Lana’s here to wish everyone ‘Happy Rusev Day!’ The ‘Ravishing Russian’ discusses how Rusev captured the heart of the WWE, if she’ll be at WrestleMania and why Daniel Bryan’s return left her in ‘tears.’
One of the loudest chants in the WWE today is comprised of two simple words: “Rusev Day.” The origin of this phenomenon, which has taken the WWE Universe by storm, can be traced back to the Sep. 26 episode of SmackDown! Live. Rusev, 33, was awarded the key to his hometown of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The mayor of Plovdiv then declared it to be “Rusev Day,” but the Bulgarian Brute’s hype-man, Aiden English, 30, would soon insist that every day is Rusev Day. It turns out, the WWE agreed. Calendars, hoodies and a best-selling t-shirt followed, all celebrating Rusev Day. While this viral sensation has taken over the sports entertainment world, one person has been celebrating the holiday long before anyone else: Rusev’s real-life wife — and fellow WWE Superstar — Lana, 33.
“I think he is a super athlete and I have been saying that for years,” Lana (real name C.J. Perry) EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife.com while attending the premiere of Game Over, Man. “I would introduce him as a super athlete and he truly is one of the best in ring competitors. I also think in Total Divas, he also showed that he is really funny and entertaining. On the show, he shows that he has a great personality.”
So, why did fans latch on to Rusev Day, to the point where it rivals Daniel Bryan’s “Yes” chants as the loudest sound heard at a WWE live event? Lana believes that the WWE Universe desired something different, and Rusev delivered. “I think it took – instead of a “U-S-A” chant, they want to be part of something more. They want to chant ‘Rusev Day’ because every day is Rusev day!”
Speaking of D-Bry, the 36-year-old Superstar was medically cleared to compete in the ring for the first time in years, indicating that he would return to the ring for the first time in three years at WrestleMania 34. To say that the WWE Universe was hyped is an understatement, and Lana said even the WWE locker room was thrilled for Daniel’s return.
“We are so excited,” she tells HollywoodLife.com. “We are so excited to have him back. I know for me, personally, I was in tears when he did his speech on coming back because it gives me hope that no matter what anyone says, I am going to continue for my dreams and continue to wrestle and compete.”
Prior to her WWE career, Lana was a model, a singer, a dancer and an actress, scoring roles in movies like The Game and Pitch Perfect. She signed to the WWE in 2013, debuting in NXT as a manager. She and Rusev made their main roster debut in 2014, and she begun the transition into an active wrestling role in 2017. The challenges of becoming a wrestler are tough, but Lana is using Daniel’s fighting spirit as her motivation. “The world told him ‘no,’ and that he would never wrestle again and he is wrestling again. So, I think that gives us all hope to be resilient and to do you no matter what!”
People might think that I'm not good enough to wrestle on #SDLive & don't deserve to be in that squared circle. I will continue to train every day! Because NO ONE will stop me from doing what I love & achieving my dreams. Always resiliently chase your dreams
— CJ (Lana) Perry (@LanaWWE) March 21, 2018
With Daniel possibly returning at WrestleMania, what are Lana’s plans for WWE’s biggest show of the year? Will be part of the inaugural WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal? “I will be in the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania,” she tells HollywoodLife.com, “which I really am excited about because we now have four women matches — with the SmackDown! Live Women’s Championship, the Raw Women’s Championship match and also Ronda [Rousey and Kurt Angle] and Stephanie [McMahon, who will be teaming with her husband, Triple H.]
“So, it is really exciting for all those women matches because we used to fight for even one back in the day. Now that we have four matches and to be involved in something that all the women are going to be a part of is awesome. I plan on winning the battle royal and making history at WrestleMania.”
How does Lana plan on outlasting all the other female Superstars? “I think going in with a really good strategy and a really good plan is best because I will be in the ring with some of the best women competitors. I mean Sasha Banks, Bayley and some of the strongest women are going to be there. Natalya is going to be there so its like, my plan is to try to hide as much as possible and have as many people eliminated. And then, when the last person is standing, I will attack them from behind! So that is my strategy.”
When she’s not wowing the WWE Universe with her dance-inspired wrestling moves (and her elaborate ring outfits) Lana has been pursing her acting career. “I am really excited because I just worked on a independent movie called Other Versions Of You,” she tells HollywoodLife.com, “and it is actually premiering at the Nashville Film Festival. I believe that is May 9th so I am really excited about that and it will be hitting other festivals as well.”
“I love story telling and I love entertaining so, if it comes in any shape or form like, of course I would love to do more movies and TV shows. But, I love being with WWE and I love story telling and that is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
What about the possibility of Lana and Rusev working together on a film? This husband-wife couple has teamed up in the WWE Mixed Match Challenge and they appeared together on an episode of Southpaw Championship Wrestling. Lana tells HollywoodLife.com that she’s game with sharing the screen with Rusev again — but there’s a catch. “Oh yeah! I really enjoy being his enemy,” Lana says. “One of my favorite stories in WWE was when he was the jealous boyfriend and I used Dolph Ziggler as revenge, basically. That was so much fun. We had so much fun with that story when we were fighting and our segments on TV would be so much fun. I would love to be in a story or movie where maybe we were enemies.” What? Lana and Rusev fighting – on Rusev Day? Say it ain’t so!
The WWE Universe can celebrate Rusev Day – and Lana Day – by tuning into SmackDown! Live at 8:00 PM ET on the USA Network.
This interview has been edited.