Charismatic, handsome, in epic shape and a storied amateur wrestling history to boot, Eric Bugenhagen or Rik Bugez, as he’s known currently, is a tremendous talent that doesn’t seem to be getting the push he deserves, or rather that The Universe deserves. And it is this that inspires me to ask: Why not!? WWE can’t let Eric Bugenhagen slip through their fingers.
He seems to be the perfect response to fill the void left by the absence of the now legendary John Cena. So why did WWE allow him to be sent to Evolve this past year? Don’t ask me! I’m just as upset as probably even he was.
WWE’s “One Man Show”
The company seems reluctant to let a single superstar lead the roster as Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and John Cena have done in the past. This could be because of the strain it put on the company each time one of these epic stars had to, or felt the need to step away from the business.
Moving forward, the company seems to be hell-bent on not letting this happen, refusing to push those that are clearly able-bodied to take on the task. Triple H is a big proponent of this way of thinking, as he has stated often enough.
But is there a talented individual that could fit that bill should the company choose to go down that path once again … especially if they feel that it’ll boost ratings in the end?
Enter Eric Bugenhagen
As we stated, the man has the charisma, the athleticism and the in-ring ability to not only steal the show on WWE’s less than high standard programming, but he can definitely step everyone else’s game up as well, or so I feel. So yeah…here’s one individual WWE can’t let slip through their fingers.
Having him at the forefront of NXT would make sense to anyone paying attention to his career (as yours truly is), and not only, but outshining some of the stars that are talked about regularly and are holding titles … i.e., your Gargano’s, Balors et al of the world.
But beyond that, I feel as though he should have received a push way before Lars Sullivan (who fell flat anyways, and whom he started with at NXT way back in 2017 as you’ll read below), and dare I say it, even Keith Lee.
Bold statements? Yes, but I believe in this guy, so bear with me, please. To me, he has the makings of a superstar the likes of which my best friend Antonello and I grew up watching when we were ten year old kids, staring up at the wooden box of a TV set with bright eyes bulging out our heads.
A brief but storied history
From Franklin, Wisconsin, the 33 year old started in wrestling at a young age, garnering a spot on the legendary Wisconsin Badgers Wrestling team where he garnered quite a bit of attention for himself, including a profile on local TV. In 2011 he was ranked as one of the top ten amateur wrestlers in the US, an accomplishment that shouldn’t be taken lightly at all.
He subsequently served as strength and conditioning coach for the team.
His debut in NXT came five years later in 2017 in which he debuted in a match with Lars Sullivan, as stated.
He worked with many current WWE roster superstars such as Otis and a few others … talent that received a push when he didn’t (although I feel he was much more deserving).
He took a year off after that point but returned to NXT programming intermittently moving forward.
As of 2020, he has been wrestling with Evolve (still WWE, but a few echelons lower than even NXT, dare I say it.
So I ask … what’s wrong with this picture?
An epic talent such as this and he’s being buried behind the crowd of wrestlers pushing and clawing to showcase their worth and prominence in a long waiting line of talent. Reminds me of the other arts, but that’s another story altogether.
A massive presence on Social Media
He puts forth and posts absolutely hilarious videos on his very own YouTube channel in which he not only lifts more than any man should from his home gym, but he showcases his impeccable guitar playing and penchant for comedy.
Loud as all hell, sure, but that didn’t stop the likes of Wanda Sykes, Jim Carrey and so many other loud–mouthed funny men and women that now dominate their respective arts.
And in the end, what has Vince McMahon been telling us for years now? It isn’t exactly sports, but sports entertainment. Right?
So Bugenhagen should surely fit that bill, and a spot on the roster—the head of the roster—should be a no-brainer for anyone making decisions back there. Eric puts forth the all around entertainer image that hasn’t been seen since the likes of Dwayne Johnson and of course John Cena.
And yes, there is in fact quite a few stars in the making over at NXT, and even some on SmackDown and Raw, that I don’t feel are as charismatic as they should be, or at least not enough to have been given the pushes they were granted.
Bugenhagen? I’d be perfectly content watching him play a slow game of poker just to see his reactions and charisma shine through.
What will the future hold?
Why they’re reluctant, I don’t know. There isn’t much press on this individual, especially press built up by WWE themselves. But there definitely should be.
And one can be sure he can even handle more serious situations or rather story lines. Just take a look at his eyes and you’ll see. Those blue wolf’s eyes of his are certainly capable of that prison yard stare of old, and he’s got the size and strength to back it up. Just take a look at his aforementioned YouTube channel if you don’t believe me. And he’s pretty easy to find.
A definite star on the rise that WWE can’t let slip through their fingers, as they’ve certainly done before.
Lest we forget that this is the company that actually fired Cody Rhodes! Now if that isn’t statement enough, I don’t know what is, dear readers.
My money is on Eric Bugenhagen to make some noise, even if it isn’t in WWE. But, a talent like him, it should be on the grandest stage of them all.