Rusev's re-emergence received a major boost Sunday night at Extreme Rules as he defeated Kalisto by submission to win the WWE United States Championship.
WWE Universe had a photo of the finish:
One of the highlights of the match was the high-flying antics of Kalisto, via WWE Universe:
BSO noted this was a long time coming for Rusev, whom WWE hasn't booked to the best of his abilities recently:
Aaron Oster of Rolling Stone shared his thoughts on the match:
Since defeating Alberto Del Rio for the U.S. title at Royal Rumble, The King of Flight has been portrayed as the ultimate underdog by going up against bigger and stronger opponents on a regular basis.
He beat Ryback at both WrestleMania and Payback before The Bulgarian Brute won a Battle Royal on Raw to become the No. 1 contender for the strap.
Rusev has been on the backburner for much of the past year, particularly as part of The League of Nations. Since that stable broke up, however, he has seemingly been on the rise and trending back toward a more dominant version of himself.
With Lana back by his side on a full-time basis, Rusev's current character resembles the one who ran roughshod over WWE throughout much of 2014.
That was evident during the buildup toward Extreme Rules, as Rusev regularly imposed his will on Kalisto and Lucha Dragons teammate Sin Cara.
The Super Athlete even took to Twitter to mock his smaller opponent:
Rusev also expressed confidence that he would become the United States champion for the second time Sunday night:
WWE is short on top heels, so the reconstruction of Rusev made sense in terms of providing quality options for villains near the top of the card.
Rusev seemed well on his way to becoming just that prior to WrestleMania 31, as he ran through much of the roster and kept a firm stranglehold on the United States Championship.
His fall from grace began at the Showcase of Immortals, though, when John Cena defeated him. After another loss to Cena, Rusev fell off the map and had little direction until now.
His anti-American character allowed him to become successful in the first place, and if he reprises that role with the U.S. title in tow, he has a chance to erase the poor booking that has plagued him for more than a year.
While Kalisto is entertaining in the ring, he needs plenty of work on the mic and when it comes to character development. Because of that, WWE can do more with Rusev holding the championship.
Cena is scheduled to return from a shoulder injury on Memorial Day, which means Rusev could be his target again.
That is disconcerting as it relates to Rusev's push, but he is in a better spot now than he has been in some time.
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