In this new era of wrestling, it is extremely difficult to have the whole crowd respond to you in a unanimous fashion. Rusev and Lana are one of the few acts in WWE that can achieve that.
Rusev debuted in January 2014 and has not made a move up the card yet. He has been stuck in the middle of the pack, around the U.S. title scene for as long as he’s been on the main roster. And the times when he hasn’t been in the U.S. title picture, he’s been lower on the card, not higher.
He needs to lose that U.S. title and set his sights on whoever holds the Universal Championship by this time next month. Rusev is talented enough to be one of the guys at the very top of the company. Especially now that the brands are split, it is the perfect chance to finally give Rusev that main event run. Raw still needs that dominant top heel, because even though Seth is a great heel, a number of people still want to see him succeed and win matches.
Crowd reaction is very important in wrestling, and Rusev and Lana have the ability to draw heat in spades. They both have shown the ability to take whatever story they are given and make it entertaining. If anyone else currently on the roster had to do their wedding celebration segment on Raw, it would have been a disaster. In filling out a three-hour show, they had a lot more time than they needed, and a lot more time to fail before Roman Reigns came to save the day. Both Lana and Rusev have the great ability to extend and improvise promos.
Lana and Rusev essentially started out with the “evil foreigner” gimmick, but now have transitioned to a more conventional one. They are now a heel champion and his wife, who think they are better than everyone else. That change bodes well for them both, because this gimmick has a much higher ceiling. You can eventually become a babyface from this character. You can’t really be an evil foreigner and transition to a babyface, because they tried with Lana and it failed horribly.
Rusev and Lana were at one point the hottest act in the entire company. They were a perfect mix of being hated, but also being entertaining. Rusev never lost, but he never beat anyone the crowd was really behind. Lana would say negative things about the United States but everyone still wanted to see her. They were kept strong, and the key to their success was keeping Lana strong. During Rusev’s unbeaten streak, Lana was in charge. When Lana became the “damsel in distress,” they fell apart. Now Rusev and Lana are partners and equals, and they are becoming strong once again.
Rusev losing the title at SummerSlam would have been good for all involved. He has shown he is somewhat bulletproof to taking losses, which is a great quality for a heel. Had he lost to Reigns, he could have been catapulted to the top of the card.
He has the tools to be one of the few Superstars that hovers around the main event scene. He’s a big man, who is very athletic and quick for his size. He can use the microphone to elevate himself, his opponent, and the storyline he is a part of. He has a lot of upside because the crowd hasn’t seen most of the matches he could have in the main event. And, he has the best manager in WWE not named Paul Heyman.