Exclusive Interview: Lana discusses her Superstar training regimen and her recent WrestleMania moment
WrestleMania 32 represented a day of firsts for many in the WWE locker room, which includes an unexpected and impressive debut by a Superstar seeking to prove she’s as ruthless as she is ravishing.
One year after getting her first taste of The Showcase of the Immortals as a bystander, Lana decided to double down at AT&T Stadium in Dallas by competing in her first match. This choice meant she would become the first woman to make her WWE competitive debut on WrestleMania Sunday. It also put a target on her back, given how her cold-blooded demeanor and harsh criticisms of rivals has made her a lightning rod for controversy in WWE.
Days after WrestleMania 32, WWE.com caught up with Lana at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., to discuss her experience as a fighter on The Grandest Stage of Them All and her plans for the future as a Superstar.
WWE.COM: What brings you to the WWE Performance Center?
LANA: I am training and training and training. You know, most people take days off after WrestleMania, but Lana keeps training.
WWE.COM: Was there anything specifically that you were focusing on, especially after WrestleMania?
LANA: I'm training in everything MMA, jujitsu, kickboxing, Krav Maga and boxing. Rusev teaches me many things, which is why we do a lot of punching and kicking. I came to the Performance Center just to refine my skills even more before going on to Europe, where I'm going to be competing with Team B.A.D. and Blonde.
WWE.COM: What’s driving you to focus so intently on your in-ring training?
LANA: You know, and I see this in quite a few of the women and men, once they think, “Oh, we've reached it. We reached the main roster. We're professionals!" — that hunger, that drive to keep on learning, to keep on perfecting your skill and getting better, they lose. I think that separates the good from the great, the icons from the good. And I want to be iconic.
WWE.COM: Has any of your past experiences prepared you for the dedication and grueling effort required to become a Superstar?
LANA: Growing up, I was trained as a professional ballerina. My teacher would just come with a wooden rod and a wooden spoon, and she would just hit us and smack us until we did things right. She would throw shoes at us and, sometimes, even chairs. Excellence demanding excellence was the only option, and anything short of being excellent is a failure. You know?
WWE.COM: How did that influence your outfit for WrestleMania?
LANA: I feel really comfortable in leotards because I danced my whole life. I lived in leotards since I was … I don't know, three, four? So, it was very comfortable for me. Then, of course, I want to be different. I never want to look like all the rest of the girls. I will never be like the rest of the girls. And, so, that's why I also felt, “It's WrestleMania. Let me wear a long train because that's what we do in Russia.” We just make everything more ravishing, more fabulous and fierce.
WWE.COM: What about WrestleMania 32 made you feel ready to make your competitive debut? Were you nervous?
I want to be different. I never want to look like all the rest of the girls. I will never be like the rest of the girls.
LANA: Before WrestleMania, of course, I get nervous because my first match is in front of 101,000 people. Most people start off at 100 people. But, the Ravishing Russian, of course, would like to go big or go home, and do it up on the biggest stage of the year. In Russia, failure is not an option, and doing something average is not an option.
WWE.COM: Rusev mentioned in a recent interview that one of the things he did while preparing for his match was also prepare you for your match. Was there any last-minute advice you received from him before going out there?
LANA: He tells me not to be nervous. Rusev usually doesn't get nervous at all. He's pretty calm. I was nervous before I went out there, and then I just tried to do breathing exercises. But, honestly, we didn't really have any time. I just hear our music play and we had to go out there. But then, once I'm out there, it's just … I can't explain it. I'm made to do this. I love this. If that's either through a microphone or if it's kicking someone's head off, I know I was born to do that. When I was out there, I just said, "I love crushing people!"
WWE.COM: Did you believe you were ready?
LANA: I know I can fight. I know I have kicks that can destroy people. Just because I haven't gotten in the ring in my career, that doesn't mean I'm not capable of crushing people. I've seen more in my career never having a fight than all those girls combined. Like, what girl stood face-to-face with The Rock? What girl stood face-to-face with John Cena? With Chris Jericho? With “Rowdy” Roddy Piper? I can keep going on and on. So, if you're going to challenge me, criticize me, and you're going to say I'm not good enough, then I'm going to kick your head off. Don't push me.
If you're going to challenge me, criticize me, and you're going to say I'm not good enough, then I'm going to kick your head off. Don't push me.
WWE.COM: Obviously, your WrestleMania debut did not end in a victory. Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
LANA: I hit Paige so hard with my kick to her face that I should have just went ahead and pinned her. I would have won the entire match for our team. But, I just got caught up in the moment of taunting Brie. I basically just allowed Paige to live, that's the bottom line.
LANA: I don't like telling people what my plans are because I have big plans. If I start saying “Oh, this is what I'm going to do” and “This is what I want to do,” then I know I'm a threat to other people. But I can promise you this: I will be the greatest woman to ever enter WWE, and I will leave the greatest legacy that WWE has ever seen.