Wrestling is a theater, not a sport by any means. That’s why wrestling is not positioned as real competition for athletes. The winner is not the one who is faster, taller, or stronger, but the one who does it beautifully and according to a script, so that the story wrestlers tell us has a reasonable continuation or a logical conclusion. No wonder that wrestling has been inspiring people to do something for years—drawing themed comics, creating slots at PlayAmo online casino Canada, or writing cool songs.

What can we say about the characters of this amazing theater? Only that they’re all-stars, and some of them stand out. We are going to talk about one such star today.

Ilja Dragunov was born in Moscow, but at the age of five he found himself in Dresden – his parents moved to Germany due to the difficult economic situation of the family during Perestroika. Ilja began wrestling at a fairly young age and already at 18 made his debut in the big ring. In an interview he said:

Like probably many people I started in the yard (backyard wrestling). The first time I got to know wrestling was about 7 years ago when a friend invited me to the gym in a town near Dresden. A few guys were trying to perform holds and even competed in matches. I liked it and started getting more interested in wrestling. My idols are definitely Kenta Kobashi and Nigel McGuinness. They both had a big influence on my style in the ring.

The image of Dragunov is a testosterone-fueled Soviet athlete, a “rabid Ivan Drago” in a leather cape. Nothing can stop him, his only goal in life is to defeat his enemies and overcome pain.

Talking about his coaches he said that he had two great coaches, Axel Tischer and Rick Baxter. They gave him a lot to get my start in wrestling, especially in terms of hard work and respect. During his first shows in wXw, Axl was always there for him and he could ask his advice when he needed it. It was a lot easier for he because he didn’t know the other guys much. Rick Baxter is still his mentor. He does that for him and the other guys at Next Step Wrestling School. He and his teammate Grannatic do a great job teaching professional wrestling in detail. When Axel left Europe for NXT, it was a sad moment for the whole roster. However, he created that opportunity for himself, so he’s more proud than sad. And it made him realize that he needs to become more independent, to learn from his own experience.

The first title of the “mad Russian” was the championship belt of wXw Shotgun, a German tournament organized by Westside Xtreme Wrestling. In November 2018, Ilja was spotted in WWE and is now officially signed to NXT UK.

Many are skeptical of wrestling as such, but Dragunov believes that the sport is always a sport, even if it has some staged elements. Wrestling requires no less training from the fighters than boxing or mixed martial arts, so we wish Ilja Dragunov strength and good luck – and may his enemies fall under the onslaught of the “red killing machine!”