The wrestling world lost one of its brightest young stars from in-ring competition when AJ Lee retired. Whether you loved her or not, there is no denying the powerful and lasting impact that AJ made during her time in the WWE, especially for the Divas Division alone. From that spunky fan who waited hours in line to see WrestleMania 20 to the underdog who finished 3rd on the divas season of NXT. From the self proclaimed geek to the manipulative lover and eventual RAW GM, Then finally, a multi-time Divas Champion, redefining what it means to be beautiful and tough as a WWE Diva.
On the August 26th, 2013 edition of Monday Night RAW, AJ Lee dropped a pipe bomb against the cast of Total Divas in a promo that can define her impact in the WWE:
Quotes such as, “I have done more in one year than all of you have done in your entire collective careers. I have saved your divas division, I have shattered glass ceilings, I have broken down doors…I didn’t get here because I was cute, or because I came from some famous wrestling family, or because I sucked up to the right people. I got here because I am good. I earned this championship. No matter how many red carpets you guys want to walk, in your four-thousand dollar ridiculous heels, you will never be able to lace up my Chuck Taylor’s.”
While heel elements were added to the promo, AJ Lee was able to be in the ending segment of RAW during the summer of 2012 when she was in a love triangle with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, her eventual real-life husband. That was only the beginning as she soon became the General Manager of Monday Night RAW and won the Divas Championship multiple times. After AJ’s rise in 2012, there became more focus on the Divas, including the hit E! reality show, Total Divas. Since then, The Bella Twins, Paige, Naomi, Alicia Fox, Natalya, and a majority of the Divas roster have made a name for themselves, receiving mercy, louder cheers from the audience, mainstream attention, and longer matches. In light of the #GiveDivasAChance campaign on social media, there is even more love given to the amazingly beautiful, talented, and tough ladies of the squared circle. In the not so far past of 2010 and 2011, NXT’s all divas third season was interrupted by Michael Cole’s rants and RAWs and SmackDowns were decorated with divas matches that would never go longer than two minutes.
That’s all changed now and it’s one of the best times for the Divas Division as all of the women are receiving positive love and support and are finally receiving the respect they all rightfully deserve. The diva who brought the division to light with the push of a lifetime during the Summer of 2012 was none other than AJ. With her “crazy chick” gimmick, fans were focusing more on here and her unpredictable antics as opposed to her male counterparts. It had been one of the most popular diva-related story lines arguably since the Trish Stratus/Mickie James feud of 2006 (LayCool and Maryse had popular story lines but failed to gain the momentum as AJ Lee’s).
AJ Lee’s time in the WWE will not only be remembered for her incredible talents, but for what she brought to the Divas Division—excitement, intrigue, and the light that helped to reignite interest in the Divas. While there are exciting things for the future (looking at you, Bayley, Sasha, and Charlotte) AJ Lee will be missed from the WWE. Her passion remained and it’s always a plus to see a Superstar or Diva who grew up as a passionate wrestling fan and were able to achieve their dreams and inspire others to be like them. The Divas Division has been the best it has been in years, and possibly ever. In the end, AJ Lee may not have single handedly started this trend, as credit should also be given to the Bella Twins combination of strength and beauty and the Anti-Diva allure of Paige, she was definitely instrumental in getting the ball rolling and giving the push the Divas Division has desperately been needing. Whether her retirement was due to being worn out from the business, a career ending injury, complications with the WWE as a result of her relationship with CM Punk, or just the idea that it was time to move on a pursue other interests, AJ Lee was able to leave on top and get that final WrestleMania moment. I’ll miss AJ Lee but I’m thankful for the impact that she left and I wish her only the best with her future as the next generation of WWE divas make their mark in the company. Let’s light it up!
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