In the mid-2000s, Barnyashev emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States with the ambition of becoming a professional wrestler. He originally lived in Virginia, before relocating to Torrance, California, where he began training as a wrestler with Gangrel and Rikishi at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy as his trainers. 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". While wrestling for VPW, he was managed by Markus Mac. 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).
World Wrestling Entertainment/WWEEdit
Developmental Territories (2010-Present)Edit
In September 2010, 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 with Nick Rogers as his manager. 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 Bo Dallas. 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.
Main Roster Debut (2014-Present)Edit
Rusev made his main roster debut at the Royal Rumble on January 26, 2014. The sixth entrant to the titular match, Rusev was eliminated by a joint effort of Seth Rollins, CM Punk, Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes. After the pay-per-view, in the upcoming weeks, Rusev and Lana began to appear in a vignettes hyping Rusev's forthcoming main roster television debut on Smackdown.
|Male Wrestlers||Adrian Neville • Aiden English • Alexander Rusev • Bo Dallas • Corey Graves • Danny Burch • Konnor • Leo Kruger • Mason Ryan • Mojo Rawley • Oliver Grey • Sami Zayn • Sylvester Lefort • Tyler Breeze • Viktor|
|Female Wrestlers||Bayley • Charlotte • Jojo • Lana • Paige • Sasha Banks|