CJ Perry, the former Lana, has opened up on the difficulties she found during her early WWE career, including how her initial promos were in front of Vince McMahon!
The former ‘Ravishing Russian’ debuted as the then-Alexander Rusev’s manager in October 2013, leading ‘The Bulgarian Brute’ to two United States Championship reigns. Doing most of the talking for her now-husband, however, things didn’t initially go too smoothly for Lana.
As she told Renee Paquette on her Sessions podcast, Lana’s early promos were spoken with ex-WWE boss Vince McMahon in the room. It seems, however, that McMahon was only there to provide positive feedback, rather than negative:
“Yeah, I would definitely get really nervous. But he [Vince] was always happy with that. I would do it and he really didn’t have many notes. I think his biggest notes would just be like, ‘Be natural’, and then I would do it. The promos, he was always happy with [me]. One time, he told me I needed to work on my acting. Basically, he goes, ‘You’re playing a manager, you’re playing a manager’.
And I basically bent down and I was like, going like this, like how Paul Heyman or Zelina [Vega] would do, or Summer [Rae] . He was like, ‘That is not [right]’. He’s like, ‘You’re playing a wrestling manager.’ He’s like, ‘I just need you to be you.’ And I’m like, so I never did that again.”
Lana managed both Rusev and Dolph Ziggler, with her character growing over time. Aside from some controversial remarks that were supposedly regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 17’s crash, Lana enjoyed success in the role, eventually transitioning into a WWE Superstar herself.
Continuing to Renee, the Floridian explained how participating in acting classes led her to better understand what it meant to play a heel wrestling manager:
“And I think it was also a segment that I did with Zeb [Colter] and [Jack] Swagger, and we were doing some debate, and I got really, I got really mad, and he pulled me aside. He was like, ‘You’re playing the state of mad’. He’s like, ‘I just need you to listen’. And it was interesting, because I was in acting class. Immediately, I got back into acting class. And my biggest issue, my teacher was like, ‘You’re pretending the lesson. You’re not actually listening’.
And then I realised that was actually a bad habit I had in life, I would pretend to listen. And I’m like, ‘Oh, wow. Acting is like really bringing a lot of things’. So yeah, but he was always really happy. I told him I’m like, I’m in an acting class. And he’s like, ‘I see a big difference. Great job’.”
Now going by CJ Perry, the 37-year-old recently spoke with Inside The Ropes’ own Liam Alexander-Stewart, where she described her relationship with the now-retired Vince McMahon as “amazing”.