NXT UK officially announced the signings of Ilja Dragunov (going by Ilja Rukober), Kay Lee Ray, Jazzy Gabert, Oliver Sauter and Jay Melrose.
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.
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.
Kay Lee Ray and Jazzy Gabert were both ringside at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, signifying that they would be starting with the company in the near future. The NXT UK debut of Kay Lee Ray was promoted on last week's episode of NXT UK.
Ray and Dragunov made their debuts this past weekend at the NXT UK television tapings.