Reports have surfaced from those infamous, nebulous “sources within the company” that WWE officials are hoping AJ, the spunky, bubbly “crazy” chick that has seized the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan feud by its shorthairs, will become the company’s new Miss Elizabeth.
This is a lofty goal for anyone to achieve, since Liz was the first female megastar the then-WWF ever had. If anyone can do it, it’s AJ though. She’s got the character chops to do it, and she’s stolen the show so many times lately that people have been starting to clamor for her to walk out of Money in the Bank as WWE Champion (a notion that I, a staunch proponent in the obliteration of the gender barrier in wrestling, would love so much that it would make my head explode).
[adinserter block=”2″]That being said, there’s a huge, huge difference between AJ and Liz. Liz was plucked out from being Randy Savage’s boyfriend to being an on-screen manager. She never had formal training as a wrestler. AJ, however, has. She’s been in the ring on both the independent level as well as in WWE as part of the all-female third season of NXT. She’s even been in a few matches lately where she’s shown that she has some promise in the ring.
This is a crucial difference that will translate huge if WWE can open their eyes and start to develop their women less as “Divas” and more as “Superstars”. Women have been proving that they can indeed wrestle since WWE was still Capitol Wrestling. Mildred Burke showed she could tangle with the men just as easily as the other men could. The Fabulous Moolah was legitimately one of the toughest wrestlers in any locker room. The Crush Gals and other joshi legends in Japan have been drawing HUGE crowds for almost three decades now. Meanwhile, outside of a few dalliances with credibility, WWE has stuck the Women’s or Diva’s Championship on the bleach blond with the biggest tits, only changing the title during said dalliances or to get it onto a scary antagonist like Bertha Faye or Victoria (both scary for different reasons).
Right now, WWE has more than a few women under its umbrella to have a credible division. Layla, the current Champion, may be a drop-dead gorgeous woman with supermodel good looks, but she’s also improved to the point where she can have good matches on a regular basis. Beth Phoenix, Kharma, Natalya Neidhart, Tamina Snuka and even Eve Torres have varying skill levels where they’d look decent in the ring as well at the very least. In developmental, there’s Raquel Diaz, Paige (Britani Knight) and if reports are to be believed, Sara del Rey. There’s no reason why women should continue to be treated like sexy cattle.
WWE has gotten the hard part out of the way here. AJ is mega over with the crowds. They have a bona fide star. So, now they need to make her mean something more than just a pretty lady who skips around the ring and acts quirky to crazy. They need to do what they should have done after the first revival of the Women’s Title happened in the ’80s. They should stock the roster and make the women’s division be more than just a beauty pageant in 90 second wrestling “matches”.
The audience has a substantial amount of women in it, and my guess is most of them aren’t there to ogle Dolph Ziggler’s butt. They want to see positive role models in their gender. If they’re given Kelly Kelly, then what does that say to those who want to do more than just smile and look pretty? AJ provides a chance for that paradigm to change and change in a big way. She can’t just be the new Liz, because Liz’s role was to show women that they could be part of the show. It was important for her time, but that role has been beaten into the ground and bastardized to the point where now it’s only cool to be part of the show if you’re a Barbie or one of the jealous bitches who wishes they were a Barbie.
[adinserter block=”1″]What AJ’s role needs to be is to show that yes, women can be part of the show in a meaningful way, they don’t just need to smile and look pretty or seethe at those who CAN smile and look pretty. She can’t be the new Liz; she MUST be the first AJ. The story is right there, actually. AJ can win the Diva’s Championship, and then boom, Kharma comes back and targets her right away. From there, people like Beth Phoenix and the like can filter in and then before anyone knows it, the Divas can have a part of the show that’s all theirs and that doesn’t involve them shaking their assets for 90 seconds on the apron.
The sad thing is that it’s still wishful thinking. Given their track record, it’s easy to see WWE pissing all this goodwill down the drain, but if they don’t, if they buck the trends, they can have as great a launching point to make women’s wrestling be more than they’ve let it be as any one they’ve had ever. Being the next Liz is a lofty goal, but even if it was attainable, what good would it do?
But being the first AJ? Yeah, that’s something that’s not only attainable but would do the most good.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.
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