NXT TakeOver 36 is on Sunday, so Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe have a final face to face before their NXT Championship match. Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai make their final comments before their title match.
Also on tonight’s card, Carmelo Hayes faces Duke Hudson to find out who joins Odyssey Jones in the final of the Breakout Tournament. MSK put the tag titles on the line against Imperium. And in the weirdest match of the night, Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis team against Jessi Kamea and Robert Stone. It appears to have come about after comments made by Stone and Kamea on WWE.com, and looks very much like Franky Monet is trying to teach someone a lesson.
Ilja Dragunov def. Roderick Strong
Cameron Grimes def. Josh Briggs
Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis def. Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone
Carmelo Hayes def. Duke Hudson
MSK def. Imperium
What’s left of Diamond Mine opened the show. Malcolm Bivens is angry because Kushida is not medically cleared for the scheduled NXT Cruiserweight Championship match. He thinks it’s a lie and Kushida is a coward. But Roderick Strong wanted a match, so Bivens threw out an open challenge. Ilja Dragunov answered it.
Roderick Strong vs Ilja Dragunov
Ok, I’m into this as a pairing. Strong had Dragunov’s chest looking like hamburger, which isn’t great for him as he’s facing WALTER on Sunday. A distraction from Strong’s stablemate, Hachiman, saw Dragunov dropped face-first onto the steps when he was stamping on Strong at ringside. It’s probably also a bad sign for Sunday that Dragunov got properly busted open. Blood everywhere, looked like a cut somewhere above his eyebrow and it appeared to happen while he was suplexing Strong. He was fine on the first, but after the second there was blood dripping on Strong’s back.
The blood pouring down his face didn’t even slow him down. Torpedo Moscow finished it and Diamond Mine’s luck has gone from bad to worse.
Ilja Dragunov wiped his face and called out WALTER, but the champion did not arrive.
Samoa Joe was shown turning up for work.
We got a Prime Target for Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole III – Two out of Three Falls – The Undisputed Finale. Fall one will be a straight wrestling match, chosen by O’Reilly because he lost their wrestling match. Fall two will be a street fight, chosen by Cole because he lost their unsanctioned match. Fall three will be a cage match, chosen by William Regal because he’s sick of everyone’s bullshit.
It was a good package, as ever. Well worth a watch.
Hit Row took turns in telling Legado del Fantasma what they thought of them. Santos Escobar appeared on the big screen from the parking lot and said he realised when they burned a Lucha mask that he’d disrespected their culture when he took Swerve’s grills from his mouth. He offered to give them back if Swerve would come alone and swore he was alone.
Of course, Swerve was ambushed by Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza when he got there. Escobar got Wilde and Mendoza to hold him in place while he punched him and once again had his hands in his mouth.
The rest of Hit Row got there as fast as they could and brawled with Mendoza and Wilde. They were coming off worst until B-Fab and a large metal pipe became the equaliser. With his minions taken care of, Swerve took back his property and they left Escobar on the ground.
LA Knight is looking forward to having Ted Dibiase as his butler after he beats Cameron Grimes on Sunday. To up his odds, he paid Josh Briggs $10k to beat Grimes up tonight. $5k before the match and $5k after.
WALTER told Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner that tonight is about them, not him and Dragunov. They think we need them to lead us to a better and brighter future for NXT. MSK don’t belong in the ring with them and they’re going to make an example of them.
Cameron Grimes vs Josh Briggs
LA Knight and Ted Dibiase joined commentary for the match and spent it arguing. Dibiase bet Knight double or nothing on what he paid Briggs that Grimes won. Knight took it and at the time it looked highly unlikely to happen. Knight underestimates Grimes every time. The Cave In took down Briggs and won Dibiase $20k.
LA Knight punched Dibiase and smashed Grimes’ face into the floor. He’s a terrible loser.
Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano are still not happy about Indi Hartwell seeing Dexter Lumis. Gargano said the true test for them will be how they work together in the ring. Candice LeRae grumped about it, but she can no longer run physical interference to get between them. All physicality is off the table for the foreseeable as they announced her pregnancy last week.
Zoey Stark is still trying to be friends with Io Shirai. Shirai still doesn’t want to be her friend because she doesn’t like her. She’s only interested in defending their titles.
Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis vs Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone
Indi Hartwell adopted a lot of Lumis’ mannerisms for their entrance, which didn’t make the whole thing any less weird. The crowd gave Hartwell a Happy Birthday chant before things got underway as well.
Robert Stone tried to escape Lumis, but Franky Monet threw him back into the ring and Kamea wouldn’t tag in. She did try to help him by sneaking into the ring, but Hartwell wouldn’t let her near Lumis. Stone and Kamea caught a break when Lumis and Hartwell got lost in each other’s gaze.
Franky Monet was expelled from ringside after grabbing Lumis’ leg. She kept hold as he dragged her into the ring, so the ref saw her and banished her backstage.
After a break, Stone was desperate to stay out of the ring but Kamea crashed into him as she staggered into their corner and the ref declared it a tag. She came in to break up a tag and landed on Stone instead of Lumis. Stone dragged Hatwell off Kamea. Kamea kicked Lumis off the apron and Stone tried to dive over the top rope onto him. He made it over the top rope, but Lumis was far enough away to watch him fall.
Kamea slapped Lumis and Hartwell put her to sleep with the Silence while Lumis locked the hold on Stone at ringside.
Hartwell proposed after the match and Lumis accepted.
Malcolm Bivens said Roderick Strong’s loss doesn’t count because Dragunov is a heavyweight not a cruiserweight.
Beth Phoenix got the argument between Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai going. They were on video from separate locations and Phoenix only had to ask one question about Kai to kick things off. Gonzalez said she always knew Dakota Kai would eventually betray her because she betrayed Tegan Nox. She puts Kai’s actions down to jealousy. Kai, who has a new look now, thinks she taught Gonzalez everything she knows and is responsible for turning her from a nobody into somebody. She can call her jealous, but on Sunday she’ll call her champion. For tonight, Gonzalez called her sidekick.
Carmelo Hayes vs Duke Hudson – NXT Breakout Tournament Semi-Final
Hudson’s attitude makes him wildly unpopular with everyone except Wade Barrett, who had a similar attitude. He’s also huge and extremely strong. Heading into a break, he chucked Hayes out of the ring with such force he ended up curled against the announce desk. Hayes got some payback later in the match, hitting Hudson with a DDT on the very edge of the apron. Duke Hudson got up, but he was wobbly and a step off for a clear minute. A lungblower followed by Hayes’ flight from the top turnbuckle took him out completely and sent Carmelo Hayes into the final.
Hayes said after the match that just like in the video games you’ve got to face the final boss. Plot twist, he’s the final boss. Odyssey Jones came out to laugh at that idea.
Jacy Jayne had a vignette for her stable with Gigi Dolan and Mandy Rose. It’s going to be interesting to see what they’ve got to add to the roster.
Ted Dibiase apologised to Cameron Grimes for putting him in the position. That made Grimes angry because Dibiase gave him the opportunity he asked for and he repeatedly dropped the ball though. No more though. He’s not a butler, he’s a champion.
MSK (C) vs Imperium – NXT Tag Team Championship match
Well, the title match not getting the final segment tells you there are going to be shenanigans in the Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross face to face. But we knew that.
The match was an interesting mix of styles, with a bit of, you can’t hit what you can’t catch, and a lot of good honest tag team wrestling. They’re both teams I enjoy watching and this was far and away the best match of the night.
Poor Wes Lee. He’s always the one getting the mid-match shit kicked out of him before Nash Carter comes in and does the superhero ring clearing. It works for them, clearly as they’re champions, and they always finish it together, but just occasionally Lee must think, ‘Again? Really?’
WALTER arrived mid-match and caused a distraction when Lee almost pinned Aichner. That allowed Barthel to eject Carter from the ring and Imperium to set Lee up for the Imperium Bomb. Ilja Dragunov ran down and started brawling with WALTER. In the chaos, Nash Carter kicked Marcel Barthel in the head and knocked him to the floor. Lee freed himself from Aichner. Carter picked him up and it was the MSK double team that finished the match.
WALTER put down Dragunov, Lee, and Carter after the match. Dragunov got back up and tried to take all three of Imperium on. WALTER put him back down with a single chop then put him to sleep.
Ridge Holland, with Pete Dunne pulling his strings, challenged Timothy Thatcher to a match next week. That’s going to be a fight.
Samoa Joe was waxing lyrical about how much he hates Karrion Kross. I love Joe’s promo style. He said he’s been looking forward to one more opportunity to verbally eviscerate Kross, but he’s realised there’s no point. He’s not a man who’s there to hurt Kross’ feelings. He’s a man who’s there to hurt him.
Kross came out without Scarlett and the crowd chanted ‘Where is Scarlett’ over his whole promo. He called security out as protection for Samoa Joe while he asked what he thought was going to happen. The crowd told him ‘Joe is gonna kill you’, Kross said that won’t happen. Kross is going to drop him and do it fast.
Unfortunately for Kross, he got into the ring and left security outside. Joe knocked Kross into them then took them all down with a suicide dive. Some of the crowd got a close up of Kross as Joe slammed his face into the barricade.
Security pulled Joe back, but Kross ripped him free and sent him into the steps. In return, Joe used Kross’ head to knock the top part of one of the barricades down and put him over it. They went through another one with security trying to hold them back and the show finished with them laid next to each other on the fallen barricade with security calling for medics.
The whole Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis storyline is main roster shit, but Hartwell has managed to craft some genuinely funny moments out of it and should be given credit for that.
Next week we’ve got the Breakout Tournament Final, a Hit Row versus Legado del Fantasma six-man tag, and Ridge Holland versus Timothy Thatcher.
TakeOver looks decent. Ilja Dragunov needed eight stitches to close that cut, but WWE confirmed he is cleared to compete on Sunday.