Feuding with John Cena seems to do more harm than good. It did nothing to elevate Bray Wyatt last year as it was nothing but a series of loses for him and now the same has happened to Rusev as it's turned into a platform to actually only elevate Lana, not both of them.
To get the "rub" from a top guy aren't you at least supposed to get somewhat close to beating him in a highly competitive match only for experience to prevail so when you do go against each other again there is a chance the "younger" guy may pull out a win? Looking good even in defeat is a valid thing but having a 30 minute shit fest of an I Quit match was not it.
Is really the end game here to make another mid carder?
You said it yourself — it's a platform to elevate Lana. In the grand scheme of things, they don't give a shit if Rusev gets elevated by the feud because Lana is the money train as a babyface, and they're probably correct. Rusev can easily be rebuilt anyway by winning the IC title in the Chamber and destroying a bunch of midcard goofs in the process, so I'm not terribly worried about him.