Rusev has explained the process behind the selection of his ring name.
The Bulgarian, who's named Miroslav Barnyashev, signed his first contract with WWE in 2010 after migrating to the United States to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler in the mid-2000s.
Rusev's path was by no means an easy one. He worked in construction, cleaned stores, delivered pizzas, made sandwiches at Wendy's and even had a stint at a strip joint before getting through with the popular promotion.
He actually started out as Alexander Rusev but claims Vince McMahon dropped Alexander because fans would eventually start calling him Alex.
“[WWE] gives you an option to submit names you like. And I was thinking about it. Then to make a joke with my friend Vasil, Vasil Rusev, who I used to share a rowing boat with, I chose Rusev," he explained on a Bulgarian talk show (h/t Wrestling Inc).
"And I was Alexander Rusev with Alexander later being dropped. I liked Alexander because it sounded [mighty] and Bulgarian. But then 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.'”
While Vince had the final say on his name, the 33-year-old is responsible for his own catchphrase.
“I made [the catchphrase ‘Rusev udrya, Rusev machka’] myself," he added. "Our character, mine and Lana’s, that we present in the ring was very [inspired] by Rocky IV, we took a lot from there. And 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.”