Rusev excited for championship match against AJ Styles at Extreme Rules

ONTARIO -- As Rusev walked through the Citizens Business Bank Arena, one thought crossed his mind, "It's about damn time."

Four years after his main roster debut, Rusev is finally getting his first WWE Championship opportunity. It's an opportunity that the "Bulgarian Brute" has been waiting for his entire career.

"Becoming heavyweight champion and holding the top title is on my bucket list," Rusev said. "That spot is always getting tighter and tighter, but why not? A man can always dream."

On July 15, that dream has a chance to become a reality, as Rusev faces AJ Styles for the WWE championship at Extreme Rules. It's a match that Rusev knows may be the biggest of his career.

"I've been focused and I'm in the zone," Rusev said. "I've been training harder than any other day."

The past year has been an unbelievable roller coaster for Rusev (real name Miroslav Barnyashev), in which the one-time parody moment of Rusev Day became the most popular gimmick in WWE. In eight short months, he quickly became one of the top merchandise sellers in the company and has finally been given the keys to the main event.

Whether or not this opportunity comes again, Rusev has nothing but appreciation for this moment. "It's great," Rusev said. "Finally being able to climb up all the way to the top. I've worked hard enough and done everything I've needed to do. It just feels good that I have this opportunity, and I'm not going to waste it."