WrestleMania Diary: AJ Lee, introduction

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April 03, 2013

The chilling resurrection of The Undertaker. John Cena’s first-ever dance on The Grandest Stage of Them All. The redemptive WWE Championship triumph of Eddie Guerrero. There are myriad reasons why WrestleMania XX is fondly remembered by the WWE Universe, but for teenaged New Jersey native AJ Lee, peering down at the ring from the uppermost level of Madison Square Garden, it was more than an experience. It was affirmation.

Almost a decade ago, despite financial hardships, AJ’s father scraped up enough cash for two tickets to The Show of Shows, trekking with his daughter up several sets of escalators to the very top of The World’s Most Famous Arena to settle into their 400-section seats. Although observing from a vantage point that made even Brock Lesnar look less-than-imposing, the Diva-to-be allayed dad’s concerns that she was disappointed in the view. Someday, AJ said, she’d be in that ring.

That someday would come two years later, when AJ competed in her first match.

Through no small amount of persistence, the young woman who once marveled at the boundary-shattering athleticism of pioneers like Lita and Trish Stratus made her way to WWE. This year, The Showcase of the Immortals returns to its symbolic home in the New York/New Jersey area, where the coarse sidewalks that once scuffed AJ’s Chuck Taylors now run parallel to The Road to WrestleMania.

Emanating from MetLife Stadium, mere minutes from where this former “girl next door” spent her formative era in modest Union City, WrestleMania reintroduces the Garden State to a woman redefined: capricious, confident and, at times, downright caustic.

One year after AJ sealed Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship fate with a kiss at WrestleMania, the pint-sized provocateur has “traded up,” in her mind, walking (and skipping) hand-in-hand with boyfriend Dolph Ziggler, who teams with Big E Langston — AJ’s beefed-up bestie — to take on Team Hell No for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Any and all kisses at the illustrious event, this time around, are reserved for Ms. Lee’s platinum-coiffed “Ziggy.”

But just as AJ will no doubt bask in the grandeur of WrestleMania, so too will its bright lights illuminate just how far she’s come from threadbare days when a roof overhead was a modest luxury her family couldn’t always afford. In an unprecedented WrestleMania Diary, join WWE.com as we delve into the life of this controversial and enigmatic Diva on her five-day journey to The Show of Shows. But first, let’s retrace AJ’s steps to see exactly where she’s been, and how she found her way back home.

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