Lana ‘says a lot of prayers’ before facing Nia Jax, talks Bobby Lashley affair angle and being apart of the red-hot Rusev Day
Lana has been an emotive character on WWE programming since 2014, but it’s only now she’s finding her groove in-ring.
The Ravishing Russian has got herself into a good position for a WWE Women’s Tag Team title match with her partner Naomi in the near future and she’s on the best run of her in-ring career.
As part of her fine run inside the ropes, Lana has been working with Nia Jax, a talent that divides opinion between fans online.
Jax broke Becky Lynch’s nose on the home stretch of 2018 and then last year she hurt Kairi Sane quite badly twice in the space of a few weeks.
Those are just the headline incidents when it comes to Jax and now fans seem to hunt for her every mistake even if it’s something very usual.
talkSPORT spoke to Lana in the build-up to Elimination Chamber this Sunday and we asked about some of her most interesting storylines in the past few years.
On working with Nia Jax and the criticism she gets…
“I think that Nia is very, very strong… And Nia is a beautiful Samoan with lots of strength and lots of size on her, so yeah I have to spend a lot of time mentally preparing myself because I know when I go out there, legit anything could happen [with Nia].
“I know I’m going to feel it the next day. I felt those nine tables, I feel those powerbombs, I really do!
“But I think that’s what I signed up for. I’m not going to walk away from it. I’ll be remembered as the girl who could take an ass-whooping and keep going.
“We remember what happened with Kairi [Sane], Becky [Lynch] and a lot of other people. So let’s not forget that she took me out of the Rumble two years ago. Let’s not forget she took me out of TLC.
“I know that everyone wants to be laughing about certain things and making jokes, but I remember that.
“I say a lot of prayers that I’ll come out in one piece! But I don’t know, maybe I like the adrenaline rush. Maybe there’s something wrong with me [laughs].
“I’m like what am I doing! I’m running towards this powerhouse not running away from it laughs]. But I won’t let fears dictate my life.”
On working with Bobby Lashley…
“I think we broke the internet and cracked mainstream media. A bigger thing that I think is very important to have on WWE television, and I know a lot of people might disagree with me, is I do think it’s important to have romantic angle, relationship angles, soap opera angles.
“We have so much WWE programming every week. What is it, nearly 10 hours of network television? It can’t all be for the title. It can’t just be about being an in-ring competitor, it’s got to be about relationships stuff as well. And women, if we want women to watch, that’s what we need.
“Drew McIntyre was telling me how much his wife loved it. He said ‘she doesn’t watch me but she watches you guys!’ I just thought that was so funny because I identified with that.
“Like the show I watch on television are like Grays Anatomy, Scandal. You know, all those soap opera, relationship/drama stuff. I’m always excited to do those stories because I love those stories, I love watching them.
“I think they reach women and little girls, it’s really important to have that. Every time I’ve done a relationship story, they light up conversation.
“If it was the Dolph Ziggler story, Roman Reigns interrupting mine and Rusev’s wedding, Liv at my second wedding – people have a lot to say about it!
“So I’m grateful I got that opportunity with Bobby. It came with a lot of sacrifices, a lot of cyberbullying, but I knew my role and I wanted to be the best villain out there.”
On being apart of the red-hot Rusev Day story…
“It was really cool because I’ve had little hiccups of a babyface story like the Dolph thing. Like I’ll always remember the first time they chanted ‘we want Lana’, especially when you’re so [used to being] booed out of the building. I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m liked! Wow!’ it’s cool.
“I think as humans we all want to be liked a little bit. So when our identity is being booed and being hated, the other side is like ‘woah!’ So it was cool to see Rusev go through that.
“I’ll never forget when we were in Europe and they started chanting Rusev Day, he was so excited because he had never been cheered before! He was like ‘kids are running away crying because they want a hug from me?!’
“For so long, for years I kept telling Rusev that we needed a singy-songy chanty thing. So when Aiden [English] started singing Rusev Day and Lana is the best, Lana number one, it blew up like crazy.
“The WWE Universe wants to be involved and if you give them something to chant or sing, they’re either going to go with you or create the opposite of it. But, regardless, they’ll have an opinion about it. It was a great time, a really, really great time.
“The fans felt like they created it so it was so organic. It was their choice to chant for him. Singing we want Lana was their choice and there’s nothing you can beat than that organic situation.”
Watch WWE Elimination Chamber this Sunday on the WWE Network as the Road to WrestleMania continues