When Lana and Rusev officially hit the main roster scene they had a fairly straight forward gimmick. Rusev – at first – was a stoic Bulgarian machine that would only "crush" at Lana’s beckoning. He had a fair number of squash matches, but they did not get the heat WWE was hoping to receive.
Instead of Bulgaria, he was actually from Russia, because everyone knows to boo for Russians, and supporters of Putin. Creative also decided to make Rusev more emotional in the ring, the stoic thing wasn’t getting over. During Lana’s promos Rusev began stomping around and yelling at an increased rate.
Lana continued to be the director of Rusev’s actions; a strong and intelligent manager that knew exactly what he needed to do to win. Throughout 2014, Rusev dominated the competition, and Lana dominated the crowds, commanding boos across the country. She did not care what they thought, and paid no attention to them during the matches. Her focus was solely on complete in-ring destruction, to show their allegiance to Russia, and of course, Putin.
By defeating Sheamus, Rusev eventually became the U.S. Champion. Which then lead to his feud with John Cena. At Fast Lane, Rusev was able to defeat Cena, but that is when things started to go downhill for the power couple. At WrestleMania 31, Lana climbed on the apron – a rare move for her – Rusev eventually crashed into her, which allowed Cena to get the big win.
For me, the story so far is logical – insert illogical joke here – and Rusev could still save face in this feud with Cena. Then Extreme Rules happened...
At some point, the fans got a loud enough Lana chant going to entice her to jump on the apron, mid-match. She smiled and waved to her adoring fans.
This is same U.S. crowd that she trashed every time she got in the ring for over a year. The same crowd she refused to take pictures with unless they had a Rusev shirt on. It wasn’t an evolution of a character, and not really a face turn; it was simply a gimmick being irrationally flipped on its head.
Since then, Rusev has become the controlling one, yelling at Lana, sending her to the back at every turn. Suddenly, she’s this sad little puppy that just wants some attention from the Americans…who she’s supposed to hate! Lana was a strong, powerful woman, with a voice. Now – even on Twitter with #WeWantLana – she’s become the same old boring self-indulged brand that WWE loves to push to the masses.
I understand Vince & Co. have decided Lana is money, and she needs to be pushed as a face. That’s fine, but the way they absolutely destroyed Lana’s character ruins the story for me. Unless Rusev can win the title back, he’s dead in the water without her. Which is unfortunate, and I hope I'm wrong on that front. Unfortunately, we all can see the writing on the wall; Lana will be put in a precarious situation, and our hero of heroes will run to the ring and save her.
Successfully completing Lana’s preposterous face turn.
All photos and videos via WWE.com