Alexander Rusev: NXT’s brewing storm

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August 29, 2013

In WWE, any athlete who stands 6 feet tall and weighs more than 300 pounds can certainly hold his own. Once you add surprising agility and an explosive martial arts background to the mix, you have a Superstar poised to achieve great things. This is Alexander Rusev.

When it was announced last week that Dolph Ziggler would be making a special appearance on WWE NXT, observers and aficionados alike began to wonder who might face The Showoff. The question was answered the moment the bell rang and the mighty Rusev faced off with the former World Heavyweight Champion in an exciting match. 

“I thought it was a smart move for NXT and WWE,” Rusev told WWE.com through an interpreter. “Dolph Ziggler is one of the best competitors out there and I took him to the limit.” 

Since then, Rusev has formed an unlikely alliance with Sylvestor Lefort and Scott Dawson, creating a path of carnage in the process. But just who is this exciting new NXT Superstar?  And why has he just now decided to make waves on NXT? A look into Rusev’s past may provide the answers the NXT Universe is looking for.

Born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Rusev was raised with athletics as a way of life. 

Read Rusev's bio

“I attended sports school in Bulgaria just like my parents. I attended class twice a day and trained twice a day,” Rusev recounted. 

At the school, Rusev specialized in rowing, a sport he eventually competed in at a professional level. As a power lifter, Rusev was considered a prospect for the 2012 Bulgarian Olympic team. Not satisfied with his athletic feats, the Bulgarian strongman took a leap of faith by leaving home at age 20 and coming to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a Superstar. 

“I moved to Virginia and started working odd cleaning jobs. For a while I was living out of my car,” he said.

With his life seemingly at a standstill, Rusev made the decision to head west to finally make his dream a reality. 

“My people in Bulgaria always knew if you wanted to become a star, you go to California, so that’s where I went,” he explained. 

Rusev’s path to the Golden State brought him in contact with Gangrel and Rikishi, two former WWE Superstars he trained with at a school in Los Angeles. As the school’s first student, Rusev quickly found himself ahead of the class and it wasn’t long before he earned a coveted spot in WWE’s Developmental System. But the celebration of such an achievement was short-lived as Rusev faced an uphill battle that shaped the future of his career. 

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