“Behind every strong man stands a stronger woman.” There are far too many variations of that quote, but the message is always the same. Daniel Bryan has his wife, Brie Bella, who finally did what we all wanted to do and called Stephanie McMahon a bitch right to her face. Stephanie herself stands tall behind Triple H, constantly pushing him and directing him. The most recent addition to our group of strong WWE women is Lana, the Russian social ambassador to the Bulgarian Brute, Alexander Rusev. Standing at 5’7”, Lana has been getting quite a bit of attention for her bright red lips and legs that seem to go on for days. But what else do we know about the woman behind Rusev?
Lana, real name Catherine Joy “C.J.” Perry, was born in Gainesville, Florida to parents from Venezuela and Portugal. She did not remain in the sunshine state for long; her father’s work as a missionary took the family to the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union, where Perry spent the majority of her childhood. It was there she was able to learn the Russian language that she speaks fluently today. Striving to be a ballet dancer like her mother, Perry attended the official ballet school of the Latvian National Opera, the Riga Choreography School, and was able to begin dancing with the Latvian National Ballet at 14 years old. Perry returned to the USA three years later, dancing in New York City at the Broadway Dance Center, among other places. She later moved South and enrolled at Florida State University to major in dance and acting.
While at FSU in 2005, Perry landed herself on our television screens thanks to short shorts, cowboy hats, and a hell of a lot of cleavage. ABC ran a story about Perry and her friends who dressed as sexy cowgirls during FSU football games to cheer on their team. The “Florida State Cowgirls” story was enough for Perry to springboard off of and begin a modeling career. She began working as a spokesmodel for Red Bull and Matrix energy drinks, and also appeared in the RIDGID Tool Calendar, which has featured talents like Brooke Burke and Raquel Welch. Her modeling portfolio is impressive and shows a softer, sexier side that we certainly don’t see with the stone-faced Lana. After graduating from college, Perry moved across the country to Los Angeles in the hopes of beginning an acting career.
In 2009, Perry was signed to Ne-Yo’s record label as part of a musical girl group called No Means Yes. The group released three singles before quietly disbanding a year later. Perry credits the experience and exposure with the girl group for giving her the courage to audition for the movie Pitch Perfect, where she earned a small role. She has proven she has skills as a breakdancer while working as a backup dancer for artists such as Pink and Usher, and is also featured in Pitch Perfect actress Kelley Jakle’s music video for her cover of Paramore’s Ain’t It Fun. Perry has also landed a few minor acting gigs on both the big and small screen. You can see her on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush. You can also see her topless in the film Banshee with her lady bits covered in cocaine, which resulted in nude photos surfacing and has made some fans question the decision to sign her as a diva. (Go ahead and Google Image search her. I can wait)
Perry was only recently signed to WWE; she was noticed by Eve Torres in March 2013 while modeling alongside JoJo Offerman and Natalie Eva Marie (pre-red hair), and began training in June 2013. In July, she debuted at an NXT live event as a ring announcer. Perry changed her Twitter handle from @cjperrydances to @LanaWWE prior to making her NXT debut in October as Lana. The next month, she officially became Rusev’s social ambassador after scouting him on NXT. Her debut on Raw came after Rusev’s, on January 31, 2014, where she introduced Rusev to the audience in order to build suspense for his official Raw debut. Perry addresses the audience in both Russian and English, flashing a humorless smile to the cameras. She continues to both introduce and accompany Rusev to the ring for his matches, ordering him to CRUSH his opponents as she raises her fist in the air. Her official WWE bio lists her as an intelligent woman who was born into a wealthy Russian family and grew up surrounded by powerful political figures. Rusev is said to be her “investment hobby,” her ticket to conquering the WWE after being encouraged by her parents to put her intelligence to good use.
As far as I can tell, Perry has yet to make her in-ring wrestling debut on NXT or at any other live event, strictly keeping to her role as ambassador to Rusev and nothing more. Her acting skills have made her impressive thus far on the mic, but I am deathly curious to know what she could do in the ring. I imagine her matches would be as emotionless and as brutal as the man she manages, but I can’t find a shred of evidence to support my theory. The Divas roster has lost Eve and Beth Phoenix, two strong and intimidating women, and has gained Eva Marie and Summer Rae, two pretty packages lacking in strength and power. Tamina Snuka is amazing in the ring, but less than impressive in promos. Perry could potentially fill a huge gap in the Diva division by taking the cold, calculating Lana to war against the dainty divas that are content to pull hair instead of bust skulls. Whether or not she is even fit for that role remains to be seen, but Perry seems to have the potential necessary to take Lana to bigger and better places in the WWE.