Alexander Rusev

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Alexander Rusev
Rusev on Raw in April 2014.
Birth name Miroslav Barnyashev[1]
(Bulgarian: Мирослав Барняшев)
Born (1985-12-25) December 25, 1985 (age 28)
Plovdiv, Bulgaria[2][3]
Resides Tampa, Florida, USA[2][3]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Alexander Rusev[1]
Miroslav Makarov[2]
Billed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[4][3]
Billed weight 305 lb (138 kg)[4]
Billed from Bulgaria[5]
Moscow, Russia[4]
Trained by Gangrel[1][3]
Debut November 22, 2008[6]

Miroslav Barnyashev (Bulgarian: Мирослав Барняшев; born December 25, 1985) is a Bulgarian professional wrestler and former powerlifter and rower. He is currently working for the United States-based professional wrestling promotion WWE under the ring name Rusev.[4][3] Barnyashev is the first Bulgarian to have wrestled for WWE.[2]

Early life and athletics career[edit]

Barnyashev was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.[3] He attended a sports school while growing up and competed in rowing and powerlifting as an adult.[3]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (2008–2010)[edit]

In the mid-2000s, Barnyashev emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States with the ambition of becoming a professional wrestler. He originally lived in Virginia,[3] before relocating to Torrance, California, where he began training as a wrestler with Gangrel and Rikishi at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy as his trainers.[1][2][3] Barnyashev debuted on the independent circuit on November 22, 2008 under the ring name "Miroslav Makaraov", defeating Aerial Star.[6]

In 2010, Barnyashev wrestled for Vendetta Pro Wrestling as "Miroslav". While wrestling for VPW, he was managed by Markus Mac.[7] He and several other VPW wrestlers appeared in the music video for the song The Whole F'n Show by Kushinator (the entrance music of wrestler Rob Van Dam).[8]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE[edit]

Developmental territories (2010–2014)[edit]

Rusev at WrestleMania Axxess in April 2013 in his Muay Thai-inspired ring attire.

In September 2010, Barnyashev was signed to a contract by the professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[2] He was assigned to the WWE's Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental territory, where he adopted the ring name "Alexander Rusev".[1] He wrestled his first televised match on the July 17, 2011 episode of FCW, defeating Mike Dalton while being managed by Raquel Diaz.[9][10] Shortly after debuting in FCW, Rusev tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus and spent six months rehabilitating.[3]

Rusev returned to FCW in March 2012 with Nick Rogers as his manager.[11] In the summer of 2012, Rusev suffered a broken neck, temporarily paralyzing his arm. While rehabilitating, Barnyashev travelled to Thailand, where he studied the martial art Muay Thai.[3] In August 2012, WWE rebranded FCW as WWE NXT.[12]

After recovering from his injuries, Rusev made his NXT television debut on the May 30, 2013 episode, competing in a battle royale to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship that was won by Bo Dallas.[13] Rusev's first NXT singles match came about on August 21, losing to Dolph Ziggler.[14] Shortly thereafter, Rusev adopted Sylvester Lefort as his manager and formed a short-lived tag team with Scott Dawson named the "Fighting Legionnaires"; they feuded with the team of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.[3][15][16][17] On the October 30 episode of NXT, Rusev ended his affiliation with Lefort by attacking him during a tag team bout.[18] Rusev proceeded to adopt Lana as his "social ambassador",[19] a pairing compared by WWE to Ivan and Ludmilla Drago from the 1985 film Rocky IV.[20]

Rusev continued to appear sporadically on NXT after joining the main roster in April 2014. He made his final appearance on July 25, 2014, losing to NXT Champion Adrian Neville in a non-title match.[21]

Main roster (2014-present)[edit]

Rusev made his main roster debut at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 26, 2014. The sixth entrant to the titular match, Rusev was eliminated by a joint effort of four wrestlers.[22][23] After an absence of several months, Rusev returned to the main roster on the April 7 episode of Raw alongside Lana, squashing Zack Ryder.[24]

In May 2014, Rusev adopted a Russophillic, anti-American gimmick that saw him announced as having relocated to Russia,[25][26][27] and as having been named "Hero of the Russian Federation".[28] In the same month, his ring name was shortened to simply "Rusev".[29] He subsequently began feuding with Big E, who he defeated in consecutive bouts at Payback and at Money in the Bank.[30][31][32] Rusev went on to feud with the self-proclaimed "Real American" Jack Swagger, who he defeated on July 20 at Battleground.[33] Prior to the match, Lana referenced "recent current events" and praised president of Russia Vladimir Putin to help build heat for Rusev, which The Washington Post interpreted as a veiled reference to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 three days earlier. WWE subsequently apologized but maintained that Lana's comments were not in reference to Flight 17.[34] At SummerSlam on August 17, 2014, Rusev defeated Swagger who passed out due to Rusev's submission hold the Accolade in a flag match.[35]

In wrestling[edit]

Rusev (right) applying The Accolade on Zack Ryder (bottom) in April 2014, watched by his manager, Lana.
  • Nicknames
    • "The Bashing Bulgarian"[2]
    • "The Bulgarian Brute"[50]
    • "The Super-Athlete"[51]


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  11. ^ a b Parry, Josh (March 4, 2012). "3/2 FCW results Kissimmee, Fla.". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 15, 2013. "Rusev and Rogers are a very impressive tandem. Rusev, the big man, stomped out to the ring as Rogers joined him in jeans and a bedazzled jacket, loudly blowing a whistle." 
  12. ^ "WWE News: FCW name being phased out". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved August 14, 2012. 
  13. ^ Witner, Emerson (May 30, 2013). "WWE NXT TV report". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
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External links[edit]