In WWE today, women are nowadays treated as competent and capable athletes. WWE made the move to retire the Diva’s Championship at Wrestlemania 32 in favor of creating a brand new Women’s Championship. Charlotte and Sasha Banks have been in the main event of Raw more than once and even headlined the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, where they competed in the first ever “Hell in a Cell” match to feature female superstars. It wasn’t always like this, though. WWE only started putting in effort into women’s wrestling around two years ago. Back then, they mostly hired women based on their appearance rather than actual wrestling acumen.
It was this toxic mindset that led to some disastrous times for women’s wrestling. Once victim was AJ Lee. In an early review of her book, Crazy Is My Superpower, it was revealed that AJ Lee was told she was “unf***able.”
— Danny (@dajosc11) February 24, 2017
“This is not a happy happy joy joy book [sic]. Yes, you will laugh a lot due to AJ’s turn of phrase or some fantastically funny stories, but there is a real darkness and sadness to the first 20 or so years of Mendez-Brooks’ life and you can’t help feeling bad for her. The important thing is that she never gave up, was determined to become a pro wrestler and over came [sic] her siz, massive amounts of sexism and misogyny from within the business and the fact a certain Director of Talent Relations (who is never named in the book but [the reviewer] have named their brother in this review.) directly told her that she was considered unf**kable by the fans and higher-ups. Ouch.”
The Director of Talent Relations at that time was John Laurinitis, who many blame for the sorry state of wrestling in general during his tenure as director. Many feel his mindset and hiring policies adversely affected WWE’s roster by signing people who could not actually wrestle. While the reviewer may be referring to someone else entirely, John Laurinitis is the most likely suspect.
Still, it is amazing that AJ Lee rose to the heights she did during her tenure in the WWE. She is the second longest reigning Diva’s Champion, having held the title for 295 days. Her record was broken by Nikki Bella, who held the championship for 301 days. Lee also played a prominent role in other storylines. She was in on-screen relationships with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and CM Punk. She was also an ally of Dolph Ziggler and was present when he cashed in his “Money in the Bank” contract and became World Heavyweight Champion. At one point she was also the General Manager of Raw.
Lee has written about her mental illness before, having revealed recently that she suffers from bipolar disorder.
“I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder when I was barely out of my teens. Like our olive skin tone and caterpillar eyebrows, I guess it just runs in the family…
“When I was diagnosed I believed my illness would be my great, lifelong weakness. Bipolar Disorder was to be my impenetrable prison, and I would be locked up with it in a castle Princess Toadstool style. Thinking there was no way out, I let it consume me. After witnessing how powerfully it had ravished those I loved, I had assumed that was my only choice. To give in. To give up. I used it as a patsy for embarrassingly bad behavior and dangerous decision-making. I let it take everything until I had almost nothing left to give. I let it be my fatal flaw.
“But the interesting thing about ‘flaws’ is that they truly are in the eye of the beholder. Weakness can turn into strength with just a simple shift of perspective. You get to choose. One day I made the choice to stop throwing myself a pity party. I chose to stand up and fight. I would embrace what society taught me to shun. What was once my shameful secret was going to become my secret weapon.”
It is good that WWE is taking steps to fix their women’s division. Hopefully, they can right the wrongs of the past few years.
[Featured Image by WWE]