Often, fans seem confused when WWE does something to someone’s name. There are times when they change a name entirely, but in recent years, WWE has just eliminated part of a person’s name for no rhyme or reason.
Antonio Cesaro became Cesaro. Big E Langston became Big E. Mustafa Ali became Ali. Andrade Cien Almas became Andrade. Elias Samson became Elias. Alexander Rusev became Rusev.
While many name changes remain a mystery, Rusev explained in a recent interview why WWE eliminated his first name.
“It got dropped because Vince Mcmahon said ‘Ugh, Alexander, they’ll start calling you Alex as a nickname and you have to be a Russian/Bulgarian villain, we’re dropping it'”. Rusev said in an interview with At Cafe.
Rusev also said what most people already know — WWE lets most wrestlers come up with their own names in the company, which means those names that people think are ridiculous are probably chosen by the wrestlers themselves.
Miroslav Barnyashev said that he chose the surname Rusev because it was the last name of a friend named Vasil Rusev that he shared a rowing boat with. As for Alexander, he felt it was a “mighty” Bulgarian name, which must seem hard for the WWE superstar to take when McMahon decided it wasn’t strong enough.
Also, his catchphrase “Rusev udrya, Rusev machka” was something he came up with based on the fact that he based his original character on Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.
“I remember a scene where Rocky’s trainer says that whatever Drago hits, he destroys. And I was thinking how something similar can work for me. And one day we had to record it in studio and that’s when ‘Rusev udrya, Rusev machka’ was born.”