Ilja Dragunov Attacks Old Rival In WWE NXT Return

Ilja Dragunov is back. The former "NXT UK" Champion made his return on Tuesday night's episode of "WWE NXT" and attacked his longtime rival J.D. McDonagh, while McDonagh was in a match against Carmelo Hayes.

Dragunov had been gone from WWE programming since his brutal match against McDonagh on the October 25, 2022 edition of "NXT." McDonagh had locked Dragunov in a full-body submission and the referee called for the bell after Dragunov started to bleed from his mouth. He was taken out of the arena on a stretcher. Prior to the October 25 match, Dragunov and McDonagh had vied for Bron Breakker's "NXT" Championship at the Halloween Havoc event in October 2022.

As noted, Dragunov has been off of WWE programming due to visa issues. Last month, Tyler Bate and the current "NXT" Tag Team Champions, Gallus' Joe Coffey and Wolfgang, made their returns after visa problems.

While they both were in "NXT UK" and Dragunov was the "NXT UK" Champion (he held the title for 319 days, but had to relinquish it due to an injury), he and McDonagh faced each other several times. One of their last "NXT UK" matches was where the loser had to leave the promotion, which was McDonagh who lost. At the time, McDonagh was going under his real name Jordan Devlin.

Dragunov has been with WWE since April 2019. So far in his WWE career, Dragunov has only held the "NXT UK" title, which he won against GUNTHER after he had held the now-defunct title for 870 days. "NXT UK" went on a hiatus in August 2022 and is slated to be rebranded as "NXT Europe."