Miroslav Barnyashev (December 25, 1985) is a Bulgarian professional wrestler and former powerlifter and rower. He is currently employed by the American professional wrestling promotion WWE, where he wrestles for the developmental territory WWE NXT under the ring name Rusev. Barnyashev is the first Bulgarian to have wrestled for WWE.
Early life and athletics career
Professional wrestling career
Early career (2008-2011)
In the mid-2000s, Barnyashev emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States with the ambition of becoming a professional wrestler. He originally lived in Virgina, before relocating to Torrance, California, where he began training as a wrestler under Gangrel and Rikishi at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy. Barnyashev debuted on the independent circuit on November 22, 2008 under the ring name "Miroslav Makaraov", defeating Aerial Star.
In 2010, Barnyashev wrestled for Vendetta Pro Wrestling as "Miroslav". He and several other VPW wrestlers appeared in the music video for the song The Whole F'n Show by Kushinator (the entrance music of wrestler Rob Van Dam).
Developmental territories (2011-present)
In April 2011, Barnyashev was signed to a contract by the professional wrestling promotion WWE. He was assigned to the Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) developmental territory, where he adopted the ring name "Alexander Rusev". He wrestled his first televised match on the July 17, 2011 episode of FCW, defeating Mike Dalton while being managed by Raquel Diaz. Shortly after debuting in FCW, Rusev tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus and spent six months rehabilitating.
Rusev returned to FCW in March 2012, when he and Antonio Cesaro mounted an unsuccessful challenge for Bo Rotundo and Husky Harris' FCW Florida Tag Team Championship. In the summer of 2012, Rusev suffered a broken neck, temporarily paralyzing his arm. While rehabilitating, Barnyashev travelled to Thailand, where he studied the martial art Muay Thai. In August 2012, WWE rebranded FCW as WWE NXT.
After recovering from his injuries, Rusev made his NXT television debut on the May 30, 2013 episode, competing in a battle royale to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship that was won by Mason Ryan. Rusev's first NXT singles match came about on August 21, losing to Dolph Ziggler. He subsequently adopted Sylvester Lefort as his manager and formed a tag team with Scott Dawson named "The Fighting Legionnaires". On the October 30 episode of NXT, Rusev ended his affiliation with Lefort by attacking him during a tag team bout and adopted Lana as his "social ambassador"., a pairing compared by WWE to Ivan and Ludmilla Drago from the 1985 film Rocky IV.
On the January 8, 2014 episode of NXT, Rusev squashed Xavier Woods after WWE Director of Operations Kane booked a match between them to punish Woods for starting a petition to have the suspended Big Show reinstated the previous year.
Rusev debuted at the Royal Rumble 2014 on the main roster. In the months that followed, Rusev appeared in an on-going series of squash matches involving victories over R-Truth, Xavier Woods and Sin Cara. His victories would also include excessive force to where his social ambassador Lana, would intervene, commanding him to stop, just long enough to lure his opponents into further attacks after the match was won.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Entrance music
- "Mila Rodino" by Tsvetan Radoslavov
- "Рев на лъвът (Roar of the Lion)" by CFO$
- "The Bashing Bulgarian"
- "The Bulgarian Brute"
- "The Super Athlete"
- Alexander Rusev on Twitter