Shane McMahon wanted to spotlight Tiger Ruas.
During the summer of 2020, Shane McMahon formally introduced the ‘Raw Underground’ portion of Monday Night Raw. It was presented as a shoot-style ‘fight club’ type of show where talents used their respective MMA and/or amateur wrestling backgrounds while competing against one another.
Week two of Raw Underground featured the debut of Tiger Ruas, formerly known as ‘Arturo Ruas’ and ‘Adrian Jaoude’ in WWE. Raw Underground lasted from early August until mid-September but Ruas shared that there were plans to further spotlight him on the show.
He told the All Real Wrestling Podcast that Shane McMahon wanted to build him as a strong Black Belt competitor and added that there was supposed to be an angle involving himself, Bobby Lashley and Dolph Ziggler that was going to fill an entire Raw Underground segment. Ten minutes before that was supposed to unfold, he was told that everything changed.
I remember like, I had a day when I got a big promo and [it was] supposed to be a big angle between me, Bob Lashley and Dolph Ziggler and that was supposed to be like a main thing on [Raw] Underground and Shane [McMahon] was telling me that he was thinking and wanting to create me and build me strong as [a] Black Belt, Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. That’s why he wants me to be facing Bob Lashley and [it] was a big angle and a big promo. It was supposed to be — the full episode of Underground, just me and Bob Lashley and whatever — and I remember it was like ten minutes before, ‘Hey, Arturo, everything changed. Just go change. You’re off tonight’ and I was like, ‘Woah.’ For no reason and then things started happening. It was like a very crazy environment. Like people used to tell me, ‘Hey man, the main roster is very crazy’ and I was like, ‘Well maybe –’ when I went there, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’ Even the writers, they were like (*looking left and right head gesture*). They didn’t know what was happening but, that’s the business, right? Everybody knows that so…
He discussed some of the ideas that were tossed around for Raw Underground such as a prize being given to fighters that won their respective bouts. They felt like a championship belt would not have made much sense because of the ‘fight club’ vibe. He went on to state that one of the reasons why Raw Underground ended was because of the COVID-19 virus spreading.
[Raw Underground] was like the perfect, like first-look. ‘Who’s’ Arturo Ruas? The Legit Killer, Blackbelt and he knows how to fight,’ like street fight and in my head I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to stay here for some weeks, maybe they will build a championship.’ Whatever it is, I will be doing a transition, a smoother transition [right here]. Self-thinking, right? And then things started to happen when like they start to build ideas for the Underground, maybe a championship but wasn’t like a title championship. [It] was supposed to be maybe a car or an award or something because it was a fight club vibe so doesn’t make sense to give a title or maybe a suitcase as Money In The Bank so that’s why we were bringing ideas of maybe a car, maybe gold, whatever. Something different and for no reason, Underground just finished.
Oh yeah, we figured out that someone was with COVID and they were like spreading the thing [which is why Raw Underground] ended.
The aforementioned debut was Ruas’ Raw debut. As a part of the 2020 WWE Draft, he was assigned to the Raw roster and said that it was Paul Heyman who called for him to be on the main roster. After Heyman was removed from his role as Executive Director of Raw, things began to shift for Ruas.
Here and there, they [NXT] were giving me those matches, kind of, to help the guys to get pushed, to help highlights or whatever and it always was like not promised but it was like, ‘Hey, you’re going to become a big deal. Just wait for it, just wait for it, just wait for it’ and never getting used so much so I start doing the EVOLVE thing because I’m supposed to be something big on EVOLVE and I don’t know what happened so [made] the transition to NXT TV and I’m supposed to be on NXT TV, came up in December or on Christmas Eve. They kind of did the promo and I was supposed to be [there in] January on TV and everything changed and they took me out from TV and nothing happened, and always hearing, always hearing like, ‘Hey, wait, something’s going to happen, something’s going to happen.’ Wait, wait, your time is coming, your time is coming.’ So I kept working hard, doing my best, always being humble, asking questions, whatever. I was doing my best all the time and [it] came, finally a day when they look at me, they said, ‘You’re ready? Because you’re going to Raw’ and I was like, ‘Holy sh*t, that’s a big deal, all right.’ So we were like [at a] TV taping when I met Paul Heyman. Paul Heyman looked at me and said, ‘Hey, I brung you up to Raw so be ready’ and imagine, so I was like, ‘Man,’ shining man. I called my wife, good news. So the next week, Paul Heyman got fired and everything changed and I stayed kind of five weeks waiting [for] something to happen so [then] came a notification on our app to be on Raw. When I came to Raw, it was the Raw Underground and everything started to happen then.
He recalled his first conversation with Heyman at the WWE Performance Center in 2019. Ruas said he asked Heyman if there was anything he needed to change character-wise and Heyman responded by saying Ruas just needed to be himself.
Ruas added that he had the support of Sean ‘X-Pac’ Waltman and the recently released Brian ‘Road Dogg’ James. Ruas reiterated that once Heyman was let go from his role, everything changed and his situation became “kind of weird”.
The first talk I had with him [Paul Heyman] was kind of like this: ‘Hey, we are bringing you to Monday Night Raw. I want you to be prepared and we are going to talk about your character and what you do and what’s going to happen and just be ready for it’ and that was the only thing I heard from him. But before that, he came to NXT one year and we had like a one-on-one talk and he always said he’s a big fan of me, he always loved my character, my — so I remember one point, I look at him and ask him, ‘Hey, you think I have to change something with my character or something?’ And he was like, ‘No. Just be you. You don’t have to do anything to be entertaining.’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ Hearing that from Paul Heyman was like a big compliment and I felt that I was on the right path doing everything perfectly and at that time, I also had the support of Road Dogg [Brian James] and X-Pac and having a lot of kind of talks with them, always trying to go for the right direction and that’s when Paul Heyman got fired and you know, everything changed after so it was kind of weird.
In late October, Tiger Ruas was a part of the AEW Dark tapings at Universal Studios. He had matches with DJ Brown and PAC.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the All Real Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.