I had started writing this piece before my good friend Tom Clark of thechairshot.com published his story. In many cases, wrestling writers come up with the same subject matter because of time and circumstance. Whatever becomes the “hot” topic generally gets the most coverage. Right now, Rusev is one of the hottest characters in professional wrestling.
A heel wrestler in a babyface persona. It’s hard to not like the big Bulgarian and the “Rusev Day” song, err catchphrase, err chat that fills arenas night after night. Rusev is exactly what WWE needs right now. A new anti-hero of sorts, much like Stone Cold Steve Austin with his “What?” chants and his “Austin 3:16” that made him uber-popular with the fans and one of the biggest draws of the Attitude Era.
“Would The Rock have become The Rock without “If you smell what The Rock is cooking?” How could Daniel Bryan have beaten the odds without the Yes Movement?,” Clark asks.
“History may very well be repeating itself. WWE may have a new headliner on its hands, a rejuvenated Superstar who’s ready for his day in the sun. Is Rusev taking his first steps on a year-long road that could lead him to world title immortality at WrestleMania 35?”
Rusev has that kind of pull. Regardless of the inclusion of Aiden English – a fringe performer who has no real place on Tuesday nights other than being a jockey for the former United States Champion. When the company decided to split up Rusev and his real-life wife Lana, many of us thought it was the end of his rope within WWE.
The Lana experiment in the ring failed while Rusev took off. His latest entanglement with Shinsuke Nakamura gives us all hope he will climb into the main event picture after WrestleMania 34. If someone like Bobby Roode joins the forces of evil, someone must join the other side of the school yard. Professional wrestling dictates a “quid pro quo” of good versus evil.
It would be interesting to see how a career heel handles a change of scenery. WWE has pushed Elias, Braun Strowman, Roode and now it has hitched its wagon to Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s time to set a path for Rusev and an eventually main event program.
I wanted to make the comparison of Rusev to Nikita Koloff – how the Russian was as big a heel as there was in the NWA and WCW. But circumstances forced the company to reverse its field and the “Nightmare” became a fan favorite.
“Rusev is easy to hate. He has no redeeming qualities as a heel; he’s merciless, vile, and he never does the right thing,” Clark explains.”He spewed venom at America and everyone that stood up for the red, white and blue. All Rusev wants to do is crush and he usually always crushes the guys that fans love.
He also sold for Roman Reigns, dropping the United States Title in the process, giving the “Big Dog” a chance to get over with the WWE Universe. As we all know, fans still love to hate the soon-to-be Universal Heavyweight Champion.
WrestleMania 34 is three weeks away. Rusev does not have a dance partner. Despite his strong showing of late, Rusev may have to wait until April 10 to begin his march toward the main event. A program with either AJ Styles or Nakamura would be entertaining. In the world of professional wrestling, these kinds of stories tend to take off on their own. Better booking and fan sensibilities have helped Rusev become a mega star.
The only problem I see with this run by the big guy is how quickly WWE could change the landscape. This is one of those successful stories the company does not want to close the book on any time soon.