GMs on GMs: AJ Lee and Booker T grade each other's initial performances
A leader should be his or her own toughest critic. Running any organization — a team, a company or, say, a television show — requires a fair hand, a strong sense of morals, and enough absence of ego to realize when, perhaps, your particular course of action might not be the best one.
Clearly, Raw and SmackDown have been in short supply of permanent leadership lately. Now, however, a new era has begun, as Mr. McMahon installed AJ Lee and Booker T as the new GMs of Raw and SmackDown. On paper, the two competitors-turned-suits couldn’t be more different from several of their predecessors, but despite their proven track record, it can still be tough for an authority figure to hold his or herself accountable and be a tough critic of his or her own actions.
So, we at WWE.com had a better idea: We’ll get them to critique each other.
We know. Genius.
AJ Lee on Booker T
In retrospect, we’re not so sure why we were surprised Mr. McMahon selected the five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, FIVE-time WCW Champion to succeed John Laurinaitis as the head honcho of the blue brand. Booker T’s been an integral part of the SmackDown experience ever since he sat down at the commentary table in February 2011, and his in-ring pedigree and management skills (he did have a royal court once) speak for themselves. Booker wasted no time in reinforcing his status, bellowing “I’m the boss!” at a gobsmacked Alberto Del Rio and forcing Cody Rhodes into a match against Sin Cara when the former Intercontinental Champion got a little too smart with Booker. So what does AJ think of the Master of the Spinaroonie’s term in office thus far?
“I think we are on the same page and we’re just trying to make both shows the best they can be,” AJ told WWE.com. She’s a fan of the way Booker tries to make SmackDown more unpredictable — commenting on the way Booker is very “socially active” and has his pulse on what the fans want to see — and thinks they both have the same idea in terms of making their shows better. “We’re just trying to make matches that haven’t been done before,” AJ said.
The unpredictable head of WWE’s flagship show also said she admires Booker’s resolve as GM, and is looking to emulate that quality in her own term running Raw. “I think Booker and myself have shown that we’re not going to back down for any Superstars,” said AJ, who has already laid down the law against the likes of Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio. “I think a lot of people have some grudges with this ... but that’s not gonna sway our decision-making.”
And, like Booker, AJ doesn’t have a problem with any of those grudges in the slightest. Rather, she sees it as constructive. “Especially when you go from competitor to position in charge … you’re gonna make a few enemies along the road,” she said. “I think it’s not the last enemies we’re going to make, but it’s all for the greater good.”
And what if Booker himself becomes one of those enemies, leading to a Team Teddy/Team Johnny–style power struggle at WrestleMania? “I hope it’s not a mean-spirited Team AJ vs. Team Booker, but that might actually be fun! Especially if we could both get back in the ring.”
Booker T on AJ Lee
We’ll say this much for AJ Lee: She slipped into the General Manager’s role on Raw WITH THE GREATEST OF EASE, shedding the quirky charm of her in-ring days and switching seamlessly to an authority figure that casts a long shadow despite her diminutive frame. She’s also retained the unpredictability that nearly swung the WWE Title in her final months as an in-ring competitor, making the twists and turns of Raw impossible to calculate for any Superstar (or WWE Universe member, for that matter) who thinks they have a bead on what AJ’s going to do next.
And we all know that Booker’s a fan of AJ’s spunk — he’s said so himself, often and with great vigor — but the SmackDown boss was shockingly sparse in his analysis of AJ’s work thus far, and his opinion of her as the new General Manager of WWE’s flagship show.
“I really think AJ needs to get a handle on Raw as well as the talent,” Booker told WWE.com via email. “I really don’t want to comment on how well of a job she's done, but I just want to say good luck on the task at hand.”
Pretty succinct for the typically effusive Booker, but when you think about it, this isn’t a terribly surprising reaction. Raw is full to the brim with raging egos at the moment, and AJ needs to be careful she doesn’t let the Superstars of the red brand get the best of her. Booker has spent a lot of time training the latest wave of potential WWE recruits (including a stint on “WWE Tough Enough” alongside “Stone Cold” Steve Austin), so his show-me-what-you-got mentality when evaluating a newly minted individual makes a lot of sense in this regard. AJ has proven she can hold the job down for two weeks, but at the same time, it’s only been two weeks.
Really, it sounds like Booker’s way of saying, “Ask me again in a few weeks.” To which we say: We can dig that (SUCKAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!).
In the meantime, we at WWE.com wish you both the best of luck in your new jobs. May you be fair, just, keep Hornswoggle away from any and all laptops, and please don’t bring back the scooter anytime soon.