The post-World War II climate of mistrust between Russia and the USA fostered many terrible, better best forgotten things, but one of them is most definitely not Rocky IV.
Pitching Sylvester Stallone’s titular Italian stallion against Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, the film was a resounding triumph for all concerned, helped by another killer soundtrack from Survivor with “Burning Heart”.
Sly and Big Dolph have subsequently made friends with co-starring appearances in The Expandables film trilogy but the appetite for another meeting of east versus west is as insatiable as ever.
Thank goodness, then, for the imminent arrival of a clash that is sure to capture the imagination of every Yankee-hater and anti-Ruskie out there and best of all – no one will get hurt this time!
No, because this time the fight is headed to the only battlefield where supplexes, four-figure leglocks and clotheslines are par for the course – WWE.
You won’t find any fighter avenging the death of an Apollo Creed-style mentor here, just a lot of big men shouting and running around in spandex.
In the one corner you have the U-S-of-A’s representative Paul Wight, or as he has been known to millions for well over 20 years The Big Show.
With other in-the-ring names including The Giant and The Big Nasty Bastard, you get a fair idea that Mr Wight possesses plenty in the way of physical presence.
But like Rocky going up against Drago, the 7ft 0in Big Show has more than met his match in opponent Rusev.
Hailing from Plovdiv in Bulgaria, real name Miroslav Barnyashev is fighting under the flag of mother Russia in a bout that is likely to be about more than just wrestling for Jim Ross, Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler and the rest of the assembled ringside personalities.
At the time of writing The Big Show remains the resounding favourite for victory, but if The Undertaker’s recent Wrestlemania defeat – his first in 19 appearances at the event – showed, it’s to expect the unexpected from WWE.
Rusev can be backed to win the match in London but we’re relatively confident of a victory for the American and maybe a little post-match flag waving, though not too much as Vladimir Putin may well be watching – and he’s damn scary.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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