In a recent turn of events that has the wrestling community buzzing, Ilja Dragunov, the newly-crowned NXT Champion, candidly discussed the monumental challenge of taking on WWE's Intercontinental Champion, GUNTHER. In an exclusive interview with Haus of Wrestling, Dragunov opened up about the complexities of facing someone of GUNTHER's caliber.
Before making waves on the main WWE roster, GUNTHER had an illustrious stint in NXT UK, where he held the United Kingdom Championship for a staggering 870 days. During this tenure, he fended off formidable challengers such as Tyler Bate, Rampage Brown, and Tommaso Ciampa.
Yet, it was Dragunov who ultimately ended GUNTHER's reign in what many regard as a seismic shift in the NXT UK landscape.
Rising Stars Clash
Fast forward to September 2023, Dragunov clinched his first NXT Championship by defeating Carmello Hayes at the No Mercy event.
Meanwhile, GUNTHER continues to redefine the Intercontinental Championship, smashing previous records with an ongoing reign that recently surpassed 500 days. When asked whether he could again dethrone GUNTHER, this time for the Intercontinental Title, Dragunov offered a nuanced response.
“To be honest, the question is difficult to answer when you consider how phenomenal GUNTHER is," he explained. "Yes, I know I'm good, I've proven that time and again. However, to say that I’m on his level at this moment would be far from the truth”.
Dragunov characterizes their on-screen rivalry as a quintessential 'David and Goliath' narrative. He identifies himself as the underdog fighting to overcome insurmountable odds, while GUNTHER plays the role of the unbeatable champion.
“Every time we step into the ring together, it's an electrifying clash of personalities and fighting styles that fans can't get enough of," Dragunov noted. He concluded by offering a glimmer of hope to his fans: "While I can't definitively say I can beat him, rest assured that if given the opportunity, I’ll give it everything I have”.
Given the captivating dynamic between the two superstars and the stakes involved, it's clear that a Dragunov vs. GUNTHER rematch would be a headline event wrestling fans wouldn’t want to miss.