Why Rusev deserves a push
Ah, the Bulgarian Brute! There was a time when he was a tank-riding, USA-hating, Lana-romancing superior athlete (Woo! Anyone?). But since riding a huge wave of momentum in his first year with the company (remember his debut at Royal Rumble 2014?), the man previously known as Alexander Rusev has become more of a lower mid-card act.
After losing steam, he found himself in a horrible love quadrangle involving himself, Lana, Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler and then came the disastrous angle involving The League of Nations. As it happens with most Superstars who enter into a program with WWE's poster boy, John Cena, Rusev too landed up into a string of losses that continued in 2017.
Whether it was a dismal flag match loss at Battleground against the Leader of Cenation or the match with Randy Orton at Summerslam, where he lost in mere 10 seconds, Rusev appeared to have hit the WWE doghouse.
However, if the pops he is receiving lately are anything to go by, WWE officials are oblivious to the charisma and the newfound comic timing that he possesses. His Rusev Day shtick has become one of the most entertaining highlights of SmackDown Live. His unusual team with Aiden English, who himself is an under-appreciated entertainer, got a great reaction from the Boston crowd at the recently concluded Clash of Champions.
The team made their presence felt in the fatal-four way tag team match that was already stacked with teams like The New Day and The Usos.
The recent episode of SmackDown Live saw Rusev and English relegated to a comic angle that is generally reserved for the lower card jobbers. However, this was the first time in a long time that I enjoyed a festive-themed match. Although The New Day are the kind of team that can pull of a comedy festive-themed match and still be a legitimate contender for the Tag Titles, history has shown that teams that partake in such matches fall by the wayside (I feel sorry for The Good Brothers, Gallows and Anderson).
Therefore, it was surprising that even in a losing effort, the team of Rusev and English came out looking good.
Rusev has to be commended for the hard work he has put in to develop his microphone skills and his comic timing. Whether he is a heel or a babyface, he always finds ways to work the crowds. Combine this with his super athletic ability (just look at him dropkicking!) and you have a bonafide world champion who can have a decent main event run.
WWE should capitalise on this slow rising momentum that Rusev is building for himself and make him rise through the ranks with a Tag Title reign first (similar to Daniel Bryan's elevation). The powers that be should allow him to strengthen his fan base, have him break out of the tag team and rejuvenate his 'The Crusher' gimmick where he would put people into the accolade and steamroll through them.
He would thrive as an anti-hero because that matches his personality and moreover, WWE have a very despicable way of presenting their babyfaces. Don't make him smile and hug kids, just let him play the super athlete gimmick and win matches on his mat prowess. He could put on a great match with the current champion, AJ Styles, in a classic face vs. face showdown of technique (akin to Cena vs. Bryan).
Even if his rise to the upper card takes time, WWE can have him challenge future champions like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and even Samoa Joe.
Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the powers that be at Stamford, Connecticut see how over Rusev is getting and have him run with the ball. MACHKA!