Wrestling News: Rusev Voted Wrestling Observer's Most Underrated Wrestler of 2017
Rusev hasn't had a good 2017, especially since WWE keeps forcing him to repeat the same lines and do the same gimmick ad infinitum...
What’s the story?
Rusev, one of the most underappreciated wrestlers on the SmackDown Live roster, has been voted the Most Underrated Wrestler of 2017 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
In case you didn’t know…
The award for the most underrated wrestler usually goes to that wrestler that either puts in the most effort and doesn’t go recognized for it, or has a much higher degree of popularity with the audience but is stuck in a much less prominent position on the card.
This award has gone to a WWE wrestler every year since 2002, when it was won by Booker T. The wrestler with the most ‘wins’ in this category is Cesaro, who won it for four consecutive years between 2013 and 2017.
Indeed, if you look at previous winners of this list, many of them are among the most talented wrestlers on a given roster but aren’t given bigger opportunities. Other previous winners include: Dolph Ziggler, Tyson Kidd, Paul London, Ultimo Dragon and Evan Bourne.
The heart of the matter
Unlike other Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards, this one wasn’t a runaway ‘victory’ for the #1 entry. Instead, Rusev was barely voted as the most underrated. The man that came in second place – NJPW’s ‘Stone Pitbull’ Tomohiro Ishii – lost by a handful of votes.
The other wrestlers to round up the top ten include RAW’s Finn Balor SmackDown’s Sami Zayn, NXT’s Kassius Ohno, and of course, Cesaro, whom many people still think has earned a much more prominent and high-profile position on the card.
As of this writing, there have been ten matches announced for WrestleMania 34, and unfortunately, Rusev has not been announced as a participant in any of them. This is disappointing, given that, only a few short years ago, he was wrestling John Cena and coming down the aisle at the grandest stage of them all in a war tank.
Rusev won this award for 2017 due to being a solid performer and excellent character worker that, for some reason, kept getting shoe-horned into mid-card feuds without much chance of any upward mobility. After all, he did lose to Randy Orton in ten seconds at SummerSlam 2017. Why? Nobody knows.
Moreover, his recent ‘Rusev Day’ gimmick has become monstrously popular, with fans chanting it whenever possible. In fact, WWE has even released a ‘Rusev Day’ calendar on its merchandise page, with – you guessed it – every single day of the year named ‘Rusev Day’. I for one predict that this will sell thousands of copies if not more, and will thus become a major factor in helping Rusev grow as a draw in the eyes of those at the top of WWE.
Rusev was vastly underutilized in WWE during 2017, as he was again pigeonholed into playing a stereotypical foreign heel. However, the man has shown that he can be a wacky babyface as well, and he has a great ‘sidekick’ in the singing Aiden English.
Indeed, this act has a lot of potential and should act as a vehicle to help Rusev climb up the card in WWE.