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WWE NXT TakeOver 36 preview: What we’ve been through

NXT returns on Sun., Aug. 21 with their TakeOver 36 event, streaming on Peacock.

The brand’s 36th TakeOver will see four belts up for grabs - and one Saga come to an end!

You can find our predictions for TakeOver 36 here. Now let’s get you up to speed on the five matches on tap for tonight, and our big question for each one.

A word about those questions. For NXT events, they’re always some flavor of “what’s next for this or that wrestler?” It’s hard not to focus on that under normal circumstances. It’s downright impossible given all the news about the black-and-gold brand since 13 talents were released on Aug. 6.

We’ll have a few more weeks of TV in the current Capitol Wrestling Center set-up, and it’ll take more time for the roster to evolve into Vince McMahon’s fantasy camp. But TakeOver 36 feels like the last hurrah for the version of NXT we’ve become accustomed to over the past five or so years.

Hopefully it’s one hell of a going away party.

Karrion Kross (c) vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT championship

In a nutshell

In kayfabe, Joe was brought in to be an enforcer for General Manager William Regal. But he failed to keep the champ in line, and when Kross attacked Regal, the veteran had seen enough. He cut a deal with his boss to the return to the ring to deal with the Tick Tock Man. Tensions have risen despite the GM’s efforts to keep things under control, and the Samoan Submission Machine choking out the security detail assigned to keep him from getting physical with Kross so he could go after the champ gives you a pretty good indication of just how tense.

The big question

A Joe loss would probably be the most unexpected thing that could happen tonight, so... how will Kross fare on Raw? He’s already there, and after a bumpy start seems to have righted himself. The rumored arrival of Scarlett should help, but otherwise it seems he still probably has an uphill battle to avoid being misunderstood and misused by McMahon & team.

Dakota Kai vs. Raquel González (c) for the NXT Women’s title

In a nutshell

After watching González run through the women’s division since winning the belt at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, Kai decided it was her turn. She made that clear by turning on her tag partner. They’ve turned up the heat from there, with Dakota taking credit for Big Mami Cool’s success, and Raquel vowing to prove the Captain of Team Kick wrong by making her her latest victim. But this is a simple story, and all the better for it.

The big question

How does WWE grade González’s performance as champ? A lot of fans are mixed to negative on it, but none of us have the pencil. It’s interesting that Kai is the one who’s been working Main Event and Raw dark matches. Usually it’s the person with the title getting the looks. Staying the course here probably would indicate they think Raquel needs more seasoning.

WALTER (c) & Ilja Dragunov for the NXT United Kingdom championship

In a nutshell

These two delivered a violent classic late last year, and NXT UK has been building to the rematch ever since. WALTER’s taken his record-setting reign past 800 days with wins over the likes of Rampage Brown and A-Kid, while Dragunov claims The Ring General broke something in him. He’s not only been winning, he’s been tearing his opponents apart.

Originally scheduled for last month, this was moved to TakeOver after WWE announced WALTER injured his hand during a backstage scuffle with The Mad Russian. During the build-up in the States, Ilja’s continued to show no regard for anything but winning the belt. Both men have had a moment to stand over the other, as Dragunov’s singles matches and tag bouts featuring WALTER’s Imperium mates have led to moments between the two rivals.

The big question

Will WALTER’s reign ever end? If so, Ilja the man to end it. It would be surprising to see the big Austrian’s time with the straps stretch into the thousands of days, but I wouldn’t be shocked by it.

Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a 2-out-of-3 falls match

In a nutshell

NXT isn’t even pretending this isn’t the spiritual successor to the Tommaso Ciampa/Johnny Gargano feud from the brand’s heyday, going so far to having Cole refer to it as a “saga”. Born out of jealousy that O’Reilly was getting singles opportunities he thought should be his, and signs that Kool Kyle was no longer following the Undisputed ERA blueprint, the Panama City Playboy turned on KOR earlier this year. They’ve traded wins since, but the animosity’s never gone away. So Mr. Regal booked them in a two-out-of-three falls match, with the if-necessary third fall taking place in a steel cage.

The big question

We don’t know where he’ll be, but it would pretty amazing if Cole is still on NXT beyond this. He reportedly only extended his contract to finish this story, and is being courted by the main roster and AEW. So the real question is where does O’Reilly fit in the new NXT?

No question he’s a great wrestler who would be an asset in helping new talent develop. Is he also someone they’re comfortable centering the show on every Tuesday? If so, this could be the springboard to an NXT title feud. If not, he could join his reDRagon partner in free agency.

Cameron Grimes vs. L.A. Knight (c) for Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar championship

In a nutshell

Knight’s had Grimes’ number, resulting in not only the right to carry DiBiase’s belt around, but Cameron’s services as his butler. It’s given us some comedy skits of varying quality, and convinced The Million Dollar Man that he’s seen enough. When LA’s condition for giving Grimey another chance to take the championship from him was that Ted would become Knight’s butler, DiBiase agreed.

The big question

They know they’ve stretched this out as long as they possibly can, right? I like all three men involved, and have chuckled at some of the crotch shots and other rasslin’ humor they’ve given us. But it’s time to move on.

Join us in our live blog and we’ll see if we get any answers to our big questions - and how blown away we are by the show. What questions do you have? What match do you think will impress the most?

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