Karrion Kross met his first appearance on Monday Night Raw, with a surprise debut that ended in an even more surprise victory for his opponent, Jeff Hardy. Wins, and memorable matches, have been few and far between for the Triple Crown and Grand Slam champion, who has been featured sporadically across Raw and Main Event throughout 2021. On Main Event, especially, Hardy’s matches are often short encounters that do not go his way.
Despite the way he’s languished since being drafted to Raw in 2020, Hardy still has the enduring love of fans who remember his Team Xtreme heyday with brother Matt Hardy and Lita, their groundbreaking Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches versus opponents like Edge and Christian Cage, the Holly Cousins, and the Dudley Boyz. They were the second wave of the Attitude Era, and approached pro wrestling with an extreme sports mentality that captivated audiences of the “MTV’s Jackass” and X Games generation. Nostalgia isn’t all that is in Hardy’s favor – his championships across WWE and other promotions, like TNA and Ring of Honor, speak for themselves.
The crowd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, were stoked to see Hardy. By contrast, if they were familiar with Kross from NXT, or promotions outside WWE, they were keeping rather mum about it. Anticipation for Kross’s move to the main roster has been high, but he was not quite over with Dallas. As was his appearance on Main Event in June, his entrance seemed subdued without the accompaniment of Scarlett, and their lip syncing bit to his theme.
Kross dominated the match with his usual hard hitting style of brutally delivered suplex variations. It seemed to be another squash for Hardy, but at the very last he managed to roll Kross into a pin and secure his cover using the ropes for a pinfall victory no one saw coming. The crowd rejoiced at the beloved icon Hardy’s victory. Kross avowed that he would make Hardy “fall and pray”…but the catchphrase didn’t land quite the way it would have at the Capitol Wrestling Center. The loss was a surprise direction for his debut to take, for those used to seeing Kross dominate on NXT, but set up a rematch between him and Hardy.
Kross is still reigning NXT champion, and on the black and gold brand he and Scarlett are an enigmatic, dominant force. Kross claimed the tile from Finn Balor, and fended off all comers, retaining in a fatal five way against Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’ Reilly, Adam Cole, and Pete Dunne at NXT Takeover: In Your House. Separated from Scarlett, and on the main roster where there are bigger fish to fry, all that makes Kross genuinely compelling doesn’t pop quite the same.
However, a program with Hardy could be the perfect springboard for both of them. Hardy has the love of the fans but has had little, meaningfully, to do, in this run on Raw since tying up his lingering Friday Night SmackDown storylines with Elias and Sheamus. A perennial babyface, Hardy is in need of a compelling adversary.
Kross has all the in ring skill and aggression, and darkly alluring charisma in what remains of his gimmick sans Scarlett, to make him the heel Jeff Hardy needs. Jeff Hardy’s high profile is what Kross needs to ground him in this new venture on Raw. Putting them together was a good move, in light of the way fellow NXT transplant Damien Priest has been relegated to comedy skits and left to languish without a story for months. Hopefully Hardy’s and Kross’s match signals more to come-it would be best for both of them.
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