Miro is an exceptional member of any wrestling roster, yet his disappearance from AEW television has many wondering what’s going on.
All Elite Wrestling will never address this, but any objective look would show that AEW is missing out on Miro and his full potential. Miro, FKA Rusev in WWE, was one of the earliest WWE staples to move to the new AEW. Fans were genuinely excited at the time because, frankly, WWE failed to utilize Rusev to his full potential.
With flashes of something more every once and a while, as well as his over “Rusev Day” chants, fans wanted to see Miro succeed. He is so beloved by both sides of the marginal AEW vs. WWE Twitter beef that his booking and the reasons for it are often discussed and debated. What isn’t up for debate, though, is that Miro should be given a legitimate shot and hasn’t gotten one yet. AEW has not put Miro on television in quite some time, which is a real shame.
What’s Gone Wrong
AEW is missing out on Miro not just for his recent and unexplained lack of screen time but also because he has been poorly booked with a boring character. Miro debuted as a funny gamer groomsman to Kip Sabian. That character was not a contender instantly but could have broken through, given the performer’s past success with goofy gimmicks. Also, focusing on Miro’s championship accomplishments in either company is missing how truly off AEW has been with the talented performer. While AEW did put the TNT title on Miro, WWE also gave him mid-card titles. His booking is disappointing because of the lack of story and TV time, not gold.
Unfortunately, AEW is missing out on Miro and his natural charisma. This fact is made all the worse when fans think back to his final WWE run. The talented Bulgarian had already accomplished “Rusev Day,” an incredibly over and massively goofy gimmick, a few years earlier. When he debuted on AEW, it looked promising. He came in as part of an alliance with AEW original Kip Sabian. Unfortunately, what could have been an excellent debut angle, a fun-loving best man finally taking out the groomzilla, never materialized. Instead, Miro switched to a generic heel and turned on Kip after a loss.
Moving Miro to a straight-up monster heel was the wrong move. He had already tried that gimmick in WWE, and it had a ceiling. The goofy face was what gave Miro his popularity in WWE, so not giving a naturally likable guy a chance to run a gimmick similar to the one WWE failed to capitalize on was a huge misstep. Also, a monster heel doesn’t need to be one-dimensional. AEW seemed to figure this out when they started invoking the divine in his videos. Then they stopped using him on television. Injuries are partly to blame, but even since being medically cleared, he hasn’t completely returned to programming. Whether it is a monster or a religious zealot, a heel needs tv time to get over. Saddling him with a generic gimmick and then taking him off TV was a recipe for cooling off his goodwill with wrestling fans.
Talented In-Ring Performer
Miro’s lack of character and time is much worse when you consider his in-ring ability. Before being taken off television indefinitely, Miro was trusted with several high-profile matches against Darby Alin, Bryan Danielson, and more. His TNT title run also included some really good action between the ropes. As he started to add bits of his redeemer character, he built up a ton of momentum.
Miro’s excellent work in the ring loses meaning without a higher-profile story. Yes, AEW has developed a reputation for being the “wrestling” show, which is doubly true of its subsidiary promotion Ring of Honor. What many in AEW are starting to realize, though, is that to genuinely compete at the heights levels against not just WWE but other content more broadly, you need something more. Wrestling is a fantastic and wholly unique art form. The performances in the ring are unlike anything you can see on television. The problem with a unique art form is the barrier to entry. A talent like Miro can remove that barrier. He can be compelling outside of the ring and deliver solid matches if given a chance. Without the first part, though, the second becomes irrelevant to all but the most dedicated and invested fans, who were going to watch anyway.
Possible Main Stream Appeal
With the new AEW All Access show airing at the end of March, the company is taking a significant step toward mainstream recognition like WWE did with Total Divas and Total Bellas. To ensure the program does well, AEW could turn to a couple that featured prominently on Total Divas with Miro and his wife, CJ Perry. They had several stories throughout their run on TV and are experienced with the show’s format while giving fans of Total Divas something familiar to draw them in.
AEW’s failure to utilize Miro removes a valuable tool from their All Access arsenal. Fans of reality tv know Miro and Perry and generally like the duo. However, even if Khan added them to the show next week, it wouldn’t do them much good. Without Miro being at AEW and on television, he and Perry can’t help bridge the gap between the viewers who watch Dynamite and the viewers who watch All Access. Total Divas, to some initial surprise, did make stars of the Bella Twins and others in WWE. All Access can do that same, but they need to have an exciting cast that appears on both shows. He and his wife could only do a little to help the show grow without being present on Dynamite or Rampage. If he was on Dynamite and in a story each week, their mainstream appeal could do wonders for the All-Access brand.
An Inevitable Conclusion?
Maybe he wasn’t meant for a big spotlight; however, that doesn’t seem to track with how he connected with wrestling fans. Although Miro may never have been the face of either company, the move from WWE was supposed to give a talented performer his first sustained opportunity to compete in the main event. Unfortunately, it never came to be for several reasons: injury, a bloated roster of marquee signings, and a creative plan that has yet to focus on rehabilitating ex-WWE performers. Had he been allowed to prove himself or fail yet on AEW television, the conversation would be different. With rumors that Miro is healthy but not in the creative plans for AEW though, it seems unlikely we will ever see what that looks like. His fans deserve to see what Miro can do with some time and an actual character to play. And Miro himself deserves the chance to finally engage with fans the way he envisioned.