AJ Lee has been accused of being a bad actor. She's also been accused of overacting and poor timing. There are reasons to disagree with every one of those claims, the least of which is her considerable range of facial expressions. And don't forget 'AJ's Thighs' is a thing now.
For whatever reason, WWE executives decided some time ago that AJ Lee, a Diva who came up in NXT, would be the next Miss Elizabeth. That's just to say that she would be featured heavily on WWE programming each week, from Monday Night Raw to Friday Night Smackdown.
At first, she did this by playing the battered wife to Daniel Bryan, then the psychotic slut to Bryan, Kane, and CM Punk (they all dig crazy chicks, remember?), before settling on her current role as the General Manager of Raw.
She's a woman in power. And it's glorious.
Actually, more than a few fans who were originally on the AJ bandwagon quickly jumped off once they came to the conclusion she didn't really have a lot of depth as an actor. Her timing was terrible, her crazy head bob was weird, and her mannerisms just became too much to bear.
Still, she possesses a certain quality that makes her difficult to ignore. She's charismatic and if she could just find the right balance between the jerky gestures and being herself on camera, there would be nary a flaw to complain about.
I would argue she effectively reached that point on this past Monday night's episode of Raw. Granted, she had two masterful storytellers who can make entire segments with facial expressions alone, but the fact that A.J. could step inside the ring with two titans like Punk and Paul Heyman and hold her ground was impressive.
The segment kicked off with the heels bullying a poor referee and AJ hitting the ring with a head of steam to put them in their place.
She unloads her anger and closes by asking Heyman, "Who the hell do you think you are?" Set jaw and strong, AJ lets Heyman know she's not playing around. If it wasn't clear in her words, she makes it very clear in her expression.
But Punk ends up coming back at her so much harder than she came down on them. He gets in her face and screams, he aims to humiliate and dominate, in short, he tries to put her in her place.
Her response to this is utter and complete contempt.
To really drive home his disdain for her, Punk decides to go to the video tape, where he replays that one embarrassing night when AJ elected to act rather rashly and propose marriage.
She was in a weird place at that time, of course, but that context doesn't matter here. Punk is just out to hurt and he hits his mark perfectly. AJ is embarrassed and ashamed at what shows on the titantron for all to see, a memory she had hoped everyone would just forget.
Once Punk is done berating her, Heyman steps in and decides to drop to one knee to make a proposal, one that catches AJ completely off guard. She mixes shock, surprise, and a general feeling of being totally freaked the fuck out in one expression.
After the shock subsides and she realizes what's happening, AJ decides to play the game like Heyman and Punk are playing the game, at least briefly. She quickly changes from looking horrified and lost to contemplative and devious.
Finally, she would decide on slapping Heyman hard across the face before dropping her microphone and exiting the ring with a power walk up the ramp. She's the boss and that's just the way it's going to be.
Range, ladies and gentlemen; AJ is getting better and better at it. When put in the right situations, she's very, very good at what she does. It's a real treat to get to watch her grow as a performer.
I guess I'm back on the AJ bandwagon. That might be because of this, too:
^ Seriously ^