Rusev Day is over. The gimmick that came from out of nowhere has taken the WWE Universe by storm. That kind of magic is rare so when it happens, fans from all walks of life can appreciate it. They cheer it, they chant it and they can’t get enough of it.
But in this modern era of pro wrestling, what does it truly mean to get over? At first glance it does seem that all a guy needs is a trendy catchphrase to set the world on fire and suddenly he’s thrust into the main event scene.
After all, where would Stone Cold Steve Austin be without “Austin 3:16?” Would The Rock have become The Rock without “If you smell what The Rock is cooking?” How could Daniel Bryan have beaten the odds without the Yes Movement?
History may very well be repeating itself. WWE may have a new headliner on its hands, a rejuvenated Superstar who’s ready for his day in the sun. Is Rusev taking his first steps on a year-long road that could lead him to world title immortality at WrestleMania 35?
Is that really what’s happening? Rusev’s WWE career began in 2010 and during the past eight years, he’s been the heel that fans love to hate. He’s big, he’s scary and he’s ferocious. Rusev is everything a monster villain should be and much more.
Rusev is easy to hate. He has no redeeming qualities as a heel; he’s merciless, vile, and he never does the right thing. He spewed venom at America and everyone that stood up for the red, white and blue. All Rusev wants to do is crush and he usually always crushes the guys that fans love.
He did his job and he did it very well. WWE pointed him at its top babyfaces and Rusev wreaked havoc on all of them. Vince McMahon loves the big mean antagonists and Rusev definitely fit the bill. What more could anyone ask for in a heel?
But somewhere along the way, Rusev fell into a rut. Fans were no longer impressed. They were complacent. He was still big, still mean and still scary. But he was also treading water. It’s not as if the crowd didn’t appreciate him anymore; they just didn’t seem to care.
However the Rusev Day gimmick has changed all of that. Suddenly all of the potential that fans saw in him from day one has once again manifested itself. Rusev is a heel but he’s become a favorite for many that believe he deserves to finally get a shot at the top. But would it work?
Fans saw something of themselves in Daniel Bryan’s character. He shouldn’t have a chance. Life had beaten him down so many times, how could he ever hope to rise up? Why did he keep fighting? It was obvious that WWE didn’t want him on top, so why should he even try?
But every time fans looked into Bryan’s eyes, they saw it. They saw him. Bryan was special and everyone knew it. Behind his calm demeanor was a man that was raging to succeed. He knew what he could do and he knew how good he was in the ring. He would not be denied and fans could see that. They lived through him and without their support; he never would have made it.
The Peoples Champion was hated from the start. The Rock was a smiling babyface that wanted approval but did not get it until he turned against the fans. Rock made them love him because of his natural charisma and he kept them interested because of his unpredictability.
He was good in the ring and better on the mic. Rock was a star and every time he was on camera, he chewed up the scenery. The Rock was on the road to big things and the fans knew it. He exuded an air of confidence that only the truly great talents share. Rocky was an entertainer. He was born for the bright lights and no one worked harder to get to the top than he did.
Steve Austin became Stone Cold thanks to the 3:16 promo. He grabbed the fans’ attention and he never let it go. He struck at just the right time and gave the crowd the kind of hero they had not seen since Dusty Rhodes. Austin was a man’s man and he captivated the crowd with every word and every match. He was real. He was believable. Like The Rock and Daniel Bryan, Stone Cold was inspiring.
When was the last time Rusev inspired the crowd? When fans look at The Bulgarian Brute character, do they see greatness? As he’s flanked by Lana and her phony accent, does Rusev come across like the real deal? At what point did Rusev’s job as the big nasty heel suddenly morph into that of the wildly popular Superstar on the verge of big things? Is Rusev Day truly that monumental?
Or is the crowd just enjoying the gimmick? Maybe Rusev is getting over because its fun to chant for him. The fans that toss beach balls around during the show are the same ones that randomly chant nonsense during matches. They cheer heels, boo babyfaces and often try to take over the show.
So if Rusev is indeed put to the test and given the platform to prove himself, will fans go along for the ride? Will they support him the way they did with Austin? The Rock? Daniel Bryan? Is it possible that Rusev is over only by today’s standards? Could it be that’s actually good enough?
Rusev is selling merchandise and that’s a good thing. He’s becoming more valuable to WWE. Rusev the man had done more than enough to succeed. He put the work in. He shared the ring with the best and he held his own. Every time he’s had the chance to impress, he’s done it.
After eight years maybe this is the best time to see if he really can connect. Maybe he is more than just a catchphrase. Maybe it truly is Rusev Day after all.
Kevin: “Firefly Fun House” Bray Wyatt Is The Best Bray Wyatt
“He must differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail.” Do you agree?
Bray Wyatt is back in WWE in a whole new way, and Kevin is on board to see this continue over the old obsessive Bray Wyatt.
There’s a familiar sinister force permeating the walls of the WWE. Bray Wyatt is back, and this time around he’s a…children’s TV show host? Yeah, you’ve read that correctly. Bray Wyatt’s newest gimmick is that of the host of the “Firefly Fun House,” featuring a doll, a buzzard, and the man himself.
After weeks of creepy vignettes showing the buzzard and the doll, we finally got a taste of Bray Wyatt in his new role on Monday night. Wyatt introduced us to his new friends, atoned for years of being a bad man, and symbolically ended his former demonic self with a chainsaw.
All that is a lot to take in. It was wacky, it was bizarre, and it was downright goofy. And BRILLIANT.
I ate this segment up, and took to Twitter to pronounce its brilliance immediately after I finished watching it. I know it took the majority of people a couple re-watches to come around on it, but I was on board with this version of Bray Wyatt from the jump.
There’s something delightfully creepy about Bray Wyatt the children’s show host. He straddles that line between playing it straight and going off the rails perfectly, and while you know that something isn’t right, the character is still drastically different than “The Eater of Worlds.”
Let’s face it, Wyatt was in desperate need of a fresh look and character, and boy, did he get it. Before disappearing from WWE television last year, Wyatt had been treading deep water being stuck with Matt Hardy, and frankly, he had been in trouble dating back to the WrestleMania 33 loss of his WWE Championship to Randy Orton in a subpar showing.
That was back in 2017. Now, in the year 2019, we’re finally getting to see something new out of Wyatt, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Now, the question remains: where will he go? We’ve just had a Superstar Shake-Up, what seemed like an appropriate time to sort out Wyatt’s return, but that ship has sailed.
Is the host of the Firefly Fun House headed back to RAW, where he was before disappearing? Or is a return to Smackdown in order for Wyatt, where he ascended to the ranks of world champion back in 2017?
It’s difficult, because we still don’t really know what Wyatt is supposed to be. Is he still a bad guy,or is he some kind of demented wannabe hero? I think a character like this would thrive on RAW, but if Wyatt’s still going to be performing as a heel, then he might do better on Smackdown, a show that needs another heel or two.
Personally, I don’t see Wyatt as a heel in this character. He’s more psychopath than ever before, but I still don’t see him as a bad guy, but rather as a crazed man trying to make amends for his past wrongdoings. He could instantly become the most interesting character on WWE TV, and in my mind, he’s already there with one segment. Imagine how hot he’ll be with a few more vignettes?
But the thing that intrigues me most is what he’s going to look like in the ring? Is he going to wrestle in his khaki slacks and his Mr. Rogers sweater? Is he still going to use the End of Days as his finisher? What new wrinkles is he going to add to his entrance, to his moveset, to his overall character?
HE MUST differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail. People had gotten tired of the same old shtick for five years, and were yearning for something different.
Well, now different is here. But it will all be for naught if Wyatt still acts the same and wrestles the same, we need to see some change desperately. I expect to see more of this new, nutjob Bray Wyatt on RAW next week, and I can’t wait for it. This could be a real game-changer.
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (4/24/19)
NXT was loaded with action this week–how did it land for you?
Tiffany takes her Takes to Full Sail University and WWE NXT today, featuring Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong and more!
So, time for OG NXT and Johnny Gargano will face Roderick Strong, but will Undisputed Era stand together or will a jealous Cole wreak havoc?
Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong/Undisputed Era
I think we all figured when Gargano chose Roderick Strong as his UE opponent that Cole wasn’t going to be happy, and we’ve all seen definite signs of dissent in the Undisputed Era ranks, but I was honestly surprised by how this match ended. Cole vs Riddle promises to be great. I can’t stand Matt Riddle, but him pointing out that Cole was jealous was perfect.
Gargano vs Strong was every bit as great as it promised. Strong’s a great athlete and letting him show that off in this match was a great move. Having Cole accidentally cost Strong the match and having Riddle come in to help Gargano was the perfect amount of chaos to end the match while protecting everyone involved.
I don’t know what next week will hold for Undisputed Era, but Strong basically telling UE to f**k off after the loss isn’t a good tiding.
Jaxson Ryker vs Humberto Carrillo
I have a question: Is Jaxson Ryker the only competitor in Forgotten Sons? Seriously, when is the last time Blake and Cutler had matches? Don’t get me wrong, Ryker is a great, albeit psychopathic, competitor, but I’m a little tired of him being the only member of Forgotten Sons competing.
The match with Carrillo was fantastic, even if Carrillo had a little trouble getting started. The Double Countout was a smart move to protect both guys, but I loved thorough line of having Oney Lorcan, now on 205 Live with Humberto Carrillo, and Danny Burch come to Carrillo’s rescue and keep Forgotten Sons from completely destroying him. This should be a fun feud.
Aliyah and Vanessa Borne vs Candice LeRae and Kacy Catanzaro
So it seems like Candice LeRae is being groomed to take the belt off of Shayna Baszler if this match was anything to go by. I love Aliyah and Vanessa Borne, but I was disappointed by this match because it became clear very quickly that the whole point of the match was to make Candice look stronger when she got a pretty easy pin on Vanessa Borne. It’s nothing against Candice, but I hated seeing Borne Bougie getting sacrificed like that.
Women’s Division vs Shayna Baszler
I’m not sure what WWE is thinking, but if you want to keep Shayna Baszler looking like a badass, DON’T have her constantly getting cheap shots on anyone she deems a threat, whether they are or not. She doesn’t look like an unstoppable badass, she looks like a punk, which is a disservice to her. Plus having Shafir and Duke being her lackeys hurts them too.
I APPLAUDED Mia Yim’s promo, especially her calling out Biance Belair’s constant insistence that she was still undefeated, even though she’s lost to Baszler twice, for the nonsense that it is. I’m totally behind Yim getting another shot at Baszler, especially since Belair didn’t have to earn her second chance while Yim hasn’t gotten another one.
William Regal had a hell of a career but, in my opinion, he’s at his best as an authority figure and I’m glad he’s loosened up from his days as the strait-laced Commissioner of WWF in 2001. I love Ohno demanding his…right to try out the shiny new NXT toys and I have a feeling he’ll regret demanding a shot at KUSHIDA, which is probably why Regal gave it to him. Sounds fun.
Street Profits vs War/Viking Raiders/Experience
I’m still puzzled as to why Street Profits got a shot at the NXT Tag Champions, whatever they’re called this week, but the match was fantastic. Dawkins and Ford did the smart thing by getting the jump on Rowe/Erik and Hanson/Ivar (I honestly am not sure which Viking name goes with whom, I’m just guessing), but it was for naught because the Nordic dudes got themselves together and absolutely thrashed the Profits, but the Profits definitely proved that they belong in the Tag Title picture.
Great episode of NXT! Much like NXT UK, the matches and segments all had a purpose and were pretty good.
The disintegration of Undisputed Era seems to be moving much faster than the first ending of the Shield and I’m a little confused as to why. Undisputed Era hasn’t been called up to RAW or SmackDown, so I’m not sure why there seems to be a rush on breaking them up. Granted, having Cole ‘accidentally’ costing Strong the match and his clear jealousy of Strong getting the first shot at Gargano could be leading to Strong breaking off and feuding with Cole, but it’s not clear where Fish and O’Reilly will end up in this.
Well, that is it for Tiffany’s Takes for this week! Next week, we’ll be looking Week 2 out of the 2019 Superstar Shake Up and see how RAW and SmackDown will deal with the fallout of this week!
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