I use to be a huge fan of Rusev’s gimmick… back in the 80’s. But now in 2014, I can’t help but feel like the Rusev gimmick is a reflection of how detached WWE’s creative team is to the audience they are trying to connect with. The days of hating someone because they have a different opinion about the United States are far gone. In fact, the only time that particular gimmick truly worked last was when Bret “The Hitman” Hart worked the hell out of it with intelligence and a deep knowledge for the business. He was able to criticize the United States in a way that not only got under our skin because most of it was true, but was an expert in the ring as well. Saying that he was better than any American wrestler and then using his technical wrestling skills to show his superiority was what sold the long time baby face as a heel easily. Simply pretending to be the Russian wrestling equivalent of the Hulk with his knock off phrase “Rusev crush!” in a wrestling roster filled with huge guys will not get you over with the crowd. In fact, most people either react to him with with USA chants because they are at a live event and have nothing else better to do, or they use his appearance as a restroom break like most of us at home watching do.
So I was on my way back from killing time in the kitchen when I heard the intro to that old familiar theme. The one that erupts the crowd in to a frenzy within its first notes every time it hits regardless of how rarely we hear it these days. The excitement of The Rock simply making his way to the ring was more deafening than any reaction Lana would have received with the same tired “America, bad. Russia, good. Why? Just because” speech. Admittedly, The Rock didn’t have anything relevant to say. And there are also rumors that he was in town for something completely unrelated to WWE, but decided to make an appearance. So we can take this surprise visit as a last minute thing, and not a feud between the two. But man, it wasn’t it great to see Rusev slapped around like the jabroni he is? Let’s see how he responds to it on the next Raw.