On Sunday night, NXT presents TakeOver 36 from the Capitol Wrestling Center to cap off SummerSlam weekend as many look at the future of NXT and how this brand is going to change in the coming weeks and months.
The pre-show was hosted by McKenzie Mitchell and Sam Roberts with Vic Joseph, Beth Phoenix & Wade Barrett handling the commentary duties.
RIDGE HOLLAND VS TREY BAXTER
It was really just a squash for Holland to have some face time on the special. Holland threw him around, Baxter came back with a handspring enzuigiri before Holland finished him with the Northern Grit.
WINNER: Ridge Holland in 1 minute and 46 seconds
Holland was accompanied by Pete Dunne and after the match cut a promo on Timothy Thatcher stating that Baxter was a direct look into his future.
MILLION DOLLAR CHAMPIONSHIP: LA KNIGHT (champion) VS CAMERON GRIMES
Grimes tossed his butler’s uniform into the trash on his way to the ring.
If Grimes loses, DiBiase becomes Knight’s butler.
This was an entertaining opener and I thought it overachieved. Grimes is excellent and displayed that on the last TakeOver special where he received most of the praise. LA Knight was a great heel in this match and got under the skin of the crowd as well as played off Ted DiBiase very effectively.
Beth Phoenix had the reference of the night citing the DiBiase program with “Bullet” Bob Armstrong from Southeastern in 1983.
Knight was in control for most of the match. He leaped to the top and suplexed Grimes to the mat as he rotated and landed on his chest.
Grimes applied the Million Dollar Dream for the easy pop, Knight couldn’t break free including kicking out of the corner and flipping on top (Bret vs. Piper, Bret vs. Steve Austin). Eventually, Grimes was sent into the corner and the hold was broken.
Knight grabbed the Million Dollar Championship and was admonished by the referee, Grimes ate a head kick and was punched by DiBiase on the floor. DiBiase used the belt to distract the referee and he applied the authentic Million Dollar Dream for the big moment in the match.
A dazed Knight returned to the ring and was hit with the Cave-In and Grimes won.
WINNER: Cameron Grimes in 16 minutes and 33 seconds to win the Million Dollar Championship
I thought this delivered and was better than their previous match with the additional DiBiase spots that would have gotten great reactions if they had a large crowd, especially from a big WWE fanbase.
Knight is a fine performer who has the size and speaking ability that stands out in this company. The question is his long-term viability given his age and whether they see him as a peripheral heel limited to NXT or whether he can go higher. If he was ten years younger, he would already be on the main roster.
Grimes is terrific and will be one of many talents that people will have their eye on to see who is emphasized over the coming months. In addition to his great in-ring talent, his charisma is also through the roof, and is a great personality, so he has a lot going for him except for size.
NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: RAQUEL GONZALEZ (champion) VS DAKOTA KAI
The match wasn’t totally smooth and a few times that it appeared they were off. Early in the match, Gonzalez struggled to lift Kai for a military press and was selling her arm, which Phoenix called attention to.
The Yakuza kick sent Gonzalez to the floor and Kai had the heat. Gonzalez attempted the one-arm powerbomb and it was stopped. Kai used the Kai-ropractor and a double stomp off the top, which Gonzalez kicked out from.
Kai sent Gonzalez into the corner, went for another running Yakuza kick and it was caught by Gonzalez and hit the one-arm powerbomb off the second turnbuckle for the pin.
WINNER: Raquel Gonzalez in 12 minutes and 27 seconds to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
It was alright but I wouldn’t say it was reached the territory of being above what you would have expected. Gonzalez was off the mark in several instances and they had the disadvantage of trying to work this match where Kai gets the heat on the larger opponent and getting the crowd behind Gonzalez, who is such a dominant figure.
As Gonzalez stood in the ring, NXT UK performer Kay Lee Ray walked out and stared at Gonzalez without speaking. The audience chanted for Kay Lee Ray.
NXT UK CHAMPIONSHIP: WALTER (champion) VS ILJA DRAGUNOV
This was unbelievably great and a worthy follow-up to their MOTY last October.
It was as hard-hitting as the first with selling from Dragunov that was at another level. These two are tailor-made for one another and were incredible to watch.
They didn’t overdo the chops from WALTER but the ones he hit were sold for maximum impact.
On the floor, Ilja took an apron bomb and WALTER followed with a German suplex inside of the ring. The way Ilja collapsed sold the power moves in such devastating fashion but he was never dead and always fought back and displayed life.
WALTER murdered him with a pair of lariats including one that Ilja leaped into. Ilja recovered and hit the Torpedo Moscow from behind and couldn’t beat WALTER with it (making the finish even better).
Ilja used his remaining strength to execute a superplex and after absorbing a powerbomb and top rope splash (which is how WALTER beat Pete Dunne for the title), Ilja still kicked out and fought back to apply a sleeper.
WALTER fought the sleeper and after a long battle, he was out. Ilja struck the neck numerous times to weaken him, re-applied the sleeper and WALTER just tapped instantly.
WINNER: Ilja Dragunov in 22 minutes and 4 seconds
This was a masterpiece in my opinion and I loved the ending where it was a different route to victory, it was a genuine surprise that Ilja won, and WALTER could not take anymore and needed to tap. Honestly, this was among the best TakeOver matches in history.
Cameron Grimes and Ted DiBiase were interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell. Grimes mentioned his late looking down on him as a champion. DiBiase said he’s never been a quitter and hands out money and is carrying on the legacy of the Million Dollar Man
William Regal met with Samoa Joe and said he’s supposed to be unbiased but hopes he kicks Karrion Kross’ ass. I guess if that fails, Regal can call Jeff Hardy.
THE UNDISPUTED FINALE: ADAM COLE VS KYLE O’REILLY
Match #1: Traditional Wrestling Match
They came out of the gate with a huge pace being set. O’Reilly came off the top into a superkick. The Panama Sunrise was blocked, and O’Reilly hooked the legs for the pin in 3:29.
Match #2: Street Fight
They introduced several weapons immediately.
O’Reilly put a trash can over Cole, placed him on a chair, and leaped off the apron with a double stomp.
Cole superkicked him in the body and O’Reilly sold his mid-section. Cole attacked the ribs with a chair and sent O’Reilly into post ribs first and attacked the injured body part with a kendo stick.
O’Reilly wouldn’t stay down. His selling was great including grabbing the ribs as he failed to run the ropes. Everything was focused on O’Reilly’s ribs.
Each grabbed a chain and traded strikes using the weapon.
Two chairs were set up back-to-back culminating with Cole tossing O’Reilly back first onto the upright chairs and hitting the Last Shot to take the second fall in 13:07.
Match #3: Steel Cage Match
The officials were checking on O’Reilly when Cole attacked the ribs again and powerbombed O’Reilly onto the desk.
O’Reilly fired back with strikes driving Cole into the cage until missing the Bombs Away knee drop off the top turnbuckle.
Cole came off the top rope with a Panama Sunrise that O’Reilly kicked out from.
Cole has handcuffs and locks O’Reilly to the rope. Cole went for a superkick and was caught in a one-arm heel hook while O’Reilly was handcuffed, and Cole tapped.
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly in 7 minutes and 34 minutes (24 minutes and 10 seconds total)
The audience was not ready for the ending when it occurred, which isn’t a bad thing but it did feel a bit anti-climactic.
It was a strong match and they didn’t do a marathon as some assumed it would be. It did feel like a clear-cut ending of the feud and the big question is what that means for the future of Adam Cole in NXT.
O’Reilly and his selling were at an upper-tier level and he was fantastic in that regard.
McKenzie Mitchell interviewed Ilja Dragunov and he said “The Ring General has fallen. Long live The Czar”.
Legado del Fantasma had a message for Hit Row and they are going to escalate things and they will finish the job this Tuesday in the six-man tag.
NXT CHAMPIONSHIP: KARRION KROSS (champion) VS SAMOA JOE
Kross came out without Scarlett. The crowd began chanting “Hardy” at the start of the match.
Joe went for the Coquina Clutch early and was broken by a Saito suplex and Kross struck him in the back of the neck sending Joe to the floor.
After Kross was sent to the floor, Joe landed a tope suicida.
Kross escaped an STF and got on top with strikes after dropping Joe with a knee.
Joe came back with a pair of sentons as the audience cheered, he went for another Coquina Clutch and went to his back and Kross rolled out and applied the Kross Jacket. Joe stood up and got out of the hold, although Kross struck the back of his neck.
Joe caught Kross on the turnbuckle with an enzuigiri and the Muscle Buster for the victory.
WINNER: Samoa Joe in 12 minutes and 25 seconds to win the NXT Championship
Joe becomes the first person to win the NXT Championship three times.
I would say the match was good but was definitely missing something for the main event of a TakeOver special, it was also Joe`s first match since early 2020.
The crowd popped for the finish and sets up several new matches with Joe in the role of champion.
Overall, this show will be remembered for the NXT UK Championship match, which was among the best of the year and an all-time great TakeOver match. This show was paced so much better than SummerSlam and there was nothing I disliked on the card and one match that was out of this world, the highest of recommendations for WALTER and Ilja Dragunov.