Rusev Udrya Rusev Machka
Rusev Hit Rusev Crush
It seems as if Rusev’s time away from the ring didn’t really do much to help his cause in WWE. He certainly hasn’t been hitting or crushing much of anything lately since his return, one that was hinted at and speculated about for weeks, due to everything from heat over his haircut to a glut of anti- American gimmicks that flooded the WWE’s blue brand over the course of the last few months. After a shoulder injury kept him from competing for two months, including at this year’s Wrestlemania, he was traded during the Superstar Shakeup to Smackdown and for the most part, fans seemed to think it was a good idea, well…at least that it made sense. After all, what was there left for him on Mondays after he had already been regulated to teaming with Jinder Mahal and feuding with Enzo Amore in a ridiculous storyline earlier this year.
It seemed as if switching brands might be just the jolt the career of the Bulgarian Brute needed, opening up the potential for untapped feuds and letting the show with the far superior writing team get a chance to work with him. Unfortunately, his actual debut was lackluster and had little hype. A feud with Cena was neither new or interesting and jobbing in a poorly conceived gimmick match on a throw away show doesn’t really instill a lot of confidence that BG James and the rest of the Smackdown writing crew will do any better with him than Raw did. Though, if anyone can shake the staleness from Rusev, they would be the ones to do so. Here’s 5 reasons why Rusev can still be saved and how Smackdown is the land for him to be rebuilt.
#1- Rusev is a monster and Smackdown has none
We’ve watched the ascension of Braun Strowman on Raw (far more entertaining than watching The Ascension) for a while now and it has honestly been thee most entertaining thing on the show most weeks. It’s always been fun watching a enormous, monster heel tear through the roster since the early days of WWE. With the Monster Among Men on the A show along with Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Big Show, Big Cass, and the man seen as often as a coherent Donald Trump sentence, Mark Henry, Raw is filled with huge guys. Smackdown? Not so much. Baron Corbin is a big dude at
6′ 8” and 275 lbs, but he’s also the only big man on the Smackdown roster that gets on television. Kane seems all but officially retired at this point and the ex Wyatt family members, Harper and Rowan, haven’t been anything but house show talents for most of the year. Smackdown needs a monster. Someone to come in and put the lesser talents down quickly when they oppose him. Someone who can seem a physical threat and viewers can take seriously as being able to hurt his opponents quickly and effectively. Rusev could easily be that guy. Why? Well…
#2- He is still credible as a threat
Rusev is a big guy. 6 feet and 300 plus pounds of raw power, a former bodybuilder, and talented in the ring. It shouldn’t be that hard to get him looking credible again as he has almost always floated between the main event and high upper midcard during his entire run with the company. Aside from the aforementioned Enzo feud and playing a smaller part as a member of the League of Nations, his feuds have been with high profile guys and though he’s lost to a lot of them, he hasn’t been completely buried by it. Someone like Bray Wyatt is so far beyond repair they can’t be saved. Their credibility has been brought down to zero. Rusev has won enough to avoid that. It’s not always in terms of a win/loss record. Just look to other big men saddled with awful gimmicks when they came in as monsters. Your Snitsky with a foot fetish or Jon Heidenreich as a member of the new Legion of Doom. Some of these have been so bad the wrestler is usually given the “best in your future endeavors” termination soon after. Rusev is far from there yet and they need to avoid doing the same thing to him. He is big enough, credible enough, and good enough in the ring to still be pushed to the top and we can’t forget he has yet to be a face during his run. Something I think he is entertaining enough to pull off. Especially do to his real life wife. Speaking of which…
#3- Keep him away from Lana
The best way to move forward is sometimes to leave old things behind. Not that the most attractive woman in WWE is old, far from it, but after three years as Rusev’s ring announcer it’s time that both of them move on. Lana has started competing in the ring and has her own storyline, albeit one that hasn’t really gone anywhere yet, but it’s hers. Rusev needs to reinvent himself the same way on Smackdown as Lana did and keeping them far from each other for now is a great way to do it. The smart fans will always be aware of their actual relationship. There’s no reason to keep a tiresome thing going. The longer you wait, the better it will be if they actually decide to reunite them in the future. Maybe for that yet to happen face run.
#4- He needs feuds with and wins over credible opponents
An upcoming Summerslam match with Randy Orton is exactly the type of feud Rusev should be in. The problem is I doubt he will win it. After jobbing out to Jinder Mahal, WWE will more than likely want to rebuild The Viper and use Rusev to do it. It should be the complete opposite. Orton is an established vet who can work well with anyone. His job at this point in his career should be putting over younger talents. A win for Rusev over Orton on one of the biggest shows of the year would put his early 2017 in the rear view and allow him to go on to work with guys like Nakamura or Styles with more credibility. I have always enjoyed Rusev in the ring and would greatly enjoy his feuds with any of the current blue brand faces. There’s only so many times you can have lower midcard guys like a Zayn or Gable tap out to his free of charge, chiropractic adjustment before he moves on to bigger and better things. In that same mindset…
#5- He needs a WWE Championship run
Do I think it will happen? No. Not this year anyway. With the Mahal title reign pretty much ending up the failure most people predicted it would be, you’d think a chance for a better heel to hold it would be appealing. For Rusev though, there are simply to many other factors at play. Nakamura and Styles are presumed to be the match for the main title at Wrestlemania and I would assume whichever has the title going in will have a run with it of a decent length. Throw in Corbin as Mr. Money in the Bank and the specter of Cena’s 17th reign upcoming and there is just a long line of people ahead of Rusev for the gold. However, just because all of that is true, it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get one. Until the time becomes right to let him win it, a lengthy run with the U.S. Title would suffice and semi main event feuds over it. The one thing Smackdown does well is to make every title on its brand seem important, boosting the credibility of many of its superstars with what seems like relatively little effort. Just having secondary titles feuds as TV main events has helped boost the stock of guys like the Usos, Owens, and Styles. Rusev belongs in that same group and deserves to have the blue show going off the air with his hands raised in victory on occasion.
I’d like to think that any, or all, of these things could happen, though they are clearly unlikely. Hopefully, Smackdown and its writers take a shine to him and attempt to make something of him that Raw failed to do. Keep him relevant, keep him interesting and above all, get him back to the monster he was before. If they can do that and do it properly, when it comes time for a Rusev reign with the main title, he’ll be able to establish himself as one of the better big men in the modern era and truly “crush” it.