AJ Lee on one more match: “I’d say never say never”

Jul 3, 2019 - by James Walsh

Fair Game and Kristine Leahy recently interviewed former WWE Superstar AJ Lee who talked about her career in WWE, never saying never on having one more match, and a lot more. She also addressed how someone in WWE once told her, “No one wants to have sex with you,” which later became the title of a chapter in her book. Below are some highlights and a video of the chat.

AJ Lee on the moment where she started getting into wrestling: “Oh gosh. I have a very, very vivid memory of the day I decided I was going to be a wrestler. My brother was my best friend in the world growing up, and he probably couldn’t stand me would like try to get rid of me. But when we watched wrestling together, he’d get me to shut up for a few minutes. And I would just sit next to him and just enjoy hanging out with him. And we would watch wrestling for a few years and this one day I just thought, ‘I’m gonna to do that.’ And I remember my mom walking past us and I went, ‘I’m going to be a wrestler when I grow up.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, uh-hm. That’s nice.’ Like, ‘That’s cute. Okay.’ I think was like 12 or something like that, and from that day, I was like, ‘That’s what I’m gonna do.’”

AJ Lee on how she started wrestling training and getting signed by WWE: “So I started — I went to film school for a solid six months, could not afford it, and I decided that was a sign that I should get into wrestling because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was about 18 or 19, started in the independent circuit, just training at a local gym, wrestling at VFW halls and bingo halls and high schools gyms, getting paid in like food sometimes. They were like, ‘You can take something from the concession stand.’ I remember one time I made $60 for four matches in one night. And I thought I was loaded. I was like, ‘This is so much money!’ So every like every year around then, it was about three or four years in a row, WWE would have this — almost like an open casting call that you had to pay $1,500 to participate in. I had never seen that much money in my life. So, I missed one year, and I said, ‘OK. The next year, I’m going to save up enough money.’ So, I saved all of my indie wrestling bookings, and I was a secretary at the time and saved all this money just like starved for a year. I stole food from my job’s waiting room. That’s what I ate for like six months. It was just like cheese and crackers and fruit. And I saved up all this money and paid to try out. And it was like this four-day tryout in Florida. Out of like 80 guys, and there were dancers and models, and then there was me. And I got signed.”

Lee on key to separating her character from herself: “I think I had just seen the opposite happen a lot in wrestling, where people would take match results and storylines or career trajectories very personally as like a reflection of themself and their own worth. And as someone who is very hyper-aware of my mental health from a young age, I knew that wasn’t going to be healthy. So very early on, I really had to decide that wrestling is a show, like anything on TV. You’re playing characters. You’re in storylines. And sometimes you’re down here, and sometimes you’re at the top of the mountain. And none of that is reflective of me as a person. And so I would very much just leave the show and go to my hotel and be me. And even if I won the championship that day, I was hanging out and eating crap in my hotel room and just going to bed early that night.”

“It was very important for me to see that those were two different people, and I think that really helped be sane. And it helped me be more collaborative because I was comfortable looking stupid and making other people look great and losing, and I never took any of that stuff personally.”

AJ Lee on if she ever thinks about being part of WWE at a different time looking at how the new era for women’s wrestling now in WWE: “I do, and I feel like it wouldn’t have been as good for me probably. I think what worked — I think everything happens when it’s supposed to, and I think I really benefited from just having really good timing. And 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, there was — 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. And 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. And 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 wanted to compromise. And so, being the person that was kind of riding the fine line of getting in trouble a lot, I was willing to do that. That’s what helped me. And so, 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. And I got in trouble for that at first. I was told that no one would want to have sex with me. 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. It was very demoralizing, but I kind of took it like, ‘OK. I tried to conform for a minute, but this isn’t me.’ What really, really saved me was the fans, and the fans responded to just me being me. And after a while, it was like you can’t argue with these people who are supporting me for being me. And then, they really did get on board and were like, ‘OK. You’re you. You’re loud and abrasive and you’re like kind of asexual. And that is your own thing, and that’s working and it’s making us money.’ Yeah *Laughs*. But it made money, and money talks.”

AJ Lee on if her fans asked her if she’d have one more match: “Oh my gosh. I’d say never say never because ever time I’ve said ‘never’ in my life, I ended up doing the thing. I’m like, ‘I’m never going to date a wrestler. I’m never going to date another wrestler.’ And then it keeps going, and I married one. But I say that I don’t know what the future holds, to not hold your breath. But never say never.”

Leave a Reply