For virtually all of her WWE career, A.J. Lee has stood out strongly from the rest of the women in the company.
With her girl-next-door good looks, all-natural figure and quirky, nerdy personality, she is drastically different from the vast majority of deeply glamorous, immaculately-turned out women who currently make up the promotion's women's roster.
She was even signed differently. These days the image-obsessed WWE tend to acquire their female talent from modelling agencies, beauty pageants, or men's magazines. They then teach these new, inexperienced girls the in-ring basics down at developmental territory FCW (or don't, in the cases of the hopelessly clueless Aksana and Rosa Mendes).
A.J., on the other hand, was a life-long wrestling fan who had undergone arduous training and made several appearances on the US indie scene before she inked a deal in 2009.
Heck, here's an amusing clip of a young A.J. from 2000 completely freaking out when she meets Lita, her idol.
So for A.J., going to WWE was a lifelong dream. And, while they undoubtedly work hard, this is something very few of the other Divas can say.
These days, A.J. also stands out for another reason: She's the only Diva doing anything of note. While the rest of the women are stuck in small, unimportant supporting roles or have been banished to internet-only show NXT, the former WSU star is playing a prominent role on WWE television as her current romance storyline with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk unfolds.
Per the storyline, the emotionally-unstable A.J. has been flirting with CM Punk, as her ex-boyfriend Daniel Bryan goes after Punk's WWE Championship. Punk appears quite enamored with the former NXT diva, but slightly suspicious of her motives. Daniel Bryan, for all his shoddy and boorish treatment of his ex in the past few months, seems somewhat disgruntled about her newfound interest in his foe. Is he jealous, perhaps?
To make things even more thorny, demented monster Kane has also been thrown in there—and there have been a few hints he is linked with A.J. in some manner or other, too!
No one is quite sure how this soap-opera style angle will unravel. Is A.J. genuinely smitten with CM Punk? Does she want to get back with Daniel Bryan? Is she secretly in cahoots with Kane? Who knows? But it's turned into one of the best and most compelling angles in WWE.
In her role as a crazy, but conniving woman wrapping all these gullible men around her finger, A.J. thrives. Her acting is top-notch in these segments, with her easily managing to get across to fans her character’s highly manipulative and unbalanced nature. The writing has been tremendous as well; rather than rushing to a conclusion, per usual, the booking team is smartly going for a slow-burning, well-paced storyline with fresh developments and fascinating new questions emerging every week.
After a sluggish period when she was eliminated from NXT—where WWE struggled to find new ideas for the Diva, sending her back to the internet-only show and then putting her in a going-nowhere tag team with Kaitlyn on SD—it appears the company has finally settled an established role for the former WSU wrestler.
Not only is A.J. helping herself with this current angle, she’s also aiding the main event scene as a whole. At a time when Punk’s WWE Championship is struggling to stay relevant—as John Cena continues to dominate Raw—this gripping, tangled romance drama has returned it to significance.
Summarily, with her superb performances, quirky charisma and riveting on-screen presence, A.J. has indeed found her niche in the promotion, and this current angle is one of the best things the company has going on.
Now, let’s just hope WWE brass has something planned for her when it’s over.