Sure, pre-teens and adults alike loved seeing her wearing a bikini but never were fans invested in her storylines. There certainly were no pay-per-view buys will the sole intent of seeing something Sable would do. The fact of the matter was, no matter how many Internet views, no matter what type of mainstream buzz or even Playboy Magazine’s sold, Sable simply didn’t mean a thing to the then WWF’s ratings or pay-per-view revenue.
The most recent and most prominent love triangle feud of the last 15 years both ended will less than stellar results.
During the summer of 2000, Triple H and Kurt Angle feuded over the love of Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. Despite, again, featuring two of the best wrestlers in the world, despite rumors of McMahon-Helmsley turning on her husband Triple H it was all over in a flash. Quietly Angle lost to Triple H at Unforgiven 2000 and the storyline was ended without as much as another mention.
In 2005, Matt Hardy and Edge engaged in one of the best feuds in WWE history over Hardy’s former girlfriend Lita. While Hardy was rehabbing an injury Lita found solace on the road in the form of rising star Edge. Once WWE found out of this situation they did the only logical thing, fired Matt Hardy. No, but seriously, that’s what they chose.
Either way, Hardy returned to television July 2005 and kicked off a blood feud of epic proportions in that it was rooted in reality like few WWE angles before. This supposed love triangle storyline launched Edge into the top upper echelon of the WWE, but it did little for the career of Hardy and when it was all said and done Lita was a bit part of the larger developed Edge character.
The feud culminated in a match at Summerslam 2005, which ended with a whimper as Edge, caused Hardy to bleed forcing the referee to stop the match. And just like that, the love triangle was over.
Edge was able to parlay the blood feud into a main event spot, but that was more about Edge finally getting TV time and becoming much improved on the microphone. Hardy quietly retreated to the Smackdown! brand and never found his stride again.
Fast forward back to today’s current love triangle and while the storyline hasn’t been awful, I’m just confused as to the overall benefit.
It’s been built quite well, AJ is great in the role, Bryan and Punk are elite wrestlers in the world but at the end of the day what does an angle with a woman as the focal point mean for the WWE?
Raw ratings have been up in the past weeks including a 3.2 for Monday’s show, a great rating given competition from MLB’s Home Run Derby. It’s presumption to assume AJ is the reason for the spike in ratings, but she certainly hasn’t turned people away.
Despite this, I still worry about the long-term ramifications of the angle. I’m having issue figuring out where anyone benefits. If she screws Bryan and goes with CM Punk, is Punk now a heel? Does Bryan become a babyface? Does she just go with Punk and they both are face? Then you end up in a scenario where Bryan looks like a fool.
The most ideal scenario in my mind, is screwing over Punk to go with Bryan. This way Bryan maintains his top heel status along with a woman who didn’t stand up for herself and went back with the man who treated her poorly. While this isn’t the most idealistic role for AJ, it’s the best for wrestling purposes. This scenario begs the question of what the past four months were for though as this scenario was already playing out on television.
The last is she ends up with neither of the men and gets with a dark horse, Kane or just ends up by herself. Another scenario that doesn’t play out awful, but essentially accomplishes nothing. Sure, we got some great television and pay-per-view matches with Bryan and Punk, but we would’ve gotten those too without having to sit through 20 minute segments of AJ.
Why can’t this feud be about who is the best in the world? Why can’t fans just take enjoyment in seeing two of the best wrestlers in the world battle on pay-per-view?
I’ll have to let this angle play out before I can say for sure but looking at the possible end scenarios, I don’t see how this ends up benefiting anyone in the long run. I don’t believe Bryan or Punk become bigger stars when the angle is finished up and all I can really see is AJ becomes a larger on-screen character temporarily. This also begs the question of benefit as AJ isn’t a strong in-ring performer and has had little to no interaction with the rest of the Divas’ division.
Wait and see I suppose, but I can’t help but question the end game of it all.