WWE: History Shows Rusev Should Win at WrestleMania


The U.S. Title scene has really heated up on SmackDown Live. So, too, has Rusev, one of the competitors battling in the fatal four-way for that championship at WWE WrestleMania 34.

After spending months mired in mid-card obscurity, the Bulgarian Brute has introduced the non-stop celebration of “Rusev Day”, and consequently is experiencing a career renaissance. Rusev is among the most over superstars on the entire WWE Roster.

A review of some WrestleMania history shows us that putting a secondary singles title on a popular superstar at the big event can lead to some great things. Given this, Rusev is the right choice to capture U.S. gold in New Orleans.

Consider the opening contest of WrestleMania XX. It featured a very popular babyface challenging for the United States Title—a rap-artist wrestler by the name of John Cena.

This was 2004, and long before the crowd divide that would become a signature part of Cena’s matches. On this night, a sold out Madison Square Garden, the long-time measuring stick of a WWE wrestler’s true popularity, serenaded Cena with positive chants and pop after pop.

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Cena would indeed capture US gold in New York that evening, and began his meteoric rise to the sports entertainment stratosphere. In the 14 years since winning the US Title at WrestleMania, Cena has won 16 world titles. That makes it fair, if not a vast understatement, to call his US Title win a positive stepping stone.

In terms of grooming a superstar for a future world title reign, the US Title is joined by the Intercontinental Championship. Often referred to as the “workers belt”, the IC Title has been captured by a number of rising, popular superstars on wrestling’s grandest stage.

Perhaps the most famous instance of this occurred at WrestleMania III. Before 93,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdone, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat edged Randy “Macho Man” Savage in what many consider to be the greatest WrestleMania match of all time.

Steamboat would go on to win The NWA World Heavyweight Championship just two years later. His world title run would result in a trilogy of legendary matches with Ric Flair.

More recently, Rob Van Dam captured the IC Title at Wrestlemania X-8in Toronto. Four years later, at ECW One Night Stand, he would win his first, and only, WWE Championship.

Taking No Time At All

Bret Hart’s transition from secondary titleholder to main title holder was the fastest of perhaps anybody who accomplished the feat. Hart won a bloody, vivacious brawl against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII to capture his second IC Title. Just 6 Months later, in October of 1992, Hart would cap off a banner year by defeating Ric Flair for his first WWE Championship.

At last year’s WrestleMania in Orlando, Kevin Owens won his first United States Championship by defeating his former best friend Chis Jericho.

While (at least to date) Owens’ WrestleMania US Title victory has not led to another reign as world champion, it *was* successful in propelling him back into the main event picture. Shortly after Mania, Owens was drafted to SmackDown Live, and before long was engaged in the show’s top feud with Shane McMahon. It is a feud that has allowed Owens to main event Hell in a Cell in the event’s eponymous match, and to even engage in physicality with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

Rusev Crush…Now

The timing could not be better for Rusev to follow in the footsteps of these aforementioned WWE superstars, and parlay a WrestleMania U.S. Title victory into something bigger.

Rusev is over, his catchphrase is over, and, owing to just *how* over they are, his new sidekick / hanger-on, Aiden English, is even receiving residual face heat. Non-stop “Rusev Day” chants (often occurring when he is not even on-screen), combined with very impressive merchandise sales, show just how ready fans are to see their newfound hero capture some gold at the Showcase of the Immortals.

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From there, Rusev should have no trouble transitioning into the SmackDown Live main-event scene—one that is certainly in need of additional bodies. It would not be far-fetched to think Rusev, off the momentum of a WrestleMania victory, could challenge for the WWE Title as early as SummerSlam.

And, fittingly, is he does, it will be on Rusev Day! It does not get more logical than that.