During a recent Monday Night Raw, Rusev was crowned the new number one contender for the United States Championship, as he prepares to feud with Kalisto for the belt at Extreme Rules later this month.
Rusev, who won a battle royal on Raw to earn a title shot, will be chasing his second US championship whilst Kalisto will be looking to defend the belt he won for the second time at the Royal Rumble.
If WWE are sensible then they will give Rusev the belt at Extreme Rules. Whilst Kalisto may be popular and incredibly gifted in the ring, there are just too many factors that mean his run simply cannot continue.
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Firstly, Kalisto has been booked horrendously as the champion. Winning the title at the Royal Rumble in a great match, Kalisto would then go on to defend his belt on three consecutive Pay-Per-View pre-shows.
The matches Kalisto had against Alberto Del Rio and Ryback on these pre-shows were great, but the build going into them was atrocious and the fact that the belt was being defended on the pre-show really damaged its prestige.
WWE was a similar position with the Tag Team championships last year, with the belts constantly being defended on the pre-show. This was solved by giving the belts to a new set of champions, The New Day, and, since then, the belts haven’t been defended on the pre-show at all.
A new champion would give new life to the belt and Rusev has proven himself to be a great story-teller in the past. Kalisto is not to be blamed for this, he didn’t decide when his matches would be shown, but, thanks to poor booking, a lack of exposure and a drop in prestige of the United State Championship, Rusev needs to win on the 22nd.
Secondly, WWE are insistent on keeping the Lucha Dragons together as a tag team, despite Kalisto clearly being a more single-orientated character. Without giving them a proper break-up story, it’s hard to book Kalisto as a singles wrestler because, well, he isn’t.
His appearances on Raw and SmackDown have mostly been as a team, which doesn’t really allow for any story progression with Kalisto as the champ. If WWE had broken the team up, not necessarily on a bitter note, Sin Cara and Kalisto could have parted on good terms, then it would have been easier to book the luchador as a credible champion.
Since WWE want to keep the Lucha Dragons together, then they need to get the belt off of Kalisto. Rusev can carry the title as a singles-focused competitor and Kalisto and Sin Cara can go on to make their presence felt in the Tag Team division, leading to a proper break-up storyline and then the very successful singles careers both men are highly capable of.
Finally, the belt’s future may not be the only thing hanging in the balance at Extreme Rules. Rusev himself has failed to do anything of any real importance since losing the title at WrestleMania 31 and his ensuing feud with John Cena.
A terrible love triangle angle, multiple injuries, his engagement being announced and the League of Nations have all gone a long way to tarnish the reputation of the former monster, but a convincing win and lengthy title run would go a long way to restoring Rusev to his crushing best.
Kalisto had his time with the belt and he still has many good years in him, but Rusev, simply put, needs the belt to get his career back on track.
Kalisto is a young star with amazing talent and innovative abilities, so his future is very bright in WWE, but for the good of Rusev and, ultimately, Kalisto himself, when May 22nd rolls around, Kalisto can fight his hardest, but he has to lose.
Who should be leaving Extreme Rules with the United States Championship? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!