Lana spoke with Stephanie Chase of Digital Spy about how her character in WWE has changed over the years, along with the challenges of her current gimmick.
Back in 2013, Lana debuted in NXT, scouting her future real-life husband, Rusev, to eventually become his “social ambassador.” With an icy persona and a Russian accent, Lana worked her way to the main roster with Rusev. Over time, Lana found herself in more matches and ultimately ditching the accent.
For the WWE Superstar, she says — despite the changes — it’s still the same character who is simply beginning and ending chapters of her life.
“Over the years I’ve been able to play all these different things,” Lana began. “Yes it’s the same character Lana, but different chapters of her life. From being an ice-cold Russian to right now, a good guy who is being bullied and overcoming her enemies.
“I like to look at my career in WWE as chapters, different chapters of Lana’s life. I feel like this chapter of Lana is a lot closer to C.J. in the sense of the way we’re even packaging her versus when I first came on the scene with Rusev and I talked with a very thick accent.
“Yes, that was an extension of myself, I grew up in Russia, I grew up with a lot of features that I drew my inspiration from and I coated it with a Russian accent. So the packaging was a little bit further [from C.J.] but there’s a lot of elements of myself that I could identify with. Then when I was doing the Bobby Lashley and Rusev story, that’s further. That’s was an adulterous chapter in Lana’s life, so that is very different to who I am, but it was exciting to play.”
Right now, Lana is teaming up with Naomi as a face in WWE. Not too long ago, she had to overcome being bullied by WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler as she was put through the announce table week-after-week.
Lana admitted her current gimmick is not only the closest to who she really is, but there’s a challenge as the lines are blurred between Lana and C.J. Perry.
“This [Lana] is much closer to me. But sometimes it’s a lot more challenging mentally because the line is a little bit more blurred, but I love it,” Lana said. “What I really enjoy is — basically for six years I was a villain — there were little pockets here and there when I was a good guy, but really diving into this chapter where I need to be more vulnerable and need to get people to root for me is different. It’s definitely a lot more challenging as an actor because I think I just felt so comfortable in that villainous role, but I love challenges and it’s really exciting.”