During the 2014 edition of WWE's Royal Rumble, a huge athlete made his main stage debut - Alexander Rusev. Fans in attendance and at home watching seemed to be impressed with this massive newcomer. So who exactly is Alexander Rusev? These five fast facts should tell you everything there is to know about this WWE NXT up and coming superstar.
1. He's WWE's First Bulgarian Signing
Alexander Rusev (real name - Miroslav Barnyashev) , WWE's first-ever Bulgarian professional wrestler signee. His place of birth was in Plovdic, Bulgaria on December 25, 1985. As a child, Rusev attended a sports school and competed in rowing and power lifting. Rusev made his way over the United States once he moved to Torrance, California back in 2007. It's been reported that he actually competed for the Bulgarian Olympic Weightlifting team during the 2012 Summer Olympics. However, that's untrue since he broke his neck that summer and was unable to compete.
2. He Was Trained by Two Attitude Era Stars
Alexander Rusev began his professional wrestling career when be became a trainee at the Knokx Wrestling School. Rusev's trainers were none other than WWF/E Attitude Era superstars Rikishi and Gangrel. Rusev made his professional wrestling debut on November 22, 2008 under the moniker of "Miroslav Makaraov." He competed in a match against fellow wrestling school trainee Aerial Star.
3. He Signed With the WWE in 2011
Rusev officially signed to the WWE in April 2011 through a WWE Developmental contract. His "Alexander Rusev" ring name was given to him as he entered wrestling's biggest organization. On a June 9, 2011 edition of FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's former developmental territory), Rusev debuted in a winning effort against Mike Dalton. You can watch that debut match above.
4. Rusev Has Been Wrestling on WWE's New Developmental Territory, NXT
Rusev injured himself shortly after making his debut in FCW when he broke his anterior cruciate ligament and his meniscus. After six months of rehab, Rusev returned to FCW in 2012. His second career injury came when he broke his neck and paralyzed one of his arms in the process. During the rehabilitation process for these injuries, Rusev ventured to Thailand and began learning the martial art of Muay Thai. Once FCW was transformed into NXT, Rusev returned to wrestling in 2013. You can watch one of Rusev's recent NXT matches above.
5. He Gave A Dominating Performance at the 2014 Royal Rumble
The entire WWE Universe got a chance to watch Alexander Rusev in action on WWE's main stage. Alexander Rusev entered the 2014 Royal Rumble match at #6. His in-ring prowess was on full display when he entered the ring and manhandled fellow superstars like CM Punk and Kofi Kingston. His elimination from the Rumble came when Kingston, Punk, Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins all ganged up on him to flip him over the top rope. Alexander Rusev was involved in another amazing moment as his post-elimination beating on Kofi Kingston led to Kingston hopping back into the ring by jumping off the guard barrier. Rusev's performance was still impressive, even though he left the Royal Rumble without any eliminations of his own.
Rusev is actually getting called up to the main WWE roster. Check out the promo above that aired for him and his valet on the January 31, 2014 episode of Smackdown.
You can also check out the video below to watch Rusev's in-ring debut on WWE RAW (April 7, 2014):