I dig crazy chicks. Primarily because I am one. (No joke!)
But this isn’t just a preference, especially for those who may or may not have masochistic preferences. It was a slogan, a catchphrase, echoed by much of the WWE Universe in regards to former resident “crazy chick” AJ Lee (now known as AJ Mendez-Brooks and we can thank CM Punk for that one). Now there’s a name you haven’t seen in a while, right? Well, I got news for ya: in case you weren’t aware, she’s back!
Sort of. Kind of. In book form, rather, not in the ring.
Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules (Now there’s a mouthful. Let’s just stick with Crazy Is My Superpower, shall we?) hit shelves this week, a vivid memoir documenting her rise to power…within her life! Hah, you thought I was gonna say “on the main roster”, didn’t you? Well, no, because that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Though that does get talked about but we’ll get to that.
It’s no secret that I was and still am a huge AJ Lee fan. When news broke of her sudden retirement, I took to the keyboard and poured out my thoughts on her retirement and the status of the (then) Divas division as a whole. So when she announced that she was releasing a memoir last year, set for this year, I pre-ordered instantly and as mid-March finally rolled around, started counting the days. I may have also caved and bought the book before getting my pre-order so I have one nice, pristine copy to have signed and a copy to bang up and re-read over and over because I’m a dork but hey, who’s gonna notice!
So let’s get this out of the way right now: if you’re thinking of reading this to seek juicy WWE gossip and backstage shenanigans abound, this is not the book for you. She does nothing of the sort and honestly, anything main roster related takes up maybe the last ⅓ to ¼ of the book, if that, and it’s also combined in with her time and frustrations spent in FCW. She doesn’t talk shit. If someone was a positive influence on her, she’ll name them, such as Layla, Eve Torres and Naomi. If they were negative, she omits names and even descriptions. She does open up a bit about the two biggest and most influential relationships she made in the company, her friendship with Kaitlyn (Celeste Bonin) and CM Punk. Don’t go thinking you’re getting any down and dirty deets, those are still heavily guarded and rightfully so.
Also, yes, we can stop speculating why she left WWE, because she does address that and it’s not because of Punk’s ongoing issues with the company. (At least, that’s not the main reason.) She is still her own person, after all.
What this book really deals with is mental illness, specifically, how her entire life was shaped by it. Recently, she has publicly come out that she is Bipolar and that it runs in her family. In Crazy Is My Superpower, AJ goes extremely in depth. She talks about how it affected her mother’s ability to parent and influence on her personal relationship with her as well as with the rest of her family, how it shaped how she presented herself as a child and as a grown up. Most importantly, how it shaped her reality once she realized she was afflicted and was diagnosed. She also talks about how she made it work for her during her “crazy chick” angles in WWE and how she made sure the character was never a caricature, using her own illness as a source of truth. Never once does she play the victim, and she stresses the importance of understanding how mental illness works and how important it is to not let it take over your existence.
We also get to walk alongside her as she describes growing up below poverty level in northern New Jersey, almost hand-in-hand, like we’re doing her trademark skip down the ring with her. We run the ropes with her as she’s training and figuring out how to make it in the mad world of professional wrestling as a girl who typically weighs in at 95 pounds soaking wet, proving to be a unique specimen of a wrestler. While she paints a very vivid picture with her words (complete with a lot of cursing, so no, she ain’t no prude!), you can see that this is her first time writing in the fact that it can jump around in time a bit. It’s not entirely linear, so you do have to focus a bit to gain a sense of where in her life you’re at. She is brutally, sometimes uncomfortably honest but never without wit and her trademark self deprecating humor is sprinkled throughout every page.
At the start of this review, I said I dig crazy chicks because I am one. I wasn’t joking. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder days before Christmas last year. I spent decades trying to figure out what was wrong, even being misdiagnosed with GAD and Bipolar as well. (Bipolar and BPD share a lot of the same symptoms.) I’m actually fairly open about it, I won’t shy away when asked, and I seek reform. But I know of a lot of people who aren’t and with good reason.
Mental illness, especially in this country, is something that still carries a great stigma behind it thanks to severe misrepresentation in movies and television. Far too many people still remain shut for fear of repercussions, isolation, assumption. Seeing this sort of candor within the covers of AJ’s book is not only refreshing, but bolsters courage within. We need severe mental health reform in this country and it’s my hope that the more people are open like this, the more likely we’ll get it.
Crazy is AJ’s superpower. What’s yours?