Cesaro wanted a hands-on experience at NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff and he got it in the form of Ilja Dragunov.
It had been known that Cesaro would be coming to Cardiff for TakeOver, but he would later issue an open challenge to anyone in the NXT UK locker room for the event. Cesaro's open challenge was answered by Dragunov and after a long, back-and-forth match, Cesaro ended up winning the match.
Below is a recap of the match from Ryan Cook on Fightful's live coverage of the event.
Ilja Dragunov vs Cesaro
Cesaro puts Ilja in several headlocks before he catches him and they dodges each others strikes before Cesaro drops Ilja with an uppercut and they exchange chops. Ilja drops Cesaro with a rolling chop and hits a senton for a quick two count before Cesaro tosses him out of the ring and into the barricade. Back in the ring Cesaro hits a scoop slam into a leg drop for a quick two count before hitting a back drop suplex and a big swing before hitting a clothesline. They exchange standing switches before Ilja hits a dead lift release German suplex and a suicide dive before hitting a missile dropkick for a near fall. Cesaro hits a GTS for a near fall before hitting a flying uppercut for another near fall and Ilja hits a DVD into the corner before hitting a high angle senton for a near fall.
Cesaro then hits a pop-up uppercut into the Neutralizer for the pin and the win.
Winner: Cesaro defeats Ilja Dragunov via pinfall with the Neutralizer.
After the match, Cesaro teased a post-match attack on Dragunov, but instead shook his hand as a sign of respect. There's no official word on if Cesaro will be a permanent member of the NXT UK roster or if this was a one-time appearance for the promotion.