WWE | Pro Wrestling

AJ Lee’s Return Ramps Up WWE’s Need to Acknowledge CM Punk

Maybe I am in the minority here, but I am not convinced that AJ Lee’s return to WWE is completely “best for business.”

Her surprise return Monday night definitely is a shot in the arm to a dragging Divas division. And – just maybe –putting the Divas title back around her makes sense because you always want your top-name performer to sport the gold.

But on the other side, AJ’s return is only going to ramp up the “CM Punk” chants from the crowds. And sooner or later, WWE is going to have to publicly address them, whether or not they want to.

After all, that is his wife who is wearing the Divas title. Not his storyline wife…his real-life spouse.

Maybe that is cracking open the door for a possible Punk return. Lord knows the WWE Universe would eat it up.

But he says he is done with wrestling. That’s not stopping his wife from getting back into it.

To top it off, AJ seems to be all over her crazy-girl phase. No high-pitched screams. No thousand-yard stares. The skipping still is there, but it seems to have regained the reflection of a child-like innocence, not the psychotic break of a modern-day Baby Jane.

When AJ was around, the Divas division had become fun to watch. She is not the truest wrestler in the division – that distinction still belongs to Natalya. But AJ connects with the crowd in a way that none of the other Divas seem to do.

You possibly could include the Bella Twins as ones who can connect with the crowd. But they do so in a Hollywood glamour, unapproachable style. AJ, however, comes across approachable, as the next-door neighbor you might wave at over the fence or hang out with at a neighborhood block party.

She certainly moves the needle in terms of being a charismatic champion.

Thankfully, her arrival and Monday night victory brings an end to the dreadful Paige experiment as Divas champion. In my opinion, Paige was rushed into the top spot way before she was ready. But she offered the ideal storyline “out” for AJ to step aside, get married and get some much-needed rest.

Skills-wise, Paige had all the makings of a good champion. What she may have lacked in personality, she made up for in ring moves. Her combo of a Scorpion leg lock and chicken-wing lock was one of the most original finishing holds I have seen in a long time.

But you cannot succeed as a top champ on skills alone. That is why we refer to wrestling as sports entertainment.

As champion, Paige was not entertaining. As champion, AJ was very entertaining.

I just have a feeling that WWE may have waded into waters they did not intend to navigate.

Ever since his abrupt departure earlier this year, Punk has been the 800-pound gorilla in the room for WWE. Maybe they think they moved past all this on that night last March when they played his entrance music, only to have Paul Heyman come out.

Since then, the Punk chants have become a staple at WWE televised events. They may not start the show and may not end the show, but you know they are going to come sometime.

And they do, usually during matches where the audience is bored.

That’s all changing with AJ’s return. As soon as the first few notes of “Let’s Light It Up” blare across the sound system, the chants will start … and continue throughout her appearance.

And they likely are not going to die down as long as AJ remains active on the roster – or Punk finally makes some kind of appearance. He now is claiming he is retired, but think about it. Have you ever seen anyone completely “retire” from WWE? Even Edge and Shawn Michaels make appearances on the show despite the maladies that forced them out of active action.

Meanwhile, the Punk chants are going to continue. And WWE has only two choices to deal with this.

Come to some kind of reconciliation with Punk. Or invest in a whole bunch of noise-cancelling headphones.

Bill Atkinson is a frequent contributor to Camel Clutch Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.

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