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Cook: Rusev/Lana/Lashley: When Collaboration Goes Wrong

Cook explores the idea of when it’s not all the writers’ fault.

Do not feel bad for Rusev.

It’s a natural reaction for people that have followed the Bulgarian Brute’s WWE career to feel some level of sympathy for the guy. I’ve lost track of how many columns I’ve written about the latest failure of WWE to capitalize off of something cool that Rusev did. He has the potential to be one of WWE’s biggest stars, but for whatever reason it’s never really come to pass. Even back when “Rusev Day” was the most popular chant at any given WWE event, the company’s reaction was to slowly kill the angle that got it over off.

Rusev is at the center of another high-profile angle right now. It’s not the first time that he & his wife Lana have split up on screen, but it is the first time that Bobby Lashley has been involved in the proceedings. The results have been…well…something.

They’ve mostly been like this. Questionable acting leading to Rusev getting laid out & Lashley getting his mack on with Lana. People definitely have opinions on it, with most of them involving the idea that Rusev must be getting punished for some reason or another. One could ask “why would Rusev be punished”, but I don’t even bother wondering about these things because it’s WWE. You can look at Vince McMahon the wrong way and get punished. Ask Paul London!

To hear Rusev tell it, nothing like that is going on. In fact, to hear Rusev tell it, the current storyline with him, Lana & Lashley is a collaboration. Also, to hear Rusev tell it, it’s “the best storyline currently going on, and the best storyline that’s been around for years”.

“It’s getting a lot of views and a lot of eyes on it. Some people like it, some people love it, but at the end of the day, it’s the hottest storyline going on.”

Well, you certainly can’t fault the guy for lacking positivity! In Rusev’s defense, the storyline has done very well on YouTube. The Rusev/Lana/Lashley segments have led the way for most of the episodes they’ve appeared on, of course excusing the shows Brock Lesnar has been on. On the downside, they’ve tanked in the TV ratings compared to the rest of the show on most weeks. I’m not sure what this means. Maybe people want to complain in the comment section? Maybe people are more comfortable watching this sort of thing on a computer screen? Heck, maybe their videos come up in some weird YouTube searches that sound like things some people might search on PornHub. I don’t know.

All I know for sure is that if, in fact, Rusev and/or Lana and/or Lashley are helping come up with the ideas for this freakshow, it refutes a popular claim that people like to make whenever they complain about WWE.

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“It’s all the Hollywood writers’ fault!”

How many times have we heard this one? Any time a stretch of WWE television appears to be creatively bankrupt, the blame from many wrestling fans goes right to the writing staff. We might blame some of the wrestlers that we don’t like, but we give most of them credit for trying. I’ve always thought there were a number of things that people were overlooking while passing blame to the writers.

Writing is hard, and things pretty much never go as planned.

Have you ever tried to write a wrestling show? Even better, have you ever tried writing a WWE show? You could come up with something that you think is the perfect wrestling television episode. Great promos, interesting angles, good matches, just top notch stuff all around. Then you can send it to your boss via e-mail or show up on the day of the show with it, and nothing about it’s translating to anybody else. The boss doesn’t like this part. This wrestler doesn’t want to do that part, and they have enough pull to make that happen. The network wants nothing to do with that one segment. So on & so forth, with everybody butting in until your perfect episode of wrestling is nothing like it started as.

Then there’s another argument people like to make from time to time. The idea that wrestlers should get to write their own stuff! All these dang written promos all sound terrible, if the boys & girls were allowed to talk off the top of their head things would be so much better, right?

Not so much.

My favorite example to use to prove this idea wrong is CZW. They had phases where they would have everybody in the promotion cut promos to build the next show or whatever they had going on at the time. Some of them were great. Guys like Chris Hero, Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley made great usage of the promo time they had and really got their stuff over. Then there were a bunch of guys that really didn’t need to be given a microphone with nothing pre-planned to say.

Some wrestlers end up being creative geniuses and have plenty of ideas worth listening to. Some don’t. I’m not sure how much creative say Rusev has really had in this angle, but the WWE Backstage crew isn’t too impressed with it.

Imagine what the new Backstage correspondent will have to say about the storyline next week!

Oh, it’ll still be around next week. I see people wanting the thing to go away, but you gotta at least drag this out to a PPV. Or a Kickoff Show. Someday, when people look back at the greatest love triangles in the history of pro wrestling, they will think of Rusev, Lana & Bobby Lashley.

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OK, probably not. I get the feeling it’ll be remembered in some form or fashion though. The next time somebody tells you that Wrestler X needs to book their own stuff, remind them of when these three got to collaborate. Or when Paul Heyman let them think they were collaborating. Either way.


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