Fan favorite Ilja Dragunov made his NXT UK debut at the weekend TV tapings in Coventry, England. He defeated Ashton Smith in a dark match. Ray, a former Mae Young Classic competitor, also worked the tapings in a match against Isla Dawn. Gabert, another fan favorite known as The Alpha Female, has been trying to get signed with WWE since the 2017 Mae Young Classic. She and Ray appeared back at the NXT UK "Takeover: Blackpool" event back in January, adding to the speculation on their signings. Melrose, known as Primate, teamed with Wild Boar at the weekend TV tapings to face Sam Stoker and Lewis Howley.
Below is WWE's full announcement on the new signings:
NXT UK signs five new Superstars
Five new Superstars from throughout Europe — Ilja Rukober, Kay Lee Ray, Jazzy Gabert, Oliver Sauter and Jay Melrose — have joined the NXT UK roster. The group will join other NXT UK Superstars in training at WWE's United Kingdom Performance Center in North London.
The 25-year-old Rukober, who has competed around the world under the ring name Ilja Dragunov, was born in Russia and raised in Germany, where his career in sports-entertainment took root. Often described as "Unbesiegbar" (the German word for "invincible"), Rukober is feared for his unbridled intensity inside the ring. He turned heads at a WWE tryout in Cologne last November.
Ray and Gabert, both of whom competed in the inaugural Mae Young Classic in 2017, were introduced as incoming NXT UK competitors while they were sitting ringside at TakeOver: Blackpool in January.
Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, the 5-foot-8 Ray has racked up numerous championship reigns over her 10-year career, including three stints as Insane Championship Wrestling's women's titleholder. Known for throwing caution to the wind, the Scottish daredevil recently appeared on NXT UK on WWE Network and promised to "go straight to the top" of the Women's division.
Gabert made an unforgettable impression during her Mae Young Classic appearance in 2017, leaving onlookers in awe of her incredible power. Widely regarded as one of the strongest women in sports-entertainment, the burly Berliner stands 6-foot-1 and has won wrestling titles in Germany, Japan and Switzerland.
Sauter comes to NXT UK from Dietikon, Switzerland. The 24-year-old was a soccer standout before training for the ring. Fast-moving and hard-hitting, Sauter wrestled throughout Europe under the professional alias of Oliver Carter. Like Rukober, he attended last year's tryout in Cologne.
NXT UK fans, meanwhile, have already grown familiar with "Primate" Jay Melrose, the ape-mask-wearing Superstar who debuted on the brand in December. Hailing from Newcastle, England, the 220-pound Melrose served in the British army for six years, including as a member of the British Household Cavalry, which provides direct protection for the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace.
Keep your eyes peeled for the newest signees when NXT UK streams every Wednesday at 3 ET/8 GMT on the award-winning WWE Network.