John Cena is heading for a showdown against Rusev at the Fast Lane pay-per-view next month—and it is imperative that the newcomer goes over in the match.
The last thing WWE needs to do right now is sacrifice another rising star to Cena’s Never-Ending Push of Doom.
The Nexus—2010’s top heel group—never recovered from being dismantled by the star in 2010. Considering how much potential that group had, it was heartbreaking. As one fan noted on Twitter:
R-Truth and The Miz gained nothing from their (forgettable) feuds with the 12 Rounds actor. Ryback lost to him often in 2013 and was predictably demoted to the midcard soon after. More recently, it took Bray Wyatt ages to recover his momentum after his drubbing from Cena on various pay-per-views.
It would be a shame for Rusev to lose to Cena and lose his current spark, because he has a great deal of potential.
Over the past year, the former NXT performer has slowly but solidly grown into one of the biggest heels on the roster. His gimmick might be silly and outdated—Vince McMahon seemingly doesn’t realize that the '80s are over and that Rocky IV is just a movie, not a booking instruction guide—but the star has performed well in the role.
He emanates a sense of toughness, physicality and doom with everything he does. His in-ring skills have improved a ton too.
Lana has shone brightly as his mouthpiece and talker. She’s a terrific, well-rounded heel character capable of garnering intense crowd heat in arenas wherever she goes. Only Stephanie McMahon is arguably a more impressive female performer.
It is not hyperbole to say Lana has the chance to be one of the all-time great female managers, like Sunny or Sable, if booked correctly and consistently in the future.
Perhaps some fans would argue that a Rusev loss at Fast Lane would be fine, considering WrestleMania is the next month and will provide an opportunity for the heel to get his win back.
But this thinking is deeply flawed.
Fast Lane will mark Rusev's first match against a main event superstar. It is hugely important that he wins or at least emerges looking credible. If he doesn’t come out looking good, it could damage his reputation beyond repair.
Again, WWE must learn from the mistakes of the past. Scripting up-and-coming stars to be destroyed by Cena is extremely foolish and counterproductive in the long run.
It’s time for the bookers to start seriously contemplating the company’s future—which means the aging and injury-prone Cena has to start losing a whole lot more.