Another wrestling year is nearing completion as 2012 goes the way of Abraham Washington. 2012 gave us Ryback, another Chris Jericho return and 1,000 episodes of Monday Night RAW. 'Tis the season to rank them in order of importance. Stories will be evaluated based on longevity, mainstream coverage and social media influence.
Top 10 of 2012, No. 6: AJ Lee Is a Crazy, Dirty Little Girl
With the perennial rate of injuries and the looming end of the old guard, 2012 featured a handful of breakout stars. The presumed no-brainer answer for biggest breakout star of 2012 is Ryback. Yet some could argue that this distinction should go to AJ Lee.
They would probably be right.
AJ's rise to prominence couldn't have been any more unassuming in its early stages. The 5'3, 107-pound Diva broke away from an invisible alliance with fellow Chickbuster Kaitlyn. She then began pairing with then-world champion Daniel Bryan.
AJ's quiet, innocent demeanor served as the perfect foil for Bryan's boisterous heel antics. The relationship simulated a storyline straight off the Lifetime Movie Network: the angry, aggressive boyfriend, inexplicably linked to the shy, lovable girlfriend.
Bryan's antagonistic behavior towards AJ led to his imminent dumping of her. This gave way to the jilted version of AJ. Her booming crazy-chick stock put her on the map as one of the premier stars on WWE programming.
It wasn't long before AJ performed a 180 from her previously stoic mannerisms. The mini-diva slowly blossomed into a free-spirited siren. Her innocence was maintained through perceived confusion and the emotional trauma brought on her by the Bryan.
This gave her free reign to make out with CM Punk and Kane while still being conflicted towards Bryan, all while being largely supported by live crowds. It didn't hurt that her affection was being shared by combatants in a WWE title picture.
A series of feuds and compelling WWE championship pay-per-view matches spawned from this love four-square. There was a triple threat match between Kane, Bryan and Punk at WWE No Way Out. Then came a brief saga between Bryan and Punk, with one particular match being officiated by AJ.
AJ's ongoing love foibles had not a payoff, but rather further investment. After once again being jilted by CM Punk, AJ participated in a marriage storyline with old flame Daniel Bryan. This led to AJ stunning Bryan at the altar by accepting a General Manager position from Vince McMahon.
After resigning, AJ leaped into the oversized arms of top star John Cena, only to betray Cena and pair up with another high-profile star in Dolph Ziggler.
AJ Lee's year of flirtation was summarized at the 2012 WWE Slammy Awards. The up-and-comer won the award for Kiss of the Year alongside John Cena.
She was nominated four times with four different superstars for the honor.
The WWE has added layers of unpredictability to the AJ Lee character, making the creative potential almost limitless. Talented as she is as a wrestler, her value is slowly beginning to eclipse that of Vickie Guerrero. She's a heat magnet who skips to the beat of her own pop music, a vixen who may not be as innocent as advertised.
A bona fide, breakout star.