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YMMV / Rusev and Lana

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  • Awesome Music: What better way to make a Foreign Wrestling Heel more intimidating than an aggressive and epic orchestral piece?
  • Designated Villain: Ever since he made his debut on the main roster, he's constantly found himself in this role time and time again. See Unintentionally Sympathetic down below.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Despite being a blatant misogynist (as in, outright says that women are silly and inferior), as well as a violent, angry, spiteful brute, there are still people who believe that Rusev's character was the face in his feud with Dolph Ziggler. Some would attribute this to the misogyny of people saying this, but most of the blame lies with WWE's poor writing and booking that failed to get across why Dolph should have been the hero. Or why Rusev would've ever taken direction in his career from a woman he thought was inferior to him for so long. Or why surrendering on Rusev's behalf out of compassion twice during his US Championship feud with John Cena beforehand instead of allowing Cena to viciously put him on the shelfnote  meant that the once coldly efficient Lana, brains of the operation and lead weekly trash-talker against the very country in which they were working, had suddenly become a demure wallflower no longer capable of directing her champion. Instead the angle came across as "Rusev Is The Straw Misogynist Foreign Wrestling Heel And Therefore We Must Hate Him", which ended up doing more to make people hate the storyline itself than to cement Rusev as a villain.
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    • Heel Lana herself is ripe for this list, as she was a massive shit-talker who routinely took advantage of Rusev's Villainous Valor and status as The Juggernaut to gloat on a weekly basis about Russia's superiority over America, and Vladimir Putin was a truly inspirational leader. Really one would've expected her to be the one more pissed off about Rusev's misfortunes against John Cena.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: See Unintentionally Sympathetic example below. That and Rusev being someone who has both in ring talent & ability to play his character very well has gained him great support from fans, to the point where he was one of the few that got cheered in 2015 Royal Rumble.note 
    • Lana is even more of an example, when she was filming a movie and disappeared from Rusev's side for a while there were plenty of "We want Lana!" chants. This is almost all Draco in Leather Pants because unlike Rusev, she doesn't even have an honorable side to her. She's just a massive shit-talker. However, she's one of the most Kayfabe dedicated talents WWE has, as she's known for NEVER breaking character and also she's a grade-A Ms. Fanservice.
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    • In 2018, one of the go-to chants whenever the crowd is dissatisfied with a match or angle on Raw is "Rusev Day". Even (or perhaps especially) on episodes in which Rusev doesn't have a match, because the fans want more Rusev.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lana, who wears skin tight business dresses with very short skirts (She's Got Legs) and always does a little turn on the stage to show off her body before speaking.
  • Memetic Mutation: RUSEV DAY~!note 
  • Poison Oak Epileptic Trees: Certain unflattering reportsnote  have circulated about Vince McMahon's intentions for creating the breakup storyline for Rusev and Lana on the back end of the feud with John Cena. Let's just say that if there ever was such a plan, the TMZ reveal completely foiled it.
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  • The Scrappy: Hey, remember when Lana would get chants even when she wasn't with Rusev? Then WWE runs an angle where she "divorces" Rusev for Bobby Lashley, filled with Unfortunate Implications, including Black Is Bigger in Bed, also resulting in her losing her accent and speaking in the most whiny voice imaginable. Then the chants stopped.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "Rusev Day" was possibly THE single most-over act in the entire company for most of 2018. So what did WWE do with this can't-lose storyline prospect...? You guessed it- absolutely nothing whatsoever until they had Aiden English betray Rusev, leading to a very short and pointless feud. Like Zack Ryder before him, WWE seemed to be offended that Rusev had managed to get over without their permission and did their best to stifle any trace of momentum he had.
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • For the first few months after debuting, Rusev tore through superstars such as Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, R-Truth and Big E. Langston… now what do all four of those wrestlers have in common? Eventually subverted as his pool of victims started to diversify a bit, but it was borderline uncomfortable there for a while, to the point where Big E actually took notice of it on Twitter during an episode of RAW.
    • Rusev plays the Foreign Wrestling Heel trope so straight that he's basically a Genre Throwback to the bad old days of one-dimensional ethnic stereotypes and thinly-veiled racism where merely being "foreign" (i.e "not American") was all a wrestler needed to automatically qualify as a heel. Fortunately that old stereotype doesn't really fly so much these days and crowds are less-willing to boo a guy just because "he's foreign", leading to a lot of the Unintentionally Sympathetic moments below. Rusev himself has lampshaded this, stating that "Rusev Day" was an opportunity to move away from that kind of character.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • His feud with The Big Show has this in spades. Big Show tearing down the Russian flag (disrespecting flags in general is a big no-no) made him look like an ass. This eventually led to a match on the 10/13/14 RAW where after enduring punishment from Big Show, Rusev was able to fight his way back and eventually lock in the Accolade. Mark Henry comes down first to cheer on Show but then jumps on the apron to run interference before Rusev knocks him off and re-applies his finisher only to be attacked from behind by Henry. Afterwards Show and Henry surround Rusev on the outside and instead of running away he hands Lana the Russian flag, waits until she's out of harm's way and attacks both men head on despite being outnumbered eventually being knocked out by Show after taking out Henry. This left people scratching their heads as Rusev, the dirty heel, lost to shenanigans and bravely stood his ground while Henry and Show, the heroic faces, had to use cheap shots and a numbers advantage to gain the upper hand and take him out.
    • Add to this that Rusev rarely, if ever, cheats — he has won most of his fights fair and square.
    • Foreign Wrestling Heel in America, All-Russian Face there?
    • And then there's the time that Big Show had the Russian flag replaced with the US flag for one of Rusev's flag-drop-down sequences…when Rusev went for the US flag, a guy dressed in a US military uniform rushed the ring, only to be promptly kicked in the face by Rusev. Although you could make a case for this being a heel action since by this point the fake soldier had been already grabbed by security, cue the weird moment of Big Show treating the very act of hitting a US soldier as a Moral Event Horizon action while Michael Cole on commentary was telling viewers to never go over the barricade…
    • The Rusev-Lana breakup angle also involving Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler is having much the same effect, if only to further establish Rusev as a Jerkass Woobie. When Lana was using Ziggler to get back at Rusev for his borderline abusive Villainous Breakdown at first, Ziggler was fully willing to go along for the ride and to constantly screw with Rusev, only worsening his downward spiral. Rusev ended up getting with Summer and clearly using her to up the ante on making Lana jealous, only for Lana to find that she actually liked Ziggler. Then the Summer/Dolph tease came along one night when Summer went in Dolph's locker room while he was showering in order to seduce him. When this failed and she resorted to claiming the opposite happened, Ziggler found himself solemnly trying to make his case to Lana…while still teasing Summer with an extravagant "peace offering" for the sole purpose of messing with Rusev, who remained unconvinced by Summer's pleas that she would never cheat on him. And Dolph was still the face. Ziggler even fully acknowledged once in a dot-com interview that he was ruining Rusev's life and Rusev had good reason to be upset with him, but reasoned that his actions were justified because of…Rusev's anti-Americanism. A side of his character that was primarily driven by Lana and largely de-emphasized after their breakup. In fact, that in itself is something the entire storyline has had to ignore in order to work, since any acknowledgement of it would make Lana's suddenly demure, naive demeanor in the face of Rusev's meltdown come across as a drastically blatant Wounded Gazelle Gambit. At least when they did another angle like this in 2019, they had the good sense not to try and villify Rusev first, framing him entirely as the victim.
    • And even now that Lana and Rusev have been reconciled due to their real-life engagement, Summer wasted no time framing Rusev as the manipulative cheater in their relationship despite her earlier machinations and Lana's wrist injury providing the perfect kayfabe justification and window of opportunity for both Rusev and Lana's change of heart. Furthermore, Summer quickly resorted to taking revenge by getting herself involved in the latest Dolph-Rusev match as special referee and deliberately using her position to cost Rusev the match, showing that she's still just as duplicitous and vindictive as she and Layla were with Fandango in 2013, another situation in which she was treated as the face for screwing with an ex-boyfriend's career in a sanitized WWE where he could never get retribution. For what it's worth on Ziggler's part, he's not down with getting used to sate yet another girl's issues with Rusev, but it's doubtful that he'll ever admit to being less than honorable here.
    • This trope strikes again now that Rusev is feuding with Roman Reigns. Sure, he is being booed by the crowd occasionally, but the fact remains that he is standing up for his wife's honour after seeing her disrespected by the supposed babyface. It doesn't help much that the supposed babyface is still roundly hated by most crowds, of course. Even allowing for that, it's hard for this observer to see how Rusev is the heel in this situation. Oh, and the repeated taunt that Lana is a "mail order bride" just comes across as stupid because everyone watching knows that this is a legitimate couple, and also that Lana is more American than Rusev so if anything, he would be the mail order husband. Sure enough, when Rusev returned with Lana from the unsolicited beating Reigns gave him at SummerSlam, cost Reigns a shot at the Universal Championship, and proceeded to machka the Samoan Juggernaut, Raw ended that night with fans chanting Rusev's name. Even WhatCulture Wrestling identified it during their United States title match at Hell in a Cell:
    @WhatCultureWWE: So we're all wanting valiant babyface Rusev to defend his wife and family's honour, and vanquish the dastardly Roman Reigns, yeah? #HIAC

Alternative Title(s): Alexander Rusev


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