AJ Lee stood out in WWE, and stepped out before she wore out her welcome.
Lee met massive success in WWE as a wrestler and personality. However, she did it in an era before women were consistently main eventing shows for the company. When speaking to Kristine Leahy for Fair Game, she admitted that she's considered what the different era could have meant for her.
“I feel like it wouldn’t have been as good for me, probably. I think everything happens when it’s supposed to, and I think I really benefited from just having really good timing. In my time in the business, there was so much pressure on the girls to conform to a mold and a formula that worked. Not only was it pressure, you would sort of be punished if you didn’t. There was a time when they would check to make sure our manicures were perfect. If our hair wasn’t long enough, they’d tell us we had to get extensions, and your weight would be commented on. That made for a lot of pressure where girls didn’t feel like they could just show who their genuine self was. That’s understandable, but I’ve always been willing to fail if the only option is it’s either doing it my way and what’s true and genuine to me, or failure. I will choose just to do it my way. I never want to compromise," Lee revealed.
She would expand, going as far as to say then-WWE Divas were criticized for their weight, hair, clothes, appearance, makeup and sex appeal. However, the reaction from her fans ended up being a saving grace for her.
“Being the person that was kind of riding the fine line of getting in trouble a lot, I was willing to do that and that’s what helped me. I was rare at the time.” You didn’t see a girl who was like not wearing her makeup, or not doing her hair, or was wearing clothes that you could find at Target on TV. I got in trouble for that at first. I was told that no one would want to have sex with me. Yes, it’s a title of a chapter in my book -- ‘No one wants to have sex with you.’ I cried. I cried for so long, and then my hair was immediately dyed lighter. Yeah, It was very demoralizing, but I kind of took it like, ‘Okay. I tried to conform for a minute, but no this isn’t me.’ What really saved me was the fans, and the fans responded to just me being me. After a while, it was like you can’t argue with these people who are supporting me for being me. Then, they really did get on board and were like, ‘Okay. You’re you, you’re loud and abrasive and you’re like kind of asexual. That's your own thing, and that’s working and it’s making us money.’ It made money, and money talks," Lee said.
You can see Lee's full conversation with Leahy above. When using this transcript, please provide credit and link to Fightful and this story.