Former WWE star Rusev, now going by Miro, made his surprise arrival in All Elite Wrestling on the Sept. 9 episode of AEW Dynamite. Since then he's aligned himself as "The Best Man" alongside Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford, showing off his love of video games while feuding with The Best Friends and Orange Cassidy. And while the gaming fandom is very much a part of who Miro is in real life, the new persona hasn't been well-received by fans, especially ones who were hoping he'd be a main event player right out of the gate.
Tony Khan was asked about the company's plans for Miro during a media conference call on Tuesday, and the AEW president did not hesitate is stating how big of a star the former United States Champion will become. He started off by explaining why the Bulgarian native wasn't immediately inserted into the world championship picture
"Miro's going to be a big star here. It's really hard for people to come into AEW when you have a ranking system unless they come in at the start of a new year cycle," Khan said. "And I didn't want to wait till January to bring Miro in. Brian Cage was the exception because Brian Cage, I booked him, he came in... I signed Brian Cage in January and he came in, I was going to do the Casino Ladder Match and Brian would be a surprise and we would build to Brian getting a shot but build up a record for Brian before we did Moxley versus Brian Cage."
"But I can't do that for everybody and I wasn't going to do it again, and so I couldn't just put Miro in the main event with no record and no history here," he added. "So he's got to build up and build story, but he's working with some of the top people in AEW, some of the people I regard as the top people — with the Best Friends and now Orange Cassidy in the story — and so, we have great stuff going on the top of the card and I just couldn't cast everybody aside. Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho and MJF, Cody and Darby, Ricky Starks and Brian Cage. We have Will Hobbs moving up now. Hangman [Page}. There's so many great things going on in AEW, and Miro is now going to be a huge part of AEW, too, but, just like everyone else, he has to win matches and get involved in stories."
He then discussed how AEW needs to rehabilitate Miro as a character after how he was used in his final years in WWE.
"Whether people know it or not, we're re-contextualizing Miro," he said. "I don't know what Miro was supposed to be before he came to AEW. I don't understand what he represented. And I think most of the great characters in wrestling have some element of their personality, where they bring themselves into it. And the Miro you're seeing is the person I know."
He then said the initial rivalry with Trent was booked to show people that the Miro they're seeing on AEW is who he really is, rather than a made-up persona. Khan then mentioned a bit of the fan backlash.
I'm just kind of rebuilding him, to be honest with you. I thought he got beat up so badly [in WWE]," Khan said. "I saw some jackass on Twitter was like, 'This guy drove a tank at WrestleMania and now he's doing this,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, and then he got kicked in the nuts and they treated him like s— for years. He drove a tank out five years ago. That's not the guy I signed. The guy I signed had been abused for years. And he's being rebuilt."
Since arriving in AEW, Miro has a 3-0 record.