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.
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
Managing Rusev and Dolph Ziggler (2013–2015)
In June 2013, Perry revealed that she had been signed to WWE and was sent to their developmental branch WWE NXT. Perry debuted in NXT on the October 23, 2013 episode of NXT, under the ring name "Lana", scouting Alexander Rusev during his match against C.J. Parker. 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. In December 2013, the duo of Rusev and Lana were compared to Ivan Drago and Ludmilla Drago, the antagonists of the 1985 film Rocky IV. Rusev and Lana later appeared at NXT Arrival, where Rusev attacked Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze.
While Rusev made his main roster debut at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view on January 26, 2014, 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. Rusev wrestled his first match on the main roster on the April 7 episode of Raw, squashing Zack Ryder. 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 against Jack Swagger at the Battleground pay-per-view event, 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 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 in a WWE Network exclusive match to capture the United States Championship. At Fastlane on February 22, 2015, Lana set up a distraction which led to Rusev defeating John Cena. However, at WrestleMania 31, Rusev lost the championship to Cena after Rusev accidentally crashed into Lana, knocking her off the ring apron.
Return from injury (2015-present)
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, during a Miz TV segment, where she and Rusev referenced their engagement. Before going on another hiatus from television for unknown reasons, Lana appeared on the January 25, 2016 episode of Raw, during a segment alongside The Rock.
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", and, on the March 3 episode of Main Event, she appeared during Brie's match to distract her, in a failed attempt. Lana continued with her attempts to distract and attack Brie during the March 7 episode of Raw and the March 11 episode of SmackDown, by executing Brie's finishing maneuver on her. On the March 14 episode of Raw, she once again distracted Brie during a tag team match against Team B.A.D. (Naomi and Tamina), causing her to lose, and aligned herself with Naomi and Tamina, 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, reconciling with Rae in the process. After a match between Emma and Paige on the March 28 episode of Raw, Lana and her allies Brie Bella, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Paige, before they were saved by Eva Marie. As a result, the two teams faced off in a 10-woman tag team match on the WrestleMania 32 kick-off show, in what would be Lana's in-ring debut, which Lana's team would lose.
On the April 25 episode of Raw, Lana returned to managing Rusev, and was at ringside when he captured the United States Championship for the second time at Extreme Rules. 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 in a match for the United States Championship against Mark Henry, in which he successfully defended his title. After Rusev's and Lana's wedding celebration was usurped by Roman Reigns, Rusev was set on another match for the United States Championship against Cesaro, in which he successfully defended the title before being speared by Reigns on the August 8 episode of Raw, and one week later on the August 17 episode of Raw, he competed in a non-title match for Lana's honor against Reigns, in which he was defeated.
|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|
|2015||Pitch Perfect 2||Legacy Bella|
|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"|
|2009||"Would You Like That"||Non album single|
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.
- Finishing moves
- Hammerlock sitout spinebuster
- The Accolade (Camel clutch) - adopted from Rusev
- "The Mistress of Destruction"
- "The Ravishing Russian"
- Entrance themes