- Born: 12/25/1985 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- Birthname: Rusev
- Height & Weight: 6'0", 305 Ib
WWE United States Championship (2 times)
Rusev is a Bulgarian professional wrestler and former powerlifter and rower. He is the first Bulgarian to have wrestled for WWE. In the mid-2000s, He emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States with the ambition of becoming a professional wrestler. He originally lived in Virginia,, before relocating to Torrance, California, where he began training as a wrestler under Gangrel and Rikishi at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy. Rusev made his main roster debut at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 26, 2014. The sixth entrant to the titular match, Rusev was eliminated by a joint effort of four wrestlers.
After months of self-promotional videos and speeches by Rusev and his manager Lana, Rusev’s return match on the main roster came about on the April 7 episode of Raw, where he squashed Zack Ryder. In May 2014, Rusev adopted a Russophillic, anti-American gimmick that saw him announced as having relocated to Russia, and as having been named “Hero of the Russian Federation”. In the same month, his ring name was shortened to simply “Rusev”.
Over the next several months, Rusev feuded with Big E (whom he defeated at Payback and at Money in the Bank), Jack Swagger (whom he defeated at Battleground and again at SummerSlam), Mark Henry (who he defeated at Night of Champions) and Big Show (who he defeated at Hell in a Cell). Lana dedicated Rusev’s string of victories to President of Russia Vladimir Putin, drawing attention from the mainstream press – including The Washington Post and The Daily Beast – and criticism after she was interpreted as having referred to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 before Rusev’s match at Battleground in an attempt to generate heat.
On the October 6, 2014 episode of Raw, Rusev and Lana were confronted by The Rock in a surprise appearance; with The Rock driving Rusev from the ring. On November 3, Rusev gained his first professional wrestling championship and became the first Bulgarian-born champion in WWE history when he won the United States Championship by defeating then-champion Sheamus in a post-Raw match that aired on the WWE Network.
Rusev joined Team Authority in the main event of Survivor Series after The Authority helped Rusev defeat Sheamus via countout and retain the title. Rusev continued on as United States Champion, and entered a feud with John Cena. Rusev defended his title against Cena, but would ultimately lose the title to Cena at Wrestlemania XXXI, and at the same time, lose his undefeated streak. Rusev broke up with Lana shortly after losing an I Quit match to John Cena in a US title rematch.
vs Sheamus on Post-Raw show, November 3rd 2014
vs Big Show at Hell in a Cell 2014
vs Mark Henry at Night of Champions 2014
vs John Cena at Fast Lane 2015
vs Big Show
vs Mark Henry
vs Jack Swagger
vs Big E
vs John Cena