WWE NXT TakeOver 36
August 22, 2021
Orlando, Florida
Capitol Wrestling Center

Watch: Peacock & WWE Network (Non-US)

Meet Our Reviewers 

Steve Case: Welcome to NXT Takeover: The End…er….36. There was a point in time when Takeovers were the surest thing in wrestling. My how times change, and quickly! If you’re reading this, you likely already know of the changes to come for NXT. That makes this the most intriguing Takeover in maybe two years. Hoping for this era of NXT to go out with a bang. Or at least it has to be better than the atrocity that was Summerslam. Follow Steve @coachcase44.

Jeri Evagood: The Magic Writing Girl isn’t quite sure what she’s doing here. Oh yeah, she volunteered. This is how I decided to cap off my one year anniversary of HRT. Well, I mean, WALTER and Dragunov are about to beat the shit out of each other, that’ll rule! Real talk, this is the end of an era, and I’m hoping it kicks one final bit of ass. Follow me on twitter if you want to see my lukewarm wrestling takes as well as being cute af. TheJerriest_Jer

Pre Show Match
Ridge Holland def. Trey Baxter 

Steve: Ridge Holland likely has a bright future with the new directives rumored about in NXT, knock off Peaky Blinders gimmick or not. Trey Baxter, not so much. This was a fine little squash, and Holland looked solid. He called out Timothy Thatcher after the match. I hope Tim doesn’t hurt this poor man. SQUASH

Jeri: A short squash. Ridge Holland looked alright, but nothing that I thought was impressive, at least in this match. Still, it was a solid enough squash with Baxter getting minimal offense in to prevent it from being a total one-sided affair. Holland called out Thatcher. Honestly, that’s a match-up that makes sense and could have potential. SQUASH

Million Dollar Title Match
Cameron Grimes def. LA Knight (c)

Steve: Hearing the Million Dollar Man theme will never be a quarter star bump until the end of time. All I have to say about this butler angle is I’m glad I missed the vignettes because the clips in the promo video looked awful. This match was really good! Grimes’ character is cringe, but he fully commits to it and still has an energy behind his work in the ring.  The dude is a bumping machine, even messing up his back on the corner of the ring steps delivering offense early in the match. I’ve always liked LA Knight. He was one of my favorites on the original Powerrr with his mic work and is a perfectly competent wrestler. These two worked really hard throughout, and although it went a bit long, the crowd was naturally hot throughout. The finish was definitive and given the story, it seemed to fit very well. Good start to the show. ***1/2

Jeri: I had zero enjoyment with any and all of the vignettes. I have not enjoyed anything about this feud/rivalry. So imagine my surprise that I ended up really enjoying this match. It was a heck of an opener. Grimes’ gimmick is… something, but the energy and passion he puts into it is admirable and in many ways makes it work. This match would have benefited by shaving off a few minutes but ultimately they kept it hot, kept the work good, at times great, and it had a satisfying conclusion. I’m not the biggest L.A Knight fan but ultimately I think this was one of his better performances, if not his best performance in the ring in NXT. A very good opener I don’t regret watching. Good start to the show. *** 1/2

WWE NXT Women’s Title Match
Raquel Gonzalez (c) def. Dakota Kai

Steve: WAY too many bright colors in this match. Is this a backstabbing rivalry or a highlighter party?  These two tried really hard to have a hate-filled, hard-hitting match, but it didn’t quite work. For every spot that landed, there was one or two that were sloppy or missed completely. Dakota was very clearly doing everything she could to make Raquel look like a monster, but Raquel was always a step behind. Even the finish looked only about 75% as good as it could have been, and that’s really the story of this whole match. Post-match, Kay Lee Ray came out to seemingly challenge Raquel to keep up with her now that she couldn’t quite get there with Dakota. **3/4

Jeri: I rather enjoyed this. It wasn’t the crispest match in the world, there is noticeable sloppiness. But the energy and work was there all over. Dakota worked her ass off and was clearly the better performer in the match. The way she sold, bumped, and pretty much did everything she could to make Raquel a monster. Don’t get me wrong Raquel did fine and isn’t bad. In fact, I rather like her, but Dakota was the workhorse in this match and made it good. Did it hit the level of greatness that I wanted? No, not even close, but it was in the good range and that made me happy. I wish Dakota had won, but there you have it. Kay Lee Ray comes out to challenge it appears, we’ll see how that goes. ***1/4

WWE NXT United Kingdom Title Match
Ilja Dragunov def. WALTER (c) 

Steve: The slugfest these two had last October was my match of the year in 2020, so the bar is extremely high here. This wasn’t the match from last year but this was still an all-out WAR. They started out with some slick counter and mat wrestling, but once the heavy blows started, they did not stop. Whereas the match from last year was about Ilja trying to survive, this felt more like Ilja trying to win and WALTER trying to survive. There were some clunky spots, like the spot off the top rope, and a few more lulls, but this was still an absolutely brutal, hard-hitting, and chest bruising affair. Ilja tapping out WALTER is an interesting choice, but after what I just watched, I can’t be mad at it. Tremendous stuff. ****1/2

Jeri: HOLY SHIT CALM MY TITS! This match rocked me. This match had me screaming “Oh Fuck” at various spots and moments. This absolutely ruled. A pure and utter war. A bruising battering battle with a hard-fought, hard-earned, and well-deserved victory from Dragunov and I absolutely loved every moment of it. The hits made me cringe and turn my head at times. Perhaps undoubtedly the best WWE-produced match you are going to see this year. Yes, there was some clunkiness, but to me, it added to the weariness and exhaustion and didn’t take away from the match. I was finding myself tired from my weekend and this match woke me the fuck up. Grab me, shook me, said pay the hell attention and I did. I lean forward, totally absorbing myself into the action. I found myself cheering Dragunov on, getting lost in the unfolding events that happened before my eyes. Watch this, watch all of this. This rules, This is wrestling at its finest and rawest. It hit so hard I was hurt by the end of it, and it hurt so good. This is legit fire, and you will appreciate the burn. I almost want to go back and retroactively take a star away from some of the other high-rated matches I’ve done for WWE this year, because this surpassed them all. Dragunov making WALTER tap was satisfying to the highest level. Excellent. Nothing else tonight is going to top it, and if they somehow do …. Holy hell. *****

Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match
Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole

Steve: This is a match that I am decidedly not looking forward to, so the bar is very low. These two did A LOT. Thankfully, it didn’t go 40 like I thought it would. The first fall was a very short, high-energy spring. The second they emptied the tank with a barrage of random weapons and brawling around the CWC. The third was in cage, which really didn’t need to be there at all. They only climbed or even used the cage once, so I’m not sure why they would even waste the stipulation. The finish was equal parts hokey and creative, as Cole handcuffed O’Reilly to the ropes, but O’Reilly still managed to tap Cole out with a kneebar, sending him to the unemployment line to never be heard from again. They worked hard but it just never got to that next level for me. ***3/4

Jeri: I think overall I rather enjoyed this. I think of the three falls the second fall was my favorite, felt like it had the most meat on the bone. I did not really fancy the ending. It seems like a good idea, in theory, O’Reilly overcoming Cole’s antics and being able to beat him, but I couldn’t take the one-armed heel hook that seriously. The first fall was brief, in fact, I must admit I wish it had gotten a few more minutes to add some juice. The second fall they went all out and it was hella entertaining. The third fall didn’t really do much for me. Didn’t click as well at all. Overall though I thought it was a really good affair, a good ending to their feud that never reached the next heights. Felt like it went the right amount of length, and both men worked hard. Better first and third falls and this match would get a higher rating. ***3/4

WWE NXT Title Match
Samoa Joe def. Karrion Kross (c)

Steve: Even though Joe hasn’t had a truly great singles match since his first NXT run, I can’t help but get excited about a big Joe match. The dude just has an aura and presence about him that will always be there. This ended up being a lot better than it had any right being, largely due to Joe looking better than he has in years. Kross is Kross, but I think these two reached the ceiling of what this match could be. If you think about it, Joe is the perfect guy to hold the title in NXT’s new era. He’s a well-traveled and respected veteran. He’s a big guy that can work a smaller guy style, and can be an asset to some of the big muscle turkeys they seem to have coming into NXT for the big shift. Joe can talk with the best of them, and sell a match with virtually anyone to help get them over. I really like this move and liked the match a lot more than I thought I would. ***1/4

Outside of the Ilja vs WALTER match, this Takeover will likely be remembered more for what comes next. NXT has gone from developmental, to era-defining super indie, to main roster with good matches, to where we are today. It’s hard not to say that this chapter of NXT has gone out with a whimper, but who knows what the next chapter has in store? When you read what’s out there, the initial reaction might be to cringe at NXT going back to a more purely developmental territory with 6’5” former athletes. But think of what this will mean for the depth of wrestling as a whole. Plus, WWE has a lot better shot at getting better with people they are actually invested in, rather than the darlings of us hardcore nerds. 

Jeri: ALL HAIL THE RETURN OF THE MUSCLE BUSTER! I’m personally glad Kross lost the title. He’s never done anything for me. I find his attempts at being this intimidating badass to be hokey and low energy. He’s boring, his whole mystique and aurora is non-existent no matter how hard they try, and recently they haven’t been trying. If he was any blander he would be Great Value Corn Flakes trying to work his way up to Kellog’s. Samoa Joe worked as hard as he could, cardio started to noticeably catch up with him. Considering how long he’s been out, that’s understanding and it added to the match to me. Having to struggle and persevere, gut and tough it out to get the title win. There were good moments in this match, but ultimately a lot of it felt flat and did not have that energy, that spark, that chemistry I wanted in my main event. This never came close to the levels of great, but seeing Samoa Joe reclaim the championship was an excellent feel-good moment. That’s a good satisfying ending I can gel with. ***1/4