WWE NXT Review (August 17, 2021)

Welcome to the WWE NXT review. It’s the last NXT episode before Sunday’s NXT Takeover 36 event on Peacock/WWE Network. I’m looking forward to that event on Sunday. After that, maybe the NXT brand will be undergoing changes. There are a lot of rumors out there, so we’ll see what happens after Takeover takes place.

This episode is taking place at the Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Check out my WWE NXT review archive here. Let’s get to it.

The opening video package hyped up the matches coming up at NXT Takeover this Sunday while also plugging some of the things on this week’s show like Samoa Joe going face to face with Karrion Kross and MSK defending the NXT Tag Team Title against Imperium.

The Capitol Wrestling Center was shown with fans in attendance behind the barricades.

The show began with Diamond Mine in the ring with Malcolm Bivens doing a promo. Bivens said that Kushida was a liar, but he gets it because he wouldn’t want to defend the NXT Cruiserweight Title against Roderick Strong. Bivens wants a match tonight, so whatever Strong wants, he gets.

Ilja Dragunov made his entrance to answer the open challenge. That’s a good choice. The announce team of Vic Joseph, Wade Barrett and Beth Phoenix were on hand to call the action.

Analysis: The original match was going to be Kushida defending the NXT Cruiserweight Title against Roderick Strong. However, Kushida is dealing with an injury and wasn’t cleared to compete, so NXT announced earlier in the day (as you can see by that William Regal tweet above) that the match was off. Also worth noting the Diamond Mine group is without Tyler Rust now since WWE released him.

Roderick Strong (w/Malcolm Bivens & Hachiman) vs. Ilja Dragunov

They did some mat wrestling to start with Strong getting a trip into an armbar. They got into a chop fest with some hard shots from both guys and then Strong sent Dragunov throat first into the middle rope. Strong with knees to the body, then Dragunov with another hard chop and a senton splash for two. Strong with a forearm to the jaw, then more chops and Dragunov with a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Dragunov with a suplex. Dragunov up top, Strong charged, so Dragunov jumped over him and hit a jumping knee to the face. Strong with forearms, then Dragunov with a chop to the leg and a knee lift. Strong sent Dragunov into the ropes leading to a dropkick to the floor. Hachiman got in Dragunov’s face, so Strong sent him into the steel steps. Strong with a slam that sent Dragunov back first into the ring apron. That led to a picture in picture break.


Strong was in control with a suplex. Strong went for a submission, Dragunov fought out of it and Dragunov rocked Strong with a forearm to the face. Dragunov followed up with two German Suplexes and Strong came back with forearms/elbows to the face. Dragunov came back with an enziguri kick followed by another bridging suplex. Dragunov was bleeding a lot on his face. I don’t know when he got cut, but it was before the German Suplex sequence I think. Dragunov charged, Strong with a knee and Dragunov hit a Torpedo Moscow forearm for the pinfall win. It went 12 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Ilja Dragunov

Analysis: ***1/4 A hard-hitting match as expected from two wrestlers like that. I wonder if the finish was called for early because of how much Dragunov was bleeding from the nose because it was a lot of blood and we know WWE doesn’t like having blood during matches. Anyway, Strong put up a good fight, but it made sense for Dragunov to get the win since he’s in the NXT UK Title match at Takeover this weekend while Strong is not booked for a match at Takeover. It’s also a much-needed win for Dragunov after he lost to Pete Dunne last week due to a WALTER distraction.

After the match, they cleaned off Dragunov’s face as best as they could. It likely took place while they were showing replays. Dragunov called out WALTER to come out here right now. No sign of WALTER.

Samoa Joe was shown arriving at the building.

There’s a Prime Target video about Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly up next.


Prime Target: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly

The video showed highlights of O’Reilly beating Cole at Takeover and then Cole beat Kyle at Great American Bash, so it’s 1-1 between them. At Takeover 36 it’s 2/3 Falls so it’s a regular wrestling match, a Street Fight and a Steel Cage Match.

“The Undisputed Finale” phrase was used repeatedly. Kyle said that no matter what happens, he’ll walk away with closure. Cole talked about how Kyle is kidding himself for thinking he was a big part of the Undisputed Era and Cole said without him, Kyle is nothing. Cole said that Kyle never would have won a championship without him and mentioned people chanting “undisputed” because of Cole. Cole said he’s a once-in-a-lifetime superstar. Kyle told Cole he’s one of the most dangerous men he’s ever been in the ring with. Cole said he’ll end Kyle at Takeover 36 and that is undisputed. More clips were shown of their history together.

Analysis: The Prime Target videos are awesome in terms of getting us ready for big matches and this was no different. Their previous two matches were outstanding and I think this third match might top those matches. I’m very excited about it. It’s also a big match because there have been reports of Cole’s WWE contract expiring after Takeover on Sunday and we don’t know where he’ll end up next whether that’s on Raw/Smackdown or in another wrestling company. I’m definitely interested to see how this is booked and Cole’s future as well.

Let’s Hear from Hit Row

The Hit Row group of Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Top Dolla, Ashante Thee Adonis and B-Fab were in the ring for a promo. They spoke briefly with Swerve talking about how it became personal after Santos Escobar took his gold tooth. Santos was on the video screen and said that when Swerve burned his mask, he took it personal, but he realizes this was wrong to do. Escobar invited Swerve to come outside in the parking lot by himself. Swerve went out to the parking lot, he approached Santos and then the Legado guys Wilde & Mendoza were there to attack. Escobar went after more of Swerve’s teeth, but Top Dolla and Adonis got out there to save Swerve. B-Fab hit the Legado guys with a crowbar. Adonis tossed Mendoza over a car hood. Swerve reached into Escobar’s jacket and pulled the gold tooth out and then tossed Escobar into a garage door.

Analysis: A victory for Hit Row in that brawl. Good action here. It’s building to an obvious Swerve vs. Escobar match and we found out later that they are doing a six-man tag team match next week.

There was a digital exclusive video from earlier in the day with LA Knight paying Josh Briggs $10,000 to beat up Cameron Grimes tonight. That match is coming up after a break.


There was a promo from Imperium’s WALTER, Aichner and Barthel. WALTER said tonight is about them. Barthel and Aichner talked trash about MSK ahead of their title match later in the show.

The WWE Hall of Famer Ted Dibiase joined commentary for this match.

Cameron Grimes made his entrance with Million Dollar Champion LA Knight. Grimes was wearing his butler outfit, so he was going to wrestle in that. Grimes wanted a seat at ringside as well.

Cameron Grimes vs. Josh Briggs

Grimes with an armbar, but then Briggs came back with a boot to the face. Briggs whipped Grimes into the turnbuckle. Dibiase and Knight bet eachother on this match with Dibiase betting on Grimes. Briggs with a body slam and a splash for two. Grimes with a boot to the face, Briggs caught Grimes off the turnbuckle and then Grimes delivered punches. Grimes with two forearms to rock Briggs and Grimes ran the ropes leading to the cross body block flipping over for a slam. Grimes delivered a Cave In stomp to the chest for the pinfall win after three minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Cameron Grimes

Analysis: *1/4 An easy win for Grimes. Briggs got in some basic big man offense, but the win for Grimes was never in doubt. Grimes is fun to watch with some unique moves and a strong finisher.

Post match, Knight punched Dibiase for laughing at him and then Knight hit a neckbreaker driver on Grimes on the floor. Knight’s music played to end it.

Analysis: I think Grimes has to beat Knight at Takeover to end this butler gimmick and put the Million Dollar Title on Grimes as a babyface.

Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were shown backstage. Indi Hartwell showed up saying she has seen a lot of Dexter Lumis saying they made out in a hot air balloon. Indi said that they might get matching tattoos. Johnny said that the true test of the team is how they work together in the ring. Dexter showed up and Indi left with him for a tag team match.

Analysis: Congrats to Johnny and Candice on their baby announcement. Candice is pregnant, so she’ll be out of the ring until the baby’s born and then whenever she wants to come back. They’re a good couple. I’m happy for them.


Io Shirai and Zoey Stark were interviewed. They are the NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions. Stark talked about their friendship, Shirai said she didn’t like her and it’s about defending these titles. Stark said that they have work to do, but they are making progress.

Robert Stone & Jessi Kamea (w/Franky Monet) vs. Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell

Monet is the best worker on her team and not wrestling in this match. Hartwell is wearing gloves like Lumis wears. The fans chanted “Happy Birthday for Indi. Stone did some comedy routine trying to grab the leg of Lumis, but that led to Lumis scaring him and Stone left the ring. Stone went back in with Lumis getting an uppercut punch. Hartwell stomped on Kamea on the other side of the ring. Kamea tossed Hartwell out of the ring. Lumis shoved Stone down, Monet grabbed Stone’s foot and Lumis pulled her into the ring. The referee ejected Franky from ringside. That makes me sad.


Kamea was in control of Hartwell with an armbar followed by a hair pull takedown. Kamea went for a move off the ropes, Hartwell moved and Lumis tagged in against Stone. Lumis with punches, a clothesline and a bulldog. Lumis with a spinebuster for two as Kamea made the save and hit Stone by accident. Hartwell tagged in with a clothesline and a spinebuster for two as Stone made the save. Kamea with a body slam on Hartwell. Kamea applied a single-leg crab submission with Hartwell getting to the bottom rope. Kamea kicked Lumis off the apron. Stone tried a dive, Lumis wasn’t there and Stone hit the floor. Beth was laughing about it. That was funny. Hartwell sent Kamea into the barricade. Hartwell hit a uranage slam followed by The Silence submission for the tapout win after 11 minutes.

Winner by submission: Dexter Lumis & Indi Hartwell

Analysis: ** It was a dominant win by Lumis and Hartwell. Lots of comedy spots here. Not much offense for the losers in the match since Stone is a joke manager now while Kamea did get some offense, but not a lot. No doubt about the winners here.

After the match, Indi Hartwell left the ring and got some advice from Beth at ringside. Indi went into the ring, got down on one knee and proposed to Lumis. Indi put a ring on Dexter’s left ring finger that had an eyeball on it. Indi and Dexter kissed. Beth was excited about In-Dex being engaged and they had a wedding to plan. Barrett was disgusted by it. That was funny.

Analysis: They move fast! Indi proposing to Dexter is weird, but it fits their storyline.

Karrion Kross, the NXT Champion, was shown arriving at the arena.

Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai interviews are up next.


There was a backstage scene with Roderick Strong about to be interviewed by Mckenzie Mitchell, but Malcolm Bivens said that

Interview with Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai

Dakota has pink hair now. Raquel said that she knew Dakota could turn on her since she did it to Tegan Nox in the past. Raquel said that she’s been busy dominating this division and she is no longer a star in the making, she’s a superstar. Raquel said Dakota won’t be the one to take the title off her. Dakota said that she kicked Raquel’s head off before she could put her hands up. Dakota said that Raquel wanted to be a somebody and Dakota claimed she made her a somebody. Raquel said that there is nobody on this entire planet like her. Raquel said that Dakota is a great competitor, but she uses people and gets jealous when they become bigger stars than her. Dakota told her to write whatever narrative she wants and call her whatever she wants. Dakota said in five days she will be NXT Women’s Champion and Raquel said she is looking forward to the challenge…sidekick. Dakota didn’t like that. Raquel said she’ll see her at Takeover.

Analysis: This was okay. They’re both confident going into the Women’s Title match on Sunday. The video package last week was better than this in terms of giving us Dakota’s perspective. A title change is possible at Takeover.

NXT Breakout Tournament Semifinals: Carmelo Hayes vs. Duke Hudson

Hudson is the big guy that’s 6’5” and Hayes is the shorter guy that’s a great athlete. Hayes went for a takedown, Hudson got out of it and mocked Hayes for being shorter. Hudson with a shoulder tackle, then a kick to the back of the leg and Hudson pulled down Hayes by the head. Hudson with a shoulder tackle and then Hayes came back with a springboard clothesline for a two count. Hayes tried a takedown, but Hudson picked him up and tossed him over the top to the floor. That led to a break.


Hudson was in control with a corner whip, then Hayes with a jawbreaker and an enziguri kick to the head. Hudson lifted Hayes, then a knee and a clothesline. Hudson with a suplex across the ring. Hayes sent Hudson out of the ring and Hayes hit a scissors kick while Hudson was on the apron. Hayes with kicks to the head and Hayes jumped over the top with a DDT on Hudson on the apron! Ouch. That was a rough landing for Hudson who bumped to the floor. They were back in the ring, Hayes bounced off the ropes, flipped around the entire body and hit a spinning slam face first into the mat. Hays went up top, Hudson went after him and Hayes got a cradle for two. Hayes with a double knee Lung Blower to the face and Hayes jumped off the top with a leg drop to the back of the neck for the pinfall win after ten minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Carmelo Hayes

Analysis: **1/2 That was pretty good with Hayes showing off his athleticism while hitting some impressive moves throughout the match. I thought Hudson might win because he’s the bigger guy, but Hayes is the better wrestler so I’m glad he won. People are freaking out about NXT not pushing the smaller guys moving forward, yet they just had the smaller guy win here. Hayes is an impressive talent.

The win by Hayes means he’ll face the big man Odyssey Jones in the finals.

Carmelo Hayes was interviewed by Samantha Irvin. Hayes said that two weeks ago he said he would make the finals and he kept his word. Hayes talked about beating bigger guys while telling Odyssey Jones that he is the final boss in a video game. Odyssey Jones showed up on the stage with Hayes. Jones said after he wins this breakout tournament next week, the whole NXT Universe will sound the alarm. That match is next week.

Analysis: I’m picking Odyssey Jones since he’s the bigger guy. Hayes is a great, more polished wrestler, but I think Jones is going to win.

There was a video featuring Jacy Jayne saying she will break free. She’s part of that group with Mandy Rose most likely since they showed roses on a table.


There was a scene in the trainer’s room with Ted Dibiase apologizing to Cameron Grimes for putting him in this position. Grimes said that he got himself in this mess because he made a lot of money, lost his mind and Ted gave him the opportunity to become the Million Dollar Champion. Grimes said he dropped the ball, but when he stopped believing in himself, Ted believed in him. Grimes fired up saying he’s a champion and together they will be the Million Dollar Champion going…to the moon. Dibiase did his maniacal laugh: “That’s my Cameron!”

Analysis: That was fun. Grimes is one of my favorites in NXT and I love how much personality he shows in his promos. This storyline has been good over the last few months.

MSK made their entrance as the NXT Tag Team Champions. Imperium entered as the opponents. This was the last match of the show although there’s a Kross/Joe segment still to come.

Analysis: I really like both teams, but the NXT creative team has done a poor job of booking the men’s tag team division of late with a lack of interesting stories. MSK has had nothing to do for a while. I hope things improve because there are some good teams in NXT, but not necessarily a lot of depth. Since teams like Breezango, Ever-Rise and Killian Dain released (ending his team with Drake Maverick), the NXT tag team division has gotten thinner.

NXT Tag Team Championships: MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter) vs. Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner)

Lee used his speed to avoid the power of Aichner as Lee got a crucifix pin for a two count. Carter tagged in with a bronco buster on Aichner. Barthel tagged in with an armdrag into an armbar. Carter broke free, ran the ropes and Barthel hit a running uppercut followed by a kick to the back. Carter jumped off the middle rope, Barthel punched him in the ribs and hit a double underhook suplex across the ring. Aichner went for a slam, Carter broke free and Lee tagged in leading to some double-team kicks from MSK. MSK did a double team back body drop on Barthel over the top to the floor. MSK went for suicide dives, but Imperium caught them and hit body slams on the floor. That led to a picture in picture break.


The heels were in control with Aichner hitting a huge clothesline for a two count with Barrett talking about the sick landing for Lee since he did a flip bump onto his neck. Barthel was back in, he ducked an enziguri kick and Barthel applied an Ankle Lock submission. Lee slipped out of that, Barthel knocked Carter off the apron and Aichner was back in as he tossed Lee into the turnbuckle with Lee doing a flip bump. The referee checked on Lee, who was selling it like he was knocked out, but he said he was okay. Barthel and Aichner worked together for a double team running kick on Lee. WALTER made his way down to the ring as Lee broke free and brought in Carter. Carter with forearms, a jumping kick to the back of Aichner and a running kick. Lee was back in for the double-team moonsault move for a two count with Barthel making the save. WALTER distracted the referee, so Imperium got in a double-team attack on Lee. That led to Ilja Dragunov going to ringside to fight with WALTER, but WALTER delivered a body slam on the ramp. Lee with a hurricanrana on Aichner, Carter help up Aichner and Lee jumped off the middle rope with a Blockbuster/Spinebuster combo for the pinfall win after about 12 minutes.

Winners by pinfall: MSK (Wes Lee & Nash Carter)

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good tag team match as usual from two talented teams. There wasn’t much of a story going into the match, but they got a lot of time and has the kind of competitive match you want to see in a title match. Lee is so great at selling while Imperium’s offense looks devastating, so their styles work well together. The ending was chaotic, but in a fun way and I think it was booked well in terms of showing how resilient MSK was. I liked the double-team finisher a lot.

Post match, the NXT UK Champion WALTER beat up Dragunov with punches and kicks. WALTER with a hard chop on Lee. WALTER with a Powerbomb on Carter on the apron. Dragunov with a clothesline on WALTER. That led to WALTER going back in the ring, so Dragunov had to deal with the three Imperium guys and WALTER chopped Dragunov to knock him down in the ring. WALTER picked up Dragunov and choked him out in a sleeper. WALTER stood tall with his Imperium buddies to end it.

Analysis: It was an effective way to build up the WALTER/Dragunov story going into Takeover. Last week, Dragunov had the advantage and this week it was WALTER standing tall. I think a title change at Takeover is possible with Dragunov beating WALTER. I’ll have a preview up on TJRWrestling soon.

Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross were shown on separate screens walking down a hallway for their segment up next.


Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland did a promo in a darkened area. They ripped on Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher challenging them. Dunne told Ridge it’s been ten months of waiting and it’s time to make a name for himself. Ridge told Thatcher he’ll see him next week.

The announcers plugged the NXT Takeover 36 event this Sunday on Peacock/WWE Network. Here’s the match order they used:

Million Dollar Championship: LA Knight (c) vs. Cameron Grimes – If Knight wins then Ted Dibiase becomes Knight’s butler.

NXT UK Championship: WALTER (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov

NXT Women’s Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs. Dakota Kai

The Undisputed Finale: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (2/3 Falls Match: 1. Regular Match, 2. Street Fight, 3. Steel Cage Match)

NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (c) vs. Samoa Joe

I will have a live review of NXT Takeover 36 on TJRWrestling on Sunday night.

Face to Face: Samoa Joe and Karrion Kross

Samoa Joe made his entrance for the face-to-face confrontation. If Samoa Joe beats Karrion Kross at Takeover 36 then he’ll become the first-ever three-time NXT Champion. The fans chanted “Joe” repeatedly the veteran big man.

Joe spoke about how there was venom coming from his lips when he talks about Karrion Kross. Joe said that there’s one more opportunity for him to eviscerate Kross in front of the world. Joe said he is simply a man who is here to hurt Kross, not hurt Karrion’s feelings. The fans chanted “Joe is gonna kill you” at that point. Joe told Kross to stroll his ass down there.

Karrion Kross, the NXT Champion, made his entrance with title in hand. Kross said this isn’t about Joe or even Kross himself. Kross said that this is about the future of this brand. Kross doubted that Joe can become NXT Champion after taking a year off. Fans chanted “Where is Scarlett?” during the promo. Kross called for NXT security to go down to the ring for protection for Joe. Five guys (NXT trainees) walked out in security shirts.

Kross got on the apron to tell Joe that he’s going to drop him and Kross said he’ll drop him real fast. Joe with a headbutt. Joe tossed Kross into some security guys and then Joe knocked Kross out of the ring. Joe with a suicide dive forearm on Kross! Joe whipped Kross into the barricade. There were referees out there along with off joining security and Kross managed to whip Joe into the steel steps. Joe came back by whipping Kross face first into a barricade at ringside. They went brawling into a back part of the arena with other NXT wrestlers and officials going out to try to break it up. Kross tackled Joe through another security barrier. The fans were going crazy chanting “NXT” while Joe and Kross were both out on the floor. The show ended there.

Analysis: This was great! It was probably the best part of the show and it only lasted five minutes, but that’s all that it needed to be. This was an intense brawl between two wrestlers that don’t like eachother at all and it showed in the fight that they had out there. I missed Joe being in action and am so glad he’s back. Joe has been so good for so long. Kross is very useful in segments like this too because there’s a lot of believability in everything that he does. The final spot where they went crashing through the barricade while taking out other guys was a smart way to end it because it looked brutal. Do those barricades hurt a lot? Probably not, but they sound like they and visually it looks painful, so I think it’s a clever spot to do. I enjoyed this as an ending going into Takeover.


Three Stars of the Show

  1. Samoa Joe/Karrion Kross
  2. MSK
  3. Ilja Dragunov/Roderick Strong


The Scoreboard

This week: 7.25 out of 10

Last week: 7.25

2021 Average: 7.40


Final Thoughts

It was a solid show all around. There was a bit of silliness with Indi Hartwell proposing to Dexter Lumis, but that’s the kind of thing some fans will love, so that’s okay. The opening match and Tag Team Title matches were the best of the night. The best segment overall was Joe and Kross brawling in the main event spot.

Next week is rumored to be a time where NXT will do some changes, but I don’t know about that. Find out when the show airs, I guess. Bring on Takeover on Sunday.

Here’s the lineup for NXT Takeover 36 on Sunday, August 22.

NXT Championship: Karrion Kross (c) vs. Samoa Joe

The Undisputed Finale: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (2/3 Falls Match: 1. Regular Match, 2. Street Fight, 3. Steel Cage Match)

NXT Women’s Championship: Raquel Gonzalez (c) vs. Dakota Kai

NXT UK Championship: WALTER (c) vs. Ilja Dragunov

Million Dollar Championship: LA Knight (c) vs. Cameron Grimes – If Knight wins then Ted Dibiase becomes Knight’s butler.

You can watch NXT Takeover 36 at 8 ET/5 PT on Sunday, Aug. 22, streaming exclusively on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.


Thanks for reading. Go Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Rams. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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