CJ Perry, the ‘Ravishing Russian’ Lana, started her career in WWE as the manager/mouthpiece of the ‘Bulgarian Brute’ Rusev in 2013, but she quickly established herself as a star. Chants of “We want Lana!” echoed through stadiums across North America, and she more than held her own on the microphone against icons such John Cena and The Rock, making her perhaps the most popular manager in wrestling since Paul Heyman began representing Brock Lesnar.
But Lana wasn’t satisfied as just the spokesperson for the man that would become her husband. She wanted to wrestle. When Rusev went out with injury for months, Lana used the opportunity to get back to training for in-ring competition, finally debuting this summer as a singles competitor. It was a long road to wrestling, one that she worked hard to achieve, in front of fans that don’t always have much patience for on-camera talent development.
As much as Lana is determined to succeed on her own, fans certainly miss seeing the undeniable chemistry that exists between the husband and wife team—I know I sure do. Which is why, as I spoke to Lana ahead of WWE SummerSlam, the biggest professional wrestling event of this and every summer, I didn’t mind at all when Rusev wandered into our interview, and decided to stay.
Behold, the full conversation below.
Lana: Hello! I’m in interview right now! Talking about my wrestling.
Rusev: Of course you are. She always talks about wrestling.
Lana: Are you just going to join in?
Rusev: Yeah, I’m jumping right in.
Lana: He gets scared with my wrestling.
Rusev: I do. I get nervous, not scared.
Lana: He wants me to always do good.
Rusev: Yeah. I’m just afraid that if you get hurt, I can’t do nothing about it. If it’s me and I get hurt, fine, I’ll get surgery. But with her, she’s like—she’s my wife. I don’t want her to be hurt.
How encouraging were you?
Lana: I was very discouraging.
The whole time? Just—don’t do it?
Rusev: I was like, no! Don’t do it! Let me fight! You just go and talk, you’re fine! But she wants to do whatever she wants to do, and she went over my head, of course, and she just started wrestling.
Lana: Well he really wanted me to stay home and take care of him, and cook clean and listen, and bake some salmon, and massage his feet, and comb his hair. That’s really what he wanted me to do. But just like I helped take him to the top… Annd look—I obviously love being with him,, but at this time, I want to make sure that I make a name for myself in the women’s division. And when managing a man, unfortunately, even though I took him to the top, and I’m cutting promos with the Rock and John Cena, when they talk about the women’s revolution, my name isn’t heard anywhere. If I have to enter into the ring to fight, and to compete, and bring Tamina, or any other women to the top to establish my name, then that’s what I have to do.
You seemed annoyed that she’s always asking about wrestling behind the scenes.
[Rusev: To Lana] You said that?
You just said that!
Lana: No you just said that!
Do you bug him a lot for tips? Does he give them? Do you give her pointers?
Rusev: Yes, she asks me, I give them, she doesn’t take them.
Lana: That’s not true!
Rusev: Always the case.
Lana: No what have you ever said!
Rusev: She’ll ask me, and say, oh yeah that’s good! She doesn’t do it. She’ll go ask somebody else, and she goes and does it.
Lana: That is so not true.
Rusev: That’s exactly true.
Lana: No, what did you say before my first match.
Rusev: it’s all the time!
Lana: I did everything—at Money in the Bank, he gave me three tips, and I had them in my head the whole t---
Rusev: And she argues for months!
Lana: That’s not true at all! While I was doing the match, those three things were going through my head.
Rusev: Because I had to drill them.
Lana: ‘Take your time!’
Rusev: I had to drill them in your head.
Lana: ‘Aggression!’ ‘Facials!’
Rusev: I was saying that for months. I was trying to teach her suplexes, and she was like, no I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to do that! For months we argue! The finally, she goes out there, she does all the suplexes and says ‘thank you thank you!’ I’m like, you could have done that from day one! I don’t have to argue with you for three months!
Lana: Everyone loved my suplexes too. But it was all him.
What do you want to help her do next?
Rusev: Stay home.
Rusev: I want her to do…well she is going to be the best, because she’s just the hardest worker I know. So I can only be there to support her because she wouldn’t listen to me for one, and for two she doesn’t really need my support because she’s going to do it anyways.
Is it harder to not be together on screen? You developed such chemistry in building that, and it’s one of the things that differentiated you to begin with.
Rusev: It’s her time to do her own thing. We’ve been together for so long, and we’re going to come back together. But it’s time for her to establish her own name into the women’s division, because she hasn’t done it before. She has such a big name in the male’s division, that now she’s moving on to something that’s better.
Lana: Wait you don’t want me to be champion? The first ravishing champion?
Rusev: That’s what I just said! You’re establishing your name in your women’s division!
Lana: But I thought you wanted me to become the first ravishing champion of all time!
Rusev: But that’s going to happen!
Lana: But you didn’t say those exact words.
Rusev: [Robot voice] She is going to become a women’s champion.
Lana: No, the first ravishing champion of all time!
Rusev: [robot voice] The first ravishing champion.
Lana: Of all time…
Rusev: [robot voice] Of all time.
Lana: Now say it with passion. Like ‘Machka’.
Rusev: [rubbing body, sexy voice] she’s going to become…the first…
Lana: You’re sick.
Rusev: You said passion, so I’m trying to give you passion!
Lana: That was not Machka, at all.
Rusev: No she’s really is though. Because she works too hard not to succeed. She’s…too much.
Lana: I would love for him to come out one day and say, Lana, MACHKA! Then I’d go like this, and put someone in an Accolade and go like GRRR and then I’d make history!
That’s the Wrestlemania moment?
Rusev: See, now you understand how she gets.
Lana: This… can you imagine that?
That’d be amazing.
Lana: People would lose their minds!
You have to get your own tank too. You’ve gotta bring back the tank.
Lana: Oh my gosh, If I came out on a tank that would be the best.
Rusev: We’ll get her a mini-tank.
Next to your big tank?
Rusev: A little mini tank.
Rusev: Yeah, I’ll ride the big one, she’ll ride the mini one. Or maybe she’ll kick me out of my big one and she’ll take that and she’ll save me for the mini one.
Rusev: That sounds more like it.
That sounds great.
Rusev: Nobody takes the spotlight away from her. And I mean nobody!
Lana: I mean he kind of took the spotlight away from me…
Rusev: Oh stop.
Lana: But it’s because he’s just so good.
Lana: He’s the best.
Rusev: I do what I can.
Lana: He’s the best. There’s no one as good as him. Truthfully, there’s no one.
Rusev: Keep it coming.
Lana: No but like, it’s true. There’s literally no one of his size that has his athletic ability. When I’m saying he’s the super athlete, I’m not saying it as a form of propaganda. He is the super athlete. And then he’s going to become champion, and he’s going to be like LANA MACHKA and then I’m going to become champion and then we’re going to be both champions!
Is there anything you want him to do differently, in the ring? In the way that he’s portraying his character now in the WWE?
Rusev: [Gesturing to Lana] Please...
Rusev: Please do say!
Lana: No, I think when it comes to wrestling, that’s the reason why I’m not managing…
Rusev: Oh she doesn’t want me to yell too much.
Lana: No that’s not true. One of the reasons why I don’t feel like I need to manage him right now is I feel like I’ve taught him everything I need to teach him, and helped him, and everything, and that’s why I have to go use my amazing ravishing ambition with other women to help bring them to the top. I think I had to help give him the ravishing ambition, and then…
Rusev: She was giving me advice on how to speak better on the microphone.
Lana: Yeah, I had to coach him on that.
Rusev: Because I tend to yell a lot.
Lana: He tends to scream too much.
Rusev: But it’s just for passion, I hate these people, that’s why I yell! And she’s just trying to advise me not to do that.
Rusev: That’s what she was advising me to do.
Lana: Yeah, it’s more about promos. I think in wrestling and competing, he’s the best. With promos, I have to…we have to…I have to coach him. We have to go through, and I have to say, ok, let’s go through it like seven more times. Because when you have a conversation, and you talk, then when you yell, and scream, it means more. And people listen.
True. Do you think doing things like Southpaw Regional Wrestling helps as well?
Lana: Oh yeah!
Rusev: We’re not in season two.
You’re not in season two?
Rusev: Yeah it was…
Lana: He boycotted it.
Rusev: Contract problems.
Rusev: I asked for too much money.
Ugh! We had to find out what was going to happen!
Lana: I know! I’m kind of upset…
The “devil” was there!
Lana: I know.
Rusev: He was! The green monster!
Lana: When they pay us more money.
Lana: Actually he’s really really funny. He’s way funnier than me. Pretty much all my funny lines I have probably taken from him.
Rusev: Yeah, she steals all my lines. But then she’s like, ’No I just borrowed them!’ she doesn’t steal, she just borrows them! So how do you argue with that!
Lana: There’s so many funny promos we did. Like the cake one with Roman Reigns…
That was amazing.
Lana: But some of my favorite things with him was when we weren’t getting along and he had Summer as a girlfriend. So, but, you know, those were some of my favorite, when he’s yelling at me, our favorite moments.
TMZ fixed that though.
Lana: Yeah exactly.
Rusev: We got past that.
Lana: Exactly, now we’re back. Now love is back.
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