It’s all about Lana these days.
The WWE superstar has been a main fixture on television recently thanks to an ongoing story involving Bobby Lashley — an onscreen love affair that began a few months ago when the performer turned on real-life husband Rusev. Each week the soap opera-esque drama unfolded with arrests, divorce, faking a pregnancy, an engagement and lots of fighting throughout.
Needless to say the "PG" boundaries have been pushed and viewers have a strong opinion about what they’re witnessing, one way or another. Regardless, the segments on Monday nights have gotten regular social media play and tons of YouTube views.
Boos in arenas are a welcome sound for Lana, real name CJ Perry, to whom fans were first introduced as the “Ravishing Russian” in 2013. Since then the consummate entertainer has pretty much ditched the accent, adding new layers to her persona. The Total Divas alum is using the storyline to branch out further on TV, and it all culminates on the last Raw of 2019 with a live Lana-Lashley wedding.
Hours before the nuptials, the bride-to-be gives us a taste of what to expect.
You’ve always fought for more storylines, more character development, more TV time. What have the last few months been like to have this current arc to dig into?
Lana: I love when people ask if this is a storyline because we’re talking about my real life. We’re talking about love. We’re talking about something so much more than just the storyline. I always roll my eyes when I hear, “This storyline.” You guys have no idea. People think they know, but in actuality, nobody knows really what is going on. I can tell you that [the wedding] is going to be the most historic, sensational, most phenomenal wedding in not only WWE history but in the history books. I’m super excited about it. I feel like we are constantly putting smiles on people’s faces, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
We’ve seen so many WWE weddings in the past. What can we expect from this one in terms of presentation?
First, 100 percent it will be the most ravishing one of all-time. That’s a given. I’m excited about my dress. It came from Italy and an Italian designer. I’ve been very involved with creating the wedding, especially my dress, the cake and everything that went into it.
How has it been getting to know Bobby?
Getting to know Bobby for a while now, it has been a really good time for me. When I was able to take some time off and spend time with the family and live my best life. In living my best life, anything can happen. Bobby Lashley is one of those things that happened. He is so great. He loves me. That’s always so phenomenal when someone loves you. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
Your relationship on TV has gotten a polarizing reaction. How have you been able to navigate the backlash on social media from that certain section of the audience?
I have to tell you it has been eye-opening to me how mean people are and what type of bullies people are in the world. I can’t express enough of how mind-blowing it is. People don’t have to agree with my decisions in life, that’s fine, but if they don’t agree with me that doesn’t give them the right to come on my Instagram and call me a whore or a slut. I’ve been called a prostitute on there. What are you even talking about, really? That I’m "ugly, fat, the worst human." Cyber-bullying is incredible. I knew it existed, but I never really thought it was to this extent. It’s really wrong. I would consider myself a strong individual. I’m a pretty resilient individual. I have tough skin. It still sometimes get to you. I took a step back thinking, “If you’re doing this to me, are you doing this to other people? People at your school or your work? Your kids?” When I was in fifth and ninth grade, I was dealing with a lot of emotions. If people are coming at me calling me names, that could really affect you.
Calling you fat, ugly, stupid, dumb. People have told me to jump off bridges. That’s really wrong. You do that to people who are going through their own insecurities you can really have a negative affect on people. You see people in result of being cyber-bullying who have harmed themselves, cut themselves, even taken their lives. Do people want to be responsible for that? I just want people to make a stand and say that is wrong. Just because you disagree with someone’s lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should come and be mean to them in life or on social media. Go talk to your friends about it if you are criticizing, but don’t come on my social platform and talk about it. To me, it makes me wonder if these individuals are miserable with themselves. It has been eye-opening. People casting stones. How about taking a look at your own life before judging me?
You recently signed a contract extension with WWE. With women getting more opportunities in the company, how did that influence your decision?
I’m so incredibly grateful. I love WWE so much. It has given me so many different platforms of storytelling and entertaining. Form Total Divas to dedicating my matches to being with so many different people from Tamina, Dolph Ziggler, having mixed match challenges, dance battles with Naomi. I feel like I’m living my dream. My whole life I’ve wanted to entertain and tell stories and wanted to put smiles on people’s faces. I get to do that here. I get to tell compelling stories. If people like me or hate me, at the end of the day, I’m still entertaining people.
They may not like it, but they are still talking about me and what I’m doing. That’s the whole point. The WWE universe has this love-hate relationship with me. At the end of the day I’m making people feel something, I’m connecting with them. If they love it or hate it, at least they are feeling something towards me. That’s my goal and why I’m in the business of story-telling and entertaining is for them to feel a passionate emotion. If they are doing that, I’m doing my job.
With the new year coming up, what goals have you set for yourself in 2020? Do you plan to come back to the ring more?
This year is [all about] clarity of vision. I’m super excited about 2020. Last year, around April or May, I wrote down 100 dreams, wild dreams. I then wrote down 10 goals that I wanted to achieve in the next 12-18 months. What I cannot emphasize enough as we are coming into the new year is for people to write down their goals they want to achieve and wildest dreams they want to achieve in their life and keep that in front of them. I would say 80 percent of those goals have happened. One of those goals was to live my best life. I was able to go skydiving in Dubai, going to fashion weeks like New York, Paris and Arab fashion weeks.
The crazy thing was returning to TV and Bobby, it was for the season premiere of Monday Night Raw. That was one of the things in my 10 goals is to be something on Raw or Smackdown and impacting people and giving people something to talk about. To see that, literally my wildest dreams come true, it’s mind-blowing. I’m so thankful. I’m making my goals and dreams for the next year, and the sky's the limit. Yes, I will be getting back in the ring. Anything can happen, it’s WWE. I’d love to be champion — why not?
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