On May 14, 1995, the first-ever In Your House event took place at the Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York in front of 7,000 fans who were excited for something new from the World Wrestling Federation (which I recently went back and rewatched as part of my Smack Talk podcast)
A few weeks back, on the 25th anniversary of this show, WWE announced it would pay tribute to it with the next special event, dubbed NXT TakeOver: In Your House (coming up Sunday, June 7th).
It’s been 21 years since we’ve seen an In Your House event—which, if my math is correct, is the longest gap of time between any returning pay-per-view names in WWE history.
In many ways, the very idea of In Your House has been lost to time. An entire generation or two of fans have no real knowledge of how important it was to the foundation of WWE as we know it today.
That is why, ahead of this upcoming TakeOver, we should take a dive into the history and legacy of this event’s namesake and how it changed the landscape in both small and gargantuan ways.
How and Why It Came About
For a good while, the only pay-per-views WWF held were the “big five”—Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, King of the Ring, SummerSlam and Survivor Series. Each of those were tentpole events that cost $30 and would run for three hours.
WCW started to expand their number of events for the year, holding 8 in 1993 and 7 in 1994, with an even bigger expansion to 10 in 1995. Naturally, WWF understood the competitive advantage that gave their opposition. Fans might feel like they were getting more out of WCW and the bottom line was supplemented with more income from those pay-per-view buys.
With WWF struggling monetarily at the time, the decision was made to start doing two-hour events at a cheaper price ($15—soon, $20) to justify bolstering the event schedule without overdoing the big events. Those major five shows still remained the biggest targets for major title changes and promotional focus, but In Your House would serve as a means to milk everything else and get some other stories out there in the meantime.
Instead of something happening on Superstars of Wrestling, Wrestling Challenge or even Raw, it was more advantageous to get fans to pay to see a No. 1 contender’s match or a title defended, rather than just have it take place on a house show and show footage of it another time, for instance.
Changes to the Calendar
Almost immediately, WWE grew accustomed to the idea of having a smaller event every month there wasn’t one of the bigger five shows.
For example, the inaugural show saw Mabel defeat Adam Bomb to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament he won the next month. Following that was another In Your House before SummerSlam, which was then followed by two In Your House shows prior to Survivor Series and so on.
For the next few years, this became the standard and set the tone for what we have nowadays, where every month has at least one event, if not more.
Of course, this also led to WWE and its fans habitually accepting the idea of what we’d eventually refer to as “B-level events”. It was okay if an In Your House didn’t have the WWF Championship on the line because it wasn’t SummerSlam. If not every big name was on the card, that was standard.
Now, the IWC can be caught arguing with itself that title changes should have been saved for the bigger shows or that a weak card is fine because “it’s just a B-show” and it doesn’t matter as much. People make sure not to miss WrestleMania, Survivor Series and so on, but have no qualms about skipping No Mercy or Extreme Rules.
King of the Ring eventually went away, but was in many ways replaced by Money in the Bank as the de facto fifth member of the Big Five. But WWE likely understood this and attempted to circumvent the idea of skipping the In Your House events by disbanding with that moniker altogether. That way, if every event had its own special title, fans might think each show could be as big as WrestleMania.
Ha. Of course not. But we’ve long since stopped fooling ourselves about that and they know it and don’t even remotely bother trying anymore. We all just go with the flow, accept that there’s a strong likelihood the B-tier shows are just going to be “glorified episodes of Raw/SmackDown” and continue to move on with the cycle to the next one.
WWE Pay-Per-View Names
However, on the topic of the importance of pay-per-view naming structures, In Your House had a profound influence on WWE that many may not even realize at first glance.
One such instance is the subtitle concept. Before In Your House, there wasn’t a single event that had an official subtitle. Everything was simply WrestleMania II, Survivor Series 1989, SummerSlam 1994, etc.
In fact, even the first In Your House shows were just given numbers. Retroactively, WWE added subtitles to them to help differentiate them a bit, always based on something on the card.
In Your House 2: The Lumberjacks was headlined by Diesel vs. Sycho Sid in a lumberjack match. In Your House 4: Great White North took place in Canada. #6: Rage in the Cage was, as expected, a cage match for the WWF Championship between Bret Hart and Diesel.
The first to start this trend outright was In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies with the main event of Shawn Michaels defending the WWF title against Diesel in a No Holds Barred match.
Oddly enough, WWE switched the titles around with the 17th event, dubbing it “Ground Zero: In Your House” and using that placement for the last bunch of these shows until the In Your House name went away entirely.
But where do you see subtitles nowadays in WWE? In NXT, of course!
NXT TakeOver: (Insert Subtitle) has been the naming convention for nearly all of the black and gold brand’s shows. Sometimes, it’s just the location. That always makes sense to me, as they’re taking over the city/state. Other times, though, it’s something more abstract, such as NXT TakeOver: Respect or a featured match, like NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
It’s fitting NXT TakeOver: In Your House is taking place with that reminder, isn’t it?