February 17, 2017

Lana Reveals the Inspiration Behind Her ‘Ravishing Russian’ Character, How She Got Her Start in WWE, Touring w/ Rusev, More

WWE Superstars Rusev and Lana were the most recent guests on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk Is Jericho, which can be heard in full over at podcastone.com.

Below are a few transcripts from Lana throughout the hour-long conversation, discussing her life before WWE as a professional ballet dancer, the inspiration for her character, how she got into pro wrestling, and more!

On what it’s like spending all her time with her real-life husband Rusev, travelling up and down the road, all around the world, and then going home together on their days off:
“I think I probably drive him crazy. I feel like I never turn off wrestling. I never turn off trying to create, so I have to kind of be like, ‘okay for the next hour, we’re not going to talk about storylines, pitches, or wrestling, or seventeen different ideas of how we’re going to become multi-billionaires.”
On the inspiration for her character, the “Ravishing Russian”:
“A lot of the ‘Ravishing Russian’ Lana, I take from my Russian teachers. My teacher would come in with a paddle, and she would smack us, and she had these long nails and would dig in. She was nuts. She would throw her shoes, and call us like, ‘you stupid fat cow!'”
On growing up as a Russian-American, and the support of her family:
“I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a merge of both worlds. I have my parents who are so American, and just their point of view on life is so American. My dad is always like, ‘shoot for the stars, the sky is the limit, you can do anything, all your dreams are possible, I’m proud of you.’ You would get a bad grade on a test, and he’d be like ‘it’s okay, work harder, I’m proud of you.’ So I grew up with that great support system at home, but then I would go to school where it’s just crazy Russian disciple, and I think that’s why Lana is such an extension of myself, because it’s like – I do associate myself as not just American, but Russian-American.”
On how she ended up in WWE, after being a professional dancer since before she was a teenager:
“I moved to LA right after college, and I would go from job to job, auditioning and auditioning, getting a job and then not getting a job for six months. Struggling, sleeping in my car at the time, trying to get an apartment; the struggle of pursuing your dream. But I was always like, ‘I’m not going to go home; I’m not going to return home until I can hold my head up high.’ In 2012 [WWE] had a big Divas search, worldwide. And I was thinking the entire time, there was no way I was going to get this job. I was a wrestling fan, but I honestly felt like there was no way I was gonna get it. Every girl I knew in LA was being called in for this audition.”
On her experience at her first ever WWE tryout camp and audition:
“So finally I came in, and I kept on being called back, and being called back again, and then one time, finally there was one of the final callbacks. There was about 40 of us girls, and literally standing in front of me is [Alexa Bliss], and standing behind me is JoJo. She’s standing in front of me, with her perfect little bikini body, and JoJo is going in there singing all these crazy things. So I just started speaking Russian. It was Triple H right in front of me, [various backstage WWE personnel], Bill Demott, and I literally just start speaking Russian, and then I switch over to speaking perfect English, and I knew I got their attention. After those 40 girls, they picked 12 of us. They were specifically looking for athletic models, actresses, dancers. And then before they signed us, they put us through a month boot camp of us training every day. It was like, ‘okay you look hot, but are you athletic?’ I remember the first bump I took. Sara [del Rey] was our coach, and Norman [Smiley], and the first bump I took I was like, ‘woah! That is painful! I’m gonna be doing this for the rest of my life?'”