Who is Eric Bugenhagen?
Eric Bugenhagen was born on 1 December 1987, in Franklin, Wisconsin, USA, and is a professional wrestler, best known for competing as a part of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) developmental brand NXT under his real name. He’s also been credited with the ring name Rik Bugez, and is known for his rock star gimmick which he has been using since 2019.
The Riches of Eric Bugenhagen
As of mid-2020, Eric Bugenhagen’s net worth is estimated to be over $1 million, earned through a successful career in professional wrestling.
While he isn’t a regular television performer on NXT, he’s considered a notable up-and-comer in professional wrestling, and so has performed on various NXT house shows.
Early Life, Education, and Wrestling Beginnings
Eric grew up in Franklin, and at a young age showed a strong athletic inclination. He enjoyed watching professional wrestling growing up, viewing what was then the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Wanting to pursue a career as a performer, he quickly learned that a lot of professional wrestlers had an amateur wrestling background during their youth. During high school, he became a part of his local school’s wrestling team, and won two championships in the process.
After matriculating, 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 is considered one of the Public Ivies, having an education system comparable to that of the private Ivy League. Numerous high profile individuals have graduated from the university, and they are known for both their highly competitive college sports teams and their scientific breakthroughs in nutrition science. He studied for a degree in Nutrition with a minor in History. Meantime, he also competed with the university’s 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
Following graduation, Bugenhagen pursued other interests and career paths first, thinking that wrestling was something that had been put behind him. In the mid-2010s, his interest in professional wrestling grew, and he decided to try out at the WWE Performance Center, where he was soon offered a developmental contract as a part of their brand NXT.
NXT was created in 2010 as a developmental territory for wrestlers, intending to eventually make it to the company’s main roster.
However, over the years it has become a brand in its own right, and the home for many top indie stars, while also delivering some of the most memorable matches of recent years, as noted by many wrestling pundits. While still technically a developmental brand, NXT has been considered a third major brand of WWE, and in 2019 NXT signed a television deal with the USA Network, to begin broadcasting shows held in an arena in Orlando, Florida. Many praise NXT for its storylines, character work, and high-quality wrestling.
After training for a couple of years, Bugenhagen made his debut in a 2017 show against Lars Sullivan, which he lost.
The two battled again a few days later, leading to his second loss in a row. A month later, he teamed with Heavy Machinery in a six-man tag match against The Forgotten Sons and Chad Lail. This led to his first two straight victories, which included a rematch held a few days later. His next match was with Adrian Jaoude, his third singles match which resulted in another loss.
He then took a year-long break from appearing in NXT shows, mainly training and doing other endeavors. He also needed a new gimmick, and so returned in 2018 as Rik Buges, working a house show against Kassius Ohno.
He then teamed with Riddick Moss in a tag team match against the Street Profits, before appearing in a house show teaming with Mansoo Al_Shehail against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. He continued appearing in house shows over the next few months, with some matches against Damian Priest who was then known as Punishment Martinez.
In 2019, Bugenhagen continued to work the house show circuit, getting a singles match with Mansoor which he lost. A few nights later, he fought against Dominik Dijakovic, but lost that match as well. However, management was impressed with his performance, and he was given a chance to debut on NXT television, going back to his real name of Eric Bugenhagen.
In his television appearance, he debuted his new character, a flamboyant rock star with long hair and a handlebar mustache. He’s shown playing air instruments such as the air guitar, screaming like the rock bands from decades back. In his first television match, he fought against Drew Gulak and lost.
Despite these losses, the fans enjoyed his personality and gimmick, with many citing natural charisma that could lead him to become a future star. Despite the momentum of this first appearance, he hasn’t been used on television as a wrestler since, likely because there hasn’t been anything developed for him yet. He’s also been busy continuing to improve his skills.
He’s been shown a few times in backstage segments, and been used as a part of a crowd to fill the arena while people still aren’t allowed to gather at wrestling events.
Eric is apparently married, though he hasn’t provided any details about his wife, only sharing pictures of them and their child. She often makes guest appearances in his online posts, and is seen in shows supporting him. During his free time, he enjoys bodybuilding and weightlifting, particularly powerlifting. He also plays the guitar, and has been training his voice to match his character. He’s also an avid supporter of nutritional and bodybuilding supplements, partnering with the company, Psycho Pharma.