Wrestling lovers have been verbally orgasming over the WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov match, which took place in an empty arena on the October 29th 2020 episode of NXT UK. Wrestling reviewer Dave Meltzer wrote that it was “Probably the most brutal match in WWE history” and awarded it his coveted 5 Star rating (but with hesitation because of the “level of brutality.”)
Jim Cornette praised the match, writing: “THIS is what pro wrestling could have ‘evolved’ into had it not been commandeered by comedy writers and backyard cosplayers. A masterpiece of the true art of worked combat!”
So I had to check it out after reading all this hype, just to see what the all fuss was about (and maybe pop a boner over the intense selling.)
The two rivals peeled off their gorgeous ring coats and tore into each other like snarling dogs right after the bell rang. At 6’4″ and 297 pounds, big WALTER soon gains the upper hand over scrappy Dragunov at a normal-sized 5’10” and 197 pounds.
The noteworthy brutality began when WALTER Irish-Whipped his victim throat-first into the middle rope (see above). It appears to nearly de-capitate the poor dude in the snug red trunks and he collapses out on the floor as if the fight may be over already.
WALTER is a big, heavy, heartless Heel — a throw-back to Harley Race and Ole Anderson, the kind of big mean Crushers I grew up fearing while also fantasizing about. He does not care if his wrestling gear makes him look fat and if you don’t like it — he enjoys wearing trunks and boots and he’s a Real Man who does whatever he wants, so that’s that. WALTER is known as the “Ring General” as proudly displayed in white lettering across his tight black speedo. I am lusting over his tall black boots and soccer socks, rising almost up to his knee. He could do some damage with those stompers (and, in fact, he does.)
I blogged about WALTER back in 2018 when he beat the brakes off of cute Jordan Devlin. What a devastating BEAST! It seems that WALTER’s name is usually written in ALL CAPS, maybe as a tribute to the sheer size and power of this lumbering monster (or maybe because WALTER said he wants it written that way, so everybody does.)
WALTER’s favorite finishing move is an utterly engulfing Sleeper-Scissor where he crushes your body in his thick thighs, his killer boots locked together like a huge padlock, while embracing your neck in his arms, squeezing persistently with a satisfied look on his face until you obediently succumb.
So it makes sense for WALTER to target his opponent’s now-damaged neck and throat, as if weakening that body part so his patented Sleeper will be more effective later on. THAT is good Ring Psychology, making the Heel seem cunning and cold-blooded and calculating.
A word about the well-designed set. Everything in this world is black, red, or gold. The ring-ropes are blood red and so are Dragunov’s trunks (and his chest soon matches that color.) Its very stark and striking to the eye, just as the Gothic classical music that plays as they enter the ring strikes the ear. It’s a different vibe and very cool, I felt.
Oh and I loved it when WALTER performed the classic Tornado Neck-Breaker, I always love that one and they do it often in NXT UK.
The intensity of the match — along with the online hype and the over-the-top commentary — harken back to the style of wrestling I grew up on. Back in the days of “kayfabe”, most pro wrestling content was made to appear violent and realistic. When you turned on Rasslin, you would feel a little bit squeamish that you may perhaps witness a leg deliberately broken, or a railroad spike weaponized with carefree abandon, or maybe a Pile-Driver snapping some jobber’s neck on purpose.
You had to worry a bit that this inappropriate brutality might traumatize you, or give you bad dreams, or make you feel sick if some poor dude got his arm ripped off in the ring. And perhaps this little nugget of anxiety added to the overall allure and excitement of the performance — your adrenaline gushing, your heartrate spiking — and perhaps you confounded your fear response with arousal, addicting you to this “worked combat” for the rest of your horny life.
There is also a very Manly, Masculine vibe to brutal matches that make this style of wrestling alluring to an adolescent male. This is not the sort of content that girls seemed to ever enjoy or crave seeing — at least not the well-behaved young ladies I grew up with. It was apparent to me from a young age that Violent Fighting was entertainment meant for Bigger Boys and for Men to watch — and of course every young dude wanted to grow up to be accepted into the Club.
So I felt that watching Rasslin would help me earn my Man Card. After I watched an episode, and found that I enjoyed it (rather than being freaked out like a sissy), I felt Manly and accepted and acceptable. I must be a Real Man if I like to watch Men Fight.
So yes, this match is very violent as everyone is saying — more intense than I’ve been able to depict in my images. There are no Foreign Objects and very little blood, but the dudes just fight like caged animals in heat.
There are TONS of Chest-Chops, snapping like gun shots, that I didn’t really capture here. There are plenty of kicks and stomps and open-hand slaps to the skull. WALTER German-Suplexes Dragunov right on his head a couple times, once out on the floor.
One of my favorite assaults occurred when Walter — sorry sir, I mean WALTER — places Dragunov over the corner turnbuckles, the proverbial cadaver on a slab, so he can pound on that exposed body and then stand up on his neck! WTF you animal, are you trying to wreck this kid?!?
Check out how Dragunov bends himself backwards over the ring apron, stretching out his torso and just letting WALTER stomp on his neck. That is fantastic Selling — not the most believable, but very hot looking.
Much of the brutal vibe is the result of Ilja Dragunov’s spectacular selling, unlike the typical Baby-Face-In-Peril suffering they teach in Jobber School. Ilja does not become a paralyzed ragdoll like a typical 1980’s Enhancement Talent. And he doesn’t moan and groan and submissively spread open his legs like the Eye Candy we see in Wrestle-Porn squash matches.
No, instead Ilya snarls and roars like a wounded animal in a trap, a heart-rending cry in the otherwise quiet arena. When he collapses, it’s not graceful like a falling tree, it’s visceral and clunky like he got hit by a speeding locomotive. Perhaps every Ilja Dragunov match seems brutal because of the intense way he sells, but I suspect he saved his best work for this beat-down from big mean WALTER.
So this match seemed to trigger people and most viewers say they enjoyed it very much (I sure did!) Does it foreshadow a return to the pre-kayfabe, ballsy, realistic style of Rasslin from the 1970s? Maybe, maybe not.
The best thing about having access to so much great wrestling from all around the world is that we get to check out many different styles and body types and savor the ones that turn us on.