Joseph Ruud (November 28, 1981) is an American professional wrestler signed to WWE where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name of Rowan. In WWE, Rowan is known for his time as a member of the The Wyatt Family from 2013 to 2017 and later as one-half of the tag team The Bludgeon Brothers with Harper from 2017 to 2018. Rowan is a three-time tag team champion including being a one-time NXT Tag Team Champion with Harper and a two-time SmackDown Tag Team Champion, holding a single reign with Harper and a single reign with Daniel Bryan.
Professional Wrestling Career
Independent Circuit (2003-2010)
Prior signed to WWE, Ruud has competed in several independent promotions in both the United States and Japan. In 2007, he competed under the ring name Thoruf in Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan, where he competed in both tag team and singles matches, albeit without much success. Following his tour in Japan, Ruud returned to the United States in 2008 and began competing under the ring name Thoruf Marius for the Minnesota-based F1rst Wrestling promotion. Upon joining the promotion, he began feuding with Brody Hoofer, with the pair exchanging wins across several events.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Florida Championship Wrestling (2011-2012)
In 2011, Ruud signed a developmental contract with WWE and was assigned to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling. He made his FCW debut on April 14, 2011 under the ring name Erick Rowan, where he and Buck Dixon defeated the team of DeSean Bishop and DT Porter in a tag team match. The following week, Rowan suffered his first loss, as he, Bobby Dutch and Aksana were defeated by Derrick Bateman, Xavier Woods and Kaitlyn in a six-person intergender tag team match. Rowan later began competing as in the tag team division, where he and James Bronson competed in the FCW Tag Team Showcase Tournament. However, he and Bronson were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Epico and Hunico. Despite this, Rowan and Bronson received a championship match against the Florida Tag Team Champions CJ Parker and Donny Marlow, but were unsuccessful in winning the title. After Rowan and Bronson's team disbanded due to a lack of success, Rowan began a singles push in 2012 and found small success before returning to the tag team division by forming a team with Luke Harper.
The Wyatt Family (2012-2014)
When WWE rebranded its developmental territory, FCW, into NXT Wrestling, Rowan made his debut on the December 12, 2012 episode of NXT as a follower of Bray Wyatt, who introduced Rowan as his "second son". As a member of The Wyatt Family, Rowan formed a team with Wyatt's "first son" Luke Harper, and they defeated Percy Watson and Yoshi Tatsu on the January 9, 2013 episode of NXT. On the January 23 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan again defeated Watson and Tatsu in the opening round of the NXT Tag Team Championship tournament. Following a win over Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty in the semifinals, Harper and Rowan were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey. On May 2, Harper and Rowan defeated Neville and Bo Dallas, filling in for the injured Grey, to win the NXT Tag Team Championships. On June 5, Harper and Rowan successfully retained their titles against Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno. On June 20, Rowan and Harper lost the NXT Tag Team Championship to Adrian Neville and Corey Graves.
From the May 27 episode of Raw, WWE aired vignettes promoting the upcoming debut of the Wyatt Family. The vignettes showed the Wyatt Family's backwoods origins and Rowan wearing a sheep mask. On the July 8 episode of Raw, the Wyatt Family made their debut by assaulting Kane. Rowan made his WWE in-ring debut on the July 26 episode of SmackDown, where he and Harper defeated Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai) in a tag team match. Over the next few months, Rowan and Harper went on a winning streak over many teams, until Cody Rhodes and Goldust handed them their first loss on the October 11 episode of SmackDown. In early 2014, Rowan took part in the Wyatt Family's feud with The Shield, while also supporting Bray Wyatt in his feud with John Cena at WrestleMania XXX. While feud of Bray Wyatt and John Cena, Harper and Rowan started a feud with The Usos and beat them in a series of matches. Harper and Rowan unsuccessfully challenged The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship at Money in the Bank and Battleground, respectively.
Face turn & singles competition (2014–2016)
Beginning on September 29, vignettes were shown of Harper and Rowan being "set free". On the November 17 episode of Raw, Rowan turned face for the first time in his career when he chose to join John Cena's team for Survivor Series, going after his former Wyatt Family member and Intercontinental Champion Luke Harper, who had joined Team Authority. Throughout the remainder of the year, Rowan competed on Main Event, SmackDown Live and Monday Night RAW programs in singles matches against names including The Big Show, Cesaro, and his former mentor and team leader Bray Wyatt.
During the following year in 2015, Rowan received opportunities to challenge for the United States Championship held by Rusev during the WWE Live events. In singles matches, Rowan wrestled against opponents including Curtis Axel, The Big Show, Rusev, Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Fandango, Sami Zayn, Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Zack Ryder and Ryback.
During 2016, Rowan's career in singles included matches against opponents including Dean Ambrose, Jack Swagger, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Kane, Randy Orton and Apollo Crews during the WWE Live events and SmackDown Live programs. He went on to inherit the distinction of working a job match for The Rock at WrestleMania 32, ending in a record six seconds.
The Bludgeon Brothers (2017–2018)
Upon parting ways from their leader Bray Wyatt, Rowan and Harper formed their own team, announced as The Bludgeon Brothers. They made their televised debut on the November 21 episode of SmackDown Live, during which they defeated The Hype Bros. They remained undefeated until the December 26 episode of SmackDown Live, during which they were defeated by team Breezango. During the following year in 2018, the Bludgeon Brothers received numerous opportunities to compete for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship throughout the WWE Live events and televised SmackDown Live programs. They won the Tag Team titles at WrestleMania 34, defeating The New Day and the reigning champions The Usos in a triple threat tag match. Their reign reached its end on the August 21 episode of SmackDown Live, during which members of The New Day Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, won a No Disqualification tag match against the Bludgeon Brothers. Afterwards, the Brothers parted ways.
Alliance with Daniel Bryan (2019)
The team of Daniel Bryan and Rowan made their in-ring debut as early as the February 26 episode of SmackDown during which they lost to Kevin Owens & Kofi Kingston. On the May 7 episode of SmackDown, Rowan and Bryan won the SmackDown Tag Team Championship after defeating The Usos. Their reign ended at Extreme Rules, when Rowan and Bryan lost the titles to The New Day members Big E & Xavier Woods. Rowan and Bryan wrestled their final matches during the August SmackDown Live and 205 Live programs. During the August month, Rowan and Bryan were involved in an angle surrounding the mysterious assailant behind backstage attacks on Roman Reigns. During the month, Rowan assaulted Buddy Murphy after Murphy named him as the assailant behind the attacks on Reigns. The following month on the September 3 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan assaulted Roman Reigns during an in-ring segment conducted by Daniel Bryan. After Rowan cut a mic promo in which he addressed Bryan's degrading conduct towards Rowan, including treating Rowan as his puppet, he proceeded to announce himself as the Reigns' opponent at Clash of Champions. Rowan effectively ended his alliance with Daniel Bryan after he applied an Iron Claw Slam through the announcers table.
- Finishing moves
- Greetings From the North (Chokeslam) – FCW
- Running splash – NXT/WWE 2013-2014
- Backbreaker rack – 2014
- Waist-lift sitout side slam – 2014
- Diving splash - 2013-2014
- Reverse-thrown scoop powerslam – 2017–2018; used as a signature from 2018–present
- Full Nelson Slam – 2014–2017
- Iron Claw Slam – 2019–present
- Signature moves
- "Big Red"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- World Wrestling Entertainment
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #145 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2013