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Joseph Ruud (born November 28, 1981) is an American professional wrestler. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the SmackDown brand under the ring name Erick Rowan.

Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
Rowan in April 2016
Birth nameJoseph Ruud
Born (1981-11-28) November 28, 1981 (age 37)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota Morris
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Erick Rowan[1]
Rowan[2]
Thoruf Marius[1]
Billed height6 ft 8 in (203 cm)[2]
Billed weight315 lb (143 kg)[2]
Billed fromMinneapolis, Minnesota[3]
Trained byEddie Sharkey[1]
Pro Wrestling Noah Dojo
DebutSeptember 3, 2003[1]

Ruud previously wrestled in Japan, having trained and performed for Pro Wrestling Noah. He signed a WWE contract in 2011 and was sent to its developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), before debuting in NXT the following year as a founding member of The Wyatt Family. In WWE, he is a one-time NXT Tag Team Champion and a two-time SmackDown Tag Team Champion, one reign with Luke Harper and one reign with Daniel Bryan.

Early life

Joseph Ruud was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 28, 1981.[1] He grew up in Montrose, Minnesota. His family is of Norwegian descent, having emigrated from Nannestad. Ruud is a trained guitarist and attended the University of Minnesota Morris, where he played football.[4]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (2003–2011)

Ruud began his professional wrestling career after training with Eddie Sharkey in 2003, going by the ring name Thoruf Marius, competing for various promotions throughout the Midwest until 2007. He was invited to go to Pro Wrestling Noah's (NOAH) dojo in Japan to live, train, and wrestle. During this time, he competed in both tag team and singles matches.[5] Following his tour in Japan, Ruud returned to the United States in 2008 and began competing for the Minnesota-based F1rst Wrestling promotion. Upon joining the promotion, he began feuding with Brody Hoofer, with the pair exchanging wins across several events.[6]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE

Florida Championship Wrestling (2011–2012)

In February 2011, Ruud signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and was assigned to their developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) under the ring name Erick Rowan.[7] He made his FCW TV debut in August 2011 with a win over Kenneth Cameron, while being accompanied by Byron Saxton and James Bronson.[8] To tie in with Saxton's feud with Titus O'Neil, Rowan and Bronson lost to O'Neil and Leakee in a tag team match.[9] Although Rowan continued to compete in both singles and tag team matches with Bronson, he was not involved in any further feuds and did not challenge for any titles on FCW TV.[10]

The Wyatt Family (2012–2014)

 
The Wyatt Family – Rowan (left), Bray Wyatt (center) and Luke Harper (right)
 
Rowan wearing his sheep mask as part of The Wyatt Family

After FCW was rebranded to NXT Wrestling,[11] Rowan made his debut on the December 12, 2012 episode of NXT as a follower of Bray Wyatt, who introduced Rowan as his "second son".[12] As a member of The Wyatt Family, Rowan formed a tag team with Wyatt's "first son" Luke Harper,[13] and they defeated Percy Watson and Yoshi Tatsu on the January 9, 2013 episode of NXT.[14] On the January 23 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan again defeated Watson and Tatsu in the opening round of the NXT Tag Team Championship tournament.[15] Following a win over Bo Dallas and Michael McGillicutty in the semi-finals after Wyatt's interference,[16] Harper and Rowan were defeated in the finals by Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey.[17] On the May 2 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan won a triple threat elimination tag team match by last pinning Adrian Neville.[18] On the May 8 episode of NXT (which was taped on May 2), Harper and Rowan defeated Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas (who was filling in for the injured Oliver Grey) to win the NXT Tag Team Championship, Rowan's first professional wrestling championship.[19][20] On the June 5 episode of NXT, Harper and Rowan successfully retained their championship against Corey Graves and Kassius Ohno,[21] and on the June 19 episode of NXT, The Wyatt Family defeated the team of Neville, Graves and Ohno.[22] On the July 17 episode of NXT (which was taped on June 20), Harper and Rowan lost the NXT Tag Team Championship to Neville and Graves.[23]

From the May 27 episode of Raw, WWE aired vignettes promoting the upcoming main roster debut of The Wyatt Family.[24] The vignettes showed The Wyatt Family's backwoods origins and Rowan wearing a sheep mask.[25][26] On the July 8 episode of Raw, The Wyatt Family made their debut by assaulting Kane.[27] Rowan made his WWE in-ring debut on the July 26 episode of SmackDown, where he and Harper defeated Tons of Funk (Brodus Clay and Tensai) in a tag team match.[28] Over the next few months, Harper and Rowan competed as a tag team and went on a winning streak over many teams,[29][30][31] until Cody Rhodes and Goldust handed them their first loss on the October 11 episode of SmackDown.[32] In early 2014, Rowan took part in The Wyatt Family's feud with The Shield,[33][34][35] while also supporting Bray Wyatt in his feud against John Cena.[36] While Cena and Wyatt's feud continued, Harper and Rowan also started a feud with The Usos, unsuccessfully challenging for the Tag Team Championship at Money in the Bank[37] and Battleground.[38]

Feud with The Authority (2014–2015)

Beginning on September 29, vignettes were shown of Rowan and Harper being "set free" by Wyatt, marking the dissolution of The Wyatt Family and the transition of its members into singles competition.[39][40] On the November 17 episode of Raw, Rowan turned face for the first time in his WWE career and had a brief feud with The Authority when he joined Team Cena for Survivor Series, going after his former Wyatt Family partner and then Intercontinental Champion Luke Harper, who had joined Team Authority.[41] At Survivor Series, Rowan scored no eliminations and was himself eliminated by Harper, with the assistance of Seth Rollins; however, Team Cena later won the match.[42] Afterwards, Rowan started a feud with Big Show, the team member who had betrayed the rest of Team Cena at the event.[43] At TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Rowan faced Big Show in a stairs match in a losing effort.[44]

On the January 5, 2015 episode of Raw, Rowan along with former Team Cena teammates Dolph Ziggler and Ryback were (kayfabe) fired by The Authority for being a part of Team Cena.[45] On the January 19 episode of Raw, Rowan, Ziggler and Ryback were rehired after Cena won a 3-on-1 handicap match against Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane following assistance from Sting.[46] On the January 22 episode of SmackDown, Rowan lost to Luke Harper in a qualifying match for the 2015 Royal Rumble.[47] Despite this, Rowan appeared during the Royal Rumble match and attacked number 6 entrant Curtis Axel before Axel could make his entrance to the ring, sparking a brief The Wyatt Family reunion with Harper and Wyatt before all three men brawled.[48] At Fastlane, Rowan competed together with Ziggler and Ryback in a six-man tag team match against Seth Rollins, Big Show and Kane, which they lost.[49] Rowan participated in the second annual André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 31, but was eliminated by Big Show.[50]

Return of The Wyatt Family (2015–2017)

 
The Wyatt Family confronting The Rock at WrestleMania 32

In May, Rowan reunited with former tag team partner Luke Harper after attacking Harper's opponent Fandango, turning heel in the process.[51] In late June, Rowan suffered a torn bicep, leaving him out of action.[52]

Rowan made his return on the October 19 episode of Raw, when he filled in for Harper (who was unable to show for personal reasons), against Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, which his team won by disqualification after Ambrose attacked new Wyatt Family member Braun Strowman with a kendo stick.[53] Rowan took part in The Wyatt Family's feud with The Brothers of Destruction, after they kidnapped The Undertaker at Hell in a Cell,[54] and Kane on the October 26 episode of Raw.[55] At TLC: Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, The Wyatt Family defeated ECW Originals in an eight-man tag team elimination tables match, with Rowan being the only Wyatt Family member eliminated from the match.[56] On January 24, 2016, Rowan would go on to compete in the Royal Rumble match with fellow Wyatt Family members and was eliminated by Brock Lesnar,[57] but he would later return to the ring along with another members to eliminate Lesnar.[58][59] On April 3, Rowan competed in his first ever WrestleMania singles match at WrestleMania 32 against The Rock, after the latter confronted The Wyatt Family.[60] Rowan was defeated by The Rock in 6 seconds (which broke the record for the quickest WrestleMania match of all time) and, after the match, when The Wyatt Family attempted to attack Rock, they were fought off by both Rock and a returning John Cena.[61] On the April 4 episode of Raw, The Wyatt Family attacked The League of Nations, starting an unexplained feud between the heel factions.[62] Rowan and Braun Strowman were set to compete in a match at Payback,[62] but Wyatt suffered a calf injury[63] as well as Harper, who dislocated his patella and tore his medial patellofemoral ligament in late March.[64][65] These injuries resulted in the suspension of the feud between The Wyatt Family and The League of Nations.[62] The Wyatt Family (minus Harper) returned on the June 20 episode of Raw, subsequently getting into a feud with the Tag Team Champions The New Day, who interrupted Bray Wyatt during his return speech. The feud culminated at Battleground, where The Wyatt Family defeated The New Day.

On July 19 at the 2016 WWE draft, Rowan was drafted to SmackDown along with Bray Wyatt while Braun Strowman was drafted to Raw. On the August 2 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan resumed his alliance with Wyatt by attacking Wyatt's opponent, Dolph Ziggler, as well as the WWE World Champion Dean Ambrose.[66] It was thought that Rowan had split away from Wyatt after losing to Dean Ambrose on the August 16 episode of SmackDown Live, but he then began attacking Wyatt's enemies again, thus the alliance resumed. In October, Rowan underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and would be out of action for four to six months.[67]

On the April 4, 2017 episode of SmackDown Live after WrestleMania 33, Rowan returned from injury after nearly eight months of inactivity, sporting a new steampunk-style sheep mask, assisting Bray Wyatt and attacking Randy Orton. Later that night, Rowan participated in a tag team match, teaming up with Wyatt facing against Orton and former Wyatt Family partner Luke Harper in a losing effort. On April 10, The Wyatt Family seemingly disbanded again when Wyatt was moved to the Raw brand during the Superstar Shake-up.

On the April 18 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan failed to become the number one contender for WWE Championship after losing a six-pack challenge match. The short rivalry between Rowan and Luke Harper was ended at Backlash on May 21, where Harper defeated Rowan.[68] On the July 4 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan participated in the Independence Day Battle Royal, which was won by AJ Styles.[69]

The Bludgeon Brothers (2017–2018)

 
The Bludgeon Brothers at WrestleMania 34

On the October 10 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan returned to television in a vignette where he was once again aligned with Luke Harper.[70] The duo were dubbed as The Bludgeon Brothers, and Rowan subsequently dropped the first name Erick from his ring name. The team wrestled their return match as The Bludgeon Brothers on the November 21 episode of SmackDown Live, defeating The Hype Bros (Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley).[71]

After dominating most of the tag division for months, the team won the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 34 from The Usos, a match also involving The New Day; this marked Rowan's first main roster championship win.[72] They successfully defended their titles against The Usos at the Greatest Royal Rumble event.[73] The two once again retained the titles against Team Hell No at Extreme Rules. The win came after they attacked Kane backstage prior to the match.[74] The team lost by disqualification in a championship defense against The New Day at SummerSlam, resulting in them retaining the titles.[75] Two nights later, on the August 21 edition of SmackDown Live, The New Day defeated The Bludgeon Brothers in a No Disqualification match to win the championships, ending their reign at 135 days.[76] The following day, it was announced that Rowan had suffered a torn right bicep and would have surgery later in the week.[77]

Team with Daniel Bryan and feud with Roman Reigns (2019–present)

At the Royal Rumble on January 27, 2019, Rowan returned from injury, interfering on behalf of Daniel Bryan to help him retain the WWE Championship against AJ Styles, and forming an alliance with Bryan.[78] Rowan competed in his first match since August 2018 on the February 26 episode of SmackDown Live, teaming with Bryan in a losing effort to Kevin Owens and Kofi Kingston.[79]

On the May 7 episode of SmackDown Live, Bryan and Rowan defeated The Usos for the vacant SmackDown Tag Team Championship, beginning their first reign as a team, and Rowan’s second reign individually.[80] At Money in the Bank, Rowan and Bryan were defeated by The Usos in a non-title match.[81] The following month at Super ShowDown, Rowan competed in the 51-man battle royal, but failed to win.[82] At Stomping Grounds, Rowan and Bryan retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against Heavy Machinery.[83] At Extreme Rules, the two lost the championship to The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) in a triple threat match also involving Heavy Machinery. The loss ended the team's reign at 68 days.[84]

In August, Buddy Murphy accused Rowan of attacking Roman Reigns after a mystery assailant had pushed scaffolding that fell on Reigns backstage.[85] At SummerSlam, Rowan assaulted Murphy during his match against Apollo Crews as revenge.[86] On August 23, Rowan's name was reverted back to "Erick Rowan".[87] On the August 27 episode of SmackDown Live, Reigns played footage of the original attack from an alternate angle, revealing Rowan to indeed be the attacker. An enraged Bryan repeatedly slapped Rowan before dismissing him, stating he did not instruct Rowan to attack Reigns.[88] The next week on Smackdown, Rowan attacked Roman Reigns and a week later, Rowan brutally assaulted both Reigns and Bryan, admitting that he is indeed the attacker.[citation needed]

The following week, on the September 3 episode of SmackDown Live, Rowan assaulted Roman Reigns during an in-ring segment by Daniel Bryan. After Rowan cut a promo in which he addressed Bryan's demeaning conduct towards him, including Bryan treating him as a puppet, he proceeded to announce himself as Reigns' opponent at Clash of Champions. Rowan effectively ended his alliance with Daniel Bryan after he sent him through the announcer's table with his Iron Claw Slam finisher.[citation needed]. At Clash of Champions, Rowan defeated Reigns with the return and help of Luke Harper.

Other media

Filmography

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Alt for Norge competitor Season 1[89]

Video games

Year Title Notes
2014 WWE 2K15 As "Erick Rowan"[90]
2015 WWE 2K16 As "Erick Rowan"[91]
2016 WWE 2K17 As "Erick Rowan"[92]
2017 WWE 2K18 As "Erick Rowan"[93]
2018 WWE 2K19 As "Erick Rowan\Rowan"[94]

Championships and accomplishments

References

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