just classic wrestling, from bell-to-bell. If Triple H’s words of getting NXT back to where it was is the true goal, then this event is a step in the right direction.