ESPN has a fantastic piece about Rusev up on its site, where he talks about the success of “Rusev Day” and his career more generally. What stood out to me was this bit, talking about his run with Aiden English:
“By far it’s the most fun I’ve had in my career. I mean, I loved WrestleMania 31 with the tank -- that was amazing, of course. But now I’m showing everybody that you don’t have to be stuck being a foreigner bad guy. Being a foreigner bad guy doesn’t have to be my destiny, and I can be much more than that.”
It wasn’t all that long ago that John Cena was returning on Independence Day and Rusev was sent out to oppose him as the foreign bad guy, setting up a Flag Match for Cena to win at the ensuing pay-per-view. It was always unfortunate that he was used that way, even before we knew he was capable of the greatness he’s shown us of late, but now it’s damn near indefensible.
Later, he would say this:
“When you look back at foreign wrestlers 20 years from now, you’ll remember I wasn’t like them. I want to be remembered as the guy who broke that mold for other foreign wrestlers.”
Can he pull that off in a Vince McMahon-led WWE? Who knows? But it’s pretty clear there’s no better man for the job.