Rusev is facing Shinsuke Nakamura at Fastlane on Sun., Mar. 11, 2018, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It will probably be an uphill battle for the Bulgarian Brute to win that match considering Nakamura is the winner of the 2018 men’s Royal Rumble match and headed for a major bout with AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34.
I was thinking about how popular the Rusev Day gimmick seems to be and wondering when Rusev might get his next big push. In reflecting on this, I decided to look back on his recent history on pay-per-view (PPV). I was stunned to see that Handsome Rusev has not won on PPV since a count-out victory over Big Cass on the pre-show for Roadblock: End of the Line, way back in December 2016. And if you’re like me and think that being on the pre-show doesn’t really count, then you have to go all the way back to July 2016 to find Rusev’s last victory on the main card of a PPV (at Battleground versus Zack Ryder).
Similarly, Becky Lynch is another act who seems to be pretty popular with WWE crowds and it feels like she could be given a big push at any point, but it just never happens for whatever reason. The last time she won on PPV was against Mickie James at Elimination Chamber 2017, way back in February of that year. It’s been more than a full year since either Becky or Rusev have won on PPV.
Sure, I’m a little frustrated with WWE’s booking of two acts that entertain the hell out of me, but Rusev did miss some time with an injury in the first half of 2017 so it’s not quite as simple as just dumping on Vince McMahon for not liking to push the stars who I prefer.
The more interesting thing to wonder about, in my view, is looking ahead to how stars like this will fare once brand-exclusive PPVs go away. Becky will probably be ok because the women’s division has fewer members and it’s reasonable to expect she will get her chance soon enough. She might even be the favorite to win her match this weekend at Fastlane 2018.
I am much more worried about Rusev, who I think might have a tough time even making it onto dual-brand PPVs. Lots of older assumptions about the wrestling business probably need to be modified in this era of WWE Network replacing the old PPV model, but for now it still feels like a safe assumption that it is hard to rise up the card in WWE without winning some matches on PPV. The stars who are given a spotlight on PPV are generally the ones who will be given more time on television to build to those monthly Sunday night matches.
What do you think Cagesiders, am I fretting over nothing here? When do you think Rusev and Becky Lynch will win on PPV again?