Today marks the 500th day of Gunther’s WWE Intercontinental Championship reign, the longest of any Intercontinental title reign in the company’s history. This is not the first time that the Imperium leader has held a WWE title for a prolonged amount of time, as he reigned as WWE NXT UK Champion for an impressive 870 days. At NXT Takeover 36 in 2021, that record-breaking run was brought to an end in a brutal confrontation with current WWE NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov. By submission, no less.
In a Haus of Wrestling exclusive interview, I asked Dragunov whether he felt he was the man to, once again, bring a historic Gunther title run to a close.
“It is the hardest question to answer, to be honest, because you just gotta see and look at him and how good he is,” Dragunov began. “Like, I know, I’m good. I know that, like, I do, and do enough to prove that again and again and again. But knowing how great he is, and to have this feeling inside myself that I’m not even slightly on his level at the moment. That is something that is, on one side, driving me extremely crazy, but on the other side, is motivating you really, really hard.
“And I think this is a thing that is kind of magnetic to each other because every time we step together in a ring, it was brutal, and it was a perfect David and Goliath story. Apparently, underdog tries to overcome the impossible story, and I’m the perfect underdog. I’m one of those guys; I’m one of a dying breed. Like a really good brutally fighting underdog and the absolute final boss that you see in Gunther, and we both embrace our personas so well that this is like the perfect mixture.
“This is something people want to see; it doesn’t matter how often it will happen. So, if I’m the one who’s able to do this, actually, I can’t say if I really know this, but if I get the chance to, you can make sure that I’m going to do everything I can to be that guy.”
WWE NXT Champion Ilja Dragunov defends his title against Carmelo Hayes in week two of NXT Halloween Havoc on Tuesday, October 31. My full conversation with Dragunov is now available on the Haus of Wrestling YouTube channel and podcast feed.
Haus of Wrestling has partnered with Inside The Ropes to present An Afternoon With Kevin Nash And Sean Waltman on November 25 at Joe’s Live in Rosemont, IL, ten minutes from the All-State Arena. Tickets are now available at JoesLiveRosemont.com.
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