The WWE rumor mill has some good news and bad news for fans of the surprisingly popular “Bulgarian Brute,” Rusev. The good news, if recent backstage reports are to be believed, is that WWE still believes in the 33-year-old former United States Champion’s potential as a main event talent, and might want to book him accordingly with his real-life wife, Lana, as his manager. The bad news is that this might require Rusev and his longtime tag team partner, Aiden English, to split after months together as a tag team, with many sources speculating this could also mean the end of the “Rusev Day” gimmick.
On Thursday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer explained why WWE appears to be hinting at a breakup for Rusev and English, and leaning toward a full-time Rusev and Lana team-up on television, which would mark the first time in over a year for the real-life couple. As cited by ProWrestling.com, Meltzer believes that Rusev and English haven’t been seen as having much upside as a tag team, with WWE considering them as a mid-card act, and not having any plans of giving them a reign as SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
According to Meltzer’s sources, the plan might be for Rusev and Aiden English to split up as a tag team and for Lana to return full-time as Rusev’s manager, with the couple possibly getting pushed as a “main event level act.”
As noted by Give Me Sport, the first signs of the rumored creative changes came on Tuesday’s episode of SmackDown Live, as Lana interrupted a conversation Rusev and English were having, while wearing a “Rusev Day” t-shirt. Appearing to drop her put-on Russian accent, Lana hinted that someone was holding Rusev back, glaring at English as he exited the scene. The report also shared several negative fan reactions to the angle, with one Twitter user going as far as comparing the potential Rusev-Aiden English breakup to the “Festival of Friendship” angle, where Kevin Owens famously turned on Chris Jericho on a February 2017 episode of Monday Night Raw.
Although there hasn’t been any outright sign on WWE television that Rusev will be turning on Aiden English, WrestlingNews.co speculated that the split could happen soon, especially since Rusev was reportedly placed back in his casket match against The Undertaker at the Greatest Royal Rumble as a “fresh restart” after months of losses on TV and on pay-per-view. Daily DDT also predicted that Rusev reuniting with Lana would effectively kill off the fan-favorite Rusev Day gimmick as a whole, with the “Bulgarian Brute” likely going back to his origins as a vicious, humorless foreign heel character.