Lana said she is “grateful” for the opportunity WWE provided her with in her most recent storyline, even amid speculation her breakthrough — with its string of painful table bumps – includes backlash for her husband’s taunt-filled jump to rival All Elite Wrestling.
The current WWE star, whose real name is CJ Perry, saw her current babyface run begin with her being put through the announce table by Nia Jax for nine consecutive weeks on “Monday Night Raw.” It turned her into an on-screen underdog and the story developed into her earning a Raw women’s championship match and being the sole survivor at “Survivor Series.”
WWE, however, has not paid the angle off in a meaningful way. As of Monday, Lana was pulled because of a storyline injury from her scheduled women’s tag team championship match at this Sunday’s “Tables, Ladders, and Chairs” pay-per-view. She was attacked by Jax and Baszler after beating Jax in a singles match on “Raw.” Asuka has been left to look for a new partner after Lana was given the full stretcher-into-ambulance treatment.
While the overall story had put Lana in the spotlight as an in-ring performer for the first time in her career, the timing and nature of it sparked some, including her own husband Miro and WCW legend Konnan, to speculate if the table bumps were some sort of backlash for Miro calling out WWE in the promo he cut during his debut on “AEW Dynamite” on Sept 9. He referenced the Vince McMahon term “brass ring” and said WWE could “shove it up their ass.”
Lana went through her first table the next week on “Raw” and a day later on SiriusXM’s “Busted Open Radio,” Miro – who was released by WWE in April during cuts made because of the coronavirus pandemic – said he was “absolutely” concerned Lana was being punished. In early November following Lana’s eighth table spot, former WCW star Konnan speculated on Disco Inferno’s “Keepin’ It 100” podcast that WWE was doing so because “they want her to quit.” WrestlingNews.co did report in early November, citing a WWE source, that Vince McMahon is not holding a grudge and there is no heat with Lana because of Miro signing in AEW.
When asked about what she thought upon hearing the speculation she was being punished, Lana said she was appreciative of being given an in-ring storyline in WWE – one that has mirrored her real-life journey in pro wrestling — but admitted it hasn’t all been easy.
“It’s insane because I think people are finally seeing what I’m made of,” Lana told The Post prior to her match Monday against Jax. “For so long being in stories where I am an enhancement to the main the characters, main character, no problem I love doing that. Not everyone can be Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. That’s just the reality.
“I approach everything in WWE as I do the world of acting. It’s a compelling story and not everyone can be the leading man and the leading lady. It’s a hard pill for people to swallow but this is show business and this is television.”
The entire journey to this point has been an opportunity to prove herself as a wrestler after starting her career as mostly a manager — beginning with Rusev in NXT in 2013.
“For me to be having storyline where I’m competing in the ring, fighting that is something I’m very, very grateful for,” Lana said. “There have been a lot of up and downs in this story that have been hard pills to swallow, but I’ve been here for seven years and I’ve survived this business, all the steamrolls and all the different crazy curveballs that they have thrown here [WWE] and I think a lot of people, even the people that I work with, like they don’t even know things that I’ve done and I’m like maybe you should watch the show. Maybe have a little bit more respect for me and watch the show. And I know that’s where I can be a little sassy, but it’s like no I’m going to make a name of myself here.”
Lana even foreshawdoed something like her storyline injury could happen. Jax has had a history of wrestlers getting hurt while working with her, but this was scripted injury.
“I’m not just fighting against Nia and it’s not just match,” Lana said prior to Monday’s show. “It’s a match once again to prove that I belong. It’s a match once again to prove that I am durable. I am fighting Nia Jax. You know how many other girls don’t want to fight her. A lot of girls don’t.
“We know what she is capable of. Let me not remind people and bring up some names. We know what could happen. We know that. It’s like fine. If that’s what you want to throw at me, I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna fight for my life because I fought for my life in everything and I am here.”
What comes next will be interesting. Lana could be replaced in Sunday’s women’s tag team title match by a returning Charlotte Flair after Raw’s ratings dipped to 1.5 million viewers this week. It could also be Mandy Rose, who returned to TV on Monday to help break up Jax and Baszler’s attack. According to PWInsider, Lana could be off WWE TV for three to four weeks. Maybe Lana throws caution to the wind in storyline Sunday and competes and wins injured in the ultimate babyface moment. No matter what the case is, it doesn’t sound like we have seen the last of Lana in WWE.
“I’ve outlasted so many people here,” she said. “You’re not gonna be able to kick me out. And I don’t know, maybe it’s determination and I think a lot of things is I really haven’t been best at anything in my life. It’s always been the determination not to quit, to keep on going to find a way no matter what.”