Every now and then a WWE Superstar catches fire and ignites a grassroots movement. This swelling of popularity, if big enough, can force WWE's hand into changing course. And in 2018, Rusev is that guy.
Backed by the velvety locals of Aiden English and the viral #RusevDay mantra, has officially made the transition from formidable foreign bad guy to beloved cult hero. His namesake's t-shirt has taken the WWE Shop by storm as they are the best selling merchandise on the site. And this capitalistic miracle is exactly why the Bulgarian Brute was added to US Championship match at WrestleMania 34.
According to The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Rusev's gaudy sales earned him a WrestleMania promotion—yanking him out of the arbitrary Andre the Giant Battle Royal and sticking him into the now Fatal 4 Way along with Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Jinder Mahal.
Despite being such a late addition, Rusev may be the match's official dark horse. While Roode and Mahal are certainly capable champions, neither have the established momentum of Rusev. Orton should still be considered a heavy favorite, but with a Superstar Shake-Up looming WWE may want to move Orton to RAW without Championship responsibilities. In short, Rusev could be WrestleMania's feel-good story.
The US Championship has endured a tumultuous 2018. It started with Dolph Ziggler winning, then hijacking the title only to relinquish back to Daniel Bryan. A tournament was held to determine a new champion with the anticipation of Ziggler retuning to reclaim his title. That didn't happen and the tournament winner, Bobby Roode, took a turn with the prestigious belt.1comments
However, his reign was short as Fastlane saw Randy Orton capture the belt making him WWE's latest Grand Slam Champion.
Orton has held the belt ever since, and barring a Rusev Day upset, will continue to be Champion for the foreseeable future.