Ilja Dragunov Relinquishes NXT UK Championship

Ilja Dragunov poses with the NXT UK Championship

Ilja Dragunov has been forced to relinquish his NXT United Kingdom Championship.

Back at NXT TakeOver: 36 Ilja Dragunov became the first man to defeat WALTER, now known as Gunther, in a WWE ring. In the process the Russian star won the NXT United Kingdom Championship.

The pair first met for the title back in October 2020 in a match that received praise across the board. The hard-hitting, brutal encounter was heralded as an instant classic and awarded a five star rating by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.

Prior to being defeated, WALTER had held the NXT United Kingdom Championship for 871 days.

Since that famous win, Dragunov has defended the title on six occasions, most recently against Jordan Devlin in a Loser Leaves NXT UK match broadcast in May. Devlin has since been repackaged as JD McDonagh and moved to NXT. The star re-debuted with the brand at the Great American Bash where he attacked NXT Champion Bron Breakker.

At the most recent round of NXT UK tapings, Dragunov has been forced to relinquish his prized title, ending his reign at 318 days. Although details on the situation remain thin on the ground, the star appeared in a protective boot when he addressed the crowd. The exact nature of the injury remains unclear.

Also at the taping, an eight-man tournament was announced, and got underway to crown a new champion. In the first round of matches Tyler Bate, Joe Coffey, Trent Seven and Oliver Carter advanced to the semi-finals.

Ilja Dragunov signed with WWE in February 2019, making his television debut three months later.