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Catherine Joy "C.J." Perry (March 24, 1985) is an American professional wrestling manager, model, actress, dancer, and singer. Although born in Gainesville, Florida, Perry was raised in Riga, Latvia and speaks fluent Russian. She is currently signed with the professional wrestling promotion WWE, performing on the Smackdown brand under the ring name Lana, where she manages Rusev.

Early life

The eldest of four siblings, Perry was born in Gainesville, Florida to parents of Portuguese and Venezuelan extraction. She spent several years of her childhood in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union, where her father worked as a Christian missionary. Perry and her family remained in Latvia after it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in May 1990. From an early age, Perry aspired to become a ballet dancer like her mother. She attended the Riga Choreography School – the ballet school of the Latvian National Opera – and began dancing with the Latvian National Ballet at the age of 14.

At the age of 17, Perry returned to the United States. She initially lived in New York City, where she danced at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Broadway Dance Center and the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance. Perry later enrolled in Florida State University (FSU), majoring in dance and acting because she wanted to "experience the traditional American University" While attending FSU, Perry began attending Florida State Seminoles football games with Jenn Sterger, Fabiola Romero, and several other students, cheering from the bleachers while dressed as "cowgirls". The students – known as the "Florida State Cowgirls" – entered the public consciousness after being acknowledged by commentator Brent Musburger during a game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes that aired on ABC in September 2005. Perry parlayed the exposure into a modelling career, appearing in photoshoots in publications such as the RIDGID Tool Calendar and working as a spokesmodel for the energy drinks Matrix and Red Bull.

Upon graduating from FSU, Perry relocated to Los Angeles, California with the aim of working in show business.

Music and acting career

In 2009, Perry joined "No Means Yes", a girl group signed to Ne-Yo's record label comprising Perry (billed as "C.J."), Kat, Shea and Tanu. The group released one single – titled "Would You Like That" – and recorded two others (titled "7 Years Bad Luck" and "Burn Rubber") before disbanding in 2010. Perry stated on joining "No Means Yes", "A girlfriend of mine in college referred me to the man that was putting the group together. I honestly was so scared to sing and I didn't even know a song to sing at the audition so I sang "Jesus Loves Me." I remember them saying we can work with her tone because she has the right look and she is a model that break dances. I am so thankful to this day for that experience because I do not think I would have ever gotten the role in Pitch Perfect if I hadn't overcome my fear to open my mouth and sing". Perry went on to work as a backup dancer for performers such as Keri Hilson, Nelly, Pink]and Usher. In 2013, Perry starred alongside Kelley Jakle in the music video for Jakle's cover of the Paramore song "Ain't it Fun".

Perry trained as an actress at The Groundlings School and under the acting coaches Lesly Kahn and Larry Moss. She went on to appear in acting roles such as an episode of the television program The Game in 2011, the musical comedy film Pitch Perfect in 2012, an episode of the television program Banshee in 2013. She landed the lead role in I.C.I.R.U.S. as Brit in 2011. Perry was cast as a "Legacy Bella" in the sequel Pitch Perfect 2 in 2014.

Professional wrestling career

WWE

Managing Rusev (2013–2017)

In June 2013, Perry revealed that she had been signed to WWE and was sent to their developmental branch NXT. She debuted on the October 23, 2013 episode of NXT, under the ring name Lana, scouting Alexander Rusev. On the November 6 episode of NXT, Lana became Rusev's "social ambassador", using a Russian accent and developing a character who majored in Foreign Affairs and Business and Social Media Marketing in college.

Lana made her main roster debut on the January 31 episode of SmackDown, where she and Rusev in the following weeks appeared in a series of self-promotional videos and speeches. In early May, Lana began dedicating Rusev's matches to her "hero", President of Russia Vladimir Putin, as well as adopting an anti-American, Russophilic gimmick.

Lana made some controversial comments during an in-ring promo prior to Rusev's match at Battleground, blaming the United States for current world events and praising Putin. Although she did not directly mention it, some media outlets said Lana was making reference to the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which happened three days before Battleground, to help build heat for Rusev in his feud against Jack Swagger. A representative of WWE later told TMZ that the segment was not specifically about the Malaysia Airlines crash, noting that the Rusev-Lana storyline "has been a part of WWE programming for more than three months. WWE apologizes to anyone who misunderstood last night's segment and was offended".

Following the November 3 episode of Raw, Rusev defeated Sheamus on WWE Network to capture the United States Championship. At WrestleMania 31, Rusev lost the title to Cena after Rusev accidentally crashed into Lana, knocking her off the ring apron.

On May 17, at Payback, Cena defeated Rusev in an "I Quit" match after Lana quit on Rusev's behalf. The following night on Raw, Lana justified her actions by explaining that Rusev said he quit in Bulgarian, only for him to harshly dismiss her; later that night, Lana kissed Dolph Ziggler, turning her face and officially ending their association. After Ziggler being injured by Rusev, he went to return on the August 17 episode of Raw, aiding Lana during a confrontation with Rusev and Summer Rae. Rae went on to "seduce" Ziggler in order to end his relationship with Lana, but the storyline ended quietly, after WWE announced that Lana had injured her wrist while training. On October 11, TMZ reported that Lana had gotten engaged to Rusev, which Lana confirmed. Lana made her return, once again as a villainess, on the November 30 episode of Raw, where she and Rusev referenced their engagement.

After a two months hiatus, Lana returned on the February 29 episode of Raw, confronting Brie Bella during a backstage segment, arguing that Brie's fans only supported her out of pity for having a "bad husband", On the March 14 episode of Raw, she distracted Brie during a tag team match against Team B.A.D. (Naomi and Tamina), causing her to lose, and aligned herself with Team BAD, following a backstage confrontation with Paige. On the March 22 episode of Main Event, she brought the returning Emma and Summer Rae to her guild. As a result, Lana faced off Brie in a tag team match at the WrestleMania 32 pre-show, in what would be Lana's in-ring debut, which her team (dubbed Team B.A.D. & Blonde) lost.

On the April 25 episode of Raw, Lana returned to managing Rusev, After being drafted to Raw as part of the 2016 WWE draft which took place on July 19, Lana made her first appearance for the brand on August 1, where she accompanied Rusev. On August 8, Rusev's and Lana's wedding celebration was usurped by Roman Reigns, and one week later on the August 17 episode of Raw, Rusev competed in a match for Lana's honor against Reigns, but lost. In early 2017, Rusev suffered a legitimate shoulder injury, taking them off television.

Singles competition (2017–present)

On the April 11 episode of SmackDown, Lana was solely drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the Superstar Shake-up. As vignettes hyping her televised return aired, Lana resumed in-ring competition under her new gimmick at NXT live events that same month. Lana made her return on the June 6 episode of SmackDown, unsuccessfully vying to compete in the impending women's Money in the Bank ladder match, while also igniting a feud with SmackDown Women's Champion Naomi. On June 18, Lana was defeated by Naomi in her first televised singles match at Money in the Bank. She went on to compete against Naomi two more times on the June 27 and July 4 episodes of SmackDown Live, where she was defeated both times. On July 23 at Battleground, Lana competed in a five-way elimination match to determine the number one contender for the SmackDown Women's Championship, where she was eliminated by Becky Lynch. At the Royal Rumble, Lana participated in the first ever women's Royal Rumble match as the 13th entrant, but was eliminated by Michelle McCool. In the first round of the WWE Mixed Match Challenge, Lana and Rusev defeated Elias and Bayley, marking Lana's first official win in WWE. Prior to the WWE Mixed Match Challenge, Lana was heavily trained by Rusev in their home and later during the wrestling training at the arena, Rusev alongside Aiden English teach Lana to fight her opponents and tried to getting pumped up before the match as seen on their videos.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2008 Benny Future and the Madman from Manchester Arabella
2011 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son Dancer Uncredited
2011 Big Time Beach Party Dancer Television film
2012 Pitch Perfect Footnote #5/Opening Bella
2013 Soul Alexis
2015 Pitch Perfect 2 Legacy Bella
2015 Interrogation

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Millionaire Matchmaker Herself Episode: "Tai/German"
2009 The Real Housewives of Atlanta Herself Episode "Better Tardy Than Never"
2011 The Game Ashley Episode: "A Very Special Episode"
2011 The Fresh Beat Band Steguitarus Episode: "Veloci-Rap-Star"
2011–2012 I.C.I.R.U.S. Brit 7 episodes
2013 Banshee Crystal Episode: "Wicks"

Discography

Singles

Year Single Album
2009 "Would You Like That" Non album single

Personal life

Perry is married to Miroslav Barnyashev, who also performs for WWE under the ring name Rusev. The couple bought a house together in Nashville, Tennessee. Perry and Barnyashev got married on July 29, 2016.

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "The Mistress of Destruction"
    • "The Ravishing Russian"

Championships and accomplishments

External links

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Raw

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NXT

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United Kingdom Championship Tournament participants

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Stables & Tag Teams

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Unassigned personnel

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Commentators & Interviewers

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Ring announcers

Dasha FuentesJoJoGreg HamiltonMike RomeTony Chimel

Referees

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Pre-Show Panel
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NXT Trainers

Matthew BloomNorman SmileyRobbie BrooksideSara Del ReySarah StockSerena DeebShawn MichaelsSteve KeirnTerry Taylor

General Managers

Drake Maverick (205 Live)Paige/Shane McMahon (Smackdown)Baron Corbin/Stephanie McMahon (Raw)William Regal (NXT)Johnny Saint (UK Brand)

Performance Center Recruits (October 2018)

Chelsea GreenDaniel VidotHumberto CarrilloJordan OmogbehinLuis MartinezMatt RiddleMia Yim

Tryout winners in Saudi Arabia (April 2018)

Hussain AldagalMansoor Al-ShehailFaisal KurdiNasser BawazirKhalid AlhothaliAbdullah AlmagrabiFaisal AllabboudyAsaad Alshareef

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