On the Narrative Freefall of Lana

So Rusev and Lana broke up, apparently to complicate the narrative so WWE could extricate itself from the much too effective political satire it had created with Lana and her big pictures of Putin and Red Square. It was great, but it was a minefield, and both Lana and Rusev are too good to be allowed to hit a wall of controversy or wash out as corny and innocuous cultural stereotypes. Trust me, we don’t want Lana and Rusev showing up in folk costumes, doing Cossack dances, drinking tea from samovars and enjoying borscht and black bread. We want them evolving into something more substantial for the sake of longevity and realism.

So fine, Rusev’s an abusive boyfriend now, and much as it pains me to say it, it’s not an unrealistic cultural stereotype. I love Eastern Europe and work closely with some wonderful male writers from that part of the world, but I can’t deny that men in that region have a misogynistic reputation. The way the story unfolded struck me as contrived soap opera shlock — I have seen that whole “Just say three words, ‘I was wrong!”‘ canard a thousand times before — but it was a means to an end, which sometimes has to happen in a wrestling product with such a hectic schedule.

But the whole point of breaking up Rusev and Lana and inserting Ziggler into the story was to give them a path forward into something new, a Rusev/Ziggler feud over Lana, and now that Rusev broke his ankle Lana is left with a stupid story and nowhere to turn but a butt-shaking pretty boy Attitude Era throwback from Ohio, who shows her all his selfies and fills her in on the shenanigans of Snapchat.

Lana is clearly on the rebound with Dolph Ziggler, and will likely break his heart. This passionate patriotic immigrant unafraid to speak uncomfortable truths and represent her wrestler with passion and determination can now only come up with selfies and Snapchat when she thinks about why she likes her new boyfriend. To be fair, Lana was a master of selfies in her glory days with Rusev, but what was once a veritable art form for our brilliant Russian heel is now reduced to internet silliness with one of the most innocuous wrestlers on the card.

But here’s a what if! What if Lana is just going through a phase with Ziggler because she needs to work through her youthful anger and mature as a woman. She will soon find Ziggler vapid and dopey, and will suffer through a painful run on Total Divas that will convince her to rethink her life path and what it REALLY means to be an empowered woman. Maybe Lana will rebuild her managerial business, modeling herself after Paul Heyman instead of Miss Elizabeth. Maybe she will build a stable of heels who need that extra something — Tyler Breeze, the Miz, the Ascension maybe? — and show the world what a woman can really do in the world of professional wrestling. Maybe Rusev will come back from his injury a changed man, and will realize how badly he blew it with Lana. And maybe, just maybe, they can reunite, if only in a business arrangement.

It could happen. With Dean Ambrose tentatively at the top of the card and Kevin Owens apparently in the process of bulldozing the John Cena empire, things may be moving in a more sensible direction. It’s okay to root for wrestling’s renaissance instead of descending into smarkish grumpiness. We’ll make it through the dark times if we stay the course.

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  1. June 2, 2015

    Bulldozing the Cena Empire is sensible? I’d like to hear your reasoning behind that.

    I like your summary and analysis of the recent events, though. When Rusev cut that promo where he wanted Lana to say she was wrong, I got the impression that Rusev was completely oblivious to all of his flaws and the issues he had caused, which was part of the reason he was so shocked Lana didn’t want to be with him anymore. It made him rather sympathetic, in my opinion, and those tragic elements made him more interesting to me.

    • June 3, 2015

      You know OPG, I thought about this all day, because on the face of it Cena is still such a T-shirt salesman, perhaps he is still best for business in this winter economy. Maybe sensible isn’t the right word choice. But really, the company is at a point where it needs to evolve, and Cena himself needs to evolve because he’s got nothing left to do in his current incarnation with this new generation of wrestlers. I don’t know that he’s going anywhere, but the world is saturated with his t-shirts, half the audience chants that he sucks, it is against all good sense to keep him the same way forever. Might as well use him to put over Kevin Owens in a fairly epic way to finally, finally usher in the a true renaissance. So perhaps I’m advocating for creative destruction here — deconstructing Cena in order to push a whole different sort of unbeatable hero.

      I got that little weird sympathy for Rusev too! He really doesn’t understand what he did, as though perhaps his culture might accept such behavior. The look on his face broke my heart a little bit, even though he was being such an asshole.

      Thanks for the comments, by the way! This blog gets oodles of hits but very few comments, so I appreciate it a bunch!

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