Lana has shown so much improvement and the opportunity was there to set her on track for a main event push.
There is always talk about superstars in WWE who are looked at as “missed opportunities.” While it seems like this happens frequently, there are some who can be considered up for debate. However, there is a different conversation that should be held about Lana. Her last year in WWE has been puzzling but listening to her talk about her tenure in news reports and even in the WWE Chronicle shows that the promotion missed an opportunity to build her into a strong babyface when the division needed some new faces.
When Lana was initially introduced as the “Ravishing Russian” and was paired with her husband Miro, then known as Rusev, it seemed like both were headed to stardom. Fast forward eight years later and things are far off from where they were. Miro is a part of All Elite Wrestling while Lana is on Monday Night Raw. From the end of 2019 through all of 2020 she spent her time being on the wrong end storylines that could not be anything more than jokes aimed at her. All the while, WWE had an individual who could have been built into an intriguing underdog character when the women’s division needed some freshness.
While Sasha Banks and Bayley carried the WWE for much of 2020, there was not a lot of positive usage of the women’s division beneath them. Yes, Asuka had the Raw title around her waist, but how often was she featured in such a position? Even worse for Lana who spent much of 2020 being put through tables by Nia Jax and being bullied by Shayna Baszler. Then she was forced to stand on the ring steps at Survivor Series on her way to becoming the sole “survivor” for the Monday Night Raw team.
Then she was basically off the television, until recently being paired with Naomi. The duo has a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles, but there is no telling if they will win the belts, especially with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez waiting in the wings. But before this, WWE had a moment where Lana could have become a big babyface in the women’s division and enjoyed some semblance of a run at the top.
During the WWE Chronicle, Lana talks honestly about the doubts she has had in herself as a performer and the incessant online bullying sent her way. While the toxicity in the wrestling industry is well known, it was still telling to see how it had clearly impacted her mental wellbeing. She recently spoke to Alex McCarthy of talkSport and revealed more challenges, but also the idea of hope coming from one, Becky Lynch.
“I’m so thankful for that because when this whole pandemic started, I remember being so discouraged and I remember her telling me ‘you are so strong. You are such a strong woman. Now you have got to be who you are,” Lana said during the conversation. “Every single day I start my morning like ‘I’m strong, I’m resilient I’m durable – I’m going to keep going.”
That story of resilience could have been the foundation for Lana’s run throughout 2020 and heading into WrestleMania season. As much as professional wrestling is about the performance in the ring, the stories and the characters involved are just as important. Lana has proved she can be as much of a successful character as any others when given the opportunity. No one can deny that she is improved in the ring and she is putting in the time to do so. Perhaps it’s time to let her get a little of the shine that many thoughts were to come years ago.
WWE Creative dropped a major ball with Lana in recent months. There was a moment where she could have become a face to rally around as she fought against the on-air bullies of Nia and Shayna. Unfortunately, leadership in the WWE looked another way. She may get her first taste of gold at Elimination Chamber, but the odds of her getting a career-defining moment do not look too well in her favor.