If you haven’t been paying attention to the WWE product recently, and I don’t blame you, you might have missed the Rusev/Lana angle that they’ve been running. What the basic gist of it is; Rusev and Lana are married in real life and in story-line. Lana and Rusev are done in storyline, she’s found a new man. That man is Bobby Lashley. So this led to a so-so match at WWE TLC in December. That show was forgettable as a whole, so it doesn’t really matter that the match was meh. People thought after Lashley decidedly beat Rusev, that the feud would be over.
They thought wrong. Whether that’s for the best or not, we’re here to find out. This brings forward a lot of questions about WWE’s product in general. They’re always more theatrical than other promotions. They have more television time to fill up. They also have more people on their roster than any other company. So this all adds up to why story-lines like this get thought of in their creative. It’s not necessarily an original story that they’re telling. They’ve done infidelity/divorce/couples drama stories before. What this changes, is just how they’re going to finish it.
Rusev Could Be The Mega Face That WWE Wants
If you think about the person behind the character of Rusev. Miroslav Barnyashev, Rusev’s real name, is originally from the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. He’s an immigrant. He went from being a taxi driver to a WWE Superstar. That’s a hugely abridged version of his tale, but doesn’t that remind you of something? Something that Americans push real hard. The American Dream. So we have this awesome story that we can tap into, where this poor immigrant from a Eastern European country, came to America with a dream. That dream turned into WWE championship gold in character and he married a beautiful woman and lives the life he always wanted.
Or you can make some Jerry Springer bull that gets people to watch also.
Enter last week on RAW. The story between Rusev trying to win back his wife from the clutches of Bobby Lashley is one that is pretty decent. The way that they’re going about it is a little weird. But it works, generally. Rusev comes out and attacks Lana and Lashley to show he means business. Then the police come out and arrest Rusev. Rinse and repeat that until the big blowoff match where Rusev wins and takes back his wife. That’s not what happened though.
Enter Liv Morgan
As if wrestling couldn’t get any weirder. Lana and Bobby Lashley were set to get married, live on RAW. Nothing could go wrong with that? Right? Well, if you’ve seen any other marriage on a WWE screen, you’ll know with 100% certainty that something will go wrong.
WWE decided to make this angle about sexual preference in addition to infidelity, and divorce. Liv Morgan was the one who interrupted the proceedings, not Rusev. She stated that her and Lana were in love, and now we as the audience have to see what this all means. Liv Morgan’s character is brand new, she was repackaged with a series of vignettes that showed her metamorphosis into this new character. We don’t know if she’s lying or not. So you’ll have to tune into Monday Night RAW to see.
Later in the clip Rusev made his appearance coming out of the cake to beat up Lashley and stand tall to end the show. There are a couple things that I can decipher from this angle. One is that Rusev and the rest of the people in this angle are taking HORRIBLE, TERRIBLE, GOD-AWFUL, material from creative, and turning it into something good. Yes, I said it, good.
Rusev Is Gold
This angle is slowly, turning into the genesis of a new era for WWE. I’m going to say that right now. Vince McMahon had his biggest era ever with angles just like this. Wrestling is cyclical. When WCW hits them with wrasslin’, they hit back with Jerry Springer. AEW is going to hit WWE with wrestling and mat technicians. Don’t worry though, there’s too many talents in WWE for them to go the way of the Attitude Era. People like AJ Styles, Ricochet, and company will still give you the wrestling that you want. But there’ll also be avenues for angles like this to draw in the more casual fan. That video from YouTube, is one of the most watched videos on the WWE channel.
While I’m a big fan of good, clean, technical wrestling, we all can use a bit of story in our lives as well. Whether this angle leads to anything groundbreaking, remains to be seen. What do people want to see though? The classic, age-old, babyface win for Rusev. You want to see this guy succeed in getting his wife back, and if he doesn’t get his wife back, maybe he’s a happier guy without her. Rusev has shown here, like most great wrestlers, he can turn a turd into gold.
So as far as I’m concerned, whether you think that story-lines like this aren’t good for wrestling, this one is succeeding in making stars out of the people involved.
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