Rowan was born Joseph Ruud in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 28, 1981. The 6’8” 315 pounder received his in-ring training from the legendary Eddie Sharkey who runs “The Monster Factory” that created superstars such as Demolition Smash (Barry Darsow), the Road Warriors and Sean “X-Pac” Waltman amongst others.
In 2003, Ruud wrestled as Thoruf Marius in various independent promotions throughout the Mid-Western United States. He also spent a period at Pro Wrestling Noah in Japan where he underwent additional training in a dojo.
In 2011, Ruud signed on to the WWE developmental territory of Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) as Erick Rowan.
Not having much success in FCW as a singles or tag team competitor, Rowan made more of a name for himself in NXT. In late 2012, Rowan emerged as a member of the Wyatt family cult as a heel.
Rowan with team with fellow family member Luke Harper and the two would fare well in the NXT Tag Team Champion tournament, but would ultimately lose in the finals.
Despite losing the tournament, Harper and Rowan would eventually become NXT Tag Team Champions by defeating Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas. After a more than 2-month reign, Rowan and Harper would drop the straps to future WWE announcer Corey Graves and Neville.
In May of 2014, the Wyatt family appeared on the main roster of Raw repelate with creepy sheep masks in tow. Harper and Rowan went on a winning streak until they ultimately suffered their first loss to Cody Rhodes and Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) after 4 months of being undefeated.
Rowan would also become involved in the Wyatt family’s feud with The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) and he and Harper would start their own feud with The Usos.
In September of 2014, Rowan would turn face after being ousted from the Wyatt family and would join John Cena’s team at Survivor Series. Despite Team Cena’s overall victory, Rowan was eliminated by former partner Harper who represented the McMahon Authority.
As a punishment for joining Team Cena, The Authority (kayfabe) fired Rowan, Dolph Ziggler and Ryback. Shortly thereafter, the trio were re-instated and team up to face Seth Rollins, The Big Show and Kane to a loss.
Rowan would turn heel and join forces with the Wyatt family in 2015 in a re-kindling of their feud against The Shield as well as with the Brothers of Destruction (Kane and Undertaker).
WrestleMania XXXII appeared to be a large push for Rowan as he was slated to face Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in singles competition. Regrettably, Rowan jobbed to the Rock in 6 seconds, marking an all-time WrestleMania record loss.
A hint of a feud was started between the Wyatt family and heel tag team faction “The League of Nations (Alberto del Rio, Sheamus, Bad News Barrett and Rusev)” however owing to injuries, the feud never got off the ground.
In 2016, Bray Wyatt and Rowan were drafted to SmackDown! where Rowan would act as an enforcer by routinely attacking Bray Wyatt’s ring adversaries. In the latter part of 2016, Rowan had to leave for an extended period owing to surgery for his shoulder.
Rowan returned in April of 2017 to join Harper and Wyatt in a feud against Randy Orton. Shortly thereafter, Bray Wyatt was drafted to Raw and Rowan started a feud with Harper. The two squared off at the “Backlash” Pay-Per-View event with Harper emerging the victor.
It is not clear what future lays in store for Rowan. Will he continue on as a face and feud with the Wyatts or will he once again fall prey to their cultish charms? One can only wait and see…
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.