Brian Damage, Craig Wilson and Jamie Lithgow
The WWE roster is filled with “superstars” at every level. There are the main roster guys who regularly appear on Raw and SmackDown, those who are used as glorified jobbers and those who are barely used at all. In this series of pieces, we will take an individual wrestler barely or poorly used and decide if they are worth keeping or should they be let go. Today we decide if we Book or Cook the “Ravishing Russian” Lana.
Brian: It was a little less than a year ago that Lana was quickly becoming a big star for the company. Her sex appeal was getting way over with the fans and ‘We want Lana’ chants were filling the arenas. Personally, I was equating her rising popularity to that of Sable from back in the Attitude Era. They broke her off from Rusev and began transforming Lana into a babyface teaming with Dolph Ziggler.
Then, the wheels quickly came off when she legitimately announced her engagement to Rusev on TMZ. She was almost immediately pulled from TV and has barely been used on any programs. If we believe what all the reports are saying, Lana has been in hot water with the company a few times for her speaking up and doing things against corporate policy. Is it time for the WWE to move on from Lana or is there any hope whatsoever?
Craig: Brian’s absolutely right in terms of her popularity amongst fans compared those before her like Sable. Maybe not quite as hot a reaction but not that far from it.
But, more recently, it’s not really working for her. Is it? There seems to be an enormous amount of heat on her backstage, according to reports anyway. The fact that the announcement of her engagement with Rusev spiked a storyline will have undoubtedly hurt both her and Rusev in the eyes of many in the company. After all, Rusev is now relegated to a role in the awful League of Nations whilst Lana isn’t on TV anymore.
Beyond the reaction she received – it’s unlikely she’ll be as over now after time of TV – is there much to her as a performer to suggest she isn’t expendable?
Brian: Well, she is suppose to have a multi tag team match against Brie Bella at Wrestlemania. Definitely a match to be used to get fans to head to the bathrooms or concession stands. As for if she is expendable or not…the question is really two pronged. If she is expendable and the WWE lets her go, does that mean Rusev is just as expendable?
I guess in theory everybody on the roster is expendable, some more than others. If you let Lana go, is the WWE willing to part ways with Rusev too? The fact is, they come as a package deal.
Craig: I don’t think Rusev is in that strong a position being one member of the League of Job Squad. If one went, I’d be staggered if both didn’t. There’s got to be heat on both with Lana getting the bulk of the punishment due to her even more diminished role than Rusev.
Be honest, would it be much of a loss to the company if both were to leave? I’d struggle to get myself too worked up about it, that’s for sure…
Jamie: My feelings exactly. I would not miss either Lana or Rusev. It’s 2016 and here we have a non-wrestling female who’s gimmick is to look attractive and a foreign heel who doesn’t like America. Initially this worked due to a strong initial push, but there’s no depth to either of these gimmicks and I very much doubt there is much depth to the performers behind them either. That’s sad to say, but I’ve not seen anything to suggest otherwise.
The phrase “and what?” springs to mind here. Lana; she ain’t from round here but she looks good yeah, and what? What else does she bring to the table? A character like this is either reliant on a consistent push or to be portrayed by a performer capable of outgrowing it. In Lana I see neither.
Brian: Personally, I agree with both of you 100% about both Lana and Rusev. Lana while oozing sex appeal, offers little else and Rusev really has fallen down the ladder after an initial monster push. Does Vince McMahon see things our way? Is he willing to cut ties with Lana and risk losing Rusev in the process? I am not so sure about that.
Craig: I don’t think Vince would really see Rusev leaving as all that much of a loss. That said, am not privy to his actual thoughts on him.
So, Lana: book or cook? It’s a cook for me.
Jamie: Cook. Performers like Lana – i.e. women who are pushed purely due to their looks – are like pieces of meat in WWE. By that I mean they have a limited shelf life and lose much of their luster if allowed to cool and require reheating. Sable, Sunny, Torrie Wilson, Miss Elizabeth… the list goes on.
Brian: I will cook as well. If what we all read is true and she has all this heat on her constantly….what’s the sense of keeping her around?
There we have it: the consensus on this one is that we would cook Lana – probably the most consensual one that we’ve had. Do you agree or do you think she should be booked? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.