Ilja Dragunov NXT
Image Credit: WWE

Best NXT PPV Matches Of 2021

NXT bid farewell to their critically acclaimed TakeOver PPV series with TakeOver 36 on August 22, 2021. The developmental show rebranded its PPV structure as part of the overall revamp of the product in September.

While the changes were reflected immediately on TV tapings and house shows, the post-TakeOver era PPVs (now called premium live events) would only kick off with WarGames in December. The match quality, more or less, remained consistent for the better part of 2021.

Stars like Ilja Dragunov and Gunther exceeded expectations with top-notch performances on weekly television and PPV events. With that said, these are the best NXT PPV matches of 2021:

WWE NXT WarGames Imperium Kyle O'Reilly Von Wagner
Photo Credit: WWE

Imperium vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner (NXT Tag Team Championship Match – WarGames)

Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner earned a shot at the NXT Tag Team Champions in the lead-up to WarGames. The odd pair momentarily put their differences to focus on the bigger prize. Both teams went there and absolutely tore it down.

O’Reilly and Aichner had some brutal exchanges, and nearly killed each other on multiple occasions during the match. The three men went the extra mile to hide the flaws of Von Wagner, who tried to attack O’Reilly after the match only to get attacked himself.

Video Credit: YouTube

Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (The Great American Bash)

The feud between Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly was the highlight of WWE NXT in 2021. Cole had betrayed O’Reilly amid the latter’s title program with Finn Balor. The former best friends nearly ended their careers at WWE NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver 2021.

They ran it back at The Great American Bash. From an in-ring perspective, this was the best match of their epic trilogy. Cole did some tremendous heel work here, working on O’Reilly’s injured neck. This highly-physical back-and-forth contest ended in a strategic win for Cole.

Video Credit: YouTube

Grizzled Young Veterans vs. MSK (Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Final – NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day)

MSK had a fantastic showing in the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament. Zachary Wenz and Wes Lee made it to the final in their first attempt. Their opponents were the brilliant mat technicians in James Drake and Zack Gibson.

The two teams produced one of the greatest tag team matches in NXT TakeOver history. MSK’s breathtaking acrobatics meshed well with the sound mat work of the Grizzled Young Veterans. A guaranteed shot at the NXT Tag Team Championship made the match even more compelling.

WWE NXT WarGames 2021
Image Credit: WWE

Men’s WarGames Match (NXT WarGames)

The 2021 WarGames match was the first NXT WarGames match not to be produced under the TakeOver banner. The match-up pitted Team Black and Gold against Team NXT 2.0 to determine who’d lead NXT into the future.

Despite the convoluted build-up, the match itself was fantastic from bell to bell. The veteran combination of DIY, LA Knight and Pete Dunne tried to put away Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, and Tony D’Angelo but failed.

Ilja Dragunov NXT
Image Credit: WWE

Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER (NXT UK Championship – NXT TakeOver 36)

This match followed their five-star classic from NXT UK #116 in 2020. Dragunov had nothing to lose and everything to gain in this match. The Mad Russian had put his blood, sweat, and tears into his feud with the seemingly unstoppable WALTER.

The Ring General had held the title for the past 870 days up to that point. This was arguably the greatest match to come out of NXT in 2021, and one of the best matches from the brand to this date.

Both men displayed insane level of in-ring psychology. Dragunov did some of the greatest selling work of his career in this match. In the end, Dragunov was finally able to put away his longtime adversary and kick off the era of The Czar in historic fashion.

The match got 5.75 stars from Dave Meltzer, making it the highest-rated match in WWE history at the time of the writing.

Honorable Mentions

  • Johnny Gargano vs. KUSHIDA (NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day)
  • Adam Cole vs.  Kyle O’Reilly (TakeOver: Stand & Deliver)
  • Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly (NXT New Year’s Evil)
  • WALTER vs. Tommaso Ciampa (TakeOver: Stand & Deliver)

Also read: Best NXT PLE Matches Of 2022