Who is Eric Bugenhagen?
Born on December 1, 1987 in Franklin, Wisconsin, USA, Eric Bugenhagen is a professional wrestler, best known for participating in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) development brand NXT under his real name. He is also credited with the ring name Rik Bugez and is known for his rock star gimmick which he has been using since 2019.
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The wealth of Eric Bugenhagen
As of mid-2020, Eric Bugenhagen’s net worth is estimated at over $1 million, earned through a successful career in professional wrestling.
Although he is not a regular TV performer on NXT, he is considered a notable newcomer to professional wrestling and has therefore appeared on several NXT house shows.
The beginning of life, education and wrestling
Growing up in Franklin, Eric showed a strong athletic bent from an early age. He enjoyed watching professional wrestling growing up and what was then the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Wanting to pursue a career as a recording artist, he soon discovered that many professional wrestlers had amateur wrestling backgrounds during their youth. While in high school, he was part of his local school’s wrestling team, winning two championships in the process.
After his matriculation, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The university is one of the largest and oldest public universities in the state, occupying over 1,200 acres of land, and considered one of the public Ivies, with an education system similar to that of the private Ivy League. Numerous eminent individuals have graduated from college and are known for both their highly competitive college sports teams and their scientific breakthroughs in nutritional science. He studied for a degree in Nutrition with a minor in History. Meanwhile, he also competed with the college wrestling team, and was a four-year letter winner.
He was also ranked as one of the top amateur wrestlers in the US in 2011.
Professional Wrestling – NXT
After graduating, Bugenhagen first followed other interests and career paths, assuming that wrestling was behind him. In the mid-2010s, his interest in professional wrestling grew and he decided to try it out at the WWE Performance Center, where he was soon offered a development contract as part of their NXT brand.
NXT was founded in 2010 as a development area for wrestlers, with the intention of eventually reaching the company’s main roster.
Over the years, however, it has become a brand in its own right and home to many top indie stars, while also delivering some of the most memorable matches of recent years, as noted by many wrestling experts. While still technically a development brand, NXT is considered a third major brand of WWE, and in 2019 NXT signed a television deal with the USA Network, to begin airing shows at an arena in Orlando, Florida. Many praise NXT for its storylines, character work, and quality wrestling.
After a few years of training, Bugenhagen made his debut in a 2017 show against Lars Sullivan, which he lost.
The two fought again a few days later, leading to his second loss in a row. A month later, he teamed up with Heavy Machinery in a six-man tag match against The Forgotten Sons and Chad Lail. This led to his first two consecutive wins, including a rematch held a few days later. His next match was with Adrian Jaoude, his third single match that resulted in another defeat.
After that, he took a year-long hiatus from appearing on NXT shows, mainly through training and other endeavors. He also needed a new gimmick and so returned in 2018 as Rik Bugesworking on a house show against Kassius Ohno.
He then teamed up with Riddick Moss in a tag team match against the Street Profits, before appearing in a house show alongside Mansoo Al_Shehail against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. He continued to appear in house shows for the next few months, with some matches against Damian Priest, who was then known as Punishment Martinez.
In 2019 Bugenhagen continued to work on the house show circuit and got a singles match with Mansoor, which he lost. A few nights later, he fought against Dominik Dijakovic, but lost that match too. However, management was impressed with his performance and he got the chance to debut on NXT television, going back to his real name, Eric Bugenhagen.
In his television appearance, he debuted his new character, a flamboyant rock star with long hair and a handlebar mustache. He plays air instruments like the air guitar, screaming like the rock bands of decades ago. In his first televised match, he fought Drew Gulak and lost.
Despite these losses, the fans enjoyed his personality and gimmick, with a lot of natural charisma that could lead him to a future star. Despite the momentum of this first appearance, he hasn’t been used as a wrestler on television since, probably because nothing has been developed for him yet. He has also been busy improving his skills.
It has been featured a few times in backstage segments and has been used as part of a crowd to fill the arena while people are still not allowed to gather at wrestling events.
Eric is apparently married, although he has not provided any details about his wife, only sharing photos of them and their child. She often makes guest appearances in his online posts and can be seen in shows supporting him. In his spare time, he enjoys bodybuilding and weightlifting, especially powerlifting. He also plays guitar and has trained his voice to suit his character. He is also an avid supporter of nutritional and bodybuilding supplements, partnering with the company Psycho Pharma.