NXT UK Superstar Ilja Dragunov has opened up about his history and intense rivalry with current NXT United Kingdom Champion WALTER.
Speaking with Inside the Ropes, Dragunov reflected on their past working together on the independent circuit prior to reigniting their feud in WWE. According to him, WALTER has been instrumental in helping him to grow as a pro wrestler.
“I think he may have made a lot of my life, like, as a wrestler. He made me completely because every time we fought, it was like you had to really work for something, so much fight for something, I think it’s like WALTER and I fighting was meant to be, it’s like we need to fight each other,” Dragunov explained.
It was a beneficial competitive working relationship that both Superstars recognized almost as soon as they began working together. “[…] we recognised it very early, back in 2017, there was electricity when we both stepped into the ring. We had no choice but to just go at it.”
Dragunov believes their in-ring chemistry is “very unique” and believes performers should lean into the energy and intensity between them if it’s there. He noted how WALTER’s intensity is different from his own but stressed that these differences ultimately lead to key similarities:
“[…] we just hit each other like a lightning strike. And that’s something that people feel when we face each other.”
Ilja Dragunov and WALTER faced off during last week’s episode of NXT UK in a hard-hitting affair. Despite his best efforts, Dragunov would ultimately succumb to The Ring General.