NXT Takeover 36 Review

Is this the last NXT Takeover event? Is this the last RELEVANT NXT Takeover event? Is all the talk of an NXT makeover much ado about nothing?

They agreement with Full Sail is over. Everyone’s favorite WWE exec, Nick Khan, has promised changes (and has also been hacking away at NXT’s lower and midcard rosters as if they were unsavory weeds).

I guess we will see in the upcoming months. It will be… interesting to watch, that’s for sure. Anyone who knows me knows I friggin’ LOVE NXT. I’m not going to claim to have been invested since day one, but I have been watching since the second Takeover event (NXT Fatal 4-Way, back in late 2014).

NXT has had ups and downs, and its quality has ebbed and flowed, but even at its worst, it has been a damn good program far more often than not. But it’s always been in a tough spot in that it is catering to an almost entirely different audience than Raw and Smackdown are.

Oh well! No reason to speculate just yet. It will be what it’s going to be. Let’s talk NXT Takeover 36.

(And in case you missed it from last night’s SummerSlam, I’ll be writing and updating this article with my thoughts as the show goes on)


8:07 EST: The show is opening with Cameron Grimes because NXT loves me and wants me to have nice things rights away.

Preliminary “it won’t be happen, but I just have a weird feeling” prediction? Cameron Grimes turns heel to let Knight beat him, then he and Knight form a tag team with DiBiase as their servant.

I like how this story has developed. I’m not sure if this was the plan since Day One, but the whole thing starting with Grimes getting rich and then slowly resenting Ted DiBiase, all building to this? It has worked really well. Good storytelling here.

8:14: It’s crazy to think that, as of the start of this match, there have only been five Million Dollar champions in history.

8:26: I’m not going to say that was a particularly good match–it wasn’t, and both these guys, Knight in particular, are more character guys than ringwork guys–but it was fun enough. The resolution was a bit overbooked, but in that fun way where everything made sense. Knight has had Grimes’ number, so it made sense that DiBiase got involved to help him.

As a storyline conclusion (or end of a chapter, anyway), I really like it. As a match… obviously less so. I like me some happy Cameron Grimes moments.

SHOW RATING SO FAR: 6/10

8:39: Does anyone besides MAYBE Candice LeRae more deserve a run with the NXT Women’s Title than Dakota Kai?She’s been such a stalwart of this division, and her heel work has been fabulous.

8:47: This match has been a bit messy, which is weird, but I’ll chalk it up to nerves. They both have a history of being great performers. But to be fair, Dakota has been bumping her ass off to make Raquel look like She-Hulk.

Raquel ended up winning as I was making that note, and I can admit to being a bit sad about that. As I noted right above, Dakota REALLY has earned a shot with that title. Raquel is a great champ, but she feels ready made for the main roster.

After the match, Kay Lee Ray came out to stare own Raquel, and that means very little to me because NXT UK is an enormous blind spot for me.

SHOW RATING SO FAR: 5/10 – We’d be at 9/10 if Dakota had won, because I am wildly biased. Neither match has been great, but they were both serviceable. So far, the show has been more story driven than wrestling driven.

8:54: SPEAKING OF OUR BRITISH FRIENDS… we are now getting the NXT UK Title match. Can I make a thousand enemies here? I’m not 100% sure I’ve ever seen an Ilya Dragunov match before. Like I said… I don’t tend to watch UK for whatever reason. I’m not anti it or anything… I just don’t know where it lives and never sought it out. I’ve heard of the guy for years, but I’ve just been lazy at looking for his work.

I am being told in my friends’ livestream that this will be a treat, and I am in for something good. I like good things!

Dragunov is very, very small. Especially compared to WALTER. Damn.

9:09: Well, that was the loudest chop I have ever heard in my life.

9:21: Okay, yeah, that was rad as hell. That was fantastic. And considering I had no prior experience with Dragunov, I was HEAVILY invested in his potentially winning by the midway point. When I thought WALTER might win after the splash, I actually felt disappointed.

Big fan of that match. Late to the Dragunov party is better than missing it entirely.

I have said before that my favorite about WALTER is how hard wrestling looks for him. Nothing looks fluid or natural or like he knows what he’s about to do. WALTER could well be a shaved bear that had one year of training and was just sent out to the ring to work. WALTER looks unpolished in the very best way possible.

OFFHAND, I can’t think of a better match so far this year, but I’d have to go through my ratings history to see what else would be up there.

SHOW RATING SO FAR: 8/10. That was a pretty great lift from a possible Match Of The Year candidate there.

9:31: I’ve been intentionally avoiding all the Adam Cole rumors to this point and updates on his contract status. Look, UpUpDownDown is already going through the Tyler Breeze drama; I can’t stomach the idea of Chugs leaving, too. So I’m hoping he wins here so I’m less worried he is going out on his back.

9:51: Steel Cage match time, and WOW has this show improved dramatically in the last two matches.

9:54: Before we get too far into the Steel Cage, we are treated to “Previously, On This Very Match” with highlight of virtually EVERYTHING that’s happened to this point. Which is fair because I’m pretty sure KOR is ded.

10:00: I am processing how I feel about the ending here. Obviously I feel bad, because Cole should have won–I like Kyle, too, but he’s already lost to pretty much the entire NXT main event scene, so wherein he go next?–but I liked the creativity of O’Reilly winning while being handcuffed. And it plays off Cole’s arrogance, which flows with the story.

Either way, I really liked that match. Not quite as good as WALTER/Dragunov, but still damn good.

Now… just stay in WWE, Cole. Come on, UUDD needs you!

SHOW RATING SO FAR: 8/10. No real change from that match, but it’s a much more solid 8 now. Two GREAT matches (one being a beauty), and two good stories with perfectly fine encounters.

10:15: So why aren’t we getting Scarlett at all anymore? They can’t really be splitting these two up, right? Talk about a situation where the whole is worth so much more than the sum of the parts.

10:27: MUSCLE BUSTER SIGHTING!

Not a GREAT match. Great result, though. I’m thrilled that Joe won the belt, though being excited that a 42 year old is the champ is gloriously hypocritical given the crap I’ve said about Bobby Lashley. Let’s see if Joe is still dominating six months from now, I guess.

Speaking of age, I’m wondering if Joe was as blown up as he looked, or if he was selling the appearance of it because it would make sense.

What a hard NXT to rate. The middle of the show was god damn unparalleled. And while the main event was quite “meh”, it gave me the winner I very much wanted.

At last count, I had the show as an 8. After the main event… minus the match quality… plus the finish… carry the one for the use of the Muscle Buster… I’ll leave it as an 8! That Dragunov/WALTER match deserves to be on a show that’s at least an 8, and that’s good enough for me.

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