Not too long ago, former WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee went public with her bipolar diagnosis. And with her autobiography, Crazy is My Superpower, now out in stores, the real-life wife of pro wrestler-turned-MMA fighter CM Punk has shared more details about life was as a professional wrestler dealing with the disorder and how WWE allegedly tried to take her “crazy chick” gimmick too far for comfort.
The year 2012 was a successful one for Lee, who was at the center of WWE storylines after her kiss with on-air boyfriend Daniel Bryan cost him the World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus at WrestleMania 28. With Bryan angrily blaming AJ for the fact he lost his title in just 18 seconds and breaking up with her for that reason, Lee’s character would slowly become more and more unhinged. But it was apparently decided sometime that year that WWE would turn up the kayfabe crazy and make Lee’s character appear to be suffering from some sort of mental disorder.
At that time, AJ Lee’s bipolar disorder was not yet public knowledge, but she was already open about the fact that her mother suffered from the condition, the New York Post wrote. Still, WWE’s creative team reportedly had an idea where AJ’s character take part in skits where she “hallucinated, kissed a leprechaun, and danced with dinosaurs from outer space.” For Lee, this storyline idea hit too close to home, and she told WWE that she wasn’t in favor of it.
“It felt like it disrespected both me and my mother. It was a joke, but, to me, it wasn’t something to laugh at.”
— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) April 7, 2017
WWE allegedly reacted by taking AJ Lee off television for two months, effectively punishing her for turning down a storyline and gimmick tweak. A look at her Internet Wrestling Database page shows two periods in 2012 where AJ didn’t compete on televised shows for at least two months; first, from January to March, then from July to October. However, she was an on-air authority figure during that second period, having served as Monday Night RAW‘s General Manager.
The above data may suggest that Lee was actually referring to her absence from TV from January to February 2012. According to PWTorch‘s SmackDown recaps from that year, Lee and Big Show had collided into each other on the January 13 episode, knocking AJ out as Daniel Bryan defended his World Heavyweight Championship against Show. She would return on the February 3 episode to save Bryan from Big Show, meaning she may have actually been pulled from WWE television for close to a month, rather than two months.
The timing may also hint that the purported AJ Lee “bipolar” storyline may have been scheduled to take place after Bryan ended their on-air relationship following his WrestleMania 28 loss.
Despite the supposed punishment at the hands of WWE officials, AJ Lee remained one of the company’s top performers in what was then called the Divas Division, and she would experience her biggest success from 2013 to 2014, holding the WWE Divas Championship for a then-record 295 days. And while she would retire in April 2015, some ten months after her marriage to former WWE Champion CM Punk, her departure from the company wasn’t nearly as acrimonious as that of her husband.
Even if you consider all of Lee’s achievements in the WWE ring, her new autobiography Crazy is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules stresses that her biggest accomplishment is her triumph over bipolar disorder.
According to the New York Post, Lee, who is known in real life as April Mendez-Brooks, was first diagnosed with bipolar II in her late teens, after suffering from anxiety for most of her youth. With the help of therapy, medicine, meditation, and her own wrestling training, Lee was able to overcome her condition as she entered adulthood. And now that she’s released Crazy is My Superpower, AJ Lee wants to help other bipolar disorder sufferers by raising awareness and spreading a positive message of hope through her book.
“My memoir is called Crazy Is My Superpower because whatever you are ashamed of or feel insecure about, you can harness into your greatest strength.”
[Featured Image by WWE]