What WWE should do with Lana’s character
Since bitterly dissolving her partnership with Rusev after Extreme Rules, the Ravishing Russian Lana has been a manager without a meal-ticket. Since then, she has seemingly decided that managing isn’t really her thing and that she’s much more of a fun-loving romantic at heart, finding herself irresistibly attracted to fellow golden-haired beach body, Dolph Ziggler.
The paradigm shift has been a significant demotion, one disappointing to fans of Lana’s original gimmick.
Upon entering the WWE, Lana and Rusev formed the iconic duo of beauty and the beast with a Rocky IV, iron curtain twist: Lana with her severe suits and heels, her straight-armed power strut and her strong-jawed, icy glare; and Rusev with his inbridled, red-faced fury, his inability to speak English, and his superior physical dominance between the ropes. Together, they mowed through the competition for a year before meeting their match in John Cena, the WWE’s ultimate soldier of justice.
In the final months of their union, Lana and Rusev underwent a character shift. Lana began showing signs of softening to the crowd’s increasing adulation for her, flashing more and more smiles and flirtatious waves. In response, Rusev grew angry (jealous), and ultimately the pair went separate ways.
Since then, Rusev’s character has become bitter and more than a tad pathetic. Lana, despite turning to soft-serve ice cream while smooching her new crush Ziggler, has adopted her former cold and callous demeanor when confronted with her former mate.
Recently during a television taping, Rusev finally boiled over and brutally attacked Ziggler, putting him out of commission for an undetermined amount of time – but probably just long enough to shoot a cop thriller movie in Vancouver.
While the Bulgarian Brute has found solace in the company of another, the notorious Summer Rae, where does this now leave Lana?
It leaves her in an ideal position to play out a story-line that came to me months ago. I thought that with the lame Dolph/Lana/Rusev love triangle thing, the opportunity was lost. But now, WWE has the chance to restore some of Lana’s former power and integrity.
Picture this scenario, if you will:
Lana is distraught over Ziggler’s injury. With her original charge turning on her in brutish fashion, and her new interest being laid out with a bruised trachea, she begins to question the worth of putting any faith in men at all.
She cuts promos addressing the WWE Universe calling the roster full of “weak men”, men unworthy of accolades. She recounts how she took Rusev, a pathetic shell of a man wasting his time in Bulgaria back-lots, and turned him into the monster who terrorized WWE rings for over a year. She takes credit for all of Rusev’s success, and points out how sad and pitiful he has become since he fired her.
Then Lana makes her grand proposition: she will make herself a free agent, and offer her managerial services to any man who can prove that he is worthy. She promises to take that man straight to the top of the WWE. But, she warns, “I am not easily impressed”.
And so the stage is set and the audition process begins.
What follows are potentially months of television spots. The possibilities to get creative here are infinite. Wrestlers from all over the roster can vie for Lana’s services, trying anything and everything to impress. Some come with extravagant gifts and grand gestures. Some show off incredible feats of athletic ability, strength or virility. Some dedicate their matches to Lana, and as she watches they go out of their way to dismantle their opponent (possibly ending up making fools of themselves by falling victim to the other superstar – also trying to impress her). Every time, for months and months, Lana applauds the men’s efforts but ultimately turns her nose up to them, saying “Not good enough”.
The effect of such a prolonged series of segments is precisely what Lana needs to build up her character again. Since adopting the softer, crowd-pleasing side of her, she has lost the edge which made her so attractive in the first place. By pandering to the fans and melting at the sight of Dolph Ziggler, she has ceased to be the empowered female presence and has become not much more than an average air-head.
By reducing the male roster to show-horses doing tricks for her amusement, and continually pointing out how they can not measure up to her standards, it puts back in her hands the authority and competency she once exuded.
This scenario also begs for the involvement of Rusev, who can from time to time try and regain Lana’s favour, only to be turned away. Rusev can then pull out his “Fine, I don’t need you, you stupid, ugly witch woman!” routine which plays so well.
Aside from giving Lana a huge build as a credible manager, this program also leaves open the opportunity for some main roster talent – or perhaps an emerging talent from the ranks of NXT – to receive a huge push. The superstar who actually wins the services of Lana will instantly be seen as a contender, and together he and the Ravishing Russian will begin a new reign of terror through the ranks of the Fed.
But who might such a wrestler be? Barring some unforeseen, new acquisition, there are a few possibilities that come to mind.
Cesaro is someone who has not only proved himself physically impressive and credible, but he is the type of competitor who would benefit greatly from a handler – particularly a powerful woman. His pairing early in his career with Aksana worked well while it lasted, and it took him through his first US Title reign.
Baron Corbin is a powerhouse talent mowing through jobbers in NXT, and although he is still quite green in terms of mat skills, he has undeniable presence and a great look. Being paired with Lana would add that much more impact to his eventual entrance to the main roster.
Jason Jordan is another talent in NXT with potential, though it seems he hasn’t found a gimmick yet. He is a strong amateur wrestler with real physical prowess and a clean-cut, chiseled look. The John Cena “Prototype” impression he gives might be vanilla and potentially boring, but paired with Lana it might give him the right angle to make it work.
Uhaa Nation just signed a contract with WWE and joined the ranks of NXT in late 2014, and has the potential to be a big star once a character is worked out for him. Physically impressive, athletically talented, he might be just what Lana is looking for.
Regardless if they put Lana next to any of these men, or whether Rusev finally proves to his former manager that he is determined to have her back and they reunite for a revitalized run together, I truly think that this angle would make for some awesome viewing.
Lana, as a character, is too good to cheapen or throw away, and that is exactly what has occurred since she began to abandon her cruel, stone-faced gimmick who would twist her fist and order her monster to “Crrrrush!”
She has the opportunity to be a strong female presence in the WWE, the only legitimate female manager today (“manager” being distinct and completely different than “valet”, which is unfortunately what talented wrestlers like Natalya, Summer Rae, Layla and Rose Mendes have been stuck doing instead of competing), and her own unique character.
They don’t necessarily have to run with the idea I’ve proposed here (although I think they really should), but if WWE Creative doesn’t give her some kind of substantial story-line the Ravishing Russian runs the risk of having a very short and forgettable career with the company before she becomes just another pretty face looking for a payday – any way she can get it.