WWE needs to feed Alexander Rusev the next level of prey.
The company has already established him as a dominant force. Giving him extended action in the ring and moving him closer to the center of the spotlight both better entertains fans and reveals more of what Rusev is capable of.
Rusev's first singles match came against Zack Ryder in early April.
He quickly overwhelmed his opponent. Granted, Ryder is not the kind of trophy you hang up on your wall at this point in his career. The new bruiser walking all over him was no surprise.
"The Bulgarian Brute" then notched victories against Sin Cara, a Superstar a few slots above Ryder.
Rusev's latest conquests have come up against Kofi Kingston and the duo of Xavier Woods and R-Truth. The win over Kingston signals that Rusev has climbed above WWE's lowest rungs. Dispatching midcarders with numerous titles on their resume tells the audience that this new arrival is an emerging contender.
It's the quickness with which he took care of Woods and R-Truth at the same time at Extreme Rules that has fans firmly believing in his power.
Rather than wade through the midcard for much longer, Rusev needs bigger challenges.
At this point, he goes into a match against the bottom half of the roster as the favorite. There is little suspense in another showdown between Rusev and Kingston or R-Truth.
When Goldberg went on what WCW reported to be a 173-0 run, he began with similarly low-level foes, knocking off guys like Wrath and The Renegade. His hit list got more impressive as he went on. He added Yuji Nagata, Meng and Stevie Ray to it after just a few months.
It was when he took on William Regal, his toughest foe up to that point, that things truly began to get interesting.
This is the kind of challenge Rusev needs soon. Colliding with Big Show or Mark Henry makes fans wonder if this is the moment where Rusev's momentum stalls. Victories against men like them are far more significant than the ones he has attained so far.
Besides, there isn't much of the midcard left for him to take on.
Would matches against Darren Young or one of Los Matadores have any inherent interest anyway? It only makes sense for him to continue working against that caliber of opponent if the audience needs further convincing of his power.
That, or WWE planned to mimic Goldberg's path and have him go more than a year without suffering a defeat.
While it's not the smart move to have jump from hunting midcarders to challenging for the WWE title in a pay-per-view main event—as Ryback did in 2012—he does need to meet tougher foes. It's not only a way to elevate the entertainment value of his battles, but a way to develop him as a prospect.
Rusev is raw right now.
We've only seen a handful of moves from him and we've seen him only tell one story in the ring—Goliath chomping on David. He's mastered the squash match.
Of course, WWE wants more than that from in the future.
Can he entertain in a less one-sided match? Can he continue to thrive for a longer stretch of time?
The only way to answer those questions is to test him in the ring.
Remove his greenness by challenging him to do more. Have him work with established vets in a feud that is of more importance than his current rivalry with R-Truth and Woods.
After making his way through Henry and Big Show, WWE will have a clearer idea of Rusev's potential.
This would be more pressure as a performer than he has had to endure before. Should the pressure wobble his knees, company officials can rein in their expectations. Should he flourish, though, there's more reason to believe that WWE has found its next great monster heel.
Up the stakes for Rusev. His success at his current role begs for more responsibility and a slide up the food chain.
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