Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

Why I won’t miss AJ Lee (as a part of the WWE roster)

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Let’s get things clear right from the start.  I’m not writing this to try to belittle AJ Lee or her accomplishments over the past 3 years.  I’m not going to throw around negative buzzwords like overrated.  I’m just going to share my personal feelings, opinions and maybe a few critiques about her career and the way wrestling fans have responded to her.

Right off the start, she’s been the best performer in the women’s division over the past 3 years.  I’m not here to dispute that.  She has had her fair share of moments of brilliance.  But where it all started for AJ was back in 2012, the angle with CM Punk, Kane and Daniel Bryan.  She was featured highly in an angle with 3 performers that have pretty much always been on the right side of things with the most vocal segments of the fans.  Whether they were heel or face, all 3 of them have always been very much over (not counting Glenn Jacobs’ time as Isaac Yankem or Diesel II of course).   So, working with those 3 gave AJ a great rub with the segment of the audience that watches every week and is the most passionate about the industry.  And to her credit, she played her part incredibly well and started to go over huge.  Without that angle, AJ still would have been successful, I’m sure she still would have held the Diva’s Championship multiple times.  However, without that angle, I doubt that she would have gotten there as quickly and then maybe she wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time when Total Divas started up and was able to be the vocal performer running down the girls on Total Divas every week.  Now, those same fervent members of the audience who watch every week and discuss it with their friends or with people on the internet, for the most part those people don’t care very much for Total Divas and very much dislike when storylines from that show, which they don’t care about, make their way onto Raw and Smackdown.

With that being the case, of course that most vocal segment of the audience was going to respond when AJ came out and talked trash about Total Divas.  She was saying the same things about the show that they felt and so they turned her into this messiah of the division in their eyes, there to save them from the big bad Bellas.  However, Total Divas didn’t just go away.  Total Divas just wrapped up their third season not that long ago and while I have not watched a single episode and don’t care about anything that happens on that show, I acknowledge that the show has it’s own substantial fanbase and is doing quite well for itself.  So, while the segments on Raw and Smackdown that call back to Total Divas storylines aren’t appealing to me, I see why they are there.  It makes all the sense in the world from the perspective of a producer to try to attain cross-pollination between the audiences of Raw / Smackdown and the audience of Total Divas and the easiest way to do that is take your attentive Raw audience and put Total Divas in front of them every week.  But this is about AJ, not the Total Divas and I’m getting sidetracked.  AJ wasn’t saying anything overly insightful or in a way that was more talented than the way any other diva worked the microphone.  She was just the one given the time to speak and she used it to send a message that the fans agreed with.  Good for her, but let’s keep that segment of her reign at the top of the diva’s division in perspective.  Just because people agreed with what she was saying doesn’t mean she was any better on the microphone than the rest of the divas.  She didn’t make a fool of herself like the Bellas did when given the spotlight during their brief Bella vs. Bella rivalry, but you put pretty much anybody else in that particular spot and tell them to talk trash on the cast of Total Divas and they were going to come out of it as an undeniable fan favorite and were going to gain a pretty solid following.  You take that and put it on top of the rub that she got from working with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk the year before and she was the face of the division and head and shoulders above everybody else.  Then you factor in what Cameron leaked last summer – that there was a policy in place that prevented any cast member of Total Divas from winning the Divas championship due to the fact that the episodes are filmed so far in advance that it would cause confusion if somebody on the show were to win the championship during filming and then no longer have the championship by the time the episode aired, but still be carrying the championship on Total Divas.  That policy is obviously no longer in effect, as evidenced by Nikki Bella holding the title since November.  But at the time, the policy was in place, AJ was pretty much the only diva on the roster who wasn’t on the show.  So, she was able to have that lengthy title reign from 2013-2014, but nobody else in the division would have been allowed to hold the title at the time due to being on Total Divas, so she was essentially the champion by default.  And I’m not saying she didn’t deserve to be champion for all that time.  I don’t think she was undeserving.  I don’t think she dropped the ball.  I’m just pointing out that a key factor in why it went down had very little to do with her ability.  Now, if she weren’t as over as she was, could that policy have changed at the time and significantly shortened her reign as champion?  Absolutely.  But I’m not going to get into the “What Ifs”.

This last bit is the part that may get more harsh.  Maybe it’s just that she didn’t get the opportunity to work with anybody to push her to be better during her record setting reign as divas champion in 2013-2014, but the divas matches of that time, including hers were all very bland to me.  And when she did get the opportunity to work with a great young talent like Paige throughout the summer of 2014, I didn’t feel like they had very good chemistry together and that match at Battleground in particular struck me as pretty bad.  Their other matches together were better and I’d say they were probably some of the better singles matches of AJ’s career, but when you examine AJ’s best matches – were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Lita?  Were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Victoria or Jazz or Mickie James?  Were any of them as good as some of the things Gail Kim has been doing in TNA?  Were any of them as good as the matches Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha Banks put on in NXT?  I don’t think they are.  I can’t think of any matches that she has had that are on that level.  I can’t remember at any moments watching an AJ Lee match and thinking those ladies did an incredible job in that match.  AJ has had a lot of bright spots as a performer when she wasn’t wrestling.  She’s created a lot of memorable moments during promos and run-ins.  And again, maybe its just that she never had the right dance partner, but she never went out there and wrestled an elite level match and a lot of times didn’t even come close in my opinion.  I guess time well tell if she can ever reach that level because while her relationship with the WWE and also the relationship of her husband with the WWE likely means that we won’t see her back in the Diva’s division, once the required amount of time has passed and maybe once she and CM Punk perhaps get their family started with a few little Punkers, we could see her return to the ring in somewhere like TNA where we can see her get in the ring with greats like Victoria and Mickie James and see just what she really has to offer.

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