Triple H on reviving the In Your House brand for NXT TakeOver: ‘The timing was right on it’

When WWE made the decision to revive the In Your House branding for Sunday’s NXT TakeOver event, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the former superstar turned WWE executive, was caught off guard when it was revealed the decision came nearly 25 years to the date of the first In Your House pay-per-view. But, according to Levesque, the timing was prefect regardless, largely due to the circumstances surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“First of all, the timing was right on it,” Levesque told CBS Sports. “It just seemed right because right now everybody is home and locked in their house, and now we’re doing TakeOvers selling out Barclays Center and selling out Chicago and all these different places and now we’re coming back home to Orlando. It just seemed In Your House was very apropos to the moment. When we decided to do it, all of a sudden somebody told me, ‘Oh, that’s really cool, Tuesday is the 25th anniversary.’ I had no idea about the anniversary of the event and it worked out great.”

WWE — then WWF — used the branding beginning on May 14, 1995 for pay-per-views outside of major events such as Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. All told, there were 27 In Your House events before the final offering aired on Feb. 14, 1999 — the famous “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” event which saw “Stone Cold” Steve Austin battle Vince McMahon in a steel cage match in the main event, leading to the WWE debut on that night of The Big Show.

Levesque wrestled on 19 of those cards, having memorable matches with The Rock, Sgt. Slaughter and Austin. He also took part in a the infamous Arkansas Hog Pen Match against Henry O. Godwinn at In Your House 5. Those events, Levesque said, are worth revisiting for fans both new and old.

“Those were fun events,” Levesque said. “If you’ve been a fan for a long time, you remember those events. If you have WWE Network, you can go back and watch a lot of big, historic matches on In Your House pay-per-views. They’re fun. In this moment right now, with everything going on, everyone needs some fun, nostalgia and comfort foods, I think. Hopefully, that’s what we can bring with this. A little bit of fun and entertainment. A blast from the past where you sit at home and have some comfort food and just enjoy a night of NXT. The one thing NXT prides itself on is always these TakeOvers. We always deliver, and hopefully this will be nothing different.”

In Your House will take place this Sunday night (7 p.m. ET on WWE Network) at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, NXT’s longtime home for weekly programming. WWE events have been held at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando during the pandemic.

Like all recent WWE events, there will be no fans in attendance. As performers who are trained to play to the reactions of the crowd, this has created a difficult struggle to continue business as usual for both the in-ring workers as well as the promotion. That is especially true for NXT, the brand that has the highest percentage of performers still somewhat new to the game.

“Look, I’m very proud of the product we’ve continued to put out,” Levesque said. “The one thing with NXT, we sort of had to drift along on the tail of Raw and SmackDown, so as things were moving, we were kind of the last in the movement. A lot of times we were kind of scrambling to pick up the chains last and move with it. That was difficult to do. I think talent has done a remarkable job. I read a quote the other day where a talent said everybody hates doing these empty-arena shows. Of course they do. No one wants to wrestle in an empty arena. No one wants to get COVID either.

“These empty-arena shows are what they are. We feel like it’s really important right now in the world for people to be entertained. We’ve done everything we can from a safety standpoint and from following guidelines to continue putting on a product. It’s a different product and it’s hard for talent, especially in NXT where some of the talent are younger and newer. I can’t even imagine if I’d only been in the business for a couple of years and I’m just starting to get used to having a lot of fans at the shows and now they take all the fans away and I’m expected to do the matches still and put 100% into everything else. It’d be really hard. It’s a tough thing.

“Everything we’re taught to do is in reaction to where fans are going and being reactive to that. You guide them and be reactive to that. There’s nothing there now to guide you and react to. It’s really tough. This isn’t going to last forever, and I’m just a big believer the talent will rise to the top, the cream will rise to the top. If we continue to put out great shows, people will continue to watch. That’s truly what I believe.”

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