I was finally able to get around to watching the WWE 24 Special on the evolution of women’s wrestling. Women’s wrestling in WWE has come a long way, and has had its ups and downs. I for one am glad that the Women’s Division is getting the shine and credibility it so long deserved. The documentary touched on almost every era of the division’s history. Notice I said almost every era.
While the documentary was excellent, what extremely bothered me the most was the fact that AJ Lee was merely an afterthought in this documentary. If you ever wonder how petty the company can be, this is a great example. Now, I don’t know what happens backstage, but AJ Lee was a big figure in getting this division to where it is now. If anything, she bridged the gap on the main roster between a model’s playground to women athletes ready to handle business in the ring. How she could be excluded just really didn’t sit well with me. But we all know why she was ousted – and mainly it’s because of her marriage to CM Punk. Punk left the company on a bad note, and Lee would retire from the company over a year later.
Lee started the match to light the fire that was needed in the Divas division. You see, the Women’s Division became white hot once Trish Stratus and Lita’s feud would reach to iconic status. However, the peak declined and the fire began to simmer after both Stratus and Lita retired from WWE. The popularity for the WWE Divas wasn’t near as strong like it used to be. The wrestling wasn’t as good anymore, and no one seemed invested in any of the storylines that the Divas were involved in. There were glimmers of hope, and it was hard to see that most of the ladies were talented. The booking wasn’t doing them any favors, they weren’t given a chance, and thus they weren’t taken seriously. When Lee debuted, her presence sparked something with the WWE Universe. Lee was your nerdy chick who could live next door to you. She liked comic books and she liked video games. She was relatable to the WWE Universe, thus that is why fans got behind her. And she could wrestle; which she was very good at.
As Lee’s run progressed in WWE, her star shined brighter and one could say that she was becoming a trailblazer in the Divas Division much like Chyna during the Attitude Era in the Women’s Division. Lee found herself in high profile storylines mostly as a love interest. She would end up as Raw General Manager for three months. Her feud with former partner Kaitlyn would take center stage, and resulted in the first ever in-ring contract signing for the Divas Championship. Lee would capture the Divas Championship, her first reign of three. During that first reign, it would become historic at that time as Lee held it for 295 days (it has since been broken). Also during that reign, Lee would cut the scathing worked shoot promo known as the “Pipebombshell”.
Lee’s popularity increased so much that WWE began producing her own merchandise. It had been years since a WWE Diva had such a thing; it was almost intangible until then. Soon other Divas started getting merchandise. According to Lee, the merchandise was record selling, in which she would point that out to Stephanie McMahon as Lee called her out on her notorious tweet about women’s rights.
Lee was the face of the Divas Division, changed the game. She made everyone start paying attention to women in wrestling once more. WWE could have at least acknowledged Lee’s contributions to its history, especially now that the Women’s Division is seeing its glory days. While one could argue about who actually started the Divas Revolution, what can’t be denied that is that AJ Lee had a huge hand in getting the division to where it is today. Imagine what it would be like today had CM Punk hadn’t left WWE on bad terms, and Lee was still there. Lee would have flourished in the new Women’s Division and would see the fruits of her labor. A match between Lee and Becky Lynch sounds great doesn’t it? Or, how about her and Sasha Banks in a matchup together? It looks like that we will never know how great those scenarios can be.
So for now WWE can remain mute and not mention AJ Lee. But they can’t take away the impact that she made on the company. That’s what my best friend said to me, and I’ll second that. I’m pretty sure we are not the only ones who feel that way.