One of the biggest names released as part of WWE's COVID cuts in April was Rusev. He had some contract and creative issues with WWE in the past but is a three-time United States Champion and his wife, Lana, is still employed by WWE.
"I knew it because we waited and the thing was going on [Rusev Day chant], right? I'm like 'Okay, there's no way the office doesn't notice this because it's before, after, during the show, everywhere' which I'm flattered because once again, I did nothing different. The people just decided to 'Hey man, yeah Rusev Day' for whatever reason. They started the whole thing," said Rusev.
"There was a period where I wasn't supposed to be at WrestleMania . I don't know if you knew that, the one where I lost to Jinder. In the height of my career of the Rusev Day, I was not supposed to be at WrestleMania. I was not on TV for three weeks. For three weeks I'm not on TV and at this point, I'm sitting backstage and I'm listening to all these people all night chanting Rusev Day and I went to Steve G., one of the writers, 'Yo this is not right!' This is my time I actually yelled at a writer, which I feel really bad because he's like, 'Well we don't know what to do.'
"I'm like, 'What do you mean you don't know what to do!? Just listen! Just stay here and listen! They'll tell you what to do!' And then at the same time, they're saying, 'Oh we're looking for new talent' and everybody is saying Rusev Day and Shane goes, 'Duly noted!'"
In early 2017 Rusev had shoulder surgery and missed almost four months of action. He reinvented himself during that time and cut his hair but is still upset that no one from WWE reached out to see how he was doing.
"After I had my shoulder surgery I heard about, you know, Hunter's got all his boys and they're texting every day. They're best friends and after my shoulder surgery, after I give up my life for this freaking company, like not even one person reached out, you know what I mean," stated Rusev. "Not Vince, not Hunter, not Carano, nobody was man enough to be like, 'Hey bud, are you ok? Do you need anything? I know you're in the hospital, you're by yourself because your wife is at freaking work!'
"I'm there laying by myself in the hospital and nobody cares man and then at the same time you're like, 'What am I doing?' Like why am I giving everything I have and I understand it's my dream, but gosh darn man. Thank God, I did enough for my investments, I don't need to work there at all. My wife is happy. Good for her. I'm done. I am done."
Last month Rusev seemingly announced his retirement from wrestling, although it may have been tongue-in-cheek, as he said "I'm not a wrestler anymore" on his Twitch channel. He was asked again if he's done with wrestling and seemed to indicate that the door is still open but he's just frustrated with the business.
"I'm just hurt, man. I'm just hurt," Rusev said to Ryback.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Ryback Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.