Chicago fans couldn't have made it clearer who they were rooting for as three teams collided on Tuesday's WWE SmackDown to decide the new No. 1 contenders for the tag team titles. Before the bout kicked off, a thunderous chant echoed throughout the Allstate Arena—"Rusev Day! Rusev Day!"
Never mind that Rusev and his singing sidekick Aiden English are heels. Never mind that the popular trio The New Day was a part of this bout.
The fans were all the way behind Rusev.
And this was no anomaly. The Lion of Bulgaria has garnered some of the loudest, most visceral reactions on SmackDown in recent weeks. The powerhouse's belief that every day is Rusev Day and that he should be celebrated on that occasion has taken off.
The roars he received on Tuesday's show stood out even more than normal.
PWStream was among those to notice:
Rusev and English have established a deep connection with the crowd of late. They're funny, charismatic and clearly having a blast in there. They're proving to have more chemistry together than Rusev had with The League of Nations and English did with Simon Gotch.
Their record in the ring hasn't gotten in the way of any of that.
Booking-wise, Rusev and English are treated like stepping stones. The defeat they suffered on Tuesday was their third in a row, per CageMatch.net. Rusev is just 3-7 in his last 10 matches. That all screams lower midcard.
But in spite of that, The Bulgarian Brute's momentum has increased.
He has thrived in backstage shenanigans. He's been a compelling wrecking ball in the ring. And more and more, his partnership with English is creating buzz.
The fans aren't paying as much attention to wins and losses in this case as they are to which characters compel.
On last week's SmackDown, Rusev and English tangling with The New Day while in Christmas costumes was more entertaining than most would have expected. Their backstage interactions have been some of the best stuff on SmackDown recently.
Alex Pawlowski of Fightful wants to see Rusev claim gold before long:
That's the absolute right move. When an act gets over as organically as Rusev and English have, the only correct response is to run with it. Rather than spend months showcasing some other team to get them going, WWE only has to shine more of a light on what's already succeeding.
Whatever the company had planned has to be adjusted. The crowd is voicing its opinion. It wants more Rusev, more English, more cocky antics.
A face turn seems inevitable at this point to make use of the cheers these villains are getting. An emphatic march into the top tier of the tag team division is next. It's time to start truly celebrating Rusev Day.