Samoa Joe's return to the ring highlights tonight's NXT TakeOver 36 card.
Joe will challenge for Karrion Kross' NXT Championship at tonight's TakeOver event. It will be the first time Joe has wrestled since February 2020. He had been out of action due to concussion issues.
Former tag team partners Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai will collide in the NXT Women's Championship match. Kai turned against Gonzalez three weeks ago and laid her out with a kick.
The feud between former Undisputed Era stablemates Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly will culminate as they face off in "The Undisputed Finale." It will be a two-out-of-three falls match with stipulations chosen by O'Reilly, Cole, and NXT general manager William Regal. The first fall will be a traditional wrestling match. The second will be a street fight. If a third fall is necessary, it will be a steel cage match.
A rematch of one of the best matches of 2020 will take place as WALTER puts his NXT United Kingdom Championship on the line against Ilja Dragunov. Plus, LA Knight will defend the Million Dollar Championship against Cameron Grimes. If Grimes loses, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase will have to become Knight's butler.
In the pre-show match, Ridge Holland will take on Trey Baxter. The half-hour pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Sam Roberts and McKenzie Mitchell were the hosts of the pre-show. We got the usual mix of video packages and promos hyping the main card. Rob Armstrong from BT Sport appeared to discuss WALTER vs. Dragunov.
Ridge Holland (w/ Pete Dunne) defeated Trey Baxter
This went about a minute. Baxter attacked right away but Holland immediately overpowered him and hit repeated suplexes. Baxter came back with a hip attack and a springboard, but Holland hit a headbutt to maintain control. Holland then hit Northern Grit for the quick win.
– After the match, Holland called out Timothy Thatcher, saying the match was a direct look into Thatcher's future.
Main show --
The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett, and Beth Phoenix introduced the show.
Million Dollar Championship: Cameron Grimes (w/ Ted DiBiase) defeated LA Knight (c) to win the championship [16:32]
This was a pretty good opener. The crowd was hot for the feud, but some of the work was off.
If Knight wins, Ted DiBiase must become his butler.
Knight got in Grimes' face and was met with a slap and a knee lift for his trouble. Grimes kept up the offense and went for the Million Dollar Dream, but Knight rolled to the floor. Knight avoided a couple kicks, but the third caught him, allowing Grimes to send him into the barricade. DiBiase whipped Grimes into a dropkick on Knight for the assist.
Back in the ring, Grimes climbed the ropes, but Knight knocked him off to take control. After a short beatdown, Grimes came back with a running crossbody. He countered a corner neckbreaker and went for a hurricanrana, but Knight turned it into a powerbomb for two. Knight then worked over Grimes' neck before hitting a tilt-a-whirl slam.
Knight went for a springboard, but Grimes moved out of the way. Grimes made his comeback with running forearms and a corner senton. He went for the Million Dollar Dream, but Knight fought out, so Grimes hit a German suplex and a hurricanrana cradle for two. Knight tripped Grimes into the ropes and covered for two. A bulldog and almost a burning hammer followed for another two-count.
They traded hard strikes until Knight sent Grimes to the floor. Grimes skinned the cat and hit his backflip powerslam for a near fall. Knight turned it around and perched Grimes on the top rope, hitting a top rope German for a near fall. Grimes countered the BFT and locked on the Million Dollar Dream. Knight nearly broke the hold with a jackknife cradle, but Grimes wouldn't let go. After a long fight, Knight sent them both crashing into the ropes to force a break.
Knight went to the floor and picked up the Million Dollar Championship. He brought it into the ring, but Grimes hit a high kick. Out on the floor, DiBiase took Knight down with a right hand and used the belt to distract the official while he locked on the Million Dollar Dream. Back inside, Grimes hit the Cave-In to win the championship.
NXT Women's Championshp: Raquel Gonzalez (c) defeated Dakota Kai [12:27]
This was very good. Gonzalez has become quite consistent in title matches and Kai's one of the best workers on the roster.
Kai used her speed and quickness to avoid Gonzalez's attacks early on before capitalizing on an opening to lock on a cross armbreaker. Gonzalez fought out and looked for a powerbomb, but Kai hit a scorpion kick and regrouped on the floor.
Back in the ring, Gonzalez hit repeated powerslams. Kai came back with a diving crossbody, but Gonzalez rolled through and dropped her over the ropes. Kai snapped Gonzalez's arm over the rope and hit a yakuza kick. She rolled Gonzalez back into the ring for two and followed it up with a draping facebreaker for two more.
Gonzalez fired up with a clothesline, a big boot, and a slam. A sidewalk slam set up a twisting Vader bomb for two. Gonzalez went for a powerbomb, but Kai turned it into a flying triangle. Gonzalez tossed Kai into the corner to break. She caught a scorpion kick and hit a powerbomb for two.
Kai came back with a hurricanrana driver and a jackknife pin for two. Gonzalez dropped Kai over the ropes from powerbomb position. Gonzalez shrugged off a thrust kick, but Kai hit the Kai-ropractor for a near fall. Kai got in Gonzalez's face, Gonzalez went for a spinebuster, but Kai fought out and climbed the ropes. She hit a diving double stomp for a near fall.
Gonzalez drove Kai into the corner. They fought on the top rope, where Kai escaped and hit a pump kick. She went for the yakuza kick, but Gonzalez hit a second-rope Chignona bomb for the win.
– After the match, former NXT UK women's champion Kay Lee Ray's music played, and she stared down Gonzalez from the ramp.
NXT UK Championship: Ilja Dragunov defeated WALTER (c) to win the championship (22:03)
This was somehow better than their classic from 2020 and one of the best matches in WWE history.
WALTER hit a quick hip toss, but Dragunov avoided chops and attacked with chops of his own. That fired WALTER up, but Dragunov kept avoiding his attacks to frustrate him. WALTER countered a takedown and laid in grounded knees. Dragunov went for a heel hook but instead opted for a shoulder tackle. WALTER tried to leapfrog on a rope-run, but Dragunov turned it into a slam and hit a side headlock takeover to ground the big man.
There were a few attempts by WALTER to break the hold, but Dragunov wouldn't relinquish it until being driven into the corner. Dragunov fought back out with forearms and caught a chop, wrestling WALTER back down to the mat. He went for a key lock, but WALTER powered out and perched Dragunov on the top rope. He hit a huge overhand chop, sending Dragunov crashing to the floor.
Out on the floor, WALTER powerbombed Dragunov onto the apron. Back inside, WALTER went for the Gojira Clutch before nailing a German suplex. He turned Dragunov over into a Boston crab before transitioning into an STF. WALTER then snapmared Dragunov over and hit a soccer kick to the back.
They traded forearms and chops in the center of the ring. WALTER locked on the Gojira Clutch and switched to powerbomb position, but Dragunov powered out. Dragunov hit repeated clotheslines, but WALTER turned the Constantine Special into an overhead uranage suplex for two. WALTER continued to dominate and just crushed Dragunov with a boot.
Dragunov fired back with right hands and turned a lariat into a takedown. He laid in knees and backfists to a seated WALTER. WALTER blocked an octopus hold and picked Dragunov up, but Dragunov fought out and caught WALTER with a rising knee. He went for another, but WALTER clotheslined him down twice for two.
WALTER hit an insane chop to Dragunov's back, but Dragunov fired up and downed WALTER with a clothesline. Dragunov hit a back chop of his own followed by a German suplex. WALTER came back with a chop, Dragunov hit an enziguiri, then Dragunov hit a pumphandle suplex for two.
Dragunov climbed the ropes and hit a diving dropkick, then climbed the opposite corner and landed a top-rope senton. WALTER countered Torpedo Moscow into a sleeper suplex, but Dragunov got up and hit Torpedo Moscow to the back of WALTER's head. He then hit Torpedo Moscow proper for a good near fall.
Once WALTER got back to his feet, Dragunov laid in repeated chops. He ran into a hard one from his opponent for a surprisingly good near fall. WALTER climbed the ropes, but Dragunov popped up and hit a superplex followed by a missile dropkick for the double down. WALTER hit a shotgun dropkick and a stack powerbomb for another good near fall.
WALTER slapped Dragunov across the face and hit a running knee followed by a powerbomb. He then climbed the ropes and hit a top-rope splash, the same way he won the title from Pete Dunne, but Dragunov kicked out for a great near fall.
The champion laid in ground and pound and went for the Gojira Clutch, but Dragunov flipped out of it and hit a diving headbutt. Dragunov rained down repeated elbows and locked on a sleeper of his own. WALTER climbed the ropes with the sleeper still applied and just jumped down to break it, but Dragunov popped up and laid in more elbows.
Dragunov locked in the sleeper again. WALTER got back to his feet and fell backwards, but Dragunov wouldn't let go. He laid in desperation strikes and crossfaces and rabbit punches before locking on the sleeper once more for the submission victory.
Cameron Grimes and Ted DiBiase were asked about Grimes' victory earlier tonight. Grimes said there's a man looking down on him who's proud that he's the champ. DiBiase called for a big celebration and passed out money. He said Grimes is carrying on the legacy of the Million Dollar Man. Grimes announced the Million Dollar Celebration for this week's NXT TV.
Samoa Joe was preparing for his championship match as William Regal walked up. Regal said he's supposed to stay unbiased, but he wants Joe to know, he wants him to kick Kross' ass.
The Undisputed Finale: Kyle O'Reilly defeated Adam Cole (25:32)
This would be the best match on many TakeOvers, but it unfortunately had to follow WALTER vs. Dragunov. These guys killed each other in a completely different way than the previous match. Even so, this was a more than worthy finale to this long, drawn-out feud.
Fall one is a normal singles match, fall two is a Street Fight, and if a third fall is necessary, it will be a Steel Cage match.
They went right at each other at the bell. O'Reilly rebounded Cole between the barricade and the steps, but Cole caught his rival with a kick upon re-entry to the ring. Cole tried to suplex O'Reilly onto the steel steps, but O'Reilly countered it into a brainbuster on the floor.
Back in the ring, O'Reilly hit a front kick and a palm strike for two. He transitioned the mount into an ankle lock, but Cole kicked his way out of it and hit a leaping knee for two. Cole hit an enziguiri, but O'Reilly caught a superkick and hit a discus clothesline for two. O'Reilly went for the diving knee but was caught by a superkick. O'Reilly countered the Panama Sunrise into a cradle for a blazing first fall in 3:29.
Fall two is a Street Fight. Cole fled to the floor, but O'Reilly took him out and propped him on the chair. He placed a trash can over Cole's head and took Cole out with a running dropkick. Back in the ring, O'Reilly tried to climb the ropes, but Cole immediately nailed a superkick and O'Reilly landed hard on his ribs on the apron. Cole turned the target of his attack to O'Reilly's midsection.
Cole attacked O'Reilly's abdomen with a chair. He propped the chair in the corner and taunted O'Reilly, but the latter came back with right hands. O'Reilly couldn't follow the attack up as he was in too much pain from the midsection attack. Cole tried to whip O'Reilly into the chair, but O'Reilly rolled out to avoid it, inadvertently hitting his rib on the ring post.
Back inside, Cole whacked a kendo stick across O'Reilly's ribs. He looked to go for the Last Shot, but opted for a kendo stick shot as O'Reilly covered up. Cole then hit a kendo stick-assisted backstabber for two. He locked on a Lockjaw of all things (his girlfriend Britt Baker's finisher), then used the kendo stick for leverage before voluntarily breaking the hold to inflict more punishment.
Cole taunted O'Reilly, telling him to "stay down," but O'Reilly fired up with right hands. He couldn't overcome the pain, leading to a pump kick from Cole, but O'Reilly used a standing switch to hit a German and then a soccer kick through the pain. O'Reilly then dropped Cole's knee over a chair before hitting a dragon screw into the chair.
O'Reilly charged at Cole, but Cole avoided it and O'Reilly went chest first into the propped-up chair in the corner. Simultaneous pump kicks led to the double down. Cole rolled to the floor and wrapped a chain around his fist, but when he looked up, O'Reilly had done the same. They laid in chain-assisted right hands on each other before a Cole superkick got two.
Out on the ramp, Cole hit a thrust kick on O'Reilly's midsection. O'Reilly applied a guillotine before tossing his opponent off the ramp into the plexiglass barricade in front of the fans. Cole came back with yet another attack on O'Reilly's midsection.
Inside the ring, Cole propped up more chairs, but O'Reilly turned it around and hit a ushigoroshi. He went to the top rope, but Cole popped up and dropped him over the propped up chairs in a brutal spot. The Last Shot followed for the pinfall, making it 1-1 at 16:58.
The final fall is a Steel Cage match. Officials came in to check on O'Reilly as the cage lowered, but Cole continued the attack, powerbombing O'Reilly on the announce desk. Cole finally brought O'Reilly back into the ring, and the cage lowered. They took a long time to get going as it seemed like O'Reilly may have been legitimately hurt -- Cole only resumed the attack after about 3-4 minutes of rest.
O'Reilly immediately countered an perched Cole between the ropes and the cage. He hit repeated running forearms followed by a diving knee drop as Cole draped over the ropes. O'Reilly missed the diving knee, Cole missed the Last Shot, and O'Reilly hit a Last Shot of his own for two.
Cole hit a low blow, then climbed the cage. O'Reilly popped up and they traded strikes while standing on the top rope, but a hard right hand from Cole sent O'Reilly crashing to the mat. Cole then hit the Panama Sunrise for a good near fall. Cole handcuffed O'Reilly to the top rope and hit repeated superkicks. O'Reilly caught one and locked on a heel hook while still handcuffed, forcing Cole to tap.
Ilja Dragunov was asked about his victory. He said the "ring general" has fallen.
Legado del Fantasma called out Hit Row. Escobar began in Spanish. He then said Swerve would find out there's nobody better than Legado. Mendoza said that this Tuesday, they'd finish the job. Escobar said "He who laughs last, laughs best." It will be Hit Row vs. Legado del Fantasma this week on NXT.
Lineup for NXT TV this week:
- Hit Row vs. Legado del Fantasma
- NXT Breakout Tournament Finals: Odyssey Jones vs. Carmelo Hayes
- Cameron Grimes' Million Dollar Celebration
NXT Championship: Samoa Joe defeated Karrion Kross (c) to win the championship (12:19)
I'd have to check to be sure, but off the top of my head, this was the shortest NXT TakeOver main event in history. It was well-worked but never got to any sort of next level.
This is Joe's first match since February of last year. No Scarlett with Kross.
Joe landed a palm strike early, forcing Kross into the corner and peppering him. A back elbow and an enziguiri took Kross down to the mat. Joe kept up the attack with a reverse chop, a soccer kick, and a running senton. Kross answered back with a forearm, but Joe went for the Coquina Clutch, forcing Kross to break at the ropes. Joe wouldn't break, so Kross hit a Doomsday Saito and a running forearm to the back of Joe's head.
Out on the floor, Kross sent Joe into the barricade. Back in, Kross kept up the attack until Joe came back with chops. Kross countered another into a second Doomsday Saito before applying an ankle lock. Joe fought out and sent Kross to the floor, following it up with a great tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Kross hit an exploder suplex for two. Joe countered a running attack into a powerslam for two. He then hit a powerbomb for another two-count before turning the kickout directly into an STF. Kross had to fully extend to reach the ropes and force a break.
Kross hit a hammerlock knee strike and a DDT for yet another series of two-counts. Joe finally came back with an overhead throw, giving him some breathing room. Joe laid in strikes and hit a big boot followed by a running senton for two. He locked on the Coquina Clutch in the center of the ring. Kross eventually rolled out of it and locked on for the Kross Jacket.
Joe fired up and finally broke the hold, but Kross hit a forearm to the back of Joe's head. Joe reversed a clothesline into a uranage and hit a top-rope enziguiri, leaving Kross in perfect position for Joe to hit the Muscle Buster for the surprisingly quick win. Joe is the first three-time NXT champion.
– Joe posed on the ramp to end the show.