Thursday, August 5, 2021

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WWE.com Debates Whether AJ Lee Should be Cheered or Booed

Most wrestling fans will be familiar with the term “tweener” – a wrestler who sits comfortably between being a babyface and a heel.

Recently, fans have suggested that Divas Champion AJ Lee is heading to that middle ground, and today WWE.com has added fuel to that fire, publishing an article that debates whether fans should cheer or boo AJ.

The site explains the reason for the divide:

“Few Divas in the history of sports-entertainment have driven the WWE Universe into such a divided reaction. Half of WWE fans love her for her unorthodox style and her unique personality traits, while the other half hates that she’s channeled her talents by physically or verbally eviscerating nearly every fan favorite on the roster over the last two years.”

Among its reasons for AJ to be cheered, the site suggests that AJ has empowered women in her journey to the Divas Title:

“For many, including an army of young girls, watching AJ navigate WWE’s treacherous waters has served as an inspiration, a reinforcement of the notion that, if you’re willing to invest the sweat and the hours, and if you believe in yourself, you too can achieve the seemingly impossible. But this is not an after-school special. This is not a Tony Robbins self-help lecture. This is not a poster of a kitten clinging to a tree branch. This is reality. This is AJ Lee.”

On the other side, they suggest she should be booed in recapping her various evildoings:

“To recap: AJ is the woman who fiddled the heartstrings of one of WWE’s most secretly malleable romantics, Kane, to such a degree that he thought she was too nuts for him….When she decided to break up with her next boyfriend, she threw him off a 20-foot ladder…Costing Dolph Ziggler the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Money in the Bank was forgivable in context, if a little boneheaded. Manipulating Kaitlyn into a humiliation-fueled rage with that secret admirer business was vicious – a brilliant “gotcha!” that caused Chickbusters fans to disintegrate into a pile of mournful hashtags, to say nothing of Kaitlyn’s own anguished reaction.”

The article is most notable for the fact that it’s even acknowledging that AJ gets cheers. Usually, when it comes to Divas, the WWE doesn’t embrace anything other than the black and white babyface/heels roles. It will be interesting to see if this translates to changes on screen.

Thoughts: Even if you write off this article as a puff piece, the claims they made are a bit sketchy and makes me worry that if the WWE turned AJ into a tweener, they might do it in a way that misses the point.

True, AJ has empowered young girls and women who don’t fit the “mold”, but what about women who do wear high heels and like reality TV? A good part of her character, in delivering the Pipe Bombshell, was being hypocritical. After all, she tore down one segment of the female population in boosting another, participating in the very frivolous behavior she was blasting. Of course, this hypocrisy was probably intentional, but it’s difficult to suggest that she should be cheered for overcoming naysayers when she’s one herself.

A more in-depth analysis of AJ could bring up the fans’ affinity for cheering those who break the fourth wall, as AJ certainly did with that promo. Or, they could connect her to perhaps the most famous tweener: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Fans cheered him because he did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, to whoever he wanted. AJ’s got that “wild card” aspect to her, but whether or not it will be used to its full potential is up to the WWE.

You can read the full article on WWE.com.

Should AJ be turned into a tweener?

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