WrestleMania Diary: AJ Lee, Day 3
“Oh 3:30 a.m. alarm, I hate you like you stole my boyfriend.”
So tweeted AJ Lee at the culmination of a night’s sleep that could best be described as an after-hours nap. She wakes her (unstolen) boyfriend Dolph Ziggler from his slumber — no doubt filled with visions of a WWE Tag Team Title conquest at WrestleMania — not realizing that his session at radio row begins long after hers. The until-recently snoozing Showoff isn’t usually quick to forgive, but for AJ, he makes many exceptions.
“He’s my ‘Ziggy’ and he’s so nice and he never gets mad at me,” AJ says with a mischievous grin. “He just kind of played it off.”
As she navigates the Axxess floor for radio row — where media personalities talk WrestleMania with elite WWE Superstars and Divas — AJ exudes excitement despite her lack of sleep. Her morning is packed with vibrant conversations about her lifelong passion, going from chatting with Fresno, Calif., DJ Danny Salas about the thrill of seeing Big E Langston compete in his first WWE match to gushing about the managerial skill set of “Sensational” Sherri with Peter Rosenberg of New York’s Hot 97 fame.
“I have to do a lot of radio interviews, and the hosts aren’t always knowledgeable about WWE,” AJ explains. “Everyone today was clearly a fan and knew what they were talking about. That’s always a pleasant surprise.”
Between radio row ponderings about the outcome of Sunday’s WWE Tag Team Championship Match (AJ expects Daniel Bryan to be wringing tears out of his scraggly beard), the ever-so-confident Diva has a welcome run-in with 2013 WWE Hall of Fame inductee Trish Stratus. A ring icon, Stratus — like AJ herself — defied expectations when she made her debut.
“I got to meet Trish two years ago in an elevator, and she was just very sweet and said that she saw big things in me,” AJ says after the pair’s laughter-filled conversation. “That was so flattering. She’s always given me guidance, and to this day, even during her busy week, she found the time to offer me advice. Little 13-year-old AJ is flipping out on the inside.”
As to the exact nature of this particular impromptu encounter?
“Besides me apologizing for stealing Trish’s hair multiple times throughout my life — which is a recurring theme for me — she just always has a helpful lesson to give me and I always have questions for her,” AJ affirms, excitedly texting her “Ziggy” about the experience. “But what we were talking about stays between us.”
Finishing up at radio row, AJ takes a brief detour across the Meadowlands parking lot to MetLife Stadium, where hard-hatted crew members work tirelessly to craft a setting worthy of The Showcase of the Immortals.
As sunlight pours into the stadium roof, AJ gazes upon a landscape that instantly makes this year’s WrestleMania more tangible than ever.
“Doing interviews and talking about WrestleMania, it still feels so far away, but after seeing the ring and walking down the ramp, it’s actually happening,” she says, peering up at the grandiose WrestleMania set. “I definitely don’t see myself sleeping at all Saturday night. This is what I imagine Christmas is like for regular children. I’m going to be up all night and will, in turn, keep ‘Ziggy’ up all night.”
After her sneak preview of WrestleMania’s grandeur, AJ Lee’s sweet tooth takes control. She swings by her hotel to pick up her pugilistic pal Big E Langston, a rippling mass of humanity who looks out of place in any vehicle without armor plating and tank treads. Squeezing into an SUV with his unhinged ally, Langston prepares for some pre-WrestleMania carb-loading at renowned Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J.
Initially expressing some mild disappointment that the home of TV’s “Cake Boss” serves nothing in the way of “big plates of meat,” Langston enters the crowded-to-capacity bakery and ultimately casts his gaze upon a glass case bearing a vast selection of sugary treats. But there’s one dessert that tempts above all others: strawberry shortcake. Langston does not leave Carlo’s dissatisfied, and neither does AJ.
“I worked in Hoboken and I passed by Carlo’s and I watched the show, but I just never thought I’d have the patience to wait in line with a couple hundred people,” AJ tells WWE.com. “It was cool to be able to beat the crowds … I think people were afraid of E.”
Not really feeling the need to set aside any indulgences for Dolph, proclaiming that she’s “all the sweetness he needs,” AJ plans on treating herself this afternoon, especially given the hectic morning she’s had.
“I’ve been up since 3:30, so I’m going to fall asleep with cupcake hanging out of my mouth as I have a serious sugar crash,” AJ affirms. “And that’s the way to nap.”
The continuous frenzy surrounding The Showcase of the Immortals has kept AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler apart for much of the week, but a trip to Midtown Manhattan to meet WrestleMania Reading Challenge finalists grants the burgeoning power couple some necessary “we” time.
“I’m hoping we get caught in traffic so we can catch up a little bit, because texting isn’t the same,” The Showoff tells WWE.com en route to the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel for the event. Yet despite Dolph’s preference for analog interactions as his girlfriend nestled beside him, both he and AJ can’t seem to put their phones down, perhaps sending one another covert digital messages not meant for the prying eyes and ears of others in the car.
Upon their arrival at the hotel, AJ and Dolph gaze out the window at the New York City streets below, contemplating grandiose plans for WrestleMania and beyond.
Intently observing her “Ziggy” at tonight’s WrestleMania Reading Challenge signing and other events tailored for young WWE Universe members, AJ has come to appreciate Dolph Ziggler in new, eye-opening and, in this case, bewildering ways.
“Like any of the [WrestleMania] Reading Challenge events, my favorite part is seeing what Dolph will be like as a dad,” AJ says, glancing sidelong at The Showoff, who lends his signature to a book-loving child’s copy of the latest WWE Encyclopedia. “He’s really great with kids.”
Returning to her hotel room at the tail-end of an 18-hour day, AJ Lee is tired, but sleep is the last thing on her mind. Instead, clad in sweatpants, zebra-print socks and a Pikachu-emblazoned top, AJ lounges in her hotel room with her blond beau, who has since replaced his ostentatious blazer with a simple gray hoodie.
The scene is oddly low-key for this show-stealing pair, AJ face-deep in a comic book while Dolph thumbs through his Twitter backlog. The time for bombast, it seems, will come in less than 48 hours.