In a world where too many women have used WWE as a stepping stone to bigger dreams lies the beautiful and sultry Lana. Starting off as the manager to Rusev, Lana has certainly grown over the years.
This is not to discredit those such as Trish Stratus, Alexa Bliss, and Maria Kanellis to name a few. More of, it is a compliment to those who are willing to make women’s wrestling better. No matter the background, with hard work, extreme dedication, and passion comes success in WWE. These women are just a few prime examples.
Of course, Lana has had success before making it to WWE. With a background in modeling and acting she is the perfect candidate for what the company looks for in female talent. However, Lana came with a drive to succeed even more and that has been prevalent during her time with WWE.
As Rusev’s manager, Lana possessed admirable microphone skills along with a passable Russian accent to add to the character. She brought back some of the old-school style of the heel manager when it came to insulting the fans and talent alike. Her conceited attitude as the Ravishing Russian was icing on the cake needed to make fans want more.
Transitioning from manager to wrestler is never easy and oftentimes, many don’t enjoy the notoriety and success that the aforementioned names have experienced. However in the age of social media, the one thing Lana is consistent with is voicing her intent to work hard.
Lana knows she’s not the best wrestler, she knows she has a ton of work to do. She knows the stigma that comes from a background like hers. She confident enough to tell fans this.
But the fact she even acknowledges her intents is what makes Lana someone to give credit to. She’s not asking for sympathy in the least. It takes time for things to happen, and with the fallout of the Royal Rumble, perhaps this will be a test to see where Lana goes next.
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My wrestling journey is something that I will share on @totaldivas November 1st & want to share on my social platforms. Am I the best ? No. Do I have much more to learn. Yes. Will I let people that doubt me stop me from pursuing my dreams…. absolutely NOT. My wrestling journey reflects my entire life of fighting with everything in me to get where I am today. Learning to cope with learning disabilities, dealing with eating disorders, failing more than 1000 times & learning to love myself through all of that regardless of what people say about me has been my life journey. To every person that feels discouraged that they can't make their dreams a reality continue to radically pursue your soul's fire 🔥 Share below ⬇️ a dream 🙌🏽 @Tapout 💪🏽
Frustrations continue to mount for both Lana and Rusev, as stated in Lilian Garcia’s recent podcast. They are a package deal that has so much potential. WWE hasn’t begun to capitalize on what they could do with the couple, considering Rusev’s talent and Lana’s abilities. Rusev should be in the WWE Championship picture, and the fact that he hasn’t got there is a travesty.
Back to Lana, she’s been the victim of the stop and start pushes. From Dolph Ziggler to now, Lana has done what was asked of her despite how terrible the story was. It doesn’t look like she is part of the Women’s Tag Team Championship picture for now, but will she be later? No one knows for sure.
It is said that hard work pays off, but for Lana it’s when does she see the fruits of her labor? Both she and Rusev have been on the main roster about five years now. Do they need a change of scenery? Or do they bow their heads and continue to work hard? It is uncertain what the future holds. If Lana is the best, and she’s number one, WWE is crazy to not take that to heart.
Chris: Examining The WWE SmackDown Live Shake-Up
Did the Superstar Shake-Up turn WWE Smackdown into the A-Show?
Christopher McManus takes a deep dive into the WWE Smackdown Live side of this week’s Superstar Shake-Up!
The smoke has cleared and now the RAW and SmackDown Live rosters have changed dramatically over the span of 48 hours. The WWE Universe has seen an entirely new landscape with locker room leaders switching brands, tag divisions finding balance, and a women’s division stronger than ever. Today, I highlight the moves that were made to the SmackDown Live brand and what this means in a very pivotal year for the show going forward.
It is no secret that with SmackDown moving to the Fox Network in October, the brand was going to have a large number of star power and a roster that’s is presentable for a prime time slot that’s going to be available in every household possible. The Superstar Shake-Up did that in droves, creating strong moves that will make the blue brand an intriguing show going into its transition.
Let’s get to one of the main reasons SmackDown will be benefitting heavily with their impending move to the Fox Network and that is The Big Dog in the WWE. The former WWE and Universal Champion made his jump during the closing moments of SmackDown Live, delivering a Superman Punch to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon and spearing Elias. This was the play that the company had in mind for well over a year, as Reigns swapping with AJ Styles was necessary for a number of reasons.
Reigns, much like Styles, have done all that he could on Monday nights. Highly regarded as the top male star in the company and the main locker room leader, Reigns bring the star power and motivation to a young SmackDown roster ready to transition. He will still be in the background as he’s still recovering from his leukemia treatment. Until then, he will be working small programs with Elias to pick up on his ring condition. When that happens, it’s going to be an exciting time with all the new match-ups at his disposal.
A move that was a year in the making, Finn Balor has the opportunity to be one of the top three names on the SmackDown Live roster. Balor also brings the WWE Intercontinental Championship with him, for who he is in his second reign. It is possible that like before, the midcard titles could effectively switch brands with Samoa Joe and the United States title going to Monday Night RAW. Balor also has Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows lurking around, so if creative was interested in pairing “The Good Brothers” again then that’s a direction worth looking into.
The Boulder Beast has finally found a home. After his debut was postponed due to him no-showing a couple of events in January, the Leviathan made his long-awaited presence felt by destroying WWE legends such as Kurt Angle and The Hardy Boyz during Mania Week. It seems like the WWE brass is still high on The Freak Man, having him decimate a number of super popular stars. With Sullivan officially being on the blue brand, many could expect some big plans heading his way.
“The War Goddess” made her return at WrestleMania after recovering from elbow surgery and didn’t miss a beat with her showing in the Women’s Battle Royal. As what was shown leading up to WrestleMania was the severe lack of depth to SmackDown’s women’s division, leading to Charlotte Flair to regain the title from Asuka to help with the brand’s credibility at the time. With the Shake-Up approaching yesterday, Ember was one of the easy candidates in providing balance to a depleted women’s roster and an opportunity to be a perennial title contender in the coming months.
While expected, this still came as a surprise that the former Women’s Tag Champion would now be on Tuesday nights. Bayley has been indirectly involved with the current fiasco surrounding Sasha Banks, who has taken a leave of absence following their defeat at WrestleMania. Whether it played a factor in Bayley moving over or has yet to be determined, but this was also needed for lovable babyface. Prior to her tag run with Sasha, Bayley tread throughout the RAW’s waters barely finding consistent footing. Far too often and even now, she is seen as the fourth wheel of “The Four Horsewomen” of wrestling and. This is her chance to “be the change,” as she likes to put it and make a name for herself as a solo star.
As promised by Paige last week, she would bring in an impressive team to SmackDown Live to combat against The IIconics. “The Pirate Princess” made her SmackDown debut aligning with Asuka as two STARDOM alumni and instant contenders for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. Sane has been featured on both Women’s Royal Rumbles and WrestleMania Battle Royals to moderate success and participated in WWE’s sole women’s pay-per-view Evolution. The casual audience that knows her should fall in love with the Disney character come to life, as her charisma and mannerisms will have her as a longtime fan favorite for years to come.
It was a foregone conclusion that Buddy Murphy would be making a jump to the big boys after losing the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania, the only question is where he would go. When Cedric Alexander was announced he’ll be heading to RAW, Murphy was the next name to be leaving 205 Live to join Team Blue. This is an incredible story for “The Best Kept Secret”, who just in 2017 was grinding on the NXT Florida loops and having heavily-praised classics with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black. He would continue to chase for the brass ring in shedding enough weight to join the 205 Live roster and stealing the show on a weekly basis.
The former “Cruiserweight Juggernaut” will have a chance to do the same thing on Tuesday nights, with a fresh set of faces to display his skills against. He can rekindle his old feud against Ali, trade strikes with Finn Balor, and even step up to Roman Reigns himself. The possibilities are endless for him and if there’s one man that can prove his opportunity is worth it, it is him.
Vince McMahon’s “biggest acquisition in SmackDown history” turned out to be RAW’s former drifter Elias. Feeling that now he longer have to deal with the interruptions on Monday, Elias was quickly dealt with by Roman Reigns. This is likely to be his first program on the blue brand, as SmackDown has always been the breeding ground for midcarders needing to break through to the top of the card. He’s always been a serviceable act on RAW and now will have to step it up a notch on the show full of workhorses.
The Riott Squad started like a ball of fire nearly two years ago only to fizzle out throughout 2018. As with many members of the main roster, they became victims of circumstance, often fed to Ronda Rousey and The Four Horsewomen. It was only a matter of time that the trio would run their course and had to split in order to truly get the most out of each other. In Liv Morgan’s case, this is a show-and-prove moment for the mischievous, plucky superstar. It will be her first true test as a potential singles competitor, which means she will have to go out of her way to stand out on a now stacked division. Hopefully, she has grown enough not to draw similarities to Carmella, who both developed a brash and urban-influenced gimmick in NXT and are both billed from the Tri-State.
Gable’s run on the main roster has been flashes of brilliance marred with being lost in the shuffle. After being swapped to RAW last year in hopes of a solo run, he was paired with Bobby Roode in a makeshift tag team with moderate success. Then he got stuck again after losing the tag team titles and was sent to SmackDown when it looked like the duo was starting a heel run. Now on his own again, this might be the last shot for Gable to make something worthwhile after so much push and pull.
Getting placed in a tag team with Shelton Benjamin again would only defeat the purpose of Gable’s desire of wanting a solo run. With Fox focusing on a sports-oriented product for their weekend slots, Gable could be seen as a potential athlete to promote. He’s a former Olympian and can be seen as the heir to Kurt Angle if given the right push.
Mickie James has been absent over the past few months before returning for the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania. She returns to SmackDown as a veteran leader into the SmackDown locker room full of talented women. I doubt that she will have much of a bigger role on a roster that includes Charlotte Flair, Asuka, Bayley, and Ember Moon, but she will be a great hand to get younger stars like Kairi Sane and Liv Morgan over and will have good matches.
Heavy Machinery was built for SmackDown Live. The comedic powerhouse duo of Tucker and Otis is a great fit to a dynamic tag team division full of colorful individuals. I wouldn’t be shocked if they have a small run with the titles, though there will more interactions between Mandy Rose and Otis for my amusement.
Apollo, much like Chad Gable, was a victim of being bottlenecked on such a top-heavy RAW roster over the years. He would find some success with Titus O’Neil and Dan Brooke as a part of Titus Worldwide but later went solo facing Jinder Mahal and Baron Corbin in small TV programs. Now back on SmackDown, Crews help in a diverse midcard where no matter where he is placed, he’s gonna do well. He may not be a future world champion now, but Crews have the ability to get to the next level.
SmackDown Live continues to be the beacon of in-ring athleticism and new faces making their mark in the company. This year, the roster has a chance to truly cement themselves as THE A Show.
You can follow more of Chris’ musings on Twitter: @RappersRActors
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (4/15 + 4/16/2019)
We’ve got the WWE Superstar Shakeup! Andrew gives you thoughts and ratings, all based around his – experience. See what I did there?
We’ve got the WWE Superstar Shakeup! Andrew gives you thoughts and ratings, all based around his – experience. See what I did there?
There really aren’t any storylines to lead into these shows.
Who’s moving? Who’s staying? Do we see call ups?
Let’s find out.
- Hawkins & Ryder & Aleister Black & Ricochet vs The Revival & The Viking Experience: Vikings win via Fallout – ** ½
- Andrade w/Zelina Vega vs Finn Balor: Andrade wins via Hammerlock DDT – *** ¾
- The Usos vs Bobby Roode & Chad Gable: Usos win via Double Uce – ** ¼
- IIconics vs Bayley & Naomi: Naomi wins via Thicc Legged Moonsault – N/A
- Becky Lynch vs Ruby Riott: Lynch wins via DisARM Her – **
- Lacey Evans vs Natalya: Lacey wins via Moonsault – ** ¼
- Lashley, Baron Corbin & Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & AJ Styles: Styles wins via Phenomenal Forearm – ***
The show kicks off with Stephanie and Shane talking, and it’s more cringe than usual. Thank God the first trade was The Miz and he showed up, got color the hard way and at least made something about the first 30 minutes not suck.
Our first official match is an 8 man tag. Yipee. So it features the 3 main teams in the Raw tag title picture and…oh I guess a trade. Hey! I know that music! WAR WAR WA-What? The Viking Experience? Well drop me down a flight of steps and stomp on my balls. Who in the blue hell thought of this name? Cause they should be shot. Now we all know the performers are great, and we have seen the likes of Ringmaster, Kerwin White and the Demon Deacon Batista be speed bumps for sure, but not a death knell. I hate the name, it’s moronic, but Bengals fans still like Chad Johnson when he lost his mind and became Chad Ochocinco. Let’s wait and see I suppose…ugh.
Yeah there was a match too, it was fine, but I was too busy stopping myself from throwing up to the name to really care.
Cedric Alexander video package. If they can give him opportunities to show some personality, I don’t hate this.
Finn Balor gets a mystery opponent and it is…EL IDOLO AND LA MUNECA! Now this is huge. Andrade is box office and with a more wide open upper card, he could finally get that push he deserves. Great match save for the botched lariat to the outside spot, but still, fantastic. Plus it was nice that they established Zelina getting involved for anyone who doesn’t watch SmackDown or NXT. You got a great snapshot of who they both are.
Elias…yeah he gets interrupted after saying “whoever interrupts me won’t be able to show their face”, so Rey Mysterio comes out. The cute little telegraphing line is already wearing thin on me. Lars Sullivan comes out to eat Rey and his lunch made it a little better for me. I love Rey of course, but I don’t really want him in that segment.
The Glorious Duo lays out an open challenge, and The Usos respond. So this is a huge acquisition and assuming The Revival don’t get traded or quit and go to AEW, Usos vs Revival will be great. As for the match, it’s what we can expect from these four, solid, but not a ton of time and good enough for a TV match.
Moment of Bliss was great. We got to see Sami Zayn play the Montreal crowd like a violin, and it was nice to see the smarmy aspects of his character back in full force. Bliss even tried to be a good host and play a little Devil’s advocate, but Sami was on point nicely. Quality entertainment.
IIconics poke fun at Bayley and then Bayley says she’ll find another partner while Sasha isn’t there. So an impromptu match, Naomi getting traded to Raw and what felt like less than 4 minutes, is all we need to really know. Bayley got a level of revenge, but this was mostly worthless. EXCEPT! For Naomi using that Thicc Legged Moonsault as her finish. She needs to call it that dammit.
EC3 got destroyed by Braun, I giggled. I never understood why so many people were so high on EC3 when he was the top guy in TNA during the worst period in the company. So being at the top of the bottom isn’t something to be proud of. I’m not a fan of Braun, but I will enjoy it if this continues and Braun uses EC3 for target practice in the coming weeks.
Stop – Giving – Ruby – Riott – Matches – Against – The – Champion. In the last month she’s been squashed in 15 seconds and proven to be unable to get in offense without distraction and then she gets handled anyway. She is effectively worthless at the moment. That can change obviously, but stop making her look like a joke when announcers are trying to hype her as something to care about. Showing the audience she’s garbage but having the announcers give a different narrative comes off stupid.
Oh no, Natalya is coming out to talk. She says typical crap, uses Bret’s line cause she’s unoriginal but THANK YOU LACEY! Lacey Evan saves the segment and the title scene but sauntering out proclaiming that her and Nattie will have a number 1 contender match for the Raw Women’s title.
The match isn’t bad, Lacey is obviously over her butterflies from the Women’s Royal Rumble when she couldn’t even do a Kip Up. Match was fine, Women’s Right is a signature and she wins with a Moonsault variation. All of this is great for the story telling so far and I’m a fan of Lacey. I don’t want her to beat Becky, but I’m a fan of this feud.
Main event time, Seth and Roman’s mystery partner is…AJ STYLES! Okay so I look at this two ways. Firstly, it’s stupid to have him win the match against Randy Orton for ‘who built SmackDown’ for him to get traded. Secondly, I’m just happy Styles has finished the journey. Going for a couple Cruiserweight Tag matches as Air Raid in WCW, the face of TNA, redefining himself in New Japan, being the biggest fish on the “B” show and now he’s finally on the flag ship. Good for AJ.
The match is fine. Nothing overly crazy, basic TV match stuff. Finisher spam at the end of the debuting wrestler’s team to stand tall.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Aside from my hatred of The Viking Experience, it was a good show. Enough surprises, returns, debuts, and I guess this counts as Lacey’s in-ring debut on Raw. All in all, it wasn’t even close to bad. Where the wrestling itself may have lacked at times, the non-wrestling segments were still solid.
Two weeks in a row where I actually kind of enjoyed Raw…I may be dying. Call someone.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Finn Balor vs Ali: Balor wins via Coup de Grace – *** ½
- Charlotte Flair vs Carmella: Flair wins via Figure Eight – **
- Kairi Sane, Asuka, Bayley & Ember Moon vs IIconics, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville: Sane wins via Insane Elbow – ** ½
- Shinsuke Nakamura, Rusev & Cesaro vs Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Kevin Owens: Owens wins via Stunner – ***
Well Kevin Owens is a treasure. His talk show is always good, and Big O, was an amusing thread that ran through the whole show. Yes, as Chris Platt said on POD is WAR, he thought of Oscar Robertson. However, I immediately thought of The Big O, the anime on Adult Swim in 2001.
I hope that Cesaro, Sheamus, Rusev and Nakamura being closely associated lately won’t lead to a League of Nations 2.0
Finn Balor’s blue trunks lately where foreshadowing the move! Intercontinental Championship back on SmackDown! Ali of course is a solid performer, and Balor worked a faster style than we’ve really seen him do lately. Reminded me a bit more of his New Japan work, but solid match. Good stuff.
Kofi and Xavier convince Big O he has to eat a plate of cold pancakes as initiation. Like I said previously, this was a fun little thread they played with the entire show. Maybe it’s just me, but I was amused every time they came on.
Charlotte and Carmella next and it wasn’t bad. Carmella has gotten better, but Charlotte has a tendency to be rigid at times. Now I’m not sure if that’s because she’s embodying that arrogant persona and doesn’t feel the need to sell much. So some spots were awkward, but it’s nice to see Carmella’s growth.
Lars Sullivan apparently is officially on SmackDown now and goes to kill R-Truth and scare the crap out of Carmella.
Becky comes out and much like last week, it’s a little rinse and repeat on her Monday and Tuesday promos. This was all to set up new faces and flesh out the Women’s Tag Division on SmackDown. Fire and Desire think Paige is about to announce an Absolution Reunion, but that doesn’t seem to fly. Ember Moon and Bayley are officially on SmackDown now to boot. But Paige’s tag team is what got my interest since she announces Asuka and Kairi Sane! Now fans can stop bitching that Asuka doesn’t speak English well and Paige can talk for them. The Pirates of Tomorrow, have to be considered early favorites to destroy the IIconics.
The match was a thing. IIconics will never win workrate accolades, but they play their parts well. Bayley looks to have a chip on her shoulder (Canada even booed her), Ember still needs to learn to slow down a little and Kairi picked up the pin with the best elbow in the business, the Insane Elbow!
Buddy Murphy…meh…I’m already bored thinking about him.
Big O gets coached by the rest of the New Day to do Big E’s portion of the entrance. The match itself was really fun. Owens being a little off on the New Day shtick was funny but didn’t take away from having great wrestlers in the ring. All in all good fun, except for how Rusev sold the Stunner more like a Snapmare.
Vince comes out to close the show with the biggest acquisition in SmackDown history! ELIAS!
After some pointless chatter and Elias being his usual arrogant self, he gets ready to play a song…but he’s not the last addition. The Samoan Sex Machine, is now on SmackDown! AJ built the house, Roman can tend to the yard. As long as Roman isn’t immediately vaulted into the main event scene and has real struggle, this is perfect for him. SmackDown has always been seen as the more wrestling based program, so Roman having to go up against people who are more wrestlers than entertainers may help to earn him respect with the hardcores who think he sucks.
Overall Score: 7/10
Good show. Now my bias for most of the trades is probably why I gave it a bit higher than Raw. Kairi, Ember and Roman added to Orton and Asuka will make it very easy for me to enjoy SmackDown Live. Owens was also hilarious, so seeing where this goes and if he eventually turns on them is something to watch.
Also, even though she got booed pretty hard, Bayley’s new edge will be interesting. Hugs and wacky waving inflatable idiots don’t really scream a serious wrestler. And yes, for those that noticed I called Kairi and Asuka The Pirates of Tomorrow, it is so that Io can fit into the team easily. Sky Captain, and the Pirates of Tomorrow!
Yeah I’m tired, shut up. I like to amuse myself on occasion.
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