Perhaps no one had a worse SummerSlam than Rusev. While the Bulgarian Brute did have a match on the show's main card against, future WWE Hall of Famer, Randy Orton, he lost is less than 10 seconds. However, the egregious Summerslam showing may be part of a bigger plan.
The bad loss was a catalyst for many rumors but Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer says that it was designed as a jump-off point for a longer feud with Orton. As per Meltzer, Orton won so decidedly because he had been considerably cooled by he multiple losses to JinderrM had and this was WWE attempt and putting him back on the burner.
So while it may look WWE was taking the shovel to Rusev, it was really more about rehabilitating Orton's image.
For Rusev, times have been tough. The Bulgarian Brute has not won a PPV match since 2016's Battleground. Even further his quick loss at SummerSlam marks consecutive matches at the August PPV where Rusev essentially had a non-match. Even worse, it came on the heels of a very forgettable Flag Match Rusev had with John Cena a month ago.
Rusev spent the first half of 2017 injured. His return was supposed to be met with a championship opportunity, but it seems like Jinder Mahal may have cut in on Rusev's spot. Typically a returning Superstar has built in momentum with WWE and it;s fans. The novelty of feeling "fresh" typically translates into success. However, Rusev has found his returning momentum to not just be at a standstill but arguably going backward.
While a feud with Orton may provide several nice in-ting moments,s it's going to be hard for WWE to make an Orton/Rusev feud look distinguishable from Orton's last feud with Mahal. Upping the degree of difficulty is the fact the WWE Championship will not be involved.
Orton's talent is well understood in the wrestling community so a potentially flat program is something he can transcend. However, Rusev needs some momentum. As one of WWE's most under appreciated stars, Rusev has potential to become a significant part of the company.The two were left off of SmackDown this Tuesday but expect them to build their story next week.