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WWE’s Rusev Conundrum

When Alexander Rusev debuted at the 2014 Royal Rumble I was a little surprised. “Who is this guy?” I asked myself and why is he taking a spot away from my beloved Honky Tonk Man or Hacksaw Jim Duggan for a random surprise entrant. My first thoughts were that we have a clear “Vince McMahon guy” walking to the ring. A massive man the size of a mountain that’s somehow as athletic as a cruiserweight.

I have only watched a handful of NXT programming and was aware they have some talented individuals down there but not enough glitz and glamour to push my live WWE viewing over the six hour mark for a week. I view NXT almost as choosing to watch both the minor league affiliate and my favorite Major League Baseball team. For a lot of viewers and fans this is a great opportunity, being able to get to know all the superstars and angles. Personally, I am fine reading about the next crop of superstars and watching when I’m aware that something big is going to happen (IE: NXT Arrival).

Jumping back to the point, for the last few months, Rusev has been destroying every mid card talent he has faced. WWE has built him up well, he has fought a variety of solid mid card talent and he even has survived being cornered in handi-cap matches. I was happy when they finally pushed him into a program other than R-Truth and Zack Ryder.

I know Jack Swagger isn’t the most popular superstar currently (I can almost hear every Wade Barrett fan screaming as I write this) but like it or not and despite the out of the ring antics, Swagger is a higher level talent (at least in the eyes of the knowledgeable fan). Time will tell where this feud ends. In my opinion it’s more than the likely their second (and final) pay per view battle will take place at Summerslam and I ultimately think in the end that Rusev & Mother Russia are victorious at the event and thus ending the 2.5 month long feud.

So that brings me to the Rusev Conundrum. What happens to Rusev after Summerslam? Rusev, in my eyes, is done with the squash and the building of a monster angle. The answer to my question could be entangled within the main event. The strong buzz around the main event shows that all signs point to Brock Lesnar defeating John Cena at Summerslam. With the possibility of Lesnar winning, the internet is now overflowing with theories of Brock then carrying the title to Wresltemana 31 where many believe he will drop the title to the 2015 Royal Rumble winner, Roman Reigns. Post Summerslam plans seem to have all major parties entangled in storylines (Reigns, Orton, Ambrose, Rollins, Jericho, Wyatt and Cena). That leaves one man, alone and idling after his Summerslam program.

If I’m the WWE and I am looking at Rusev, post Summerslam, you don’t put the United States or Intercontinental title on him. To me, the only title that matters to a guy of Rusev’s stature is the World Heavyweight Title. An Intercontinental or United States title run does nothing for his character. Rusev is past that point of needing one of those titles to give him credibility in the eyes of the fan.

What would happen to Rusev if the above Brock/Reigns theory comes to fruition? Does Rusev now sit and idle in the middle of the pack after you just invested month after month after building him up to be a heavyweight monster? Does he go into an angle with a title less Cena? Does Dean Ambrose transition onto Rusev? Will the new faction of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E take a stab at “The Super Athlete”?

After Night of Champions, John Cena (who amazingly Cena’d his way into retaining the World Heavyweight Championship) would square off against Rusev and here’s where I would have Rusev CRUSH. Rusev then carries the title through the remainder of 2014 and as 2015 rolls over the possibilities are endless. Rusev can logically feud with Big Show, Chris Jericho (depending on his schedule), Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and (if healthy and possible) Daniel Bryan when 2015 starts. You cannot sit Rusev on the sidelines for the next 8 months to live out a potential of Brock Lesnar being a part time World Heavyweight Champion.

New, young and exciting talent like Reigns, Ambrose and Bray Wyatt can sustain themselves as they weren’t built around the unbeatable monster gimmick. Look at Bray, he has pay per view loses at Wrestlemania, Extreme Rules and Battleground. Has anyone even blinked over that? Rusev is not on the same level due to his character which although is portrayed as a monster, is ultimately a fragile character. The WWE needs to strike while the iron is hot with Rusev, give him a run and then work from there. Putting the World Heavyweight Title on a guy so soon didn’t really hurt a career like Sheamus or Brock Lesnar now did it?

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Tony Bitkowski
Contact Tony on Twitter @TonyBitkowski.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. In my eyes, Rusev still hasn’t really had a an actual wrestling match yet. They have all been squash matches to build him up. I would like to see him in a good twenty-five minute match and tell a good story. I think that is what he needs right now. He should NOT be anything close to the WWE title, I hate when they give that to the new guy. The WWE title isn’t a candy, you don’t just give it out like that. Maybe after a couple more years, when he’s proved himself a bit.

    A US belt run would be right for him, he could carry it for a couple months and then drop it to Swagger. Then he could move onto the IC belt, then to the WWE belt. Done over the course of two or three years would be great to see, and, in story, would prove how great a wrestler he is by getting every WWE title.

    As it is right now, the only thing I like about his matches is when Lana shouts out “RUSEV, CRUSH!”, aside from that, he hasn’t really had any outstanding matches yet.

    • In an ideal word wrestling world I would agree on the year(s) of build up being the proper way to bring a talent along but its so hard these days with a monster / unbeatable character. I am happy with WWE and the fact that they aren’t taking the Bill Goldberg route with Rusev (3 minute TV matches, painfully forced 20 minute PPV matches). But a character like him, the unbeatable kind, is so hard to keep entertaining and relevant with a the heel persona. One legit loss (pinfall / submission) really almost crumbles the work they would put in.

      I can back off a tad of the “never holding the US/IC title belt” idea in the article but i have a hard time with all his build up and hype that he won’t get lost in the shuffle without big time title recognition. I think we need to face the fact that those titles aren’t what they used to be. The “started from the bottom” angle and winning all the titles i would attribute to more of a face character and not something that’s going to work for (all) heels.

      We could spin this maybe and look at it on the positive that giving the title to a legitimate person(s) for an extended period could give more meaning to the strap. (extended period being the key word there). But the constant flipping and changing of the belts on a month-to-month, week-to-week basis has really watered them down for me. I say its WHT or bust for Rusev,

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