In a match that pushed both competitors to their limits, Ilja Dragunov emerged victorious, seizing the NXT Championship from Carmelo Hayes at the WWE NXT No Mercy premium live event. Displaying the same tenacity that saw him become the former WWE NXT U.K. champion, Dragunov dominated the early stages, keeping Hayes on the defensive.
Their previous clash for the title at the Great American Bash in July was already a fierce battle, marred by Trick Williams’ interference. Williams’ previous intervention had evidently dented Hayes’ self-assurance in the following weeks. Nevertheless, the once-reigning champion had hopes of triumphing at No Mercy, aspiring to be an inspiration for young fans who identified with him. Their rematch at No Mercy managed to outdo their prior encounter in terms of sheer brutality. A particularly intense moment saw Dragunov execute a coast-to-coast move on Hayes, causing him to bleed from the forehead. Despite the onslaught, Hayes exhibited remarkable resilience, but eventually, Dragunov’s persistence paid off, securing him the win with a pin.
Following their grueling match, an unwavering Dragunov extended a hand to Hayes, acknowledging their shared dedication and passion. This victory inaugurates Dragunov’s first reign as the NXT Champion. Prior to this, Hayes clinched the title in April at NXT Stand & Deliver by besting Bron Breakker. Adding to the night’s drama, Trick Williams triumphed over Dominik Mysterio, claiming the NXT North American Championship, and was spotted reveling in the moment with Hayes before the latter’s championship bout.