The cuckolding storyline between Rusev, Bobby Lashley, and Lana has garnered a great deal of criticism on social media, podcasts, articles, and general conversations between wrestling fans. Even Jim Ross and Conrad Thompson weighed in on the story in this week’s episode of “Grillin’ JR”. Cuckolding storylines have been so prevalent in WWE for decades as it seems Vince McMahon has a fascination with them but longtime fans have grown tired of this formula. In fairness to the creative powers that be in WWE, YouTube clips of the story have no less than 600k views and the kiss between Lashley and Lana was viewed over 4.8 million times, so people are watching.
Rusev has become one of the most beloved WWE Superstars since debuting in the 2014 Royal Rumble, especially after appearing on Total Divas and getting over his “Rusev Day” catchphrase. Since WWE broke up the team of Rusev and Aiden English, Rusev has been in need of a different angle. Rusev hasn’t been on television regularly since WrestleMania 35 and he could’ve been brought back in so many ways due to his in-ring ability and comfort on camera thanks to all the work he’s put in since 2014. Keeping in mind Rusev’s strengths and past booking here are seven compelling storylines that could fit Rusev that don’t involve Lana cheating on him with Bobby Lashley. In the comments below, share how you feel about this storyline, how you feel about the ones on this list, or share what you’d like to see Rusev do on WWE television.
1. Rusev Wants His United States Championship Back
The greatest memory of Rusev is him riding on top of a tank into WrestleMania 31 to face John Cena. Rusev was the United States Champion and representing Russia while John Cena served as the representative for the United States. Rusev lost to Cena in epic fashion and then won the United States Championship back a little over a later from Kalisto. Rusev eventually lost the United States Championship to Roman Reigns and then spent the rest of 2017 through 2018 losing to Big Show, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, & Shinsuke Nakamura on big shows. Rusev became wildly popular in 2018 for his catchphrase “Rusev Day”. There were “Rusev Day” t-shirts all over WrestleMania weekend and “Rusev Day” chants as well. There even was a “Rusev Day” calendar you could purchase that had every day labeled “Rusev Day”.
Rusev recently has become an American Citizen in real life and could be a great hero on TV for immigrants to the United States. Rusev has achieved so much in the United States before he was granted citizenship. Rusev has opened up and shown himself assimilating to American culture while maintaining his Bulgarian traditions on “Total Divas”. Rusev also had one of the best matches of his career against AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules in 2018. AJ retained his championship in that match, but now it’s Rusev’s time. A championship win over AJ Styles would reinvigorate Rusev and help carry the middle hour of RAW for quite some time. The fans would accept Rusev as a legitimate challenger for AJ Styles’ United States Championship immediately but WWE can build to the match by having Rusev get a couple of matches with the other members of the OC while AJ sits on commentary. Rusev and AJ could feud over several months if they wanted but the most exciting outcome of the feud would be a win for Rusev as a hero while AJ can move on to challenge for the Universal Title.
2. Rusev Helps Cedric Alexander Get Strong
Cedric Alexander recently failed in an attempt to challenge AJ Styles for the United States Championship, but in doing so he showed the RAW audience that he can go in the ring with one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. Perhaps all Cedric needs is the help of one of the most notable United States Champions of all time: Rusev.
Rusev could become Cedric’s coach and tag team partner. Rusev’s training segments as the “Russian Superathlete” were great additions to WWE programming in 2014-2015. Pre-taped segments with Rusev training Cedric in those methods could show fans another side of Cedric while shining the spotlight on Rusev as well. In the process, Rusev could have matches with each member of the OC while building Cedric up to challenge AJ. We have seen Rusev at just about every position on the card and gotten to know him through “Total Divas”, he has proven that he can be entertaining without even having to wrestle. Rusev and Cedric Alexander have a lot of potential together and likely will have great chemistry with The OC. Eventually, Rusev and Cedric could break up and have a match for the United States Championship. The contrast in styles and personality between Rusev and Cedric Alexander will likely make for great matches and great segments out of the ring as well.
3. Rusev Insults Lashley For Being A Soldier
If WWE wanted to go in a completely different direction with Bobby Lashley, they could always go back to Lashley’s three years in the US Army and build him as a patriotic American army veteran. Rusev could turn heel by insulting Lashley and the members of the US Army by saying that the folks in the army are all too stupid to get a real job. Americans almost unanimously support their soldiers, so this would put instant heat on the feud with Rusev & Lashley. Rusev kicking a soldier in the face added some good heat to his feud with Big Show in 2014.
Bobby Lashley and Rusev would be immediately over and the feud could get hotter with Lashley leaning hard into the values he learned from the US Army and how proud he is to be a veteran while Rusev could continue to mock Lashley. Lashley’s father was a drill sergeant, so there’s room to mention that in the story and possibly work in the old Boot Camp Match gimmick that Sergeant Slaughter used to do. WWE could even do a tie-in with the US Army as an ad campaign. A championship doesn’t even need to be involved for this match to get eyes on it if it is built properly.
4. Rusev Doesn’t Believe In Science
On season 7 episode 5 of “Total Divas” Rusev and Lana argued about if and when they will have a child together. When Lana suggested that they have a surrogate mother carry their child so that she can continue her own career, Rusev responded by saying “I told you, I don’t believe in science.” This statement could be a seed for a new side of Rusev’s character: a science denier. Rusev could cut promos about how science is a lie in the ring, there could be remote segments with Rusev harassing professors and students on college campuses, they could do pre-taped vignettes called “Rusev Say:” where Rusev spouts his views about the world in spite of scientific facts.
This science denier Rusev would most naturally feud with Daniel Bryan (who is on SmackDown) but just about any WWE Superstar could fit into the babyface spot of this feud as someone who believes in education and science. Science deniers are more prevalent than anyone would’ve thought in 2019 due to rampant misinformation on the internet. There are documentaries about flat-earthers and some famous athletes have fed into the lie as well. This character could become an instant lightening rod for controversy and get people talking about Rusev beyond the ring. The gimmick could even turn babyface if Rusev eventually sees the light and decides to support education and science.
5. Handsome Rusev Has A Secret Admirer
Over the past year, Rusev has slimmed down, cut his hair, and shaved his beard down to a moustache. Rusev has even referred to himself as “Handsome Rusev” for a spell. Instead of the cuckolding storyline with Bobby Lashley, a more interesting story would be the attempted seduction of Rusev by a secret admirer over several weeks. The secret admirer could be revealed to be Zelina Vega who set a trap for Rusev to get ambushed by Andrade. A good midcard program with Rusev could help Andrade rise up the ranks on RAW as a heel. Andrade and Rusev had one singles match together on SmackDown in 2018 with Andrade getting the victory, but the contrast in styles between these two could make for a fantastic feud especially when Lana & Zelina Vega are involved on the mic and physically.
6. Rusev Becomes A Trump Guy
Rusev, freshly made an American Citizen, could come out as a Trump guy. Donald Trump has heaped praise on Vladimir Putin for years much like Rusev did in 2015. Rusev’s values in 2015 line up easily with Donald Trump’s and Rusev could get plenty of heat by going after other immigrants that haven’t become US Citizens yet much like Donal Trump. Rusev could work in his lack of belief in science and lie as often as Donald Trump does. This could build to a feud with any babyface that wants to stand up to the bully in Rusev. He could feud with a smaller wrestler on RAW such as Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, Humberto Carillo, or Buddy Murphy. Bobby Lashley could either team up with Rusev since he represented Trump in “The Battle Of The Billionaires” at WrestleMania 23 or Lashley could cut a promo about how Trump never paid him for his services at WrestleMania 23 and feud with Rusev instead as someone who was swindled by Trump. Rusev stated in an interview to Video DIRBG in Bulgaria “It’s true, we keep up and Vince [McMahon] keeps up with what’s going on globally. He noticed that tension between Russia and America at the time and that’s when it was decided that I’ll go represent Russia and Putin and whatnot. But things changed, [Donald] Trump was elected as US President and he is a WWE Hall Of Famer etc.” This coupled with the fact that Linda McMahon is one of the longest-serving members in Trump’s Cabinet make this storyline very unlikely to happen, but Linda’s involvement in politics and its effect on wrestling is another conversation for another day.
7. Rusev Wants to Crush Randy Orton
Rusev has one win over Randy Orton out of the four times they have faced each other in singles matches on television. That win for Rusev came in nine seconds thanks to interference from Aiden English and one superkick from Rusev on Randy Orton’s chin. Rusev and Orton had one match that went to a decent length on Hell In A Cell 2017 (Full Match on YouTube posted above) and it was pretty great. The two could feud about their past with Orton disrespecting Rusev while Rusev wants to earn respect by defeating one of WWE’s biggest stars of the past decade in Orton. Things can be simple and work very well in wrestling. These two men are tremendous athletes with a great body of work behind each of them. Both men can work as a babyface or a heel and it would work in a feud between the two. This feud could be used to propel Rusev back to the main event with Seth Rollins – who has yet to beat Rusev on television. Orton can come back after Rusev and Rollins’ program ends and the three could work on top of RAW for a spell.