Ravishing CJ Perry
What makes a great WWE superstar? Some key components include a unique character, someone to portray that character in a way that resonates with fans, and the ability to tell a story – and keep a storyline going. For CJ Perry, also known as “The Ravishing Russian” Lana, her on-air promos seem so effortless because, for the most part, she’s lived it.
Born in Gainesville, Florida, Perry’s family relocated to Latvia shortly after her birth, and she spent her adolescence in the nation that was part of the former Soviet Union. Due to the authoritative culture, Perry was only able to focus on two things: school and her dance classes. Although a seemingly rigorous lifestyle, she credits her upbringing for her current resolve in life. “It has instilled discipline and resiliency in me, and that has stayed with me my entire life,” she says. Perry made her way back to the U.S. to dance professionally in New York City and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. It was there that she would find her true calling.
An early fan of professional wrestling, she recalls her grandmother sending over videotapes of her favorites: Hulk Hogan, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and The Rock. “I just never thought it would be possible for this little ballerina to become a professional wrestler,” she shares. While in Los Angeles, she was presented with the opportunity to try out for the WWE as they were on the lookout for new talent. It was a six-month process but, with an athletic background, she was one of the five signees.
While in-ring training, she was paired with future husband Miroslav Barnyashev, more commonly known as Rusev, and they portrayed a pair of pro-Russia, anti-American heels. The characters got them tons of heat as Rusev was booked to look very strong in the way he demolished opponents. What helped the pair stay so prevalent, though, was not just Barnyashev’s in-ring work, but rather Perry’s microphone skills. Since the former’s character was billed to not speak English, it was up to her to drive home their villainous ways and give fans a reason to boo the duo (“We’re storytellers, and we’re entertainers”).
Furthermore, her character’s success has continued to pave the way for other women to be given an opportunity to cut promos and get more on-air time as Perry aims “to give hope to all the women who want equal opportunities.”
While her in-ring career has flourished, Perry has also transferred her on-air charisma into other forms of entertainment: E!’s WWE reality series Total Divas, award-winning fantasy-romance film Another Version of You (formerly Other Versions of You), and her own YouTube channel where fans can get an inside look at her life.
Additionally, Perry sees a future for herself in the fashion world. A passion of hers since childhood, she has attended New York Fashion Week’s high-profile shows and plans to delve into that realm sooner than later. “It’s a whole spectacle,” she affirms. “It’s art and it’s a story – and it also provokes an emotion. I want to make history and become the first woman to make it from the wrestling ring to the Met Gala.”
Writer: Alain Clerine
Photographer: Nuttia Sunittramat
Stylist: Andrew Philip Nguyen
Hair: Carina Tafulu (using Oribe & Enzo Milano)
Makeup: Natalie Malchev
Videographer: Woraprat Attasawat
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to The Portofino Hotel & Marina (@portofinohotel - www.hotelportofino.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)