Let’s play a little game, shall we?
Pretend, for a moment, that you didn’t read the title of this column, so you don’t know who I’m writing about.
Now, I want you to take a look at the following stats:
- From the September 26th, 2017 episode of Smackdown until the end of the 2017 calendar year, Wrestler A went 4-7 in any sort of televised matches, including 0-2 on pay-per-view and 0-1 in his only title opportunity.
- From the beginning of the 2018 calendar year until the September 18th, 2018 episode of Smackdown, Wrestler A went 13-18 in any sort of televised matches, including 0-8 on pay-per-view and 0-5 in title matches.
- The rest of the 2018 calendar year saw Wrestler A go 4-6 in televised matches, ending the year on a three-match winning streak. He went 1-1 in title matches during this three-and-a-half month stretch.
- The entire 2019 calendar year saw Wrestler A go 6-11-2 in televised matches, including losing the title he won to close out the previous year in his first defense. He went 0-6 on pay-per-view, and had an 0-3-1 record in title matches.
- He went 1-3 in televised matches in 2020 before being released in April due to COVID-related budget cuts.
Let me go ahead and do the math for you, folks. From September 26th, 2017 until the end of his WWE tenure in April 2020, Wrestler A had a 28-45-2 record in televised matches, including a Gene Snitsky’s teeth ugly 0-16 mark on pay-per-views and a 1-10-1 record in title matches.
Again… you’re pretending you didn’t read this column’s title, so you don’t know who I’m writing about. How long would it take you to figure out that Wrestler A is Rusev?
Before you wonder any further, the dates I used were for good reason. The September 26th, 2017 episode of Smackdown was the first time “Rusev Day” was ever said on WWE programming. The September 18th, 2018 episode of Smackdown was when Rusev and Aiden English split up as a team. I gave you all those stats, but that isn’t even counting the weeks and months Rusev spent in some of the dumbest storylines in recent memory with Lana, Bobby Lashley, Aiden English, sex, lies, videotape, and divorce.
I bring all of this up because of one thing…
Vince McMahon doesn’t always listen to what people want.
I’ll give you all a few moments to gather yourselves after I just blew your fucking minds with that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I don’t care what your favorite wrestling promotion is, nor do I care about who you’re rooting for, who you’re supporting, and so on. Unless your last name is McMahon, Levesque, Dunn, or Prichard, it’s an undeniable fact that Vince does what he wants. If fans are getting behind someone, but Vince doesn’t want to push that person, guess what happens? The term “imaginary brass ring” is going to come up in that person’s promos at some point in the future. On the other hand, if Vince falls in love with someone, you’re going to see a ton of that person whether you want to or not.
Vince McMahon is the boss. He has earned the ability to make those decisions for his company. It’s not like him going against the wishes of the WWE Universe has sent his family into poverty. He continues to make approximately four gafillion dollars every year, and with no end to that in sight, why would he suddenly decide to change his ways at the age of 75?
If you go back through the years, one of the biggest examples of Vince doing his own thing is with Rusev. Rusev is someone who came out of nowhere to become one of the most over acts in all of pro wrestling, not just in WWE. Every single night, fans were going crazy for him. “Rusev Day” chants were deafening, whether it was a big-time wrestling city like Chicago or a smaller town like Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Time and time again, fans were trying to will Rusev to booking success, and time and time again, it was unsuccessful.
I’ve seen the Rusev stuff compared to Daniel Bryan, but this is very different to what we saw with Bryan from 2012-2014. First and foremost, Bryan was already in the main event scene when he started receiving that gigantic groundswell of support after his loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. Also, even when the fans weren’t getting exactly what they wanted with Bryan, he was still involved in some of the top storylines in the company, getting plenty of television time, and putting on great in-ring performances in lengthy matches. Rusev was getting cheered, but it didn’t lead to anything. No extra television time. No “fine, you win, here’s the push for your guy” from the company.
In a now infamous podcast appearance on The Ryback Show, Rusev (who had already started going by Miro, the shortened version of his real name) would basically say that Vince McMahon wasn’t a big fan of his. He would say that Vince continued to make excuses for why Rusev’s place on the card never quite matched the crowd reactions he was getting. According to Miro, Vince told him that the WWE Universe didn’t mean it when they were chanting and cheering for him, and that they were “fucking with” him. When it was mentioned to Vince that Rusev shirts were sold out, and were selling better than merchandise from the likes of Roman Reigns and AJ Styles, Vince’s explanation was that there weren’t a lot of Rusev shirts printed, and that’s why they sold out so quickly. The internet exploded after hearing these comments, and rightfully so. It’s one thing if Vince doesn’t like Rusev, either as a person or as a wrestling character. It’s another thing entirely to see an opportunity to make more money and turn it down by making excuses that are, at best, illogical.
There’s nothing that can be done about that now. WWE released Rusev, and the machine continues on without him, as it always does when they get rid of people.
After five months of inactivity in the wrestling world, we’ve gotten the AEW debut for Miro. Once again, the internet exploded. You had fans of his that were excited about their guy finally getting a real chance to shine. You had AEW fans excited to see another potential major player on their promotion’s roster. There were WWE fans, and random trolls, quick to point out that every non-WWE promotion always signs WWE “throwaways” every chance they get. On that last point, let’s get something straight right here and right now. Yes, AEW signed someone that WWE released a few months ago. However, this isn’t a situation to make fun of AEW for. This isn’t them scrambling to sign some fourth-string talent that couldn’t even get time on NXT every week. It isn’t them signing some 50+ year old, a good 15 years past their prime, simply because they were in WWE at one point. No, this is AEW signing someone that damn well should’ve been a main event talent in WWE, and arguably should’ve been a World Champion by now.
What can Miro do in AEW?
His debut has already been picked apart by many. I’ve seen a ton of people who were thrilled to see him show up at Daily’s Place, but that excitement wore off when they started to think about him being involved in a wedding angle with Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford to start off. He didn’t come in and attack the winner of the AEW World Title match between Jon Moxley and Lance Archer, nor did he show up to challenge Brodie Lee for the TNT Title. He didn’t even show up with Aiden English and go after FTR and the Tag Team Titles. While he doesn’t appear to be involved in a title picture from day one, I don’t know if we can draw any real conclusions just yet. Sabian and Ford are heels, but Miro got a clear-cut face reaction and even cut a fiery babyface promo while playing to the crowd during their chants. Of course, it’s similar to WWE trying to present Rusev as a dastardly heel, but he was never able to get anything more than major face pops because fans love him so much. AEW is opening their doors to more and more fans every week, so you know those face reactions are only going to get louder for Miro, even if he continues to align himself with Ford and Sabian.
It just means that nothing is black and white with Miro right now. Aligning with heels doesn’t mean anything. Being involved with people “lower” on the card doesn’t mean anything. Not being placed in a title picture right away doesn’t mean anything.
So far, in their brief period of existence, AEW has been a promotion that has proven they listen to their fans. They’re not perfect, but they have their ear to the streets and seem to understand what their fans want. This will be a major test to see if that remains true. Fans in attendance at Dynamite are going to continue giving Miro some of the best pops of anybody on the AEW roster. When you get those types of reactions, you’re supposed to get pushes, and everything that goes with it, to match. I’m very interested to see how AEW handles this. Miro doesn’t NEED to be a champion from jump street, but he does NEED to be a threat that is taken seriously. He’s a 300-pound animal with a martial arts and powerlifting background. He brings a unique set of skills to the table, on a roster filled with smaller high-flying wrestlers.
From the time that AEW was nothing more than an idea being floated around in discussions between friends, this is an opportunity that many people have been dreaming about. Tony Khan, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega… they’ve been dying to show the wrestling world why their ideas and their promotion is different. Different than what fans are used to, different than what fans are being given, and different than what fans should be getting from… certain companies. If they want to go the “easy” route, Aiden English (now known as “The Drama King” Matt Rehwoldt, his real name) is returning to in-ring action for the first time in over 17 months, wrestling on a Zelo Pro Wrestling event in Chicago. He tweeted a “thinking emoji” in response to a fan mentioning that AEW should sign him, and of course, that made people start speculating. Obviously, we have no idea if there has been any sort of conversations happening about bringing Rehwoldt into AEW, or if there ever will be, but it has people talking. Honestly, as entertained as I was with their pairing in WWE, I don’t want to see Miro and The Drama King together again. At least not for a while. If you think the “WWE throwaways” talk is loud now, wait until AEW brings in another person that WWE released, and then pairs him with another WWE release to do the exact same things they were doing in WWE. If AEW wants to sign Rehwoldt, that’s definitely their prerogative (duh nuh nuh, they can do what they wanna do), but keep him separate from Miro for as long as physically possible. Or have him come in and try to buddy up to Miro, only to be beaten up. Something. Anything. Just not him singing about “Miro Dayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy” every week. Like I said, if you want to do that, do it way down the road, after Miro has had more than enough time to establish himself as one of the top guys in the company.
As always, now is when I turn it over to you fine folks. How do you feel about Miro signing with AEW? What’s your confidence level that he’ll be higher on the card than he was in WWE? I want to hear from you, whether you’re a fan of his or not, and whether you’re a fan of AEW or not. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and chime in.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Miro: He was the surprise talk of the wrestling world this week, so he has to get the top spot.
- The Hurt Business: This was a huge week for them. They look like a million bucks wearing suits to the ring, they went 2-0 in singles matches on Raw, and they showed up to confront Retribution, even though they were very short in the numbers game. I love what was done with them this week.
- Confusion: What was your reaction to the end of the match between Asuka and Mickie James? That was a clusterfuck of massive proportions. We’ve seen multiple explanations for what could’ve happened, but the one that seems to be the case is that the Referee thought he saw a legit injury for Mickie and called for the match to be stopped, only to then find out she wasn’t actually injured. Yikes. If that’s the case, poor guy.
- Dustin Rhodes: Even at the age of 51, he was able to show that he’s still capable of putting on an entertaining, emotional performance in the ring. He’s been having quite the run with AEW. Even though he was unsuccessful in taking the TNT Championship from Brodie Lee, he showed that he could be a believable champion in the future, should the company decide to go that route.
- Dominik Mysterio: He’s six matches into his career, and he’s at a grand total of six very good performances. He just gets it, you know? He’s grown up in the business and his love and reverence for wrestling really shows. WWE has really found themselves an absolute future stud. He’s got “future champ” written all over him. He deserves a ton of credit, but if you’re praising him, you also have to show love to…
- Seth Rollins: Five of Dominik’s six matches have seen Rollins on the other side of the ring. WWE (and Rey Mysterio, if he had any say in things) wouldn’t choose just ANYBODY to help guide Dom in the ring and make him look great. Say whatever you want about Rollins and his social media posts, but I will fight you if you deny that he’s one of the best workers on the planet today. He has put in a tremendous amount of work to help make Dominik what he is right now, and he deserves credit for it.
- MJF: He cut a very solid promo on Dynamite. It appears as though he’s moving away from the campaign stuff he’s been using recently, which is good, as that was actually stifling him a bit. I love the “twist” about how he signs Wardlow’s checks, not AEW. That allows him to be a dick to Wardlow without fear of consequences, which will make for some good television before the inevitable face turn for the big man after he can’t take the abuse anymore.
- Keith Lee Matches Having No Solid Finish: They keep happening. I only partially kid, as he’s had three (out of six) matches end in actual pinfalls since making his main roster debut, but it’s getting dangerously close to becoming a running gag to have a Disqualification or No Contest ending to his matches. WWE should switch it up a bit and have his next match end in a Count-Out, followed by the next match ending in a Double Count-Out.
- Roman Reigns: He’s doing very well in his current role. He keeps finding ways to actually be involved in matches as little as possible, which works for the character (for now). He’s arrogant as hell in his promos, but if we’re gonna keep it 100 with each other, he has always been arrogant in his promos, even when he was WWE’s top face. I dig the interactions with Jey Uso, allowing him to “playfully” talk trash to his cousin, while still not quiiiiite being an outright dick about it.
- People Who Wanted Kenny Omega To Be A Singles Wrestler: It appears those people are going to get their wish, as Omega announced in a promo that he was doing just that. Sure, it’s to continue to the drama going on involving The Elite, but at least for the time being, it looks like Kenny’s going to do things on his own.
This Week’s Playlist: “RED BLACK AND BLUE” by Marilyn Manson… “WE ARE CHAOS” by Marilyn Manson… “Picture Perfect” by Rittz & Tech N9ne… “Baby Blue” by Action Bronson & Chance The Rapper… “Strictly 4 My Jeeps” by Action Bronson… “Kill This Love” by BLACKPINK… “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince… “Redbone” by Childish Gambino… “3005” by Childish Gambino… “All The Shine” by Childish Gambino… “2009” by Mac Miller… “Frick Park Market” by Mac Miller… “Money On The Floor” by Big K.R.I.T., 2 Chainz, Eightball & MJG… “Country Shit (Remix)” by Big K.R.I.T., Ludacris & Bun B… “Visitor” by Of Monsters and Men… “Stutter” by Marianas Trench… “Check Yes, Juliet” by We The Kings… “HWY 666” by Corey Taylor… “The Death Of Us” by Lamb Of God… “Tonight” by Seether