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Bobby Between The Ropes – The WWE Highlights of AJ Lee, Top AJ Matches & Segments….
Posted on Saturday, April 4th, 2015
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It just feels like not too long ago that I typed up one of these WWE Highlights pieces for Kaitlyn. Her departure shocked us all and really came out of left field. The lady whose departure I’m reporting on is less of a surprise – but no less shocking. And it’s very appropriate that she and Kaitlyn were a tag team once upon a time. AJ Lee began her life as a wrestling fan, inspired by the likes of Lita. After years on the indies as Miss April, she managed to snag a WWE contract. In contrast to a lot of the women I usually write these for, AJ has very few ‘what ifs’ or ‘what could have beens’. AJ is a Diva that truly has done it all; she’s been an NXT contestant, the girlfriend of many a Superstar, a multiple Slammy Award winner, she’s wrestled in the main event, she’s been GM of Raw and she’s even been to WrestleMania. But of course she’s also a 3-time Divas’ Champion and currently holds the record for longest Divas’ Championship reign. So when highlighting the career of Ms Lee, we’ve got a whole lot to enjoy.

Best Segments 

Geek Goddess – NXT 2010:

It’s only appropriate to begin at the very beginning. AJ nearly made her debut in the middle of 2010 – even getting a vignette on Smackdown. But ultimately WWE audiences first knew her as a peppy contestant on NXT Season 3. Mentored by Primo, AJ claimed to represent all the nerds out in the audience. At the time when most Divas were expected to be interchangeable vapid girly girls, that was a pretty bold statement. Eighteen-year-old me first fell in love with AJ this way – and I remained a fan throughout the season. Although AJ placed third in the contest, she still made an impression. By the time she debuted on the main roster (in a throwaway tag match at that) I just had a feeling that we were watching a budding new star.

Table For Two – Raw 2012:

Between 2010 and 2012, AJ didn’t really do too much. She and her NXT buddy Kaitlyn were a quirky jobber team called the Chick Busters – and they mostly lost to Beth Phoenix and Natalya. But along the way AJ started a romance with one Daniel Bryan. Unfortunately for her, he was in the middle of a heel turn. And when one of her kisses cost him the World Heavyweight Championship, he told her he wished she had never been born. Unfortunately for him, an entire mountain of crazy poured out of the girl. Targeting Bryan’s new rival CM Punk, AJ appeared to have no standards at all when it came to mind games. As the two men continued to fight over her affections, AJ’s sanity continued to deteriorate. But her position on the card only went up. The moment AJ truly became a star was when she sent CM Punk and Daniel Bryan crashing through a table – in the main event of Raw. What Divas can boast effectively going over the WWE Champion in such a state?

Climbing The Ladder – TLC 2012:

As 2012 went on, AJ seemed to mow through the men on the roster. But she struck some really bad luck when John Cena came calling. After being accused of having an affair with him, AJ resigned as Raw General Manager to save him the embarrassment. But they remained on friendly terms, which meant that she supported him when he was feuding with the arrogant Dolph Ziggler. But Cena didn’t quite realise that leading AJ on about his (non-existant) feelings for her was not a good idea. In fact, when he was facing Ziggler for the latter’s MITB briefcase, AJ ran down to the ring. Cena appeared to have the match won…only for AJ to push the ladder over. She then conveyed the heel turn with a simple change of expression – and it was awesome. She followed up this moment by winning two Slammy Awards the following night.

Pipe Bombshell Prototype – Raw 2013:

Months before AJ’s famous ‘Pipe Bombshell’ on the cast of Total Divas, she had another shocking segment. WWE Divas’ Champion and AJ’s old best friend Kaitlyn had been receiving intimate letters from a secret admirer for weeks. On the night the admirer was to reveal himself – AJ revealed that she had been the mastermind behind the whole thing. It was the exact segment needed to set AJ up as the new top heel of the women’s division. With this segment, she crossed a line from merely a manipulative bitch – to outright evil cow. And with this one promo, AJ/Kaitlyn immediately became a hot topic among casual fans.

Give Divas A Chance – Raw 2015:

The final segment on this list is a recent one – because it is the perfect way to bid farewell to a Diva that opened up so many doors for women today. The Bella Twins of course had been bullying Paige mercilessly. And Nikki Bella looked to be in danger of losing her title on Raw. Brie interfered and the twins double teamed Paige. AJ made her return after months away – and saved Paige from the beating. This set up a WrestleMania match and also helped usher in a hopefully new era of Divas…well getting a chance. If AJ leaves us with anything, it’s the proof that the women deserve to be treated like stars. And hopefully because of this, the division that AJ helped build will be able to function without her.

Best Matches:

10) vs Maxine – NXT 2011:

While the rest of the Divas were scrounging for TV time on Raw and Smackdown, AJ got a little bit of a bone thrown at her. NXT Redemption began as a special themed show where past NXT contestants would compete for a WWE contract. However it quickly got re-tooled into a sort of third WWE brand. And on this brand, Divas got time to wrestle. AJ had returned to NXT to make a love connection with Hornswoggle. Unfortunately for the happy couple, they were attacked by AJ’s fellow NXT contestant Maxine. The two had a series of matches on the yellow brand, each more brutal than the last. The fourth encounter was the best of the lot – and AJ got to do a little more than just job to Beth Phoenix. In the end she of course put Maxine away with the trusty Shining Wizard.


9) w/Kaitlyn vs The Bella Twins – Superstars 2011:

AJ Lee and Kaitlyn started out as enemies on NXT Season 3. But after Kaitlyn turned on her abusive pro Vickie Guerrero – the two girls’ real life friendship started to show on screen. When they both re-debuted on the main roster, they did so as a tag team. Nicknaming themselves the Chick Busters, the commentators soon caught wind of it and made it TV official. The Chick Busters sadly did not get to do much in the way of wrestling – mostly appearing in 2-minute squashes against the Divas of Doom. But on an episode of Superstars, they got to wrestle as a proper tag team against two mischievous twins. Years before AJ and the Bellas would feud over the Divas’ Championship, they and Kaitlyn worked very nicely together to produce a lovely Divas tag match. AJ’s partnership with Kaitlyn is a sweet memory for most of their fans – and here’s a match to remind us of it.

8) vs Serena – FCW 2010:

Before main roster crowds had fallen in love with AJ, she first captured hearts at FCW. One person whose heart she didn’t capture, was Serena. The latter had just appeared on the main roster, having her head shaved and joining CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. But she was still the top dog in FCW, holding the Queen of FCW crown. AJ came along to challenge her for it and this marked her first big feud. Essentially it boiled down to flashy plucky babyface against imposing bullying heel. But despite the clichéd formula, it worked very well. AJ was eventually able match Serena’s offence with hard-hitting stuff of her own. Despite getting bent up like an accordion, AJ was able to crucifix Serena and become the Queen of FCW.

7) vs Brie Bella – Hell In A Cell 2013:

AJ may have bit off a bit more than she could chew when she cut her Pipe Bombshell – condemning the Total Divas cast members. Although she outsmarted them all in a Fatal 4 Way, she had less luck with one Brie Bella. Brie was celebrating her engagement to Daniel Bryan – which AJ had no shortage of jokes about. Although AJ had escaped with her title at Battleground, the second match was all up in the air. With a smaller girl to work with, AJ is able to dominate and control the match a lot more. She really works the neck and heels it up to produce a surprisingly brilliant match. And in the end she’s able to outsmart Brie and take advantage of an accidental knee to Nikki’s head – and make the future Mrs Danielson tap out to the Black Widow.


6) vs Naomi – NXT 2010:

NXT Season 3 sadly wasn’t known for its amazing wrestling. Only two of the Rookie Divas had any kind of talent in the ring. And it took until the penultimate episode of the season for the two of them to face each other. AJ and Naomi were pretty much the top face Divas on NXT. Naomi represented the flashy athleticism, while AJ represented the character the audience really wanted to root for. As such, Naomi goes slightly heel in this match, but it’s still a great showing by both of them. While AJ did go on to have bigger and better matches, this bout here is still a fond memory for a lot of fans. AJ and Naomi never did get to properly feud over the Divas’ Championship – but this match here is still something to be proud of.

 

5) Vs Natalya – Main Event 2013:

After mowing through the Total Divas cast individually, AJ had just one of them left to face: Natalya. The 3rd generation Diva was indeed quite a challenge; in addition to being physically larger than AJ, she boasted quite the pedigree. So it came as quite a shock that the Divas’ Champion took things to the mat with Natalya in a way we hadn’t seen before. It was no less a surprise that they actually got time to do so either. The match went about ten minutes, as a special treat for the UK audience. AJ used every trick she could think of, but wasn’t able to outwrestle the Dungeon Diva. In the end it was her bodyguard Tamina Snuka who helped; kicking Nattie while she had the Sharpshooter locked in. It was the kind of match people were raving about for weeks.


4) Vs Naomi Knight – FCW 2010:

It wasn’t too long after their great bout on NXT Season 3 that AJ and Naomi found themselves as opponents once again. But this time things were a little bit different. AJ was now the good girl gone bad, a top heel in the making. And Naomi was the first ever FCW Divas’ Champion. So in a special edition of FCW, with the rest of the Divas at ringside (and Aksana as ring announcer), they battled once again. This time it was AJ playing the heel to try and offset Naomi’s athleticism. Things went on for a rather lengthy amount of time – and this time Naomi was able to escape what would come to be known as the Black Widow. But AJ had Sliced Bread #2 up her sleeve, which she connected with to get the win. In doing so, she became the second FCW Divas’ Champion – as well as the first woman to have held that and the Queen of FCW crown.

3) vs Nikki Bella vs Paige – Night of Champions 2014:

There’s a rather detailed story behind this particular match, as the video package for it explains. AJ’s historic 295 day title reign was ended by the debuting Dark Queen of NXT Paige. AJ disappeared for months after the title loss – and then reappeared to win it back in the exact same way. Paige seemingly turned over a new leaf and claimed to be AJ’s friend. But after not too long, Paige’s true colours were revealed – and she took back the title for a second time. So AJ was invoking her rematch clause – alongside Stephanie McMahon granting Nikki Bella a shot at the gold. While I’m not a fan of the AJ/Paige series of matches, this one here is a good’un. It goes on for a lovely amount of time, and AJ in particular is everywhere. She ends up taking Nikki out and then making Paige submit to the Black Widow – becoming a 3-time Divas’ Champion.


2)vs Natalya – TLC 2013:

Although Tamina Snuka had saved AJ’s title reign with a timely DQ, AJ couldn’t keep ducking Natalya forever. Things turned in favour of the Anvilette at the Survivor Series – when her team defeated AJ’s. Natalya earned her next shot at the Divas’ Championship, for the final show of 2013. What followed was simply a brilliant display of pure wrestling that made both women look like champions. AJ and Natalya wrestled so well, it made me wish they could do so every night. Whatever was good about their Main Event match, they took and improved. The two women knew each other well enough to counter the other’s own trademark submission moves. AJ in particular was able to offset the Sharpshooter by simply grabbing Natalya’s hair and rolling her into a pin.

1) vs Kaitlyn – Payback 2013:

Now really, was it going to be any other match at number 1? AJ and Kaitlyn began WWE careers as two quirky jobbers with a small but loyal pool of fans. Then all of a sudden AJ got a huge push and became a star. After that, Kaitlyn herself got a big push too and became the Divas’ Champion. Suddenly a feud between the former Chick Busters became highly anticipated. And after the segment listed above, even the casual fans were curious to see it. So what we get is a battle of epic proportions between the former friends. It feels like an outright war. But it’s a war that AJ ultimately wins – with trusty use of the Black Widow and winning her first Divas’ Championship. Things were only just beginning for Ms Lee.

So in six years with WWE, AJ Lee accomplished an incredible amount. She broke down barriers and achieved things Diva fans thought impossible. It seems almost like something out of an old fashioned Hollywood blockbuster. The young girl who cameras captured bursting into tears at meeting Lita, the lady who starved herself to pay for a WWE try-out, the girl who was inches away from winning NXT Season 3…well she’s the girl that really made it. After years of WWE trying to find their next star to fill Trish or Lita’s shoes, AJ filled that role. She rose to the top and opened doors for so many other females in the company. And the division that she leaves now is in a much better state than it was when she first joined it. I bid adieu to AJ Lee and wish April Brooks the very best in her new life.

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  • darragh quinlan

    She’s a legend. No doubt in my mind she will be inducted into the Hall of Fame

    • Bobby Calloway

      That would be nice to see :)



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