The WWE’s conquering of the independent wrestling scene just keeps on rolling as it was announced on WWE.com that their NXT UK brand would be getting five new wrestlers on the roster including Scottish wrestling star Kay Lee Ray and Russian/German megastar Ilja Dragunov.
The other names announced to be joining Dragunov and Ray on NXT UK were: former MMA fighter turned wrestler “Alpha Female” Jazzy Gabert, former footballer Oliver Sauter, and the UK’s own “Primate” Jay Melrose, who has already had an NXT UK debut.
Dragunov, real name Ilja Rukober, made waves on the European independent scene due to his sensational return at WXW’s 16 Carat Gold Tournament in 2018, beating “Bad Bones” John Klinger, and recent NXT UK roster member WALTER. Since then, the man who is “Unbesiegbar” (German for invincible) has made appearances globally in major promotions such as Progress, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Defiant Wrestling.
With his friend and rival WALTER already booked to face Pete Dunne for the UK Championship at NXT Takeover: New York, it is safe to assume that Ilja will once again go toe to toe with The Ring General in what will be a brutal and hard hitting match, possibly over the NXT UK Championship.
Unlike Dragunov, Kay Lee Ray is no stranger to WWE, having debuted on NXT way back in 2015 where she was defeated by Nia Jax. More recently she made her mark on WWE once again by competing in the first ever Mae Young Classic tournament in 2017. Outside of the WWEm she has appeared for TNA (now Impact Wrestling), and has been Women’s Champion in both WOS Wrestling and Scotland’s own Insane Championship Wrestling. With names like Rhea Ripley and Toni Storm heading the women’s division on NXT UK, Ray will only strengthen what is already a great women’s roster. Let’s hope she enters the NXT UK Women’s Title picture before the year is out.
NXT UK may have only existed for less than a year but its roster has impressed fans for years on the independent scene and will continue to do so under the WWE brand. Only time will tell what other big names make their way to NXT UK to do battle with the immensely talented roster.