WWE NXT TakeOver 36 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Following up on a massive WWE SummerSlam, NXT TakeOver 36 had a major hill to climb to steal the weekend. The card for the night had the chance to truly pull that off.
Karrion Kross has never been pinned or submitted in NXT, holding the NXT Championship with an iron grip. However, he was facing a motivated Samoa Joe returning to action after over a year. This was certain to be a clash of titans.
Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly have demanded a chance to end their brutal rivalry, so the stage was set for an Undisputed Finale. This 2-out-of-3 Falls stipulation match was certain to be the most physical of the entire night.
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were longtime friends, two women who trusted each other implicitly. The Captain of Team Kick broke that trust with a kaoi kick that gave her one chance to take her friend's NXT Women's Championship.
WALTER is one of the most dominant champions of the modern era. Going into the night, he had held the NXT UK Championship 869 days. While many have tried to dethrone The Ring General, Ilja Dragunov is the only one that feels like he has a real chance, coming in motivated and resilient.
The Million Dollar Championship has sat between LA Knight and Cameron Grimes for months, causing The Technical Savage's descent into embarrassment. Ted DiBiase was willing to embarrass himself to give Grimes one more chance. The Million Dollar Man would be Knight's butler if Grimes lost again.
This show had a stacked card, carrying the legacy of NXT that could very well chance after this show. It was up to every wrestler in attendance to prove they deserved the spotlight.
Pre-Show: Ridge Holland vs. Trey Baxter
Trey Baxter tried to knock Ridge Holland off his feet early, but he was unsuccessful. The former rugby player caught Baxter running and slammed him to the mat with a spin-out fireman's carry side slam for the win.
Afterward, he called out Timothy Thatcher, promising to do the same to him on Tuesday.
Holland def. Baxter by pinfall.
This is fairly nondescript. Holland got to show off his strength, dominating the action. This is exactly the way he should be booked until he faces a challenger that can match him, which will happen when he fight Thatcher.
Baxter is more talented than he has allowed to show. For his future, it would be best for him to not be placed in positions like this. He can go with anyone even a monster like Holland, but it was certainly not the time for a new star to challenge the former rugby star.
Million Dollar Championship: LA Knight (c) vs. Cameron Grimes (w/ Ted DiBiase)
Cameron Grimes threw away his butler attire before the match. Showing off new attire, The Technical Savage came out on fire. He struck hot, even using Ted DiBiase to give him moment to blast the WWE million dollar champion with a dropkick.
While Knight answered back again and again, for the first time in this rivalry, he looked like the underdog. He had to fight the power and speed of Grimes at every turn. Knight finally gained a serious edge after tripping Grimes, sending him face first into the bottom rope.
He landed a diving facebuster into the Gravy Train for a nearfall. Knight ran into a standing Spanish Fly for a nearfall. The WWE million dollar champion again responded with a superplex that nearly got three.
Grimes locked in the Million Dollar Dream, holding on for several minutes, before crashing into the steel post. DiBiase used the Million Dollar Championship to distract the referee, hitting Knight and choking him out with the Million Dollar Dream. This set up Grimes to hit the Cave-In to win.
Grimes def. Knight by pinfall to win the WWE Million Dollar Championship.
Easily the best match of the series, Grimes and Knight found their rhythm this time around. The story was excellent, and the crowd was completely invested. Beyond a few awkward moments, this was about as good as this gets.
The right man won, even though this win was rushed. Grimes was barely a butler long enough for the second match's stipulation to matter. This should be the end of this rivalry given the two do not have much more story to tell.
It was a fun story. It was great to see DiBiase back at it near a WWE ring. This all worked very well, and it should be interesting to see what NXT does with the Million Dollar Championship going forward.
NXT Women's Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs. Dakota Kai
After slapping Raquel Gonzalez to start, Dakota Kai went for the kaoi kick early and nearly got her head taken off with a lariat. She had to duck and weave the offense of Gonzalez at every turn, suffering any time she got caught by the NXT women's champion.
Sending the women's champion's arm into the ropes, Kai set her up for a kaio kick, but Gonzalez was sent clear to the outside. By the time The Captain of Team Kick got her back in the ring, she could only cover for two.
Kai continued the onslaught with a double-knee facebreaker in the ropes, but the champion hit her second win before the challenger could capitalize. She threw around Kai and hit a Vader bomb for two. Kai barely countered the one-arm powerbomb but went down to a standard powerbomb for a nearfall.
Gonzalez threw Kai hard onto the top rope sending her outside, but the champion was unable to capitalize. The Captain of Team Kick hit a superkick into a rolling backbreaker for two.
The two women fought to the top where Kai tripped her and set up the kaio kick. However, Gonzalez caught her running and hit a second-rope single-arm powerbomb for the win.
Afterward, Kay Lee Ray arrived to stare down the NXT women's champion, calling her shot for a future title opportunity.
Gonzalez def. Kai by pinfall to retain the NXT Women's Championship.
The one knock on Gonzalez as champion was that she had not had matches at the same level as her predecessors. This was absolutely at the level of Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley before her. She and Kai brought everything to make clear how important this grudge match was.
The back-and-forth action sold that either woman could win. In the end, NXT further established Gonzalez among the greats in NXT's women's division. She needed a big opponent to challenge her after this.
Ray is the perfect next woman to step up. She dominated NXT UK and helped elevate that women's division to a new level. While NXT UK will miss her, NXT can make use of one of the best women signed by the company.
NXT UK Championship: WALTER (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov
Ilja Dragunov had a plan from the outset. He attacked and ground down WALTER. His attack on the leg of The Ring General had the champion reeling. However, eventually WALTER took back control, battering the challenger with chops and boots.
The two traded strikes, and Dragunov clearly took the worst of it. However, as has become common of his work, the challenger only seemed to grow more dangerous with the more pain inflicted to him. Dragunov chopped and elbowed WALTER with the hope that he could get him down to the mat.
WALTER did not falter, answering back with a pair of lariats that almost sealed the win. Hitting a dramatic third wind, Dragunov hit a dragon suplex, a diving dropkick, and diving senton to finally get WALTER in position for the Torpedo Moscow.
As he ran for his finisher, WALTER turned it into a sleeper. Dragunov flipped through and hit a low Torpedo Moscow followed by a higher one for a ridiculous nearfall. Both men exhausted, all they could do was keep fighting, but neither man would quit.
WALTER hit a powerbomb then headed to the top rope for a diving splash for a truly shocking nearfall. Dragunov somehow recovered enough to hit a springboard uppercut and locked in a sleeper hold. The Ring General broke it, but the challenger locked it in again.
He battered a kneeling WALTER with elbow strikes repeatedly then locked in the sleeper again, forcing an emphatic tap out.
Dragunov def. WALTER by submission to win the NXT UK Championship.
This was one of the best matches I have seen in a very long time. It was easily the best match of the entire weekend. It may be the best match of the year. From the outset, this was magic, and the story told by these men sold the years of history between them.
The two competed perfectly in sync. It was brutal. Every chop was heard throughout the whole arena. The false finishes built into a flurry where neither man had to devalue their offense to make this feel special. WWE does not put on matches like this often.
Dragunov worked hard to get to this moment. The story he told over the past year was stellar and led to a result that was not guaranteed but felt altogether right. It will be fun to watch the next chapter of NXT UK unfold.
The Undisputed Finale: Kyle O'Reilly vs. Adam Cole
At the bell, Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly ran at each other with intention. Cole immediately went to the steel steps, hoping to cripple his former friend with a piledriver. Luckily for KOR, he escaped and pulled his rival back into the center of the ring.
Cole hit a superkick and went for a Panama Sunrise, but O'Reilly got one up on him by rolling through and stacking him up for a surprise three. The two did not hesitate to go for weapons as the second fall began. Kendo sticks, steel chairs, and trash cans came in early.
The two battered each other with strikes with and without weapons in hand. The two each grabbed steel chains and wrapped them around their fists to batter each other with steel fists. The fight moved to the ramp where KOR locked in a guillotine before throwing his rival off the stage into the barricade.
As O'Reilly prepared to dive onto Cole, his rival caught him and threw him hard onto a pair of steel steps. He hit the Last Shot to take the second fall of the match. Officials were uncertain KOR could recover. Cole struck and powerbombed him onto the announce table before the cage could fall.
KOR mocked his opponent, ready to see this match handed to him. O'Reilly would not quit, but that just motivated Cole to throw his opponent hard into the cage repeatedly. KOR found a moment to go for a diving knee and missed, but he ducked the Lost Shot and hit one of his own for two.
Cole immediately stopped his opponent's growing momentum with a low blow. Off the top rope, Cole hit the Panama Sunrise for a nearfall. The former leader of the Undisputed Era showed his final trick when handcuffed KOR to the top rope.
However, rather than using this moment to his advantage to escape, Cole taunted O'Reilly. He struck him with repeated knee strikes. With a final burst of energy, O'Reilly caught Cole in a knee bar and force him to tap out.
O'Reilly def. Cole by a final score of two to one.
This looked to be an indulgent mess on the surface. The three fall format seemed to sell that this would go on for nearly an hour, especially given the length of the previous two matches these men had. Instead, it was a fast-paced, action-heavy clash.
Cole and KOR clearly took it to heart what they were following, and they weren't going to be the ones to ruin the crowd energy. It was about as well put together as a 2-out-of-3 Falls match can be.
O'Reilly needed to win whether Cole re-signs with WWE or not. NXT has built him up as a true threat to the top prize. If he lost when it mattered most to the man that is forever established in NXT, it would ruin any chance of KOR getting to the main event level.
NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (c) vs. Samoa Joe
For the first time in his career, Karrion Kross found himself outmatched in the technical department. Samoa Joe wore down his opponent with an impressive sequence of submission holds. While the NXT champion continued to survive, he could not find the same level of dominance he had over other opponents.
Even an early running elbow from the NXT champion was not enough. Kross had to use his speed advantage to duck the challenger then focus on his striking offense. He planted him with elbow smashes and boot strikes. Joe answered back with an atomic drop into a big boot and running senton.
The Samoan Submission Machine locked in the Coquina Clutch, but the champion turned it into the Kross Jacket. Joe almost passed out but fought through, taking another elbow smash to the back of the head. Kross wound up for the finish blow but ran into a uranage for his trouble.
After an enzuigiri to Kross on the top rope, Joe hit a Muscle Buster to seal the victory.
Joe def. Kross by pinfall to become the new NXT champion.
While Joe is one of the all-time greats, it was clear from the outset that he was not quite ready for a match this long. He was out of breath early and had to give up some ground to Kross in order to recover.
It was a solid match in the end but certainly not at the level of the rest of the card. The Samoan Submission Machine will need to do some work outside the ring to prepare himself for future title defenses better than this.
It is a shame that Kross' title reign had to end so suddenly. While Joe was a good choice to dethrone him, it still feels anticlimactic, driven by his surprise move to the main roster much like the man he defeated for the NXT Championship the first time, Keith Lee.