The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover 36 – 08.22.21

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover 36:  The Wrath of Nick Khan

Live from the CWC

Your hosts are Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett & Beth Phoenix

Million Dollar Championship:  LA Knight v. Cameron Grimes

It’s Knight’s belt vs. Ted Dibiase’s services as butler, and Cameron disposes of his butler outfit on the way to the ring, debuting a new Dibiase-inspired outfit.  Also, the facts graphic for Grimes reveal that his net worth is $50 million from “stocks and crypto currency”.  Although that’s just the worked number for entertainment purposes and the real one is probably closer to $40 million.  Also the crowd really hates Los Angeles for some reason.  Grimes throws chops right away and boots Knight down, still fired up from his promo on Tuesday.  Grimes goes for the Million Dollar Dream right away and Knight escapes to the floor, where Cameron boots him from the apron and then sends Knight into the plexi.  He puts LA onto the stairs and Dibiase whips Cameron into LA with a dropkick to send him flying, but Knight runs Grimes into the railing.  Back in, Grimes goes up, but Knight splits the uprights, as the kids say, and Cameron lands on the floor for a beating from Knight.  Back in, Knight slugs away on the mat, but Grimes get a crossbody for two.  Grimes blocks a neckbreaker in the corner, but tries a rana and gets powerbombed for two.  Knight goes to a chinlock and Grimes fights out of that, but Knight puts him down with a powerslam and stops to trashtalk Ted Dibiase.  I feel like that’s the last guy you want to start a war of words with.  Knight tries a springboard moonsault and misses, and Grimes makes the comeback with a running boot in the corner to set up another try at the Dream.  Knight fights him off, so Grimes hits a german suplex and rana for two.  Knight tries to escape the ring and Grimes pulls him back in to the apron, where Knight gets an awkward trip on Grimes and he lands facefirst on the bottom rope.  Grimes fights back again, but Knight bulldogs him and unleashes a Burning Hammer for two.  I really feel like that move shouldn’t be used as a mid-match two count.  Knight tosses him, but Grimes skins the cat (or pays someone to skin it for him) and hits his wacky bodypress for two.  Grimes comes back with kicks in the corner, but Knight hangs onto the ropes and reverses himself to put Grimes on the top.  Grimes fights him off, so Knight pops up with a german suplex off the top and that gets two.  Did Beth actually say “It’s like he was taking a moonsault bump off the top rope”?  Knight tries the stunner, but Grimes reverses to the Million Dollar Dream and Knight does the Bret Hart reversal for two.  Grimes hangs on, however, and rolls back into the move again, so Knight runs him into the turnbuckles this time to break.  Knight has finally had enough and retrieves the belt to finish things off, but Grimes kicks it out of his hands, sending him to the floor for a punch from Dibiase, who then gets Grimes to distract the ref while he puts Knight into his original Million Dollar Dream.  And then Knight staggers back in, and Grimes takes him TO THE MOON to win the Million Dollar Championship and end the feud at 16:33.  A BABYFACE WINNING?  In NXT?  A perfectly cromulent opener with a satisfying ending to the story.  ***1/2

NXT Women’s title:  Raquel Gonzalez v. Dakota Kai

This is supposed to be the payoff for a long term storyline but it feels more like a “challenger of the week” title match to write out Dakota and move Raquel onto her real next storyline.  Doesn’t help that the dynamic is all messed up, like Diesel v. Shawn Michaels from 1995, where you’re going to end with sympathy on the heel because she’s way smaller and doesn’t do anything particularly unlikeable.  Kai tries a rana and gets blocked, retreating to the floor and then coming in with a cross armbreaker attempt that Raquel powers out of.  She tries a powerbomb and Dakota throws a kick to escape and heads to the floor again.  Raquel throws her around like a red-headed stepchild and tries a press slam, but just can’t get her up in the air and drops her on the top turnbuckle instead.  Kai weighs like 50 pounds, that’s not good.  Kai makes a comeback with the running kick in the corner and sure enough the people are booing Gonzalez and cheering Kai, and that gets two.  Like, I’m assuming Gonzalez is supposed to be a babyface now, but maybe they’re both heels, It’s not really clear.  Kai throws kicks on the ropes and gets a codebreaker for two.  Gonzalez makes a comeback  and throws Kai around some more and the crowd isn’t with her, cheering on Dakota, and Raquel gets a senton for two.  Raquel tries the chokeslam, but Kai blocks, so Raquel dangerously swings her headfirst into the turnbuckles and powerbombs her for two.  Kai is clearly working this match as a babyface, taking a beating and making comebacks.  Raquel sets up another powerbomb and then alley-oops Kai into a stungun instead, and Kai bumps to the ramp.  Back in, Kai comes back with a superkick and flips into a lungblower for two.  Raquel tries another chokeslam but falls to the floor, so Kai throws her in and hits a coup de grace for two.  They fight to the top and slug it out, but Kai slips out and tries another running kick, which Raquel catches and turns into the chokeslam to retain at 12:25.  I think this was a pretty gross miscalculation of what people wanted to see and who they wanted to cheer for, but they worked hard despite some FREQUENT sloppiness that got pretty ugly.  ***1/4   And then Kay Lee Ray comes out for the next challenge afterwards.  Really what they need is someone evil and despicable to make people want to cheer Raquel if that’s the direction they want to go with her.  I don’t know who that is, to be honest, and I think they’re gonna Diesel her if they try to force the babyface turn too soon like this.

NXT UK title:  WALTER v. Ilya Dragunov

Honestly they would have been 100% better off not doing anything to build up the match on NXT because everything they did just made Ilya look like less of a threat.  I know Beth was whining about taking a red eye from Vegas to Florida for this, but poor lady ref Jessica also worked Summerslam and she’s here tonight, too!  They trade facelocks on the mat to start and WALTER pounds him with knees, but Ilya gets a running knee and actually powerslams WALTER before going for the takedown.  He actually controls WALTER with a headlock on the mat and clings onto it.  WALTER escapes and goes for the chop, but Ilya grabs the wrist and takes him down for an armbar attempt that turns into a short-arm scissors.  Well we know where this is ending up.  And indeed, WALTER powers him up and puts him on the top rope, and then finally unleashes that chop and sends Ilya flying to the floor.  Powerbomb on the apron and I’d say he’s feeling testy, and back in for the choke sleeper already.  Ilya powers out of it and makes the ropes, so WALTER suplexes him and drops him on his head.  He follows with a Boston Crab and nearly bends Dragunov in half with it, and then turns it into a crossface.  Ilya escapes that, so WALTER beats on him with forearms and then chops him into another sleeper, which Ilya blocks again.  WALTER tries a powerbomb instead, so Dragunov backdrops out and fights back with clotheslines until WALTER drops him with a uranage for two.  WALTER puts the boots to him and chops him down again, so Ilya drags himself to his feet and then WALTER boots him right in the face to put him down again.  Dragunov keeps fighting and grabs the arm again before pounding him with knees and backfists, desperately beating on him with elbows and whatever else he can do, finally putting WALTER down with a knee.  And then WALTER just swats him down and hits a lariat for two, merely annoyed despite everything Ilya is throwing at him.  Ilya fires up again and actually clotheslines WALTER down, then throws a sick chop to the back of the neck and follows with a german suplex.  Ilya deadlifts him into a slam for two and goes up with a missile dropkick, and then goes up to the other side and hits a flying senton, but he charges and walks into the sleeper, which WALTER turns into the suplex.  But before he goes down, Dragunov hits the running elbow and it’s a double down.  Another running elbow gets two and he’s running out of tricks now.  So he tries the chops again, but WALTER folds him over with a chop and that gets two.  WALTER goes to the top, but Ilya won’t stay down and brings him down with a superplex and another missile dropkick, but he can’t make the cover.  He charges and WALTER hits him with the shotgun dropkick into the corner and follows with a powerbomb for two.  Godzilla is only gonna stay down for so long, Ilya.  WALTER just SLAPS the poor kid, having taken enough of this nonsense, hits another knee and another powerbomb, and goes to the top for a flying splash that gets two.   WALTER just beats on him and tries another choke, but Ilya flips out, so WALTER boots him, but Ilya hits the senton out of the corner and drops elbows on WALTER before trying his own sleeper.  I don’t like his chances.  WALTER pulls him to the top rope and slams him off, but Ilya dives onto him again with more elbows and another sleeper.  So WALTER powers up again and slams out again, and this time Ilya hangs on, the babiest babyface who ever babyfaced.  WALTER fights out, but Ilya puts him in it on more time, and WALTER TAPS?!?  Holy shit, Ilya Dragunov actually beats him for the title at 22:05.  This was everything right that the Women’s title match did wrong, and everything right about wrestling, and as if you even need to ask what it gets.  *****

Meanwhile, Cameron Grimes is the new champion, and Ted Dibiase gives him some money to start the celebration, and of course they’re going TO THE MOON.

Meanwhile, William Regal stops by to chat with Samoa Joe, and he’s got to be unbiased, only hoping that the match entertains the fans, but he wants Joe to kick some ass.

Best of 3 falls:  Adam Cole v. Kyle O’Reilly

I’m not sure how much time is left in the show but I’ve got the over/under here at 40 minutes.  Per fall.  Not a fan of Cole’s new music, which doesn’t really mesh with his entrance shenanigans.

FIRST GEAR (It’s all right):  They slug it out right away and fight to the floor, trading kicks, but Cole tries a suplex onto the stairs and Kyle escapes.  Back in, Kyle gets a head kick for two and goes for the cross armbreaker before switching to the anklelock, but Cole kicks out of it and hits a running knee for two.  Superkick and Cole goes up for the Panama Sunrise, but Kyle blocks with a rollup to win the first fall at 3:34.

SECOND GEAR (I’ll lean right):  This fall is a street fight, and they head to the floor as Kyle dumps the Million Dollar Trashcan on Cole’s head and dropkicks it from the apron to cave it in.  Back in, Kyle goes up, but Cole boots him down and O’Reilly lands ribfirst on the apron and he’s selling internal injuries like Ken Shamrock.  Back in, Cole beats on the ribs with a chair and wedges it in the corner, as O’Reilly can’t even put his dukes without wincing in pain.  Cole tries to whip him into the chair in the corner, but Kyle slides out of the ring and accidentally clips the post on the way out, which is probably worse anyway.  Back in, Cole finds a kendo stick and beats on the ribs with that.  He teases the Last Shot, but O’Reilly covers up, so Cole hits him in the back with the cane and gets a backstabber for two.  Cole wraps him up in a familiar looking submission hold, sticking his fingers into Kyle’s mouth, perhaps trying to lock up his jaw somehow.  Cole tries to monologue, but O’Reilly fights up and slugs away, then hits a german suplex and hurts his ribs running the ropes.  But he drops Cole’s knee onto a chair and takes him down with a dragon screw onto the chair.  But then he charges and hits Chekhov’s chair in the corner, and both guys are down after a double kick.  So Adam goes the floor and retrieves a chain, but so does Kyle, so obviously we’re going to get some chain wrestling.  They slug it out and Cole gets a superkick for two.  They fight to the ramp and Kyle hits Cole with knees and runs him into the barrier, but Cole takes him down with a neckbreaker.  Back in, Cole sets up the CHAIRS OF DOOM, but O’Reilly puts him on the chair backs and goes up, only to be slammed off the top, onto the chairs, and Cole pins him to even it up at 16:58.  I fucking HATE that stupid bump.  Someone’s gonna get seriously injured and it doesn’t even look visually impressive.  Not gonna lie, I was really hoping they’d just do two straight falls and wrap it up, especially if Cole is losing.  On the bright side, I can at least finish off my Beach Boys gag.

THIRD GEAR (Hang on tight):  We’re in the cage now after Kyle took that horrifying bump on the chairs, but Cole throws off the medical personnel and powerbombs Kyle on the table before the cage can even be lowered all the way.  So Adam throws him back in while they secure the cage.  I don’t really get the point of the cage match, since there’s no outside interference to counter-act.  Mostly because everyone else has been fired.  I think a submission match would have been a better fit.  Cole tosses Kyle around the cage, but he fights back with elbows into the cage and hits the flying knee.  He goes up and misses another knee, but Cole tries the Last Shot and misses that, allowing O’Reilly to hit his own version for two.  Cole goes low and they fight up the ropes and slug it out, but Cole brings him down and hits the Panama Sunrise for two.  SHOCKER:  They’ve gone too long now and have mostly lost the crowd.  In other news, sun rises in the morning, film at 11. Next up, Cole finds a pair of handcuffs and locks Kyle to the ropes before beating on him with superkicks, but Kyle catches him with one arm in a heel hook, and Cole taps at 25:23 to end it as the crowd chants “Bullshit”.  That’s pretty harsh.  OK, seriously, why couldn’t they do that finish in the second fall?  It would have worked just as well.   Anyway, yeah, clearly they missed the peak by a LOT here and should have wrapped it up in the street fight, since the cage stip added absolutely nothing to the match.  The first fall was worthless and so was the last one, which leaves the street fight gimmick we’ve seen a million times already.  ***

Meanwhile, Ilya Dragunov is triumphant and long live the Czar.

Meanwhile, Legado del Fantasma is going to finish the job on Hit Row this Tuesday and we will learn that he who laughs last, laughs best.  That reminds me of a joke that my daughter got from TikTok:  What’s black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white and black and white?  A penguin rolling down a hill uncontrollably.  But what’s black and white and laughing?  The penguin that pushed him.

NXT title:  Karrion Kross v. Samoa Joe

Joe beats on him and immediately tries the choke, but Kross makes the ropes and escapes with the Saito suplex before clubbing him to the floor.  They fight out there and Kross runs him into the plexi, but Joe fights back and tosses him around.  Back in, Kross gets some corner clotheslines and a suplex for two, but Joe catches him with the powerslam for two.  Joe with the powerbomb into the STF, but Kross makes the ropes.  Kross comes back with a kneelift for two and pounds on Joe with elbows, which sets up a DDT for two.  Joe comes back with a belly to belly and he’s sucking wind pretty bad.  Joe fights back with the big boot and senton for two to set up the choke, but Kross rolls into his own choke and Joe sends him into the corner to break.  Kross goes up, but Joe brings him down with the muscle buster for the pin and the title at 12:25.  Joe looked REALLY bad here, completely blowing up a couple of minutes in and then sleepwalking through the match afterwards.  The crowd liked Joe but this was a huge disappointment after all the buildup.  **1/4

They weren’t gonna follow that UK title match and they probably shouldn’t have tried.  It’s still an easy thumbs up but really the UK title and Million Dollar title matches are the only things here worth going out of your way to see.  The main event in particular made Kross look like such a nothing afterthought on his way to the main roster midcard.  A definite below-average Takeover show overall, but a below average Takeover is still a pretty great wrestling show.