WWE under fire for Alexander Rusev dedicating match to Putin: Why?

rusev lanaLana, the leggy mouthpiece for new WWE talent Alexander Rusev, has been the subject of criticism from some fans who didn’t like her promo dedicating Rusev’s match at last night’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Which makes sense … why, exactly?

It’s professional wrestling we’re talking about here. Also at last night’s show, we saw Daniel Bryan depost Kane in the ring with a forklift and pin him after knocking him onto a table that had been set ablaze. Oh, and we had john cena losing after being confronted by one of the Children of the Corn on his way out of the cage to victory against Bray Wyatt, who used the, ahem, distraction, to hit a Sister Abigail on Cena to clear the way for his upset win.

And we take Lana, nee C.J. Perry, a native of Florida who spent much of her youth with her missionary parents in former the former USSR republic Latvia, seriously … why, again?

It’s called drawing heat, and it’s obviously working well, based on the critics, maybe too well in some quarters. All you have to do is look at the comments sections on wrestling news sites to see what people think of the Putin love at last night’s Extreme Rules and tonight’s Monday Night Raw.

But that’s precisely the point. WWE had been billing Rusev, born Miroslav Barnyashev, a former powerlifter, as being from his actual native Bulgaria, but with Lana as his spokesperson having been identified as Russian, it makes sense to shift Rusev over from Bulgaria to russia given the current geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe.

This is what wrestling has done since the carny days. The bad guys have always been Russian and and German and Middle Eastern, basically whoever the current enemies of the state happen to be. Ivan Koloff, Adnan Al-Kaissie, Baron Von Raschke, Nikolai Volkoff, to name a few, have earned our boos by simple virtue of their ring names and entrance music.

WWE is no more honoring Vladmir Putin than it is putting Satan on a pedestal with its recent push for “Demon” Kane. If anything, putting Putin on the Titantron is a way for WWE to take what we can only hope will be a weekly dig at Putin, because as most of us know from watching wrestling over the years, the heel has his moments, but the face always wins in the end.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy it, especially any excuse to watch Lana in action. She’s the best thing about Rusev as it is, anyway.

– Column by Chris Graham



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