The final build to TakeOver 36 takes place on tonight's episode of NXT.
Ahead of their title match at Sunday's TakeOver event, NXT Champion Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe will meet for a face-to-face segment tonight. NXT Women's Champion Raquel Gonzalez and her TakeOver challenger Dakota Kai will also issue their last words to one another before Sunday's title match.
Tonight's NXT was supposed to feature two title matches, but one of them has been pulled from the show. It was announced this afternoon that NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida isn't cleared to compete tonight and won't be having his scheduled match against Roderick Strong. There will instead be a Diamond Mine open challenge.
NXT Tag Team Champions MSK will still defend their titles against Imperium's Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner tonight.
Plus, the semifinals of the NXT Breakout Tournament will conclude with Duke Hudson facing Carmelo Hayes, Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis will team together for a mixed tag team match against Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone, and there will be a Prime Target special feature building up Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly's match at TakeOver.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The show is opening with a talking segment. Is this Raw? At least Malcolm Bivens is doing the talking. He also kept his speech very short. That is unlike Raw, which is a relief.
NXT Cruiserweight Champion Kushida is apparently not cleared to wrestle, so Bivens issues an open challenge for anyone to face Roderick Strong. Ilja Dragunov answered the open challenge, and we have a replacement for Kushida.
Ilja Dragunov defeated Roderick Strongn (with Malcolm Bivens & Hachiman)
Dragunov pinned Strong clean to win. Great match with almost everything from grappling to brawling, and even some bloodshed.
Technical wizardry in the early portion of the match. Dragunov went for a double stomp off the top, rolled through when Strong moved, and then Dragunov dropped Strong with a knee strike. Strong was reeling, but he was able to counter a Constantine Special. Dragunov spilled outside the ring.
Hachiman (Hideki Suzuki) distracted Dragunov, which allowed Strong to smash Dragunov into the ring steps. Strong delivered a backbreaker on the ring apron before the show cut to a picture-in-picture commercial break.
Strong was working over Dragunov as the show returned from the break. Dragunov countered Strong to fight back. Grappling battle led into Dragunov going for a trifecta of German suplexes. Strong countered a third as he threw elbows. Dragunov was busted open and bled from a nasty cut above his right eye, but he still managed to pull off a Matrix move. Strong missed a a knee, and Dragunov landed an enzuigiri before suplexing Strong.
Dragunov signaled for his Torpedo Moskau, but Strong countered with a knee strike. Dragunov bounced back to deliver Torpedo Moskau, and he covered Strong for a three count.
Dragunov after the match called out WALTER, but he was apparently not there. Dragunov challenges WALTER for the NXT UK Championship at TakeOver 36 on Sunday.
A "Prime Target" min-doc is up next. Chronicling the feud and history between Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly, this Prime Target special feature tells the story leading up to Cole-O'Reilly III. That grudge match takes place at TakeOver this weekend.
Hit Row brawls with Legado del Fantasma
Hit Row comes to the ring for a promo. NXT North American Champion Isaiah "Swerve" Scott was flanked by B-FAB, Top Dolla and Ashante "Thee" Adonis. They are quite angry with Santos Escobar and El Legado del Fantasma.
Escobar appeared on a video screen to interrupt the promo. He was in the parking lot, and he teased giving back the grill he previously stole from Scott. Escobar said he did not trust Scott's crew, and he dared Scott to come outside. Escobar lured Scott into the parking lot with the promise they could handle things man-to-man. Lots of face-to-face and/or person-to-person stuff on thi show. However, this particular face-to-face was a trap.
Scott stormed out of the building to meet Escobar. Legado del Fantasma surround Scott, and they jumped him. Escobar tried to steal another grill, but the rest of Hit Row ran outside to make a save. A brawl ensued between the factions.
Top Dolla threw someone into a rollup door like he was Kevin Nash flinging Rey Mysterio into the side of a trailer in '96. B-FAB came out swinging a bat like Sting in '96, and she hit members of Legado del Fantasma. Hit Row cleaned house on the rudo faction, and Scott took his grill back.
LA Knight earlier in the day paid Josh Briggs a bounty to take out Cameron Grimes.
NXT UK Champion WALTER and Imperium cut a promo ahead of an Imperium tag match later tonight.
Cameron Grimes defeated Josh Briggs
Grimes pinned Briggs in quick match. Ted DiBiase was at ringside doing guest commentary. The match was short, but it led to an angle afterwards.
Grimes wrestled in his butler suit. Briggs was very aggressive, but Grimes countered him at every turn. Grimes delivered a Cave In, and he covered Briggs for a pinfall.
Grimes was in the ring ripping off his butler suit when Knight floored DiBiase with a piunch at ringside. Grimes jumped out of the ring to make a save, and Knight laid out Grimes with his stunner DDT.
Knight talked trash as the segment ended.
Johnnhy Gargano and Candice LeRae were backstage with Indi Hartwell. They were still upset with Hartwell over her relationship with Dexter Lumis. There were some comedy lines, and then Dexter entered stage left. Hartwell and Lumis held hands while wearing matching In-Dex t-shirts. Hartwell paid a pun about sex, and she left with Lumis.
NXT Tag Team Champions Io Shirai and Zoey Stark were being interviewed backstage. Stark still wants to be friends, but Shirai is having none of that. She just wants to defend their titles.
Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell defeated Robert Stone & Jessi Kamea (with Franky Monet) in a mixed tag team match
Hartwell choked out Kamea with Silence to win the match.
Stone was not match for Lumis. Monet then tried to interfere by grabbing Lumis' leg, but Lumis dragged her into the ring instead. The distraction led to nothing, except a commercial break. That was odd.
Kamea was getting heat on Hartwell as the show returned from the break. Hot tag to Lumis, and he pummeled Stone. Both heels at one point each jumped to save the other from taking a pin.
Stone missed a plancha, and he went splat on the floor. Kamea hit Lumis, which caused Hartwell to fire up on Kamea. Hartwell then applied Lumis' Silience hold to win via submission.
Hartwell talked to Beth Phoenix after the match, and Phoenix gave her something. Turns out it was an engagement ring. Hartwell got down on one knee, and she proposed to Lumis. He said yes. They kissed, and they are engaged. Wow, that was a fast courtship. Congrats are in order I guess.
Malcolm BIvens was mad that McKenzie Mitchell tried to interview Roderick Strong. He told her to take to him instead.
"Exclusive Interview" with Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai
NXT Women's Champion Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were in a segment similar to the old "Face-to-Face" segments on Superstars or Wrestling Challeneg back in the day. Kids today might relate to it by calling it a glorified Zoom call. There was a split screen, and each answered questions while also cutting promos on each other. This builds to their title match on Sunday.
Carmelo Hayes defeated Duke Hudson in a NXT Breakout Tornament semi-final match
Hayes pinned Hudson to win the match. Hayes moves on the tournament final where he faces Odyssey Jones.
Hayes was on a roll when Hudson sent Hayes crashing to the floor. The match went through a commercial break, and Hudson was working over Hayes when the show returned from commercial.
Hayes fought back to return the favor, sending Hudson outside the ring. Hayes jumped over the ropes for a DDT on the apron. They traded strikes until Hayes struck with La Mistica.
Hayes leapt off the top ropes with a flying guillotine legdrop, and Hayes covered Duke for a pinfall.
Jones came out for a face-to-face. Jones and Hayes both vowed to win.
A vignette hyped Jacy Jayne.
Cameron Grimes was in the trainer's room when Ted DiBiase approached him to say he was sorry. Grimes delivered a pep talk. Grimes ripped off his butler shirt, and yelled he was not a butler. He was a champion! Grimes flipped out while cutting a helluva promo. Great stuff here.
NXT Tag Team Champions MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) defeated Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) to retain their titles
Carter pinned Aichner to win the match. WALTER and Dragunov both ran down to ringside during the match. WALTER and Dragunov brawled after the match.
Imperium began working over Carter as they settled into the match. Lee was able to tag in, and he and Carter ran wild for a moment. That led into stereo topes, but Imperium caught them. Imperium then executed stereo suplexes on the floor. The show cut to a picture-in-picture commercial break with Imperium in control.
Lee was rocked with a lariat as the show returned from the break. Imperium proverbially cut the ring in half, and they targeted Lee. Great teamwork by Imperium. Exploder in a corner by Barthel to Lee, leading into a close near fall.
Hot tag to Carter, and Carter is a house of fire. Soon thereafter, WALTER appeared at ringside. He distracted the referee, allowing Imperium to regain the advantage. Imperium was going for their finisher when Dragunov ran down to attack WALTER. The distraction caused the Imperium finisher to fail. MSK struck with their Hart Attack/Blockbuster combo on Aichner, and Carter cradled him for a three count.
WALTER attacked Dragunov after the match. He was pummeling him when MSK tried to make a save. WALTER laid them both out, but during the seconds Dragunov was able to recover. He fired up on WALTER.
With the help of Imperium, WALTER chopped down Dragunov. WALTER stood over him, and then WALTER also choked him out just becasuse he can.
Ridge Holland (alongside Pete Dunne) cut a promo on Timothy Thacther. Holland meets Thatcher in a match next Tuesday on NXT.
Annoncers with a hard sell for TakeOver as they run down the card for Sunday.
Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross go face-to-face
Joe was out first with fire in his eyes. Joe grabbed the house microphone, and he addressed NXT Champion Karion Kross. Joe was looking forward to the face-to-face, but Joe then realized it was pointless. Joe says he is "simply a man who is here to hurt you." The live crowd in unison chanted "Joe is gonna kill you."
Joe says to "tuck your clock in your back pocket" before calling Kross out. Joe said to "stroll your ass down here, young champion!"
Kross entered stage left, and he stood on at the top of the entrance ramp. Joe still does not get it, accoriding to Kross. This is not about them, it "is about the future of this brand."
Kross was delivering his lines while the crowd chants a question: "Where is Scarlett?" Good question, crowd. Kross did not address it, though. Kross instead called a secruity team to the ring. Kross claimed it was not for protection from Joe. Rather, security was there to protect Joe from Kross.
Kross told Joe he was going to drop Joe "real fast" at TakeOver. Joe snapped, and he attacked Kross. Security tried to break it up the brawl, but they of course failed to do so. Joe then leapt through the ropes with a tope suicida that knocked down Kross and the security team like bowling pins.
Joe beat up Kross around ringside, but security pulled Joe off. Kross then jumped a defenseless Joe, and Kross went to suplex Joe onto the announce desk. Joe countered Kross, and Joe was back to pummeling him around ringside as someone in the crowd shrieks in terror. It was a Gordon Solie Pier Sixer all around the CWC.
Security again pulled Joe off of Kross, but Kross charged at Joe nonetheless. They crashed through the barricade, and they fell to the floor in a heap as the show faded to black.
WWE later reported Ilja Dragunov received eight stitches to close the cut above his right eye.