Updated 11:01 AM EST, Thu, Dec 02, 2021

WWE Stars Lana, Rusev MH17 Reference Sparks Outrage

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Just days after a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down in Ukraine, WWE characters, Alexander Rusev and Lana, injected some real-life political discourse into the ring last Sunday.

According to TMZ, the WWE is getting flak for going too far with the Battleground script,  which had Lana asking before Alexander Rusev's pay-per-view match: "You blame Russia for current events?" It reportedly referred to the MH17 turmoil, stemming from a volatile relationship between Russia and Ukraine.
She then added that America must also take the blame for the events in Afghanistan and Iraq, remarking that "Americans should be insulted and afraid."  

The remarks stoked outrage, Mirror said, saying the reference was "tasteless." Lana, Rusev's manager, received incessant boos afterwards.

The report noted that the WWE often uses anti-American rhetoric to elicit response from the crowd--often in boos for the villains--but it also said the Twittersphere lit up, criticizing the use of a real-life tragedy as a stunt that went too far.

The remarks are in line with the pair's current feud with the Jack Swagger, protrayed as "All American," the Mirror said, thus the admiration for Vladimir Putin and hate for America.

Before Lana spoke the words in question, according to the Daily Mail, she had also said the night's match would pay homage to "the most powerful man in the world" who "makes fools out of all of you Americans," i.e. Vladimir Putin, his image displayed on big screens around the arena and met with boos and anti-Russia chants.

Rusev, who was nodding in agreement, is played by real-life Bulgarian Miroslav Barnyashev, the Mirror's report said. On the other hand, TMZ said, American C.J. Perry plays Lana. The Daily Mail added that they were introduced in January, riding the Ukrainian crisis which has once again put the Russia-U.S. relations in focus..

In a recent development, TMZ said the offending incident did not refer to the Malaysia Airlines crash. Quoting a WWE representative, it said: "The storyline with characters Rusev and Lana has been a part of WWE programming for more than 3 months."

However, the same source expressed apologies for the incident, saying the wrestling show "apologizes to anyone who misunderstood last night's segment and was offended."

The Daily Mail referred to a 2005 WWE event when Muhammad Hassan's character was written off after a terrorism plot on the show coincided with the 7/7 London bombings.

Whether or not Rusev and Lana will get the same fate is not yet known.

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