For its first few months, NXT UK seemed to be treading water in the WWE Universe. While stacked with a cast of some of the greatest stars of the UK indie scene from the past few years, including WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne, Moustache Mountain, Toni Storm, Jordan Devlin and more, it seemed to suffer an insecurity complex when it came to asserting itself as a brand on par with regular NXT or 205 Live. But ever since the fantastic inaugural NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool in January, the little WWE brand that could has picked up steam and momentum, with the addition of the likes of WALTER, Kay Lee Ray and Viper changing the whole dynamic of the brand. And with WWE settling on the stories and performers it wants to build around, it’s emerged as one of the WWE’s most consistent products of 2019.
On Wednesday night, the talent pool just got a little deeper as two more European stars – both known more for their work in Germany the past few years – made their NXT UK debuts on NXT UK on the WWE Network.
Moscow, Russia’s “Unbesiegbar” Ilja Dragunov is only 25 years old, but he’s already a 7-year veteran of European wrestling circuits. A student of the Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) Academy in Germany, he was trained by WWE Superstar Alexander Wolfe. He’s a 2x wXw Shotgun Champion, 2x wXw World Tag Team Champion, and was recently the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion. A breakout star the past year with wXw and UK’s PROGRESS, Dragunov has arrived in NXT UK and will be shooting for the top.
“Alpha Female” Jazzy Gabert
In 2017, the WWE Universe was first introduced to Germany’s powerhouse veteran “Alpha Female” Jazzy Gabert in the inaugural Mae Young Classic. It didn’t take long for the crowd at Full Sail University to get behind Gabert and her popularity led to a couple of appearances on NXT. But after accepting an offer to join NXT, her medical evaluation uncovered a serious injury, and she was forced to undergo surgery. At 34 years old, and already a 16 year veteran of the industry, many wondered if this latest setback would end her hopes of making it to WWE.
Starting out in 2001 with the German Wrestling Federation (GWF), over the past nearly two decades, Jazzy Gabert has been a force to be reckoned with in European wrestling, against either men or women. In 2010, she began working with England’s Pro Wrestling EVE, and in 2013 began working in Japan with Stardom, DDT Pro and others. In 2014, she worked a series of tapings for TNA/IMPACT Wrestling in the UK, and in 2016, finally began working with wXw. A former EVE Champion and multi-champion with Stardom (where she won the World of Stardom Championship, Goddesses of Stardom (Tag Team) titles and Artists of Stardom (Trios) titles), Gabert trained hard during her time off in early 2018 to work on a comeback. She returned to the ring in May of 2018 and slowly got herself back into game shape. And at TakeOver: Blackpool, alongside Kay Lee Ray, was revealed as the latest signee to NXT UK.
— WWE (@WWE) January 12, 2019
And on Wednesday night, she made her presence – and affiliations – clear. Following a match between Xia Brookside and Killer Kelly, Jinny Couture – currently chasing NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm – made her appearance and unleashed her new enforcer, the debuting Jazzy Gabert, on the two women in the ring.
— NXT UK (@NXTUK) May 15, 2019
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