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Rusev & Lana: The Potential for a Heroic Turn

PWP Nation’s Zak Fellows talks about a possible turn that could surprise everyone.

Approaching the biggest party of the summer, one of the more surprisingly anticipated match ups comprise the current United States Champion Rusev defending his title against the eternal spark for discussion, Roman Reigns with many expecting Reigns to claim the championship as his own.

While Reigns will always be a fixture in the mind of fans and booking teams, this current feud lends something of a question mark over Rusev’s future after he loses the United States championship alongside his valet, and wife, Lana (congratulations by the way).

Speaking as a fan, I’ve always found Rusev and Lana interesting and a fun act, love quadrangle with Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae aside. I believe that they have served the role well as the return of the classic foreign heel, the Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale of WWE you could say, which has reaped rewards in the form of consistent reactions, storylines and championship successes.

They have even managed to go beyond the general one note problem of being a foreign heel with the latest integration of their real life relationship as a point of contention with those who boo them: They are the loved up couple that people are envious of.

And yet, despite how good of a job both of them do at playing villains, with this recent Roman Reigns feud, and the always budding possibility of a mixed reaction when it comes to THE guy, I do question how much of a shelf live Rusev and Lana have as a heel act.

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Don’t get me wrong I enjoy them, but with his latest United States Championship reign playing out as it has, almost like a weaker rehash of his original insurgence into prominence two years ago, I’m wondering if “Rusev is holding a Title as a dominant champion someone needs to step up and bring him down” is going to become too much of a recurring storyline…in a similar manner as Kofi Kingston holding a mid-card championship every year.

With this recent rehash in my opinion and his opponent being Roman Reigns: Could Rusev and Lana turn babyface?   

Many of you will probably be somewhat reluctant to suggest or recommend WWE go in that direction and it is perfectly understandable: WWE themselves do have a certain template turned into a cliché for how they book their monster heels, one that I wrote an article about last year in relations to a Monster of the Month.

The basic premise of Monsters in wrestling is that they are built as dominant antagonists to be brought down by a protagonist, and once that mystique of an unstoppable force is lost where do you go? Generally, with a babyface turn and a complete reinvention of character so that when they do, inevitably, become a heel again a certain…circle can begin anew. It’s why certain sections of wrestling fans react to a Kane, Big Show and/or Mark Henry heel turn with rolled eyes nowadays.

So hesitance towards Rusev turning into a babyface stems from past history in the handling of WWE’s most historically known big men. Why fix what isn’t broke after all and Rusev and Lana seem to be doing just fine. The inherent problem that has a chance of presenting itself is that, eventually if their direction, of a loved up couple who are acting egotistically in love and yet the champion cannot be stopped, goes on for so long, fans are going to gradually become either sick or bored of it…at least in my opinion.

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Hence, why I believe a babyface turn could prevent that fatigue from occurring, and even offer up a new opportunity to give Rusev and Lana more elements and direction to work with, open up doors to new possibilities and successes even. Brace yourself because I’m putting on my…

FANTASY BOOKING HAT!  

When taking into consideration what current character traits Rusev and Lana have that can be used as “babyface fuel” in a sense, the love they present on screen, so far as heel heat magnet, can be used to get people to like them. Instead of using their relationship as a point of mockery to the fans, they can downplay their affection to a more humanised, and less in your face, status where people are more inclined to relate to them. It is what we, as people with emotions and feelings who has been exposed to romance in various mediums, view as an ideal relationship.

We see these two in love with each other in a very relatable way; Rusev is the man we aspire to be: Success and the woman of his dreams but he is humble and thankful NOT boasting about it while Lana is kind and honest, beautiful but not a trophy or a goal to work towards. The fairy tale romance of Beauty and the Beast (not to say Rusev is ugly or anything I know he keeps an eye on Twitter please don’t hate me sir) sprung to mind.

And I’m sure I am raising some eyebrows when I bring this up because it is based around idealism and an almost unobtainable fairy tale but, if history has shown anything, wrestling fans get behind those stories: They get behind the story of an underdog overcoming odds and perceptions to achieve his dream (Daniel Bryan), emotional investment resonates when they see a man protect his love from a nefarious tormentor (Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts) and it equals money to see a legend go up against his role model and accepting his role as the ender of his lifelong profession (Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair).

Rusev and lana

Point being combining the human side of wrestling and the idealism of storytelling often leads to the greatest and most emotionally driven moments. It is the reason why wrestling couples like Randy Savage/Miss Elizabeth and Eddie Guerrero/Chyna are still revered to this day.

This is just my own personal idea for a potential Rusev and Lana babyface turn.

Again, I stress that my own personal, budding fatigue of the two being heels may make me alone in that regard after all, fans are still reacting to them strongly. Staying in your comfort zone is good and all but trying something outside the box is important to finding and improving upon what we have already seen.

Consider it an experiment: if it works great and if not, well than you know what doesn’t work and reassess. Take chances like a real Fearless Leader!

[Zak Fellows is not Fearless Leader he assures you.]

Who would be Rusev and Lana’s equivalent of Moose and Squirrel?

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About Zak Fellows

I started watching wrestling in 2005, mesmerised by a certain slow walking phenom. 10 years later and still going strong: Not only as a fan among a very eclectic community but also as a senior writer for this very website. Combining knowledge, opinion, a disdain for the typical wrestling fan on the internet and a sarcastic wit, if you agree with me than hooray and whoopee. If you don't...then don't be a little drama queen about it because god forbid people think differently.