This past Sunday WWE gave us their annual Royal Rumble event. In the post show of the event there was a noticeable altercation between franchise player John Cena and rising mega-heel Rusev. According to reports, this was done to set up a feud between the two that will see John cena end Rusev’s un-pinned streak. If this is true then WWE are making a grave mistake. They have ability to create the next mega-star in whoever pins or submits Rusev. To waste this opportunity on John Cena would be foolish as he has already had a 10+ year push as the face of the company. Here are 10 superstars who would benefit more from giving Rusev his first loss by pin fall or submission and capturing the United states Championship.
10. Alex Riley
The Booking: have Alex riley return on an episode of Smackdown. Give him a dominant win over a low-card heel talent. The announcers could put his return over a big deal, being as though he has been away from active in ring competition for over two years. He should play to the fans as his reason for making his comeback to the ring, citing his intense training at the performance center. He could go on a win streak that would eventually see him cross paths with Rusev. Rusev could then begin to attack riley leading up to their match at WrestleMania 31 to make it more intense. It is here that Alex riley would become the first superstar to pin Rusev after a hard fought match between the two.
Why it could work: Riley never got his fair shake in WWE. He was lined up for a major push but shaky ring skills and an altercation with John Cena backstage derailed him completely. After that he was regulated to jobbing on superstars. He made a few rare appearances on raw and Smackdown but usually loosing in a dis appointing fashion. However if you go back and look at his face turn and the start of his push, the fans loved this guy. He had the look and the packaging of a main eventer. Recently on twitter fans have been lobbying for a Riley comeback. This isn’t an overnight trending topic either as fans has wanted him to come back and get the push he deserves for a while now. What better way to give it to them than WrestleMania 31?
- Bo Dallas
The Booking: Bo could come back without the cheesy smile and high-pitched voice. He doesn’t have to drop the gimmick as a whole but he shouldn’t play it up to much. By facing Rusev on Raw he could give him a run for his money but come up short. This could cause Rusev to become infuriated that someone so small could give him such a challenge, similar to the Barrett-Bo feud from Bo’s Debut. Have Bo talk about how he never gives up, dawn a more respectable pair of trunks, and let him catch Rusev with a surprise Bo-slam for the upset win to jumpstart his mega-face push by providing a memorable WrestleMania moment.
Why it could work: Let’s get one thing very clear; the Bo Dallas that we have been given by WWE since his call up from NXT is a shell of his former self. Both are products of NXT, with Bo having more success than his fellow NXT alum. The second longest reigning NXT champion in history has way more talent and skill than what has been presented. His main roster gimmick is his gimmick from his final days in NXT, minus the backstory and the actual theatrics that got him over with the NXT crowd. During his face run he displayed great intensity. He went to the ring and he fought his heart out against anyone that he was put up against, which is that would be displayed in his feud with Rusev. This would basically erase the horrible rookie year of Dallas and give him a solid start to a great underdog type career.
- Jack Swagger
The Booking: These two superstars are no strangers to each other, having competed against one another multiple times through the summer. Jack swagger displayed a shocking amount of resilience in his matches with Rusev. One thing to note in their matches is that Rusev has never pinned Swagger. Also Swagger has never actually tapped to the accolade submission that Rusev uses as his finisher, instead opting to pass out from the pain. This right here is the perfect set-up for their match at WrestleMania 31. Have Swagger talk about how sorry he is that he let the fans down, citing how he hasn’t been able to get back on a roll since. He would then go on to state that he knows how he can kill two birds with one stone in beating Rusev to both get his momentum back and the United states Championship. Have swagger and Rusev brawl weekly leading up to their match. In the actual match have the two have a heavy hitting contest with multiple false finishes. Swagger should reverse the accolade into the Patriot Lock for the submission victory.
Why it would work: Swagger is no stranger to Rusev. His face turn was the result of the All American American standing up to the raging Russian. This kicked of their feud, which lasted throughout the summer and resulted in some shockingly good matches. Their encounter at Battleground is the stand out bout between the two powerhouses. The feud with Rusev gave swagger much needed momentum after being on somewhat of a losing streak. The fans rallied behind swagger for his first face turn in his career. There are some that feel that Swagger should have beaten Rusev back at SummerSlam ’14, mainly due to the fact that Rusev won in a dirty way at Battleground. Swagger himself is the perfect rival for Rusev. Their gimmicks are complete polar opposites. The perfect way to end the evil foreigner is with the patriotic American hero.
7. Dolph Ziggler
The Booking: The best way to book this would have the Ziggler challenge Rusev at WrestleMania. He would become the arrogant Ziggler that we all know and love but continue to be a face. This would be similar to how Shawn Michaels was booked back in the day. Have Ziggler and Lana spar on the microphone leading towards the match at mania. The announcers could play up the fact that Ziggler has never been able to capitalize on his momentum or that he always looses the big one. The match should be one sided with Ziggler taking a major beating but continuing to fight. It would be something like his match with Del Rio back in 2013. Ziggler should mount a comeback and hit Rusev with the superkick/Zig-Zag combo variations he has been using as of late. This would get him the pin fall victory over Rusev and the US Title while making fans believe that WWE still believe in him.
Why it would work: Ziggler is the guy that fans love to see win. Even when WWE booked him on a horrendous loosing streak the fans still cheered for this guy with overwhelming support. To be frank, the fans love this guy no matter what. Add this to the fact that WWE has not been able to capitalize on his momentum since he won the Survivor Series match back in November to see why Ziggler needs this. There will be people upset to see Ziggler competing for another mid-card title but those same people are probably the ones who want the prestige back to those belts. By having Ziggler beat Rusev you get yet another major milestone for Ziggler and the continuation of the restoration of the United States Championship.
- Dean Ambrose
The Booking:Ambrose is a wild card. He just simply will not stay down unless he gets severely beaten. Rusev has crossed paths with the lunatic fringe in recent weeks. Their last match ended in a stoppage due to Ambrose’s knee. You could have Ambrose point out that Rusev never beat him. While Lana and the Bulgarian brute would try to ignore Ambrose at first, it would become increasingly difficult after Ambrose starts attacking Rusev during and after his matches. Lana would then go to the authority to try to get Ambrose away from Rusev only to have Stephanie grant Ambrose a match against Rusev at WrestleMania for the title. This would be a façade however as they would set Ambrose up for a vicious assault a week or 2-3 weeks before mania. Have Ambrose show up the Smackdown before mania to attack Rusev, ensuring that the match is still on. The match would be built around Rusev’s ability to hurt his opponent and Ambrose’s ability to fight through the pain. The finish would come when Rusev prematurely releases the accolade, believing Ambrose to be unconscious, only for Ambrose to pop up and nail his Dirty Deeds finisher for the win.
Why it would work: Ambrose is a fighter. The fans love him for that. He is a welcome homage to the attitude era in today’s PG WWE. His unpredictability is his secret weapon. It makes fans want to see him compete, wondering what wild thing he will do next week. There will be fans who will be upset that he isn’t facing rollins or in a major title match but they should realize that it will come eventually. Until them have him knock off the un-pinned Rusev to recapture his United States championship.
The Booking: current WWE programming has had Ryback colliding with Rusev leading up to the Royal Rumble. Since Raw was cancelled this week, whether or not this feud will go beyond that still remains o be seen. However the groundwork has been laid. Ryback is always looking for a new challenge to feast on. He has made it blatantly clear that his problem with Rusev is not a patriotic dilemma but he merely wants to kick his ass. That is all they have to focus on to make this feud work. Have Ryback approach Rusev weekly only for Rusev to constantly retreat out of fear. When they do brawl, keep teasing Ryback hitting Shell-shocked on Rusev only for Rusev to Escape every time. Ryback should then win a #1 contender’s match to earn the right to face Rusev. The fear should be shown in Rusev, as he has never faced someone with more unbridled aggression than himself. The final showdown should see them brawl which makes the locker room spills out to break the two apart. Their match at Mania should see the two slug it out, using power mover after power move. The finish would see Ryback finally nail his finisher on Rusev for the pin fall victory.
Why it would work: Ryback has been reborn. After falling victim to both bad booking and the Cena curse, he is now experiencing career resurgence. He is getting louder pops than his original face run. He is connecting with the crowd like never before, mainly due to his interview on “Talk is Jericho” where he basically told his life’s story. Add in the fact that CM Punk pulled a Cena and got his push derailed and you have more than enough reasons why Internet and WWE fans alike would want to see this man get his WrestleMania moment and his first singles title in WWE.
- Bray Wyatt
The Booking: Bray Wyatt champions himself as the eater of worlds. He is a destroyer and all around monster. What hasn’t been touched upon is the fact that his little brother is Bo Dallas. Now what would happen is this unstoppable monster’s family were put into peril? That right there is how you book this. Have Bo Dallas return match against Rusev. Rusev should completely dominate Bo and continue his assault after the match. While Bo is being severely beaten by Rusev have the lights go black and Wyatt’s intro graphic play.
Wyatt should appear in front of Rusev, thus separating him and Bo, and stare him down daring him to make a move. One thing that must happen is that Wyatt must retain who he is. We should not suddenly see him partnering with Cena or talking to stars in the back. He should keep cutting his awesome promos in pitch-black areas. Wyatt should champion himself the slayer of beasts and then target Rusev. In the weeks leading up to Mania, Wyatt should constantly taunt Rusev in promos. He could appear in the ring whilst Rusev isn’t expecting it, similar to The Undertaker. This would confuse and throw Rusev off of his game and the fans would eat it up. Their match at mania should showcase both of their impeccable speed and high impact move-sets. The win would come after Rusev hits a massive super kick to Wyatt with his last bit of energy. Rusev would then roar as he walks to lock in the Accolade only for Wyatt to rise into his signature upside-down walking stance, laughing at the Russian. Wyatt would then tear through Rusev leading to his Sister Abigail finisher for the win.
Why it would work: Bray Wyatt is Bray Wyatt. He is completely over with the fans in every sense of that word. They put him up against Ambrose and he became the monster heel we all knew he could be, however every feud leading up to this saw Wyatt get cheered as if he was a face. To turn Wyatt now would be silly, unless it was a good enough reason too. His showcase at the Royal Rumble saw him rip through opponents and claim this year as his own in a mid match promo. It also saw him have a standoff against Rusev that made the Philly fans go bananas, proving that this is something fans would want to see.
- Adrian Neville
The Booking: Rusev and Neville have squared off before, down in NXT. The match was simple enough, ending with Neville tapping out to the Accolade. Booking this match would be simple, have Neville be too fast for Rusev to handle. Neville could debut in a match against the United States champ, being simply to quick for the Russian to get his hands on. His high-flying move-set would be the main thing to highlight here. Have Rusev walk out of the match out of frustration of not being able to get his hands on him. In the weeks leading to mania have Rusev try to mount sneak attacks against Neville, only to be to slow or get hit with a highflying moves. Neville should either be granted a title shot by the Authority due to it being “best for business” or win a #1 contender’s match to face Rusev. Rusev should catch Neville at least once before the match, locking him in the Accolade submission. The announcers would then put over how Neville has to stay away from Rusev or fall victim to the Russian’s unbelievable power. Their match at Mania should first have Neville running circles around the brute but then get snatched in mid-air into a powerful slam. From their rusev should dominate the match unitl Neville gets in a massive kick to the head of Rusev. He would then go to the top and hit his Red Arrow finisher in all of its sight seeing glory. This would be enough to get rusev his first pin fall loss.
Why it would work: Far to many times has a top talent from NXT come up to the main roster only to be booked like a joke. Bo Dallas, Big E, and Emma are prime examples of NXT top talents being booked like jokes when they debut on the main roster. With constant rumors of WWE wanting to put a mask on Neville and make him a cartoon type character, things look grim for the former NXT champ. Adrian Neville is probably the next star to be called up to the main roster. To book a man who only suffered two losses in 2014 and has had the longest NXT title reign in history in any other way would be disrespectful. Whoever beats Rusev will become a megastar; why not give this opportunity to the next man to debut? His Red Arrow finisher is a sight to behold. He should be showcased in a big way upon his debut on the main roster.
- Daniel Bryan
The booking; this could be another case of Bryan using the support of the fans to overcome the unstoppable evil power. To set this up Bryan should try to goad the Authority into putting him into the title match at Mania. During this promo Rusev should deliver a vicious surprise attack against Bryan. These attacks should continue every time Bryan looks like he is about to win a match or deliver an anti-Authority promo. It would then be revealed that HHH had sicked Rusev on Bryan to try to re-injure him. In an effort to put Bryan out on injury permanently, HHH would set up a match between Rusev and Bryan at Mania. Bryan would turn the tides in the war with Rusev and deliver a sneak attack of his own, toppling the brute and leading the fans in YES! Chants to close the final Raw before Mania. The match should see a great back and forth bout, which ends with Bryan driving his knee into the face of Rusev for the win.
Why it would work: Daniel Bryan is the peoples champion. They love to see the man overcome the pods and win in situations where he isn’t supposed. The fans want to see him topple obstacles. They want to see him push through with their support. The best challenge for Bryan to overcome right not is the un-pinned streak. Now fans would be highly upset that he isn’t challenging for the world title but to be completely honest that just isn’t an option this year. After an awesome Rumble PPV and an almost perfect WWE title match, WWE aren’t likely to change their inda on the main event of Mania like they did last year. The fans would be wise to accept Bryan tackling Rusev instead because they cant rally complain the way they did last year due to WWE actually booking Bryan in the Rumble match. It would be nice to see a real main event talent hold the US title also.
- Sami Zayn
The Booking: this one honestly writes itself. Have Sami Zayn debut on the main roster in a tournament to crown the #1 contender for the US title. Sami should face top heels in the tournament and display serious heart. He should be portrayed as someone who fights until his last breath for the fans. Once he wins the tournament he should have a stand off with Rusev where he promises to win the US title at WrestleMania 31. Rusev should take Sami as a joke and ignore his call for the title. The match itself would be a coming out party for Sami. It should showcase all of his biggest moves. He should rally for the support of the fans and they would cheer him to victory. The finish would come after Sami hits Rusev with multiple Helluva kicks, displaying fire and determination, for the pin fall victory.
Why it would work: Sami Zayn is the next major baby face in WWE. He is currently down in NXT as its champion. To say that Sami is over with the crowd there would be a sever understatement. Fans chanted for him at the Royal Rumble. His path to the NXT title was one of the best stories in 2014. His matches with Neville and Cesaro will go down as some of the greatest in the company as a whole. There were fans in tears when he finally won the NXT championship at NXT Takeover: Revolution. To keep it simple, Sami is the next big thing in WWE. His main roster debut is highly anticipated and the concern over how they will book him is even greater. To book him in this manner would appease fans and give WWE a new Megastar to utilize for the future.