Ilja Dragunov needs to be the man to challenge Gunther


Ilja Dragunov is currently wrestling in NXT and is in contention for the NXT Heavyweight title (or rather trying to be), but if you ask me, he is wasted on the NXT platform and needs to be moved to the main roster.

The NXT roster is a great one that is filled to the brim with exceptional athletes and future stars, and there are others that I feel have overstayed their welcome on that platform (through no fault of their own), like Ilja, and need desperately to be moved up.

Others, in my opinion, include Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Trick Williams, and Von Wagner. I see these men having tremendous runs on the main roster and they could seriously shake things up in a good way…they can more than present great feuds for the likes of Cody Rhodes and LA Knight. So all around, a good thing this would be.

But who could challenge Gunther, who has dominated on the main roster since his arrival? He has broken records as the Intercontinental Champion and is as dominant as they come. So who could possibly beat this icon in the making?

Well…how about the man that defeated him for the NXT UK championship in what is one of the greatest pro wrestling bouts we’ve seen in the last five years—top five if you ask this writer… and it’s certainly high up enough on that list of five by the way.

It was just recently that Ilja Dragunov spoke about this match while speaking on the Out Of Character podcast…

"“It feel like one of the greatest accomplishments to me because you are standing in the ring with one of the absolute best. Without any doubts if there’s one person who made me into this form I am today and this impression that people from the audience have about me or all the critics or whoever then it was Gunther. No one else. This made the story about me even more deep and even more connectable.”-via (Transcription)"

Dragunov, Ilya Rukober, a Russian born who moved to Germany as a young boy of five with his mother, started his life as a professional wrestler in 2012 and was trained in Germany, even having his debit in that country with the wXw promotion over there, which is held in high regard. He was trained at the GWF.

He would remain with the aforementioned wXw until the day he was signed with WWE, with stops in Progress Wrestling as well, where he would join the likes of Pete Dunne and Timothy Thatcher among others.

His signing with WWE would come in 2019 and off to the races he was. Charismatic, athletic, a brutal style for a 5’10 220 pound frame…menacing and full of conviction. The man cuts a great promo and when he has a wrestling match he looks as though he’s being put through an MMA fight and not a scripted match.

He has the chops and enough to deliver every time out, and his plethora of matches in NXT UK with Gunther (Walter at the time) prove just that. So my question is: What are they waiting for to get these two back together? WrestleMania perhaps? That would be tremendous if Gunther can hang on to the IC title that long.

It makes more than the sense that he will, setting the stage for these two to go at it in a battle reminiscent of their match at NXT TakeOver 36 in which Ilja Dragunov defeated the seemingly omnipotent Walter (Gunther), and the masterpiece they put forth on the pro wrestling canvas was one for the ages, as stated.

And of course, who can forget the first masterpiece they put on, which came months earlier and in front of no audience? That was the precursor to what went down in the second match. Who knows what a third major bout would bring? I can only imagine yet another masterpiece taking place.

Having Ilja Dragunov premiere on the main roster would be the perfect next step for this talented 29-year-old, but how does it all go down??

Well, I say Gunther defeats anyone, including Chad Gable in a final match between the two. They’ve been putting great matches forward, but I say Gunther should retain, setting the momentum in leading people to believe he’s unbeatable…they even have a moment in the ring with him and Imperium, they stated, or rather questioning, “who’s left?”

Very much a la Roman Reigns, I know…but it would be at that point that Dragunov’s music should hit…much to the shock of Imperium and maybe a portion of the audience.

I know it’s been done before, but it works and WWE isn’t afraid of giving us the same old routines over and over again anyway, so why not one more for good measure?

Next. 5 of the best AEW matches since the company’s start. dark

Besides, at least here, they’ll give us one heck of a match and who wouldn’t want that? This needs to happen sooner rather than later if you ask me, but if they want to wait for Mania, I guess that would be okay, too. Let’s wait and see, dear readers, but fingers crossed.