AJ Lee might as well have the WWE Divas Championship in the Black Widow; she's not letting it go until she surpasses Maryse for longest reigning champ in the title's history.
There's no shot of her approaching Fabulous Moolah's stranglehold on the WWE Women's Championship, but Maryse's record reign of 216 days is well within reach. The formula for AJ to break that record will be a cocktail of popularity, excellence and lack of competition.
AJ is already the fifth-longest reigning champ in the title's short history.
|Longest Reigns as Divas Champion|
|Diva||Date Won||Days as Champion|
She needs about 70 additional days with the belt to pass Maryse. In that time span, she may defend the title as little as one time.
With Survivor Series approaching, AJ may be placed into a tag team match rather than put the championship on the line. In 2008 and 2009, the Divas champ forewent a title defense at Survivor Series in favor of competing in an elimination tag team match that is the event's trademark.
AJ has made a long list of enemies from The Bellas to The Funkadactyls, so finding her a four or five woman team will be no issue.
She tagged with Aksana and Tamina Snuka on Monday's Raw and with Tamina and Alicia Fox on Friday's SmackDown. It certainly feels like WWE is prepping for a Total Divas cast members vs. a heel Diva team bout. That would assure AJ's reign continues into December.
Barring a random title defense on Raw or SmackDown, AJ would have to survive a single opponent to make it into 2014 as champion. Whoever WWE throws at her at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2013 isn't likely to dethrone her.
WWE's habit of only focusing on a small group of Divas at a time hurts the entertainment value of AJ's title reign, but it will extend the length of it.
After Brie Bella's two failed attempts at winning the title, WWE hasn't taken her out of the picture but slid her from the forefront of it. Nikki Bella has been given as much time in the ring with AJ as her sister has.
The story has grown into more of a battle between the twins against AJ and Tamina. There has been little mention of the title and if either of the twins are in line for a title shot.
Beyond the Bellas, there is little competition for the top Divas spot.
Kaitlyn has all but disappeared from TV. It's unlikely that she suddenly climbs back into prominence and wins the championship. Naomi, Cameron, Aksana and Alicia have all had sporadic moments on camera, and have never been given much chance to gain momentum.
There isn't anyone hot enough to justify taking the title from AJ, at least not for the foreseeable future.
A split with Tamina, leading to a feud, is a possibility, as is Paige making her way to the main roster sometime soon. But don't expect those moments to happen before AJ has the record in hand. After Survivor Series is over and the alliances created for that event fade, there will be only be a small window for a challenger to break through before AJ's reign hits 217 days.
AJ is the clear top Diva right now. Her popularity has created a wide gap between her and whoever claims the second spot behind her.
How many little girls dressed up as Nikki this Halloween? How many put together a homemade Funkadactyl costume?
The answer is less than the number of fans who chose to emulate AJ.
Even as a villain, AJ's fanbase is strong, loyal and vocal, especially with young girls. Being big with the younger demographic is something WWE is sure to treasure.
Despite adults chanting "Cena sucks," the throngs of kids decked out in John Cena gear is one of the reasons he is almost always champion. In that way, AJ is the female version of Cena as AJ T-shirts are more ever-present in WWE crowds than any other Diva's merchandise.
She is the only female in the "featured Superstars" section of WWEShop.com, further evidence of the gap between her and her challengers.
Social media numbers aren't perfect measures of a wrestler's popularity, but they do give us some idea of which stars fans are drawn to. AJ's has over a million followers on Twitter while the Bellas' combined account has 800,000 followers.
WWE is undoubtedly seeing all this evidence and hearing the difference in decibels between reaction for her and for other Divas. The smart move is to make the most of her popularity by keeping her champion.
AJ is the Diva creating the most buzz on the roster thanks to her character, in-ring performances and memorable work on the microphone.
In her time as champ, she's provided the best Divas match in recent memory and arguably the best promo in Divas history.
She is the most dependable option as top Diva right now, and it will take quite a bit of convincing to argue for someone else to take her spot anytime soon. Being the best asset in the division by a mile has her in the ideal position to make stay right where she is.
Additionally, the way that WWE played up the historic nature of CM Punk's lengthy run with the WWE title, there's an opportunity to portray AJ as one of the greatest women in WWE history.
The closer she gets to Maryse's number, expect Michael Cole to reference it more and for WWE to milk the moment of her passing that 216-day mark.
When AJ finally does lose the championship, perhaps she adds another tattoo to her collection, one of the number of days she stood on the mountaintop, be it 220, 230, 250 days or more.