“I am going to confess something: I’m coming at this rant from the viewpoint of someone who’s older than most of everyone on Earth (I just turned 36 on the 24th of December) and someone who’s a lot stupider than most of you. So if you don’t agree with what I’m saying, let’s pretend I’m your crazy aunt, and I’m drunk. That’s all the apology you’re getting. …”
While I still believe that the reality is that AJ Lee the “actress/wrestler” is portraying AJ, a character who is just a confused 18 year old girl, above is a reality based article that is another voice in the “should always be louder” group that feels the WWE has a lot of work to do regarding the treatment of female talent.
Mary and I Just Watched Smackdown Last Night, Here Are Some Random Soap Opera Thoughts
First, some groundwork discussion. As Brayton and I discussed on episode number 1 of The Intercontinental Podcast (which will have new episodes soon, two weeks ago I had family health issues and last week we had insane technical difficulties), AJ Lee is best viewed with the perception that her character is actually a teenager… maybe around age 18.
It makes sense if you think about it: during the love-triangle summer she had with Punk, Bryan, and Kane, she acted like and I believe was even accused of “just being a kid.” Her actions are almost always that of a troubled and confused younger person. Granted, it always seemed like she had a greater, more manipulative plan, but to my knowledge that plan has never come to fruition. And, if WWE really does have soap opera story writers, it only makes sense that they are utilizing a tradition that carries every television show in the history of the world and using 25 year old actors to portray 18 year olds.
So, if we’re assuming AJ’s a troubled 18 year old, it makes perfect sense that she was obsessed with John Cena and made him ridiculous hairpin trinkets. I dunno if any of you had an “alt” girlfriend in high school, but THIS IS SOMETHING ALT GIRLS DO. They did 10 and 11 years ago when I was in high school, and they probably do now. And John Cena was the dumb jock sports all star d-bag who accidentally, drunkenly made out with AJ at a party or whatever. It’s also why all of the “evidence” presented by Vickie, during that god awful accusation storyline she had last month, was from AJ: the bows or whatever, the voicemails that were in no way legally obtained, etc. And that’s why for the majority of their “relationship” the past month, Cena was embarrassed to be seen with her, and why he offered the excuse that she should always stay in the back, “for [her] protection.” It makes total sense, and while I still can never imagine John Cena the person/character being natural and romantic with a woman, it explains why he acted like such an asshole to her. It wasn’t classic WWE chauvinism or even classic John Cena douchey chauvinism, it was completely part of this character arc they have.
Getting to where we are now, on Smackdown: I read some disappointment that AJ is just “with” Dolph now, and that it continues some kind of slut shaming or whatever the moan-fest internet blog chorus is claiming. I don’t see it that way. Again, AJ is just a kid, she’s confused and surrounded by all of these egos. While Punk’s ego was attractive to AJ, and he cared about her a little bit, he didn’t care about her romantically. Plus, he was basically a more subtle version of Cena: he was mostly embarrassed by her. AJ was horribly mistreated by Daniel Bryan, which is unfortunately not only a far-too frequent trait of plenty of relationships, but I would guess more common to women in high school; women in situations like this often have yet to come into their own and boys of that age, who as I can attest from experience, are usually douchebags that apparently have an easy time controlling young women such as the AJ character.
Anyway, Dolph and AJ are basically a “bad kid” version of Kevin and Britney from Daria (right down to Dolph saying to her, “earmuffs, babe,” during the MizTV segment Tuesday). Dolph is the perfect kind of arrogant jerk for AJ, but at the same time he has already been presented as a romantic character, based on his relationship with Vickie Guerrero. Cena, Punk, and to a lesser extent Bryan, have never been in any sort of “romantic” relationship on the show. It was confusing and was probably difficult to present their relationships as natural. Although, again, I think Punk and Bryan did a very good job with what they were given. Dolph makes sense as someone that could actually “sort of” have a relationship with AJ, especially considering he told her off and completely cut her down a few weeks ago. This is an action that a person like AJ would naturally be attracted to (heck, part of why I married Mary is that she’s completely honest with me and tells me if I’m being an idiot, which luckily doesn’t happen too often so she doesn’t have to do so very often… honesty is an attractive trait, and to some brutal honesty is even more so).
I think it would be to the betterment of everyone’s entertainment to try and watch at least this storyline through the lens of a more traditional television show, specifically any teen soap opera/DeGrassi. It will make a lot more sense and be a lot more entertaining… Unless you’re the kind of walking scum that has not seen every single episode of DeGrassi from it’s reboot in 2002 to roughly 2011 (hey, the new shit is simply terrible, I’m not made of stone).
Honestly, I want more of this from WWE. AND, this is why WWE is amazing. They have roughly two hours and forty five minutes of time to fill. The show has always been segmented, with different storylines that often never cross into one another. So why not try to present wrestling in a new way? Let one storyline be a bad soap opera / teen drama plot, as seen through the veil of Professional Wrestling. It’s not the main event at the moment, though with the kind of emotion it carries in subtext, it easily could be. I would still like to see more serious, “wrestling” plots come from guys like CM Punk, and hopefully now that he has gotten away from Ryback and will be focusing on the Rock, that can happen… but let the show evolve. Try something new. The Attitude Era is over. Wrestling is about destroying tradition and, as Paul Heyman pointed out, the “tradition” the Attitude Era created is becoming dangerous. This story line may not be edgy but it’s different, as far as I’m aware. Maybe now we can get a more emotional product, which to me is better than a more violent product. Give me a passionate reason for these guys to get in the ring, and I think it will only naturally be entertaining.