Wednesday 3 September 2014

The United States of Alexander Rusev

I think we can all agree a large part of Rusev's success as a heel stems from taking the anti-America approach. Lana’s pro-Putin rhetoric has riled audiences across the United States. I imagine it will prove effective anywhere, especially in The West, and make Rusev a hero should WWE ever run a live event in Russia. Not that that's likely.

But I mentioned the United States specifically and I did that for a reason. WWE has the US championship knocking about and putting it on Rusev would be A Good Idea™. A foreign heel doing an anti-America gimmick winning the country's very own championship? That's been a tried and tested approach in pro wrestling for as long as there’s been pro wrestling. It’s also something WWE hasn't done in some time.

That's unless you count Cesaro's reign a couple of years ago, of course. Which I don't. Because it was a half-hearted thing WWE did to keep Cesaro busy and because he never really clicked in the foreign menace role. Certainly not like Rusev has anyway. Cesaro has his strengths but riling up feelings of national pride on the level Rusev and Lana operate on is not one of them.

The only man who could benefit from the United States championship.
Making Rusev the US champ would also make the title relevant, something it's not truly been for years. Sheamus has had the gold since May 5. I can’t remember a single one of his defences. With 'The Celtic Warrior' the title it meaningless and it will almost certainly continue to be meaningless for as long as he holds it. With Rusev it could gain meaning and enhance the Russian's already impressive 1980s cheap heat act.

Ideally WWE would book an interim champ to do title drop honours for 'The Super Athlete'. I'm not the world's biggest Shaymo fan but I think he and Rusev could churn out a good Big Lad encounter. But quality's not the concern. The concern is nationality. Sheamus is a perfectly functional WWE babyface but he was not born in America. While fans could rally behind him in a valiant defence against the evil foreigner it would be more sensible to place an American in a position to lose to Rusev. Someone who can talk about how the title means they’re defending the Statue of Liberty and apple pie and Barack Obama and the stars and stripes against the communist hive mind and convince us that they mean it. Sheamus talking about how the title represents a boyhood dream of the land of the free just wouldn’t be the same.

I think it's this or retire the US championship. The title’s been a pointless trinket for so long that beyond adding heat to the Rusev fire it has no use. Why not let it go out in a blaze of glory being won by Rusev and put into retirement? The heat Lana would get announcing that Rusev will not give any American the chance to regain the gold would be blistering. For a third tier championship it's not going to get much better than that.

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