Amid persistent rumors that he was still stalemated with WWE on matters related to his contract, many fans breathed a sigh of relief when Rusev was announced as one of the competitors in the inaugural Tuwaiq Mountain Trophy Gauntlet Match at Super ShowDown on February 27. The latest updates, however, suggest that the Monday Night Raw fan-favorite might not be flying to Saudi Arabia for the match after all, as he has apparently been replaced by one of his more experienced colleagues on the red brand.
As reported by Wrestling Inc., Rusev was originally booked as one of the six participants in the aforementioned contest, where he was slated to compete against reigning United States Champion Andrade, AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Erick Rowan, and R-Truth for the first-ever Tuwaiq Mountain Trophy. However, WWE announced on this week's episode of Raw that Rey Mysterio will be taking Rusev's place in the match. No explanation was given as to why the company decided to remove the "Bulgarian Brute," but since Super ShowDown is scheduled to take place on Thursday, this appears to be a rather late change to the pay-per-view's card.
Despite the initial inclusion of Rusev in the gauntlet match at the Saudi Arabian event, reports from earlier this month suggested that this wasn't an indication that the 34-year-old grappler had resolved his contract issues with WWE. Wrestling Inc. also cited the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which wrote on February 13 that Rusev still had "plenty of time" remaining on his current deal but did not specify the exact amount of time he has to sign a new one.On his end, Rusev has consistently been informing his social media followers that he has not yet re-signed with WWE, taking to Twitter early in February to debunk rumors of an injury or suspension, and also briefly changing his biography on the social media platform in January to state that he was, at the time, a "soon to be free agent." Meanwhile, his real-life wife, Lana, reportedly signed a new five-year deal with WWE in November. She has also made multiple appearances on Raw since she and her onscreen lover, Lashley, appeared to emerge victorious in their "love triangle" storyline with Rusev, which quietly ended last month.
Given all the signs fans have been seeing since rumors of Rusev's contract issues with WWE first swirled, the chances of him re-signing with the promotion seem bleak at the moment. If he chooses to leave the company, various reports have suggested that he might choose to sign with rival promotion All Elite Wrestling, where friends and ex-WWE colleagues such as Jake Hager (formerly Jack Swagger) are currently working.