Just three days after the WWE’s biggest event of the year — WrestleMania 33 — WWE star Lana is gearing up for another landmark event, the Season 6 premiere of “Total Divas.”
The pro wrestler and member of the “Raw” team, whose real name is C.J. Perry, talked to TheWrap about her favorite moments from WWE’s Super Bowl-style event on Sunday, John Cena popping the question to Nikki Bella, what to expect from the return of the E! reality show, and what misnomer about the WWE irks her the most.
“I hear a lot people say it [the WWE] is fake — it is not fake, we are athletes, we are entertainers … I broke my wrist and I have a lot of bruises from wrestling,” Lana explained. “There is nothing fake about it, we just have predetermined endings.
“What I would like people to understand is that this is a contact sport where people can get hurt just like in any other contact sport,” she stressed. A prime example of that being her husband’s shoulder injury that led him to miss WrestleMania and caused their in-ring double act to be put on hold.
“We are also storytellers, we are entertainers, we are here to put smiles on people’s faces, and just like any movie and TV show you would watch — there is a pre-determined ending,” Lana continued. “That is the only difference between what we do and the MMA, UFC or any boxing match.”
Of course, the biggest show in town last weekend in Orlando, Florida, was WrestleMania 33 and Lana was still getting her voice back from screaming with excitement during the four-hour extravaganza.
“My favorite WrestleMania moment was the two combination of Naomi winning the “SmackDown” Women’s Championship title, and Nikki Bella getting engaged to John Cena. I just couldn’t believe it, I was getting teary-eyed, I was trying not to ruin my make up,” she said.
“Everyone was trying to picture it — what if he does do this? I couldn’t imagine how it could be personal when 70,000 people were watching, but somehow it was. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, I was so happy for her — and him too.”
Lana married her in-ring partner Rusev (a.k.a Miroslav Barnyashev) in July 2016, so we asked her if she has any advice for her “Total Bellas” co-star about making a marriage work both in the ring and on reality TV.
“I don’t know if Nikki and John need advice — they are so wise and smart already. I’d just say have fun, love each other, respect each other and enjoy yourselves,” Lana said.
“Nikki accepted the fact that she might never get married but she loved him so much that she was OK with that. And then he loves her so much that he wants to marry her. It is such a reflection of what love should be,” she added.
While Season 6 of “Total Bellas” won’t feature the in-ring marriage proposal yet, there’s plenty of other life-changing moments already caught on camera.
“There’s a lot of incredible things happening — you are going to see a comeback, my second wedding to the same man in Bulgaria, lots of crazy Bulgarian traditions, a prom, a dance-off, and someone even gets pregnant,” she teased. “You are going to have to watch to see who it is. But it’s not Nattie’s cat!” (Spoiler alert).
As fun as it is to watch, “Total Divas” (and spinoff “Total Bellas”) isn’t just mindless entertainment like many reality shows. It has actually educated many women about professional wrestling and shifted the demographic of WWE fans since it premiered in July 2013.
“‘Total Divas’ is so popular because it is about female athletes and takes a peek into the world that no one ever knew about,” Lana told TheWrap. “This has broadened our audience on a whole other level of women viewers. So many people who used to not watch wrestling watch it now because of ‘Total Divas.’
“It has definitely increased our women’s fan base as they watch E! then they become WWE fans because they become so invested in our lives. They see that we go through struggles just like everyone else, and then they watch ‘Raw’ and SmackDown’ to see how we do in competition.
“I am truly thankful for ‘Total Divas’ as its put us on a mainstream platform and it has brought more women and little girls to the shows. It makes me so excited,” Lana said.
Season 6 of “Total Divas” premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday on E!