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Rising From the Ashes: An Inside Look at Ilja Dragunov’s Inspiring Journey to the WWE NXT Championship

In the latest episode of the wrestling talk show, Busted Open Radio, WWE NXT star Ilja Dragunov sat down to discuss his journey through the ranks of professional wrestling, highlighting his illustrious duels with the prolific and record-breaking Intercontinental Champion, GUNTHER.

In many ways, Dragunov’s rise to stardom has been shaped by GUNTHER. According to Dragunov, “GUNTHER truly brings out the best in me. My peak performance lies in the struggle, in enduring painstaking hardship and then rising from the doomed-slumber, much like a phoenix from its ashes”.

Dragunov and GUNTHER, two illustrious European grapplers, have locked horns several times, their rivalry predating their WWE exploits back when they were battling it out in Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) promotion.

Their most recent in-ring clash occurred in August 2021 at TakeOver 36, where Dragunov emerged victorious, ending GUNTHER’s formidable reign, which had surpassed 800 days as the champion. Looking back at the event, Dragunov believes that his win at TakeOver 36 was the turning point in his career in the promotion.

On the subject of GUNTHER’s strikes, Dragunov had nothing but praise. He described his opponent’s chops as being ‘incredible’.

The tables seem to be turning favorably for Dragunov as he progresses forward. After defeating Wes Lee in a match to determine the number one contender, Dragunov now has the golden ticket to face NXT Champion Carmelo Hayes at the upcoming NXT premium live event, No Mercy on September 30.

If you decide to share the quotes from this article, give credit to SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio and ensure to mention Wrestling Inc for the transcription.

As a formidable rising force in WWE, Dragunov showcases the true mark of a champion: courage, perseverance, heart, and the will to rise from the ashes. Stay tuned to the tale of this fiery phoenix!

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