Finn Bálor def. Ilja Dragunov

Finn Bálor and Ilja Dragunov trade strikes in the center of the ring: WWE Worlds Collide, Jan. 25, 2020

It’s a war of attrition between WWE NXT’s Finn Bálor and NXT UK’s Ilja Dragunov in this brutal physical battle. Catch WWE action on WWE Network, FOX, USA Network, Sony India and more.

Going into Worlds Collide, Finn Bálor laid things out very clearly to Ilja Dragunov: NXT UK’s ruby-eyed Russian would get exactly one crack at the self-proclaimed “Prince” — an opportunity he’d best not miss. The message was received: Even though the Irishman ultimately upended his foe, Dragunov all but made himself famous in defeat, handing the former NXT Champion everything he could handle and then some.

Dragunov — relatively unknown to the American audience, save perhaps for that all-timer against Cesaro last year — gave his foe a painful crash course, thumbing Bálor in the eye and battling through a series of frustrated chops from the former NXT Champion that turned Dragunov’s chest a bright shade of red. The Mad Russian’s crescendo, literally and figuratively, came by way of a coast-to-coast dropkick that might have broken Bálor’s nose.

Finding himself in the unfamiliar position of fighting for survival, Bálor absorbed his punishment and picked his opening perfectly to win. Blocking a top-rope senton from Dragunov, the Irishman uncorked a massive Coup de Grâce and followed up with 1916 for the win. Given the effort put forth by Dragunov, you’d be hard-pressed to say he missed in any sense of the word. But the Russian fell short in the most crucial sense: He didn’t keep his foe down.

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