“The basic kid in you wants to be in a video game and wants to have an action figure and so those are two things that I’m really looking forward to one day….But the ultimate goal, as a woman in this industry, is to be the Champion.”
This past Monday night marked the final two-hour episode of WWE’s (World Wrestling Entertainment) Monday Night Raw television show. Starting this coming Monday, July 23, 2012, during the show’s 1,000th episode, the “Raw” format will switch to three hours. One of the current crop of WWE superstars, and the most interesting ‘Diva’ on the roster, will be playing a role during the landmark wrestling television event. Her name is AJ, and, if you follow the WWE and its programming with any regularity, you know full well that the petite, 5”3’, New Jersey native has been causing quite a stir lately.
In the span of one week’s time the following transpired: AJ asked current WWE Champion CM Punk to marry her during the previous week’s Raw; she was the special guest referee at the “Money in the Bank” pay-per-view event, between the straight edged superstar, Punk, and the Yes, Yes, Yes, chanting, Daniel Bryan; and she accepted the marriage proposal of former boyfriend and champion, Bryan, who supposedly had a change of heart. He had, up until a short time earlier, wanted absolutely nothing to do with her because he felt she was solely responsible for him losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus at Wrestlemania XXVIII (28). If not for her giving him a kiss for good luck, Bryan always argued, he would not have been distracted and turned around to be greeted to a kick to the face by the first ever Irish born champion, Sheamus, who captured the belt from Bryan in a mere eighteen seconds. All of that seems to have been forgiven because Bryan got down on one knee and proposed to AJ in front of the live audience at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, and the world at large. The wedding ceremony will be taking place during the historic 1000th raw this coming Monday – or will it? If I had to wager a bet, I would say either some sort of chaos will strike during the nuptials or Bryan will be exposed for toying with AJ’s heart. If the latter is the case, viewers can expect Bryan to be greeted, at the very least, with a slap to his face and possibly a lot worse during the exchanging of their vows.
When I was growing up I can’t remember watching many female wrestlers of note with the exceptions of Wendi Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, and Leilani Kai. Of course I am not trying to short change Miss Elizabeth, because she made a major impact when the Macho Man Randy Savage announced her as his new manager on July 30, 1985 during an airing of “WWF Superstars” in Poughkeepsie, New York. Even though she is considered, and rightfully so, as “The First Lady of Professional Wrestling” and her presence at ringside was always felt, she was a manager not a wrestler. Years went by and, slowly but surely, with the emergence of WWE superstars like Lita, Trish Stratus and Chyna, things really started to pick up for female wrestlers and personalities to the point where today, I don’t give it a second thought when I see a woman wrestling or playing an integral part in the programming.
What exactly is it that attracts the fans to the twenty-five year old AJ and garners her such strong support? Is it her charisma? Do people enjoy watching the erratic, obsessive behavior she’s been displaying the past several months? One minute she is pining hard for her ex, Bryan, the next playing flirtatious games with the big red monster Kane, a moment later falling in love with CM Punk. AJ’s highly emotional state runs the gamut from crying her eyes out in one breath to turning around with a glowing smile on her face and changing her mood to someone who seems to not have a care in the world. Could it be her fierce spirit when it comes to in-ring competition that is driving the fans to cheer her on? Perhaps the answer is all of the above and then some. In this blogger’s opinion, the third place finisher during the third season of WWE’s NXT show has made the most of her opportunity to shine. She could have easily fallen into the category of a competent female wrestler who came out to work matches that helped to advance the careers of other WWE Divas, but instead, she wanted more for herself and she went out and made it happen.
AJ debuted on May 11, 2011 on the WWE “SmackDown” show which airs on Friday night’s at 8:00 on the Syfy network – but where did she come from? According to interviews she has given, she has known since she was twelve years of age, that making it in the wrestling business was her number one priority in life. She worked at a number of part-time jobs in order to both help out her family financially and attend wrestling school at night. Eventually, in order to continue supporting the schooling which would help her pave the way to turn her dreams into reality, she took on full time work in an office, but she also began to work the independent wrestling circuit in New Jersey. It was during that time that she built up both a loyal and passionate fan base, who have been closely following her career for the past six years and, in this blogger’s opinion, if she stays on her current path, she will continue to entertain her original fans as well as the rest of the WWE universe for years to come.