NXT TakeOver 36: 3 things the brand got right on Sunday


If we are truly reaching the end of an era in NXT, then there was no better way for the brand to go out than with NXT TakeOver 36. With most fans and members of the pro wrestling media anticipating significant changes to the product, NXT turned in one it’s strongest top-to-bottom TakeOver’s in a while.

The main show featured five matches (four with titles on the line) and while the quality varied from match to match, all of them lived up to the standards that fans expect from these TakeOver shows.

From a booking/decision making standpoint, this show also reflected the high points that made NXT such a beloved section of WWE. But which of those decisions stood out the most?

These were the three things NXT got right at TakeOver 36.

Letting WALTER and Ilja Dragunov attempt to kill each other.

Sometimes, the best thing a creative team/booking committee can do is get out of the way and let good wrestlers do what they do best. That’s exactly what happened with the WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov match for the NXT UK Championship, and it led to the two producing one of the best matches of 2021.

With this match, champion and challenger had one goal in mind: equal their October 2020 match that left most fans amazed (if not horrified). Well, they didn’t do that; they actually topped their efforts from last fall.

For over 22 minutes, WALTER and Dragunov alternated between battering each other with heavy blows and subduing one another with holds. The story of Dragunov withstanding the punishment the big Austrian dished out and relentlessly wearing him down built masterfully until it was time for the satisfying conclusion: Dragunov forcing WALTER to submit to a sleeper hold to win the title!

As I’ve said in the past, wrestling can be difficult, but it’s not that hard. WALTER and Dragunov proved that here.

Samoa Joe wins the NXT Championship

When the NXT creative team began teasing Samoa Joe vs. Karrion Kross, you could argue that using Joe’s equity as a notable name and former NXT Champion to boost Kross would’ve made sense.

But after his loss to Jeff Hardy and general positioning as just another guy swimming along on the main roster, Joe winning the NXT Title was the only acceptable outcome. The match itself was fine — to be fair, it had to follow four very good matches — but none of that mattered once Joe hit Kross with the rarely-used Muscle Buster to beat Kross and permanently send him to the main roster.

Joe will likely be used to eventually transfer the title over to whoever the company wants to center NXT’s next chapter around. In the meantime, he’ll make for a fun champion.

Cameron Grimes wins the Million Dollar Championship

TakeOver 36 opened proceedings with the big blowoff match between Cameron Grimes and LA Knight for the Million Dollar Championship. While the “Grimes as Knight’s butler story felt uneven at times, credit goes to the NXT writers for following through with a satisfying payoff.

Sure, the condition that Ted DiBiase would have to become Knight’s butler if Grimes lost telegraphed the finish a bit, but it clearly didn’t matter to this crowd, who adored Grimes and wanted nothing more than to see their guy put the cocky heel in his place.

dark. Next. NXT TakeOver 36: Top 3 moments from Sunday’s show

Even in NXT, it’s not always guaranteed that the babyface will pick up a needed win, so it was great to see Grimes do the deed here. Knight will be fine; a few wins and a couple of his usual quality promos will put him back on track as a top heel.