The two are dating in real life, and have been together since they joined forces in WWE NXT in late 2013. Prior to joining WWE that year, Lana, who’s real name is Catherine Joy Perry, dated NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski.
In 2012, Keselowski joined Bobby Labonte as the only drivers in NASCAR history to win a championship in both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series.
Years ago, when Perry was a model for Miller Lite, her agent, who was married to a NASCAR employee, hooked her up with Keselowski. They were together from 2010-2011 until her arrival to WWE in 2013.
To add to her sports connection, Perry is also close friends with model and television personality Jenn Sterger, who garnered headlines in 2010 when it was revealed that NFL legend Brett Favre had sent explicit photos of himself while he was the quarterback for the New York Jets and she was a sideline reporter for the Jets. They were part of a group called the FSU Cowgirls, who were known for wearing revealing clothing and cowboy hats to Florida State Seminoles football games, and attracted some national attention when they was shown on television during a Florida State vs. Miami Hurricanes football game. Upon seeing the shot, announcer Brent Musburger remarked on-air that “1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State.”
After photos had gotten around recently of Lana with an engagement ring from her social media accounts, the assumption was that she and Rusev, who purchased a home together some time back in Nashville, Tennessee were engaged.
TMZ confirmed that Rusev, 29, and Lana, 30, had gotten engaged in September when he popped the question in their backyard by the swimming pool.
This story broke less than a week after WWE started an angle on the October 5, 2015 edition of Monday Night Raw where Summer Rae had just proposed to Rusev, and he accepted, with the proviso that he first had to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship before they could get married. The fact Rusev had gotten engaged in real life to Lana was known to the higher-ups, and there’s little doubt in my mind the decision to do the angle with Summer Rae on October 5, 2015 was due to it. And in storyline, ever since the engagement, they have changed it from Rusev and Lana being enemies to Rusev still having the hots for Lana and Summer clearly being the substitute, as opposed to the replacement.
With the story breaking, WWE turned it into storyline. Keep in mind that WWE constantly plugged how TMZ broke the story, and WWE only mentions the media source that broke the story if they feed the story to them first and have a good relationship with them. The idea they were blindsided by this wasn’t the case.
What we do know is that WWE was fully aware of it coming out, but Vince McMahon wasn’t happy it got out. It makes sense when you think about it, because it’s not about getting engaged, but about maintaining character and storyline in public. Part of the job of a WWE performer in social media is to play the role, although then again, you can argue, starting at the very top, that the rules don’t always apply.
On Monday Night Raw, Rusev wrestled Ryback, and Summer Rae was in Rusev’s corner. The announcers wondered why she was there since everyone knows Lana and Rusev are engaged, “as reported by TMZ.” But after the match, Summer ripped Rusev a new one, screaming at him for having been engaged for a month and never telling her. She called him a narcissistic, egotistical, jealous, lying, cheating bastard and slapped him in the face. He grumbled some stuff in Bulgarian and it was over.
They had started Dolph Ziggler romancing Summer a few weeks ago, with the idea she was thinking of leaving Rusev, until the proposal that came out of nowhere and seemed to indicate a major change in storyline. Ziggler has since been removed from any interaction with Rusev or Summer, but there were teases of a heel turn. In theory, Cena should lose the United States Championship either on Raw on October 19, 2015, or at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event, since he’s going on a sabbatical. He pinned Ziggler in a very good television match and there hasn’t been a tease of Cena with anyone else for the pay-per-view. If Summer is to suddenly help Ziggler beat Cena, leading to a Rusev turn with a face Lana, then we can conclude they had a direction and likely changed it and sped it up with the engagement. But if Rusev has no program, that means the angle on Raw was to get out of the storyline and with no future direction. For Ziggler, the innocent bystander so to speak, the key would be that if Lana dumped him in storyline, he’d come off bad, so they had to walk away from his romance with Lana without damage to him.
Given Cena leaving, Ziggler is going to need some kind of a program going forward.
Rusev and Lana was another example of art imitating life as the two were put together two years ago in developmental. She had been with the company for four months at that time, after being signed from a camp where they recruited women from Southern California modeling agencies.
He started training eight years ago at former WWE Superstar Rikishi’s school in Torrance and was signed by the sports-entertainment organization five years ago. He had been managed by Raquel Diaz, Nick Rogers and Sylvester Lefort before being put with Lana. Since it was Dusty Rhodes idea to put them together, and it’s crazy how many scripted relationships in pro wrestling turn real, the most notable being Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella and Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, which were both booked by writers in storylines long before they became real-life, and ended up being married couples.
October 15, 2015 – As most of you know by now, TMZ reported this past weekend that Rusev and Lana got engaged last month after he proposed to her in the backyard of their house by the swimming pool. Fans were able to figure this out before the TMZ story because photos got out on social media showing Lana with an engagement ring on her finger.
The real-life engagement was revealed to fans during the same week Summer Rae proposed to Rusev on Raw so, in the eyes of WWE management, this screwed up their storyline. Nevermind the fact that WWE goes out of their way to tell you that they are scripted entertainment and they constantly have their wrestlers out in public breaking kayfabe and the people at the very top can play heels on television but they are portrayed as the nicest people in the world when they are featured in media interviews and charity appearances.
According to this week’s issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the real-life engagement was known by WWE management but Vince McMahon was not happy that it got out even though they were aware that TMZ was going to break the story. Part of a WWE Superstar’s role is to maintain character on social media but the rules don’t always apply to everyone.