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Rusev and the Case of the Failed Big Man in WWE

Rusev is WWE’s newest monster project; pun intended. The Bulgarian export has been virtually unstoppable since his debut back in January and in the last 10 months; no one has really been able to touch him. He is currently the brute to beat in that company.

[adinserter block=”1″]So while the line to put him down has been shortened little by little with each pay-per-view event, the fact is that it’s not over yet. The Big Show is the latest guy to defend the nation against the Russian threat and some are questioning if he will be the one to finally pin Rusev. But maybe the better question is where is WWE going with this?

We haven’t seen this kind of buildup for a big guy since, well, the last time WWE decided to do it. From Umaga to Brodus Clay to Tensai to Ryback, one Superstar after another has been portrayed as an unstoppable juggernaut that just steamrolls through the roster, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake. And all three of those guys barely got out of the mid-card. In other words, it was all much ado about nothing.

Therein lays one of the biggest problems with a character of this sort. In any other promotion, this type of guy would be huge, probably even the heavyweight champion. But in WWE? Not so much.

This is the part when some of you remind me that Rusev did just get started on the main roster, that he deserves the chance to prove himself before anyone totally dismisses him. After all, just because the track record for Superstars of his kind may not be that impressive, that does not mean Rusev will not find a way to get over and keep impressing the company until he becomes a top level main event guy, right?

News flash: I’m down with that. Seriously, I have no problem agreeing with every part of that statement and I will actually go a step further and say that with the right amount of elevation and preparation, there is really no reason why Rusev could not become the WWE World champion one day. I’ll buy that. But before we get ahead of ourselves, stop for a moment and think about this company.

Think about what types of Superstars get the nod for the main event. Think about every WWE and World champion over the course of the past 10 years. Think about all of that for a moment and ask yourself; does Rusev really fit alongside those talents? Does Rusev have what it takes to not only make it to that top tier but to excel once he gets there?

The buzz in and around WWE is that he definitely does. Of course, that buzz is just hearsay right now, there has been no real indication at any time that he will make it that far or that the company is truly planning ahead for him. Right now, it’s all just blowing in the wind. There are a few things working in his favor.

One is the fact that he came from NXT. While this is obviously not a guarantee he will accomplish a thing, it’s a good start. It’s hard to argue with a developmental territory that introduced mainstream WWE fans to The Shield and The Wyatt Family. Let’s not forget about the talent currently working in Florida right now and the impact they will surely have when they are called up. But then, there’s always Emma; let’s not talk about her, though. The track record is there, Rusev has that going for him.

The other thing helping him right now is Lana, the so-called Ravishing Russian that is a constant presence by his side. Lana is the mouthpiece for Rusev and at this point she is becoming a very integral part of the act. But is she too important? Is she overshadowing Rusev? The answer to that question is obviously yes. She’s the real hit of the duo right now, not him. Is that a problem? Yes. Does that mean Rusev is doomed to live out his existence in WWE as the next Marc Mero? God, let’s hope not.

What it means is that he will have to double his efforts. Rusev must work even harder than the typical WWE big man to get over. The history of his character type is not good and he surely knows that. So when he’s on camera, he must go for the throat, and he must do everything in his power to make fans remember him long after the program goes off the air. Whether or not he’s doing that is really up for debate right now.

But what’s not up for debate is the fact that Rusev is building momentum little by little every week. The company is behind him and the sky appears to be the limit for him. Only, where is he going? Where is WWE headed with this? What is the endgame as it pertains to Rusev? Is he meant to dominate in the mid-card for the bulk of his career, finishing one arc after another, with the next one taking him right back where he was? Is that what awaits him?

[adinserter block=”2″]Is his record ultimately the focus right now? We keep hearing about names that could potentially take him down. From Hulk Hogan to Kurt Angle to even Sting, that aforementioned list is always there and always a topic of debate. Will that remain the case until Rusev actually is pinned and if so, will he then begin his slide down to mediocrity? Or is the supposed buzz on him correct? Is Rusev on his way to great things in WWE? Right now it’s probably too early to know.

The truth is that he might be on his way to being the hottest big man in the company. But will he be a big deal?

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Tom Clark
Tom Clark can regularly be found on Camel Clutch Blog. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at



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