C J Perry On Talk Is Jericho: Podcast Recap

C J Perry, who was known as Lana in WWE was a recent guest on Talk is Jericho. C J Perry and Chris Jericho talked about her time in WWE and her unfortunate release from the company. They also talked about frustrations during working in the ThunderDome, saying goodbye to the Lana character and more. The most notable quotes can be found below:

On rewrites during taped shows:

“We were supposed do A RAW and a SmackDown on Mondays. Then on the following day a RAW and a SmackDown after. One time I was there for 19 hours to do a 60 second backstage. I’m not even kidding it was insane. Juts so many rewrites. One time me and Nattie did this segment with Mickie James and they debut Chelsea [Green]. So Nattie and I at the Performance Center, I was managing her, Chelsea was supposed to debut with Mickie and we did it all. We went home and I’m in bed and we get a call from one of the writers that they are cutting. Vince looked at it and said ‘No, cut the whole thing.’ And we had to go back and film another backstage. Chelsea didn’t debut, it was constantly weird stuff like that. Once we went to live television I was like yay. We can’t think it, it’s out there. That was the first time we had the digital ThunderDome. That happened in SummerSlam.”

On being in the ThunderDome:

“It’s all a little bit rigged for sure, and this is where I miss having fans. WWE could control it. There is definitely some chants they can clip e.g. ‘This is awesome!’ They auto put it in for Bianca vs. Rhea. It sets the tone and so many people have got over because in one city there was a chant where you’re trying to get over and it hooks. Then people on television see and they keep doing it. So I know they have clipped this is awesome. They definitely do the boos and the cheers. We [the talent] are like ‘Why are they booing the babyface.’ There is noise for sure, I think I tell them to well you know [cheer or boo]. It was definitely an interesting situation without the fans. I have talked to Seth [Rollins] about this and TJ [Tyson Kidd] about the pros and the cons for with the fans and without the fans. I can time my promos exactly down to the tee without the fans. I was going out with Nattie to do a promo and they cut time. Bruce [Prichard] is like ‘Cut it like 5 minutes.’ Typical the guys go over [time] so they cut the girls segment. It was supposed to be a 6 minute promo segment I had to do it in 3 minutes with Nattie. We got it down to 2 minutes 59 exactly. When you have fans, this is where it becomes a harder battle, but a different battle. In my opinion the crowd is a part of it you have to listen. If they start booing, don’t step on the pop. That gauges your success, the louder it is , the more over you are. Without fans you can gauge your timing, but the storytelling aspect is so different. Some things do not resonate without fans. In my opinion how I won Survivor Series. If I won that way with fans, the whole place would have exploded. The smart Marks on the internet, the Twitter hate is regardless. It’s much more of a negative mentality, they might not always get it, but I understood why Vince wanted me to win that way. It hadn’t been done before.”

On Survivor Series changes:

“You definitely feel it [going through a table], I still feel it. So 9 tables, I had escaped one table. We were supposed to do this whole table spot on the show. Then Roman did not[want us to], because he had a table spot with Sheamus. There was a major pushback from the Samoans, Nia and Roman and that whole thing. So we had a huge spot, I was supposed to be laid out at the very beginning, I was supposed to get in the ring and Nia snatched me. Everyone on the team was supposed to be heels and I was the “Babyface.” They were all going to be against me and she [Nia] was going to chase me out. We had this whole sequence at the end with me and Bianca. Bayley was supposed to get involved and cheat, I prove myself and then I win. We were all so excited about it, I was going to wrestle. But then there’s the whole Samoan rivalry and the whole table spot got taken out. Vince thought it would be hilarious if I didn’t get in the match at all. That Nia would tell me not to get in, then I win because everyone gets eliminated. Vince thought it was hilarious, Shane McMahon thought it was hilarious. It had never been done before. In many ways I understand, because Undertaker was retiring that day. They were like lets do something different and I get that business side of it all. It was really dramatic, there was all this stuff happening, and I’m crying in the corner. I’m like ‘I just ant to wrestle, I just ant to wrestle.’ I’m calling at Nattie ‘Nattie I am crying in the corner I just want to wrestle and prove myself.’ Nattie is like you’re still winning who cares.’ But TJ really wanted me to get in and wrestle a bit. Nia then kicked me out and said ‘You have to stand there. He [TJ] had to fight for that bit to Vince. He was like ‘I think it is important to show that she has improved in the ring, that’s the babyface side of it.’ She wants to get to wrestle and they are over there telling her to f*ck off. I understand Vince was someway trying to create what Miro did to me in 2015. They would go ‘We want Lana’ and he would kick me out, then they would boo. Those things really resonate with me. Making me stand would have made me get ‘We want Lana’ chants. That’s why I am so grateful for live fans. We want Lana chants would not have happened. The whole 2015 program with John Cena and the I Quit. I have a weird relationship with the fans. They ever want me or want to boo the sh*t out of me.”

On having no fan reactions:

“That was the hard part with the ThunderDome. You are having your one audience, which is Mr McMahon. He might love something one day then hate it another. He may be obsessed with you then fire you the next. So don’t get comfortable. Thank God I knew that. But it’s just so hard to gauge any type of real success, because you’re only way of gauging is online. If you are a heel especially, good luck, we are supposed to make people hate us. If you don’t like me and want me to get fired I am doing a good job. But there is no boo button on Instagram. There’s nothing you can do in the digital era to ignite that type of action than if you are in the arena. I feel it’s harder to translate as we move into a digital world. How do you translate heels into making money. When me and Miro went out in 2014 and they hated us more than anything else, that is money. WrestleMania, the top guy can beat him, but how do you resonate digitally. He resonated more through Total Divas and calling me ‘cold fish Lana.’ It would be interesting if something like that translated through no fans.”

On her partnership with Rusev and how/why they split on TV:

“I think it was so over because it was the perfect storm. It was us being those characters, us working hard, being good actors, all the hands in, the best. Another big thing with that, there was a story and a purpose. Undefeated until John Cena, that was at least a year. We were supposed to work John Cena 3 months in. Thank God that didn’t happen because then he would have lost then. But for over a year he went undefeated. That was what got me over. The importance of having incredible heels, I think Miro is one of the best. They stared the ‘We want Lana chants. The thing about Rusev, he truly was the most hated bad guy. I was booed because of him. people were mad by association. My music would hit and it was a boo-cheer. I’m dedicating the match to Vladimir Putin, I’m essentially telling everyone to boo me. But he was so hated, he was undefeated, he was Russian, he was Bulgarian. Now he has this hot blonde girl So one day I was doing a movie and [instead] he brought out a lawyer. The whole arena started chanting ‘We want Lana.’ I trended for 2 days, I was shook, I did not expect that. They want me? Then it kept on happening. Then we did WrestleMania with the tank. I didn’t know if Miro realised this but I was there to protect him. throughout the years they used me or his tag partners. But in my opinion he was protected more than most. Looking back now, he was yelling at me [in storyline] what kind of man does that. We then pitched to work with Daniel Bryan and Vince goes ‘No, I am splitting you guys up.’ We were shocked, we had no idea. Miro was hated and I was over. It was either I can go to NXT or… but I was like no I can be hated, Cersei [Lannister, from Game of Thrones], I started naming people, all these super hayed women on TV. He was then like ‘Oh I like that, a super conniving woman. You can kiss a guy, make him jealous.’ I’m like awesome, I am an actor, I’ve all types of roles. A month later he pulled us in and said I was going to be making out with Dolph ZIggler. And then we went into this big programme. I think knowing what I know now, it might have been premature. I think the biggest problem with WWE is that they don’t follow through with stores. When they do it’s f*cking great, everyone is excited. Even if they hate it in the beginning, by the end they are like that was f*cking awesome. But it’s the not following through that frustrates the fans and frustrates the talent. So like there was follow through with winning that whole year, then we broke up. We could have milked that a little longer but I know romance stories, the Marks don’t like them. But the fans resonate with relationship stories. We had this great thing going on where the place is exploding. ME with Dolph, Rusev with Summer Rae. When Summer put me in the accolade, 35 million views on YouTube. The Dolph Ziggler kiss got 82 million.”

On how her release came about:

“I was sitting at my kitchen table when I got the call. I get a call from Johnny Ace, I thought he was calling me about something different. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but I had an offer to do another television show. They went through the whole process with WWE and they approved it the day before. Johnny goes ‘I’m calling you about your 90 days. And I’m like what? I couldn’t understand. He then said you’re getting released. My heart dropped, at the same time I felt really relieved. I didn’t expect to feel relieved. A weight lifted of my shoulder and I can breathe. I loved my job and the people that I worked with. It was sh*tty at times but that’s why it was a job. Johnny goes thank you and stay in touch, you have worked your ass off. I was like did I do anything wrong and he said no. I’m glad it wasn’t Mark Carrano that called me, he is more homie, Johnny is more corporate. The excuse was budget cuts. I said thank you for everything and that was that. I had to leave immediately. My niece, my nephew, my aunt, my parents were all here. I walked out. Mandy Rose was the first person to find out. I said I literally just got released. I talked to Nattie next, I couldn’t talk to Miro yet. At the same time I was waiting for this call. Whatever contract I have next, I want a no cut clause. Living in that fear, you don’t know when the future endeavours is going to come.”

On helping her husband Miro in AEW:

“A big turn for him was us going let’s make your message a bit more clear. I do grasp storytelling and storytelling in wrestling. When he was fired I was devastated. That and the combination of the pandemic and not knowing what the world was going to behold. I just remember Becky [Lynch] texting me and being like you can do it [being on your own] she’s also telling me to work hard. The business completely changed as well as me being on my own. There’s no live events, no arenas and no fans. We still don’t have fans, there’s not even a viewing area. No one watches the show, you come and you go. There was a lot of lonely nights for me, which was hard. I was used to spending the last 7 years with my best friend. We married each other but he is my best friend. I was not going to quit, no one was, no losing and no 9 tables. But I would rather lose than just sit at catering. Someone has to lose. My job as an actor is how to take bad scripts and do good acting.

Did she hear from Vince following the release:

“I did. I got a text and I got emotional about it. For me, it was the final goodbye. He thanked me for my incredible work ethic and my relentless desire to be the best I could be. That really meant a lot to me. I thanked him for everything eh has taught me. I have learned so many life lessons. I think the hardest part for me is the goodbye part. It has changed a bit, people do talk to each other. But I would like to give Vince McMahon one last hug goodbye. I want to say bye to the writers who I have worked with for 8 f*cking years. I want to say goodbye to these people I don’t know when I will see these people again. Look at Brodie Lee, you don’t know when your last day will be.”

On saying goodbye to Lana:

“Lana became me. I love Lana in so many ways. Definitely, I think because she is such an alter ego for me. If sh*t hit the fan I could blame it on the character. I loved her love life it was fun for me. I think she got 4 exes, 2 divorces, we all know someone like that. Isn’t Ric Flair like that [laughs]. I think in life I am married. I love to party and drink but in life I love to do the right thing. In the last 8 years I have tried to do it the right way. Not cheat the system or cheat people. That’s why it’s hard to give up Lana, because she was everything I can’t be in life.”

On future plans:

“We are 3 weeks in right now. I am going through a lot. I am such a workaholic, even in WWE I was working on my off days. Always work on your future, you never know if you might break your neck and can’t wrestle anymore. I think for me the biggest shock was when I got fired, the thought of letting wrestling go. When I started in WWE, I was a dancer and model. I did some acting but diving into acting classes. This job made me give up professional dancing. I was like is it time to say goodbye? Wrestling is hard, not just the bumps but it’s an art. To master something it takes 10,000 hours. I feel like with wrestling I felt comfortable and not having to think about it. All of a sudden you can live in the pocket. You are living and you are enjoying it. Nia really helped me with that. But I don’t have to let it go, I don’t like a human being telling me I have to give up wrestling. I am a rebel in that way. No billionaire or any person is going to tell me to stop. I’ve had different things in wrestling offer me. I want to create and create something epic.”

C J Perry can be found on Instagram here and Twitter here.

Featured image: WWE

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