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Examining AJ Lee's Immediate and Long-Term Future

Sharon GlencrossContributor INovember 4, 2014

Credit: WWE.com

AJ Lee is currently the Divas champion and one of the most pushed women in the company—things are undoubtedly going well for her right now.

Whether or not her long-term future in the company is equally bright, however, remains to be seen.

Sure, WWE has gotten strongly behind Lee in the last few months.

She turned babyface in June, a role which plays to her natural charisma and likability. Her long-running feud with new Diva Paige was given plenty of time to develop on television and pay-per-view—and emerged as one of the best women’s feuds in ages, even if it did start to drag a bit at the end. She also starred in a few segments with Stephanie McMahon and came out looking very good.

But still, it’s hard to fight the feeling that Lee is headed for career stagnation soon.

Credit: WWE.com

For one thing, she doesn’t get as much mic time as she used to.

Lee’s heel promos in 2013 and 2014 were fantastic, smoothly delivered and packed full of witty and scathing insults at whomever her unfortunate foe happened to be. Throughout her heel run, she continually proved herself to be one of the best and sharpest female talkers the company has ever had.

As a babyface, however, WWE appears to have limited her promo time. And even when she does get on the mic, her interviews are rather bland. Oh, she’s still endearing, of course, but her character simply doesn’t have the edge and must-see quality it used to have.

Another potential problem is her marriage to former WWE main eventer CM Punk. Punk’s issues with management since he walked out in January have been well-documented, and it’s hard not to see how it doesn’t put Lee in a rather awkward position.

Interestingly, Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com recently noted that the reason the star has not been added to the Total Divas cast—when virtually every other woman of prominence in the company has—is due to her real-life marriage (Total Divas features the real-life spouses of the girls, and it’s difficult to see WWE convincing Punk to appear after all the problems).

Considering a spot on Total Divas is a fairly high-profile gig and guarantees a decent amount of mainstream exposure, this does seem like a big missed opportunity for her.

OK, so maybe Lee wasn’t all that keen to be a reality star anyway, but this anecdote does indicate that the company feels limited—to a degree—in what it can do with her. In this respect, she is hindered in a way that other top Divas like Lita, Trish Stratus and Sable never were. And it’s hard to see this issue not popping up again in the future.

Credit: WWE.com

Going by the direction of WWE programming, she may very well drop the title soon to up-and-coming heel Nikki Bella. After that, it's tough to see her thriving. She's stuck with an unspectacular babyface character and won't be able to turn back because Bella already has the top bad-girl spot.

Lee may have all the tools to be a legendary Diva—in-ring skills, charisma and excellent talking ability—but backstage politics and dull booking may very well prevent her from climbing up the career ladder. It will certainly be interesting to see where her career goes from here.

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