Ilja Dragunov Stuns WALTER To Win NXT United Kingdom Championship

Ilja Dragunov

Ilja Dragunov has handed WALTER his first ever singles defeat in NXT to claim to the NXT United Kingdom Championship.

The Russian Superstar had previously taken WALTER to the limit in October 2020 in a match which received a a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer.

However, at NXT TakeOver: 36 Dragunov went one further, becoming the first man to defeat the Austrian giant in singles action since 2019. WALTER had reigned over NXT UK for a staggering 871 days prior to his shocking loss.

In a brutal contest, the momentum swung back and forth with neither man willing to take a backward step.

The chops and strikes reigned down from both Superstars, and they were quickly sporting the scars of their own private war. For large periods, the match could have been fought in the proverbial phonebooth. The two men standing toe-to-toe trading chops, punches and everything in between.

If Dragunov took WALTER to the limit in October, he took him beyond it here. The Russian hit Torpedo Moscow twice to no avail before connecting with a stunning Superplex.

With the entire crowd on their feet the match finally came to it’s shockingly brutal conclusion. Dragunov, firing in a series of elbow and forearm strikes before locking in a Sleeper hold. WALTER climbed the ropes and fell backwards in an effort to break the hold, but the challenger was not to be denied. Dragunov laid in more stiff strikes before locking in the Sleeper once more forcing WALTER to submit.

The highly anticipated bout had in fact been postponed twice before, most recently on an edition of NXT UK.

Ahead of the clash, Ilja Dragunov had promised Inside The Ropesβ€˜ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy that the match would “turn heads.” Following the hard-hitting encounter, those words now feel more prophetic than ever.

It is unclear where WALTER goes after this defeat, although speculation persists linking him with a permanent move to the United States. Before stepping into the ring at TakeOver, WALTER exclusively told Inside The Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh that a move across the Atlantic was an “intriguing” possibility.