Signature Moves: Roundhouse kick, spinning heel kick, fallaway slam
Entrance Themes: "Roar of the lion"
Rusev(Miroslav Barnyashev) is a Bulgarian professional wrestler signed to WWE, where he is part of the SmackDown Live brand. Rusev is the first Bulgarian to wrestle for WWE.
Rusev moved to the United States and in 2008, started training under former WWE superstars Rikishi and Gangrel in the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy. He debuted for New Wave Pro Wrestling in late 2008 under the name Miroslav Makaraov. He also wrestled for Vendetta pro wrestling in 2010 before being signed by WWE.
Not long after making his developmental debut, Rusev suffered an injury that kept him sidelined for six months. In 2012, Rusev suffered a broken neck. A year later, FCW was rebranded as NXT, and he made his debut, in a losing effort in an NXT title #1 contenders battle royal and then a losing effort to Dolph Ziggler.
He aligned with Sylvester LeFort to form a brief tag team with Scott Dawson known as "The Fighting Legionnaires". He ended his alliance with them in just a few months and soon after adopted Lana as his manager. He went by the name Alexander Rusev.
He would go on to pick up a series of wins and appear occasionally before being sent to the main roster.
WWE Main Roster and undefeated streak
Rusev made his main roster debut in Royal Rumble 2014, entering at number six. He made his debut three months later on the RAW after WrestleMania, squashing Zack Ryder. He was then promoted to be a Russian superstar and a Russian Hero.
Rusev would go on a tear, garnering an undefeated streak. This culminated in his victory over Sheamus in November of 2014 when he won the United States Championship, in the process becoming the first Bulgarian born champion in WWE history.
He participated in the 2015 Royal Rumble match, where he was the runner-up. Despite being the heel, the crowd chanted "We want Rusev" as they didn't want Roman Reigns to win. Unfortunately for them, Roman Reigns did win.
Soon after, Rusev began a feud with John Cena. Thanks to interference from Lana, he defeated John Cena at Fastlane to successfully defend the United States Championship. He faced John Cena in a match at WrestleMania 31 for the United States Championship.
Despite the grand entrance, entering the stadium in a military tank, his undefeated streak on the main roster came to an end as John Cena beat him to gain the United States Championship.
Various feuds and League of Nations
Through the next couple of months, Rusev failed to regain the United States Championship despite multiple attempts. During this time, his cruel treatment of Lana saw her slowly gain more sympathy and popularity. This culminated in her face turn when she abandoned Rusev and aligned herself with Dolph Ziggler while Rusev aligned himself with Summer Rae. This resulted in a Summerslam match.
The feud had garnered negative reviews and around October, when Lana was out with an injury, TMZ reported that Rusev and Lana had become engaged, with a photo of Lana showing off her engagement ring.
This scrapped the entire storyline and when Lana returned, she returned as a heel aligned with Rusev once again. Rusev would next align himself with Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and Wade Barrett to form The League Of Nations. They were together for a few months, feuding with Roman Reigns and then The New Day.
The League Of Nations faced The New Day in a non-title match at WrestleMania, which they won. However, they were unsuccessful in winning the tag titles the next night on RAW, which saw them attack Wade Barrett and kick him out of the group. The faction would break up over the next month after a feud with The Wyatt Family had been cancelled.
United States Championship and other feuds
Rusev won a battle royal in May 2016, earning the right to face Kalisto for the United States Championship at Extreme Rules. He submitted Kalisto at Extreme Rules 2016, regaining the United States Championship for the second time. He was drafted to RAW in the 2016 draft.
He would drop the title 101 days later to Roman Reigns, who won his first United States Championship in the process. Rusev aligned with Jinder Mahal for a short while in 2017 before Rusev sustained an injury, keeping him out until July.
Move to SmackDown Live and Rusev Day
Rusev was moved to SmackDown Live during the 2017 Superstar Shake-up. He refused to appear unless he was granted a WWE title match at Money In The Bank in June that year. He wasn't granted the match, however, and returned when John Cena appeared on SmackDown Live, setting up a brief feud with him.
He lost a flag match to John Cena at Battleground and then entered a brief feud with Randy Orton. He lost to him at Summerslam in 11-seconds. He gained a victory over Orton after attacking him after he had already had a match. With the two being 1-1, they had a match at Hell In A Cell, which Orton one.
During the Randy Orton feud, Rusev began to use the term "Rusev Day" .
He admitted later that it was a one-time thing, but because it picked up so much popularity, he kept it and aligned with Aiden English.
Rusev Day and its popularity helped him organically turn into a fan favourite, though WWE continues to portray him as a heel despite the positive reactions he receives.