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 29)
Plovdiv, Bulgaria[2][3]
Resides Tampa, Florida, United States[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 138 kg (304 lb)[4]
Billed from Bulgaria[5]
Trained by Gangrel[1][3]
Florida Championship Wrestling[1]
Debut November 22, 2008[6]

Miroslav Barnyashev (Bulgarian: Мирослав Барняшев; born December 25, 1985), known by his former ring name Alexander Rusev and currently performing as Rusev, is a Bulgarian professional wrestler and former powerlifter and rower. He works for the American professional wrestling promotion WWE, where he is the current WWE United States Champion in his first reign.[3][4] 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 under Gangrel and Rikishi at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy.[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 (2010-present)[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] In matches taped before his main roster debut,[21][22] Rusev defeated main roster wrestlers Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Sin Cara in singles matches, which aired on NXT in January and February.[23][24][25]

Rusev continued to appear sporadically on NXT after joining the main roster in April 2014. He made his final appearance on July 24, 2014, getting disqualified against NXT Champion Adrian Neville in a non-title match.[26]

Hero of the Russian Federation (2014–present)[edit]

Rusev (right) with Lana in April 2014.

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.[27][28] After months of self-promotional videos and speeches by Rusev and his manager Lana,[29][30][31] Rusev's return match on the main roster came about on the April 7 episode of Raw, where he squashed Zack Ryder.[32] In May, Rusev adopted a Russophillic, anti-American gimmick that saw him announced as having relocated to Russia,[33][34][35] and as having been named "Hero of the Russian Federation".[36] In the same month, his ring name was shortened to simply "Rusev".[37] Over the next several months, Rusev feuded with Xavier Woods and R-Truth (whom Rusev defeated at Extreme Rules in a 2-on-1 handicap match) and Big E (whom he defeated at Payback and at Money in the Bank),[38][39][40] Jack Swagger (whom he defeated at Battleground and again at SummerSlam),[41][42] Mark Henry (whom he defeated at Night of Champions)[43] and Big Show (whom he defeated at Hell in a Cell).[44] Lana dedicated Rusev's string of victories to President of Russia Vladimir Putin, drawing attention from the mainstream press - including The Washington Post and The Daily Beast - and criticism after she was interpreted as having referred to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 before Rusev's match at Battleground in an attempt to generate heat.[33][45] On the October 6 episode of Raw, Rusev and Lana were confronted by The Rock in a surprise appearance; with The Rock driving Rusev from the ring after a verbal exchange.[46]

On November 3, Rusev gained his first professional wrestling championship and became the first Bulgarian-born champion in WWE history when he won the United States Championship from Sheamus in a post-Raw match that aired on the WWE Network.[47] On November 23 at Survivor Series, Rusev competed in a 10-man Survivor Series match as part of Team Authority. Rusev was eliminated from the match by countout after crashing through the Spanish announce table.[48] Rusev and Jack Swagger once again feuded in December, leading to Rusev successfully defending the United States Championship against Swagger at TLC. On January 25, 2015 at Royal Rumble, Rusev entered the Rumble match at number 15, eliminating six other contestants and placing second overall.[49] On the Royal Rumble post-show, Rusev interrupted John Cena as he was being interviewed and an altercation broke out. This led to a match being announced on the January 26 edition of Raw between the two for the title at Fastlane.[50] At the event, Rusev won by making Cena tap out after low blowing him.[51]

Other media[edit]

Barnyashev, as Rusev, made his video game debut as a playable character in the WWE 2K15 video game and has his own path in the "Who Got NXT" mode for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, documenting his matches in NXT.[52]

In wrestling[edit]

Rusev (right) applying The Accolade on Zack Ryder (bottom) in April 2014 while being watched by his manager, Lana.
  • Nicknames
    • "The Bashing Bulgarian"[2]
    • "The Bulgarian Brute"[73]
    • "The Super-Athlete"[74]
    • "The Hero of the Russian Federation"

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Rusev displaying the WWE United States Championship and Russian flag in February 2015.


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External links[edit]