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Lana (wrestling)

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Lana
Lana WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
Lana in March 2016
Born Catherine Joy Perry
(1985-03-24) March 24, 1985 (age 31)
Gainesville, Florida,
United States
Residence Nashville, Tennessee,
United States
Other names C.J.
C.J. Perry
Lana
Alma mater Riga Choreography School[1]
Florida State University[2]
Occupation Professional wrestling manager, model, actress, dancer, singer
Years active 1999–2005 (dancer)
2005–present (model)
2008–present (actress)
2009 (singer)
2013–present
(professional wrestling valet)
2016–present (wrestler)
Spouse(s) Alexander Rusev (m. 2016)
Modeling information
Hair color Blonde
Eye color Hazel
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Lana[3]
Billed height 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[3]
Billed from Moscow, Russia[3]
Trained by WWE Performance Center[4][5]
Debut October 23, 2013
(as a manager)[6]
April 3, 2016
(as a wrestler)[5]

Catherine Joy "C.J." Barnyashev (née Perry;(born March 24, 1985) is an American professional wrestler, professional wrestling manager, model, actress, dancer, and singer currently signed to WWE under the ring name Lana, performing on the on the Raw brand as the manager of her real–life husband Rusev.

Early life[edit]

The eldest of four siblings, Perry was born in Gainesville, Florida,[7] to parents of Portuguese and Venezuelan descent.[8] She spent several years of her childhood in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union, where her father worked as a Christian missionary.[7][8] Perry and her family remained in Latvia after it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in May 1990. From an early age, Perry aspired to become a ballet dancer like her mother. She attended the Riga Choreography School (the ballet school of the Latvian National Opera) and began dancing with the Latvian National Ballet at the age of 14.[1][7]

At the age of 17, Perry returned to the United States. She initially lived in New York City, where she danced at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Center and the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. Perry later enrolled in Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida, majoring in dance and acting.[2][7]

While attending FSU, Perry began attending Florida State Seminoles football games with Jenn Sterger and several other students, cheering from the bleachers while dressed as "cowgirls". The students, known as the Florida State Cowgirls, entered the public consciousness after being acknowledged by commentator Brent Musburger during a game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes that aired on ABC in September 2005, with Musburger quipping "1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State".[9][10][11]

Perry parlayed the exposure into a modelling career, appearing in photoshoots in publications such as the RIDGID Tool Calendar and working as a spokesmodel for the energy drinks Matrix and Red Bull.[7] Upon graduating from FSU, she relocated to Los Angeles, California with the aim of working in show business.[7]

Music and acting career[edit]

In 2009, Perry joined No Means Yes, a girl group signed to Ne-Yo's record label comprising Perry (billed as "C.J."), Kat, Shea, and Tanu. The group released one single, "Would You Like That", and recorded two others ("7 Years Bad Luck" and "Burn Rubber") before disbanding in 2010.[7][8] Perry later stated:

A girlfriend of mine in college referred me to the man that was putting the group together. I honestly was so scared to sing and I didn't even know a song to sing at the audition so I sang "Jesus Loves Me". I remember them saying "we can work with her tone because she has the right look and she is a model that break dances". I am so thankful to this day for that experience because I do not think I would have ever gotten the role in Pitch Perfect if I hadn't overcome my fear to open my mouth and sing.[7]

Perry went on to work as a backup dancer for performers such as Keri Hilson, Nelly, Pink, Usher, Akon, and Rich Boy.[2][7][12] In 2013, she starred alongside Kelley Jakle in the music video for Jakle's cover of the Paramore song "Ain't it Fun". She trained as an actress at The Groundlings School and under the acting coaches Lesly Kahn and Larry Moss.[7] She went on to appear in acting roles such as an episode of The Game in 2011, the lead role in I.C.I.R.U.S. in 2011, the musical comedy film Pitch Perfect in 2012 and the 2015 sequel Pitch Perfect 2, and an episode of Banshee in 2013.[13] In March 2015, it was announced that she would be starring in the WWE Studios production Interrogation, alongside WWE Hall of Famer Adam "Edge" Copeland.[14]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

WWE[edit]

Managing Rusev and Dolph Ziggler (2013–2015)[edit]

Lana (left) celebrating a win along Alexander Rusev at a Raw event in April 2014

In June 2013, Perry revealed that she had been signed to WWE and was sent to their developmental branch NXT.[15] She debuted on the October 23, 2013 episode of NXT, under the ring name Lana, scouting Alexander Rusev during his match against CJ Parker.[6] On the November 6 episode of NXT, Lana became Rusev's "social ambassador", using a Russian accent and developing a character who majored in Foreign Affairs and Business and Social Media Marketing in college.[16] In December 2013, the duo of Rusev and Lana were compared to Ivan and Ludmilla Drago, the antagonists of the 1985 film Rocky IV.[17][18] Rusev and Lana later appeared at NXT Arrival, where Rusev attacked Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze.[19]

While Rusev made his main roster debut at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 26, 2014,[20] Lana made her main roster debut on the January 31 episode of SmackDown, where she and Rusev in the following weeks appeared in a series of self-promotional videos and speeches.[21][22][23] Rusev wrestled his first match on the main roster on the April 7 episode of Raw, squashing Zack Ryder.[24] In early May, Lana began dedicating Rusev's matches to her "hero", President of Russia Vladimir Putin, as well as adopting an Anti-American, Russophilic gimmick.[25][26]

Lana made some controversial comments during an in-ring promo prior to Rusev's match against Jack Swagger at the Battleground pay-per-view event, blaming the United States for current world events and praising Putin. Although she did not directly mention it, some media outlets said Lana was making reference to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which happened three days before Battleground, to help build heat for Rusev in his feud against Swagger.[27][28] A representative of WWE later told TMZ that the segment was not specifically about the Malaysia Airlines crash, noting that the Rusev-Lana storyline "has been a part of WWE programming for more than three months. WWE apologizes to anyone who misunderstood last night's segment and was offended".[29]

Lana holding the United States Championship at WrestleMania 31 in 2015

Following the November 3 episode of Raw, Rusev defeated Sheamus in a WWE Network exclusive match to capture the United States Championship.[30] At Fastlane on February 22, 2015, Lana set up a distraction which led to Rusev defeating John Cena.[31] However, at WrestleMania 31, Rusev lost the championship to Cena after Rusev accidentally crashed into Lana, knocking her off the ring apron.[32]

On April 26, 2015, at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, during Rusev's rematch for the United States Championship against Cena in a Russian Chain match, Lana garnered a positive reaction from the crowd, which led to Rusev banishing her from ringside.[33] It happened again, on May 17, at Payback, when Cena defeated Rusev in an "I Quit" match after Lana quit on Rusev's behalf.[34] The following night on Raw, Lana justified her actions by explaining that Rusev said he quits in Bulgarian, only for him to harshly dismiss her; later that night, Lana kissed Dolph Ziggler, turning her face and officially ending their association.[35][36] On the June 29 episode of Raw, Lana and Ziggler confirmed their storyline relationship, and Rusev allied with Summer Rae.[37] Week later, Ziggler was injured by Rusev, who attacked Ziggler by hitting his throat,[38] and WWE subsequently announced that Ziggler had suffered a bruised trachea in storyline.[39] Ziggler returned on the August 17 episode of Raw, aiding Lana during a confrontation with Rusev and Rae.[40] This altercation prompted a match between Ziggler and Rusev at SummerSlam, on August 23, which ended in a double count-out due to interference from Lana and Rae.[41] Rae went on to "seduce" Ziggler in order to end his relationship with Lana,[42][43] but the storyline ended quietly, after WWE announced that Lana had injured her wrist while training.[44]

Return from injury (2015–present)[edit]

On October 11, TMZ reported that Lana had gotten engaged to Rusev,[45] which Lana confirmed.[46] Lana made her return, once again as a villainess, on the November 30 episode of Raw, during a Miz TV segment, where she and Rusev referenced their engagement. Before going on another hiatus from television for unknown reasons, Lana appeared on the January 25, 2016 episode of Raw, during a segment alongside The Rock.[47]

Lana returned on the February 29 episode of Raw, confronting Brie Bella during a backstage segment, arguing that Brie's fans only supported her out of pity for having a "bad husband",[48] and, on the March 3 episode of Main Event, she appeared during Brie's match to distract her, in a failed attempt.[49] Lana continued with her attempts to distract and attack Brie during the March 7 episode of Raw and the March 10 episode of SmackDown, by executing Brie's finishing maneuver on her.[50][51] On the March 14 episode of Raw, she once again distracted Brie during a tag team match against Team B.A.D. (Naomi and Tamina), causing her to lose, and aligned herself with Naomi and Tamina, following a backstage confrontation with Paige.[52] On the March 22 episode of Main Event, she brought the returning Emma and Summer Rae to her guild, reconciling with Rae in the process.[53] After a match between Emma and Paige on the March 28 episode of Raw, Lana and her allies attacked Brie Bella, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Paige, before they were saved by Eva Marie.[54] As a result, the two teams faced off in a 10-Diva tag team match at the WrestleMania 32 kick-off show, in what would be Lana's in-ring debut, which her team (dubbed Team B.A.D. & Blonde) would lose.[55][56]

On the April 25 episode of Raw, Lana returned to managing Rusev,[57] and was at ringside when he captured the United States Championship for the second time at Extreme Rules.[58] On July 19, at the 2016 WWE Draft, Lana and Rusev were drafted to Raw.[59]

Other media[edit]

Lana has appeared in two WWE video games. She made her in-game debut at WWE 2K15 as an NPC, appearing during Rusev's entrance and winning celebration. She later made her managing debut in WWE 2K16. In 2016, it was announced that Lana would be featured as a main cast member for the upcoming sixth season of Total Divas.[60]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Benny Future and the Madman from Manchester Arabella
2011 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Dancer Uncredited
Big Time Beach Party Dancer Television film
2012 Pitch Perfect Footnote #5/Opening Bella
2014 American Hustle Uncredited
2015 Soul Alexis
Pitch Perfect 2 Legacy Bella
2016 Countdown Herself Cameo
Interrogation[61]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Millionaire Matchmaker Herself Episode: "Tai/German"
2009 The Real Housewives of Atlanta Herself Episode "Better Tardy Than Never"
2011 The Game Ashley Episode: "A Very Special Episode"
2011 The Fresh Beat Band Steguitarus Episode: "Veloci-Rap-Star"
2011–2012 I.C.I.R.U.S. Brit Recurring role (7 episodes)
2013 Banshee Crystal Episode: "Wicks"
2015–present Total Divas Herself Guest (Season 4)
Main Cast (Season 6)[62][63]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Album
2009 "Would You Like That" Non album single

Personal life[edit]

Perry is married to wrestler Miroslav Barnyashev, better known by his ring name Rusev.[64]

In wrestling[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Modern ballet performance dedicated to Holocaust victims to premiere at the Latvian National Opera". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia. September 2002. Retrieved December 31, 2013. 
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  5. ^ a b Artus, Matthew (April 15, 2016). "Exclusive Interview: Lana discusses her Superstar training regimen and her recent WrestleMania moment". WWE. Retrieved April 24, 2016. I hit Paige so hard with my kick to her face that I should have just went ahead and pinned her. 
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External links[edit]