August 26, 2021

NXT TakeOver 36 REVIEW

After Nick Khan confirmed in an interview with Ariel Helwani that big changes are coming to NXT over the next few weeks, tonight’s TakeOver feels like a slightly pointless swansong. BT Sport shared a tweet from the interview which confirms the new look, new feel, new attitude rumours. He talked about not wanting to keep doing the same things now so many of the indie wrestlers had gone through the system and onto the main roster. NXT will be the place where brand new wrestlers see if they can make it. NXT as we know it, is over.

After that, I’m not sure how to find the enthusiasm. Why invest if it’s all going away? Nevertheless, here we are and the card looks decent, so let’s do the thing.



Ridge Holland def. Trey Baxter

Cameron Grimes def. LA Knight

Raquel Gonzalez def. Dakota Kai

Ilja Dragunov def. WALTER

Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole

Samoa Joe def. Karrion Kross




Trey Baxter vs Ridge Holland, with Pete Dunne – Preshow Match

Trey Baxter is great. He got to show off his athleticism and his ‘all heart’ tagline but this was all about showing what a beast Holland is. He’s a big strong dude with a bad attitude, we get it. He won, of course, then sent a message to Timothy Thatcher that laying on the mat at his feet was in his future too.

Ridge Holland controls Trey Baxter
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LA Knight (C) vs Cameron Grimes, with Ted Dibiase – Million Dollar Championship match

Cameron Grimes shed the butler’s outfit on the stage and put it in a trash can Ted Dibiase had brought to the stage. His ring gear is very sparkly. Not only was the million Dollar Championship on the line, but Dibiase would also become Knight’s butler in Grimes place if he lost.

Cameron Grimes is so over with the CWC crowd. Considering the mess his character was before this storyline started, that’s awesome. He started well, fuelled by the weeks of humiliation from Knight and got a little slingshot assistance from Dibiase to dropkick Knight off the steps.

Cameron Grimes dropkicks LA Knight

Knight turned things around by knocking Grimes’ legs out from under him on the top turnbuckle. Grimes took a horrible landing, smashing his ribs on the turnbuckle before crashing to the floor.

The strength of Cameron Grimes’ motivation was so such that nothing Knight did kept him down. He absorbed everything, looked like he had nothing left, then got back up and tried again. He was battered and bleeding and clearly exhausted, but Knight was getting frustrated.

After throwing him halfway across the ring from the top rope didn’t keep Grimes down, Knight lost patience. Seconds later, he found himself in the Million Dollar Dream. He backed Grimes into a corner, struggled for the ropes, and countered it into a pin attempt, but Grimes held on and flipped the counter back. Knight finally broke the hold by sending Grimes face-first into the corner.

LA Knight brought the Million Dollar belt into the ring and got yelled at by the ref and Dibiase. Grimes kicked him in the face before he could use it and Knight tolled out of the ring. While Grimes was returning the belt to the ref. Dibiase punched Knight in the face. The ref gave the belt to Dibiase. Dibiase threw it to Grimes. While the ref was retrieving it from him, Dibiase locked the Million Dollar Dream on Knight. He let go and rolled Knight back into the ring just in time for the ref to give the belt back again. One Cave In later and Cameron Grimes is the Million Dollar Champion.

Cameron Grimes and Ted Dibiase celebrate


Raquel Gonzalez (C) vs Dakota Kai – NXT Women’s Championship match

Dakota Kai slapped Gonzalez to get things going, a calculating move because anger makes you careless. She had no chance of out powering the champ, so outthinking her was probably her best strategy.

Gonzalez picked up some damage to her right arm early on and struggled with pressing Kai over her head. It nearly ended on a count-out after Kai kicked her out of the ring and struggled to get her back in. They were in at nine but the time to pin her had passed.

Dakota Kai hangs off Raquel Gonzalez arm

Kai countered the first Chingona Bomb attempt and did more damage to Gonzalez’ arm in the process. Gonzalez had to swing her into the corner to get her off. She dumped Kai onto the ropes and she took them right across her middle and landed in a heap on the ring level ramp. It took her almost the full count to get back in.

The Kairopractor failed to secure a victory as did a double stomp from the top. At that point, Kai looked like she wasn’t sure what else to try. She opted to try to hoist Gonzalez onto her shoulders but she couldn’t do it and Gonzalez ran her into the corner, midsection first.

It looked like Kai had come out of the tussle on the top turnbuckle with the advantage, but when she ran in for a kick Gonzalez grabbed her foot.

The champ powered her into position and delivered a Chingona Bomb from the top to keep her title.

Kay Lee Ray showed up at the end of the match and got a nice chant from the crowd.

Kay Lee Ray


WALTER (C) vs Ilja Dragunov – NXT UK Championship match

This was a fight. A vicious, brutal, violent, and prolonged fight. Everything WALTER does looks like it hurts… I suspect that’s because it mostly does. Dragunov was slapped from the top turnbuckle to the floor, powerbombed onto the apron, had various bits of his body contorted into unlikely looking positions, and took some chops that should have had him looking for his nipples in the front row.

WALTER and Ilja Dragunov

He absorbed it all and got back up and tried again. It’s really hard to build momentum when everything your opponent lands looks devastating, but Dragunov gave it a good go. He had WALTER rocked a few times before he started making real headway, but WALTER’s recovery time increased and the comebacks were less forceful.

Dragunov had a moment of doubt after Torpedo Moscow failed to keep WALTER down, and he nearly lost the match after WALTER chopped the soul out of his body. Dragunov delivered a superplex to the champ followed by a dropkick, but he couldn’t capitalise. WALTER came back with a dropkick and powerbomb of his own and it looked to be back to stalemate. Dragunov kicked out of another powerbomb and a splash from the top, and withstood a barrage of punches. WALTER resisted a sleeper, twice, even when Dragunov clung on after being landed on. The third time, after Dragunov let go to punch him repeatedly in the back of the head, WALTER tapped. We have a new NXT UK Champion after 870 days.

Somehow, amidst all that violence, they managed to not completely split Dragunov’s stitches. There was a bit of blood, but it wasn’t pouring down his face. His chest looked like hamburger though. He posed with his foot on WALTER’s chest and WALTER was too knackered to object.


Cameron Grimes was very emotional in his interview with McKenzie Mitchell. He talked about his dad looking down on him and smiling. Ted Dibiase told him he was proud of him and talked about him carrying on his legacy. They went off to celebrate together.


William Regal spoke to Samoa Joe backstage. He thanked him for coming back to help reign in the chaos and said he was now back where he belongs, on the active roster. As the general manager, he has to stay impartial and hope that the title match entertains the fans. But he wanted Joe to know that he hopes he kicks Karrion Kross’ arse. They shook hands and the look on Joe’s face said that wasn’t going to be a problem.


Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole – The Undisputed Finale – 2 out of 3 Falls

Fall one, as called by Kyle O’Reilly, was a straight wrestling match. Not only did Cole lose that fall, he did so when he was in control. He’d laid O’Reilly out with a superkick as O’Reilly came off the top, but instead of covering, he went for a Panama Sunrise. O’Reilly controlled the move and just sat down. There was nothing Cole could do except look shocked as he realised he was one fall down.

Adam Cole sits on a chair with a trash can on his head as Kyle O'Reilly is about to dropkick him

Fall two, as called by Adam Cole, was a Street Fight. O’Reilly had the advantage at the start of that one too. The crowd wanted tables, because they always do, but they didn’t get them this time. He sat Cole on a chair, put a trashcan on his head, and dropkicked him over from the apron. The advantage was lost when Cole superkicked him off the top turnbuckle to the floor and he took a big hit to the ribs on the way down. Cole flung him ribs first into the edge of the announce desk, just to make sure they were busted, and abused his midsection with a chair to make absolutely doubly sure.

O’Reilly’s ribs took another battering on the ringpost as Cole threw him out of the ring, but he was already in a lot of trouble even lifting his arm by then. The barricade he got thrown into didn’t’ help and neither did the kendo stick shots or the kendo stick assisted backstabber. Cole used a familiar-looking move on him as well, borrowed from a certain dentist.

Cole yelling at him to stay down fired O’Reilly up, but the pain in his ribs limited him. They rolled out of the ring on opposite sides after simultaneous kicks to the face and both came back up holding chains. Punching each other with them got them nowhere and Cole crawled off up the ramp with O’Reilly staggering after him. Cole took a trip off the stage into the plexiglass. O’Reilly took a neckbreaker on the floor.

Adam Cole took the second fall with a Last Shot after throwing O’Reilly from the top turnbuckle onto a couple of set up chairs.

Adam Cole throws Kyle O'Reilly onto chairs

The medical team came in to look at O’Reilly while the cage was coming down. Cole wouldn’t let them. He stamped on O’Reilly’s ribs, dragged him out of the ring and powerbombed him on the announce desk, then dragged him back in. Kyle O’Reilly wasn’t moving when Cole rolled him back into the ring for the cage to be secured.

It got fast and furious in the cage. O’Reilly missed a knee from the top. Cole missed a Last Shot. They both made serious contact with the steel. Adam Cole delivered a low blow, but getting knocked onto the ropes from the cage arguably slowed him more. Cole got the Panama Sunrise but it was only worth two.

In desperation, Cole handcuffed O’Reilly to the ropes – which would make it pretty hard to pin him – kicked him in the face and started yelling at him about being the king in Undisputed ERA. Kyle O’Reilly tapped him out in a heel hook.

The finish was really abrupt and, judging by the ‘Bullshit’ chants and boos, the crowd hated it. I don’t know if they hated the finish or the result, but they weren’t happy. I’m happy with the result, but Cole deserved a better finish for his final match in NXT. Love him or hate him, he’s been a huge part of NXT’s popularity for the last few years. There was a kendo stick within easy reach at the finish and it makes no sense that he didn’t use it. Still, the crowd chants were shitty. Kyle O’Reilly didn’t deserve that.

Adam Cole throws Kyle O'Reilly into the cage

It’s no secret that Adam Cole’s contract is up. He signed a short extension to complete this programme and there was much speculation as to whether he was heading for the main roster or taking himself elsewhere. Ringside News reported that Cole didn’t take a main roster deal despite writers apparently having been told to prepare for him. It’s widely expected that he’ll join AEW, which seems like a good fit for him.


Ilja Dragunov looked completely beaten up when McKenzie Mitchell approached him for a few words. He said, ‘The Ring General has fallen. Long live the Tsar’.


Legado del Fantasma had a promo segment for their six-man tag against Hit Row on Tuesday.

The Breakout Tournament final is also on Tuesday – Carmelo Hayes vs Odyssey Jones.


Karrion Kross (C) vs Samoa Joe – NXT Championship match

Samoa Joe said in the video package this wasn’t about the title, he was there to fuck Kross up. Having Samoa Joe back in an NXT ring, that’s all anyone really wanted to see anyway. Karrion Kross’ entrance without Scarlett is very underwhelming.

Samoa Joe with Karrion Kross in a Coquina Clutch
All photo credits:

I honestly can’t say if this was a great match or it was just great to see Samoa Joe wrestling again, but I enjoyed it. Joe made sure to honour William Regal’s request to kick Kross’ arse, but he took a lot of punishment in the process and he was looking exhausted quite early on. He had to take a moment to compose himself after landing the suicide dive and there were some lengthy submission holds going on. Karrion Kross barely made it to the ropes to break one of them, but he was still in better shape than Joe once he was out of it.

A Samoa Joe senton across Kross’ back levelled the playing field and a Coquina Clutch almost put Kross out. He countered and Joe started to fade out in the Kross Jacket but got free. He took the first one, but Samoa Joe anticipated the second blow to the back of the head Kross meant to finish him with, and countered by planting Kross into the canvas. Kross went to the top and Joe kicked him in the head and finished the match with a muscle buster.

Samoa Joe is the new NXT Champion. The first three-time champion.

Samoa Joe



Final word

As I was watching tonight’s show, I couldn’t help but wonder where I’ll be watching the superstars on it in six months’ time. There were some very experienced professional wrestlers on tonight’s card and apparently that’s not what they want going forward.

The timing of the interview seemed cynical. Why not wait until Monday and let TakeOver go ahead without that hanging over it.

Lots of title changes this weekend and three tonight, although I’m not convinced the Million Dollar title counts. Normally I’d say a few words about what this might mean for the coming weeks, but that seems redundant.

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