AJ Lee skipped through the backstage area of the arena. She had a big smile on her face as she pranced from side to side. Neither of these was anything new for anyone who had seen the petite Diva before. But this time, all the other people in the hallway gave her a wide berth.
They did this not out of respect because she was the General Manager of RAW, nor because she was the favourite to win the 2012 Breakout Star of the Year.
They did this because they were afraid of the woman.
AJ couldn't help but giggle to herself at the thought that all these people, including large, muscular wrestlers, could be afraid of a petite woman that barely weighed 100 lbs. Of course, this little giggle that apparently came out of nowhere caused them to draw back even more, their faces filled with uncertainty and even fear.
Then again, they should fear her, she thought. Not only could she have their careers ended in the blink of an eye, they had seen what she could do to someone- both mentally and physically.
Ten Minutes Earlier...
AJ watched from behind the curtain, her eyes narrowed in concentration. She was deaf to the noise of the fans. Their cheers and boos did not penetrate her ears.
In the ring, Kaitlyn had Eve against a turnbuckle, delivering a series of powerful kicks to the stomach of the Divas champion. The title was on the line and the two-toned challenger from Houston was determined to put the conniving champion down. AJ had to admit her former Chickbuster teammate had been impressive lately. She'd worked her way up to become number one contender for the only women's title in the company. It was just a shame things had turned out the way they had between them; her former best friend had refused to see her point of view. Too bad... things could be so much different.
AJ watched as Kaitlyn's offense escalated with a series of hard punches to Eve's gorgeous face. The champion from Denver put her arms up in an effort to shield herself. In response, the Texan delivered a hard right punch to the abdomen which doubled Eve over.
Kaitlyn grabbed Eve by the arm and whipped her out of the corner. Eve reversed in the middle of the ring and went for a clothesline. Kaitlyn ducked under her arm, reached out and grabbed hold of Eve, putting her head underneath her arm so she faced towards the ceiling. The crowd grew louder, immediately sensing what was coming next; the Inverted DDT was coming and Kaitlyn was about to be a mere three count away from winning her first ever championship in WWE.
As Kaitlyn went to grab Eve's right wrist, the Divas champion reached out blindly behind her, poking the challenger right in the eye. Kaitlyn immediately let go and stumbled back, her hands automatically going to her face. Eve got up from the mat, stared at her opponent for a moment, and then delivered a hard kick to Kaitlyn's taped left ankle- the same one that had been injured at Night of Champions. Kaitlyn let out a cry of pain and dropped to one knee, clutching the injured body part. Eve grabbed hold of Kaitlyn's hair and yanked her up; she tucked the challenger's head under her shoulder and slung her arm over her head as though she was about to go for a vertical suplex. Instead, she delivered a violent spinning neckbreaker- the Heart Breaker, she called it- making the back of Kaitlyn's head slam against the mat.
The crowd groaned at the sound of the impact; they figured there was no way the fan-favourite from Texas could get up from that. But surprisingly, Eve didn't go for the pin.
Instead, she stared down at the challenger's form at her feet. A cruel smile spread over her face. She reached down, grabbed hold of Kaitlyn's leg and forcefully rolled her over to her stomach. She then tucked the leg under her arm and fell violently against the mat back first, wrenching the limb hard and eliciting another cry from her opponent. She then wrapped her own legs around Kaitlyn's and twisted her foot to the side in a move that resembled a reverse grapevine ankle lock.
Eve may be no Kurt Angle, but AJ had to admit the woman knew a weakness when she saw one. Kaitlyn screamed in agony, her face almost contorted in pain. She clawed at the mat, trying desperately to drag herself to the bottom rope and force a break. Eve had her trapped right in the centre of the ring. She wasn't going anywhere.
Kaitlyn bucked from side-to-side in an attempt to free herself without success. She kicked out in vain with her free leg, trying to land a shot in Eve's face, but couldn't reach far enough. Unable to reach Eve's hands locked around her ankle, the Houston-native grabbed hold of the champion's thighs and tried to force them apart and off her limb, but Eve's positioning made it impossible; she couldn't budge them an inch. In this position, Kaitlyn's powerful lower body strength was absolutely useless, and her escape attempts only made Eve crank up the pressure even more.
AJ couldn't help but wince slightly; she could literally feel the tendons being re-torn in the Texan's ankle. She watched as Kaitlyn pounded her hand on the mat frantically and referee Mike Chioda motioned for the bell.
DING, DING, DING!
Sheeeeee looks good to me!
She's got everything I want!
Everything I need!
"The winner of this match as the result of a submission, and STILL WWE Divas Champion, Eve Torres!" Justin Roberts announced.
The fans booed at the announcement and shouted insults towards the victor, but their gestures fell on deaf ears. In the ring, the Coloradan was ignoring Chioda's orders to release the hold. Instead, she twisted the ankle to an almost impossible angle, making Kaitlyn scream and writhe in pain even more.
AJ narrowed her eyes at the scene. Eve seemed hell-bent on breaking the former Chickbuster's leg.
Well, that wouldn't do at all…
Despite the fact she was wearing her full GM business attire, AJ ran- for once she didn't skip- out from behind the curtain down the ramp, her entrance music not accompanying her for the first time in a while. A nice-sized roar of cheers spread across the audience at the sight of the Geek Goddess, running down evidently to help her former teammate.
The sudden change of boos to cheers from the crowd drew Eve's attention towards the ramp, where she saw AJ running full tilt towards the ring. She immediately released the submission hold on Kaitlyn, grabbed her championship belt from the referee and slid out of the back of the ring just as AJ was sliding in.
Breathing heavily, eyes locked on the tiny Diva, Eve slowly made her way around the ring and up the ramp. Though she had a size advantage over AJ, there was something about the General Manager that made her uneasy and unwilling to confront her- for now.
Ignoring the retreating Divas champion, AJ walked over to where Kaitlyn lay and stood over her. The Texan's eyes caught the movement in front of her before the figure took shape and turned into a pair of dress pants. She blinked and followed the pants up until she was staring into the face of her apparent saviour.
AJ's face remained expressionless for a few moments. Then she bent down and took hold of Kaitlyn's hand.
The fans cheered and clapped as the GM gently pulled her former teammate up. Kaitlyn was barely standing upright for a whole second, putting all her weight on her good leg, when AJ suddenly grabbed hold on her in a tight hug, making the fans pop even more. Kaitlyn stood awkwardly for a moment, unsure of how to react. After a few seconds, she slowly lifted her arms and returned the hug.
The two stood embracing in the middle of the ring for several moments, the fans cheering, whistling and clapping in approval. One guy in a red cap in the front row by the ramp held up a sign that read Chickbusters 4 Life.
The two finally loosened their grip, each lightly grasping each other by the shoulders. "Thank you," Kaitlyn said with sincerity.
AJ looked up at Kaitlyn's face. "You okay?" She asked.
The two-toned Diva nodded with a smile. "Yeah."
A blank expression slowly appeared on the Geek Goddess' face. Eyes half-closed and unfocused, she seemed to look through her former teammate.
Her lips parted. "Good."
AJ brought up her foot and slammed it right into Kaitlyn's injured ankle.
The entire arena seemed to enter into a vacuum. One second, the fans were cheering and clapping. The next, there was dead silence. For one second, you could hear a pin drop in the nosebleed section.
In that one second, Kaitlyn dropped to the mat like a ton of bricks, letting out a loud cry and grabbing her leg. Everyone watching could almost feel the pain that tore through her limb; her eyes were squeezed shut so tightly there were hints of tears in the corners.
The second passed and the crowd came alive again. Except this time there were no cheers. There were shouts and exclamations of shock and disbelief. They quickly turned into a hailstorm of boos.
AJ didn't hear them. Well, she heard them but not in the way she normally would have. Just a few months ago, the mere thought of the fans directing boos her way would have horrified her.
Now, staring down at her former friend, the first reaction from her was a large grin. It spread across her face, twisting the GM's face from that of a cute young woman to a psychotic maniac.
Slowly she walked to the other side of the ring and signalled for a microphone. Retrieving it from the somewhat nervous crew member, she ignored the negative reception by the crowd and walked back to the centre. Kaitlyn lay huddled on her side, both hands clutching at her injured limb.
"Hmmm, now who do we have here, lying on the mat in pain?" AJ said into the mike as she crouched down. "Oh, you know what? I know who this is!" She grinned triumphantly, as though just having won a lifetime supply of free tickets to Comic Con. "It's Kaitlyn, my best friend in the whole wide world!"
She reached down underneath Kaitlyn's head and lifted it up so her former friend was looking at her. Aside from the pain, Kaitlyn's eyes filled with shock and confusion. The camera zoomed in for a close shot of it; viewers could practically sense the two-toned Diva asking in her mind 'Why?'
AJ went on undeterred. "And you know, Kaitlyn… since you are my best friend, I'm going to be totally honest with you. When I wished you luck with your match tonight against Eve, I really did mean it. I mean, having a busted leg and all, you needed all the luck you could get. And against the woman you believed busted it too!"
She let out a chuckle. "Oh, Kaitlyn… you were so focused on Eve, so convinced she had disguised herself to attack you at Night of Champions…" She gave a devilish grin. "That it never occurred to you that geeks sometimes like to wear wigs too…"
AJ's smile widened at the reaction her words caused; at the gasps of shock in the audience; at the audible shouts of shock and disbelief from Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. But most of all from Kaitlyn; a look of pure shock filled her face at the realization not only that her friend- her best friend- had been behind her attack, but that AJ had been inside her personal circle all along afterwards. She'd let her in, the woman who'd stabbed her in the back, and let her share her space all along. That realization gave way to a look of horror and fear at the evident danger she now realized she was in.
"So now that you know what really happened, I just want to thank you for being such a good friend." AJ grinned, standing back up. "It's such a shame it couldn't last longer." She shrugged. "Oh well. Just to show there are no hard feelings…"
She lifted up her foot and brought down hard- right on Kaitlyn's injured angle. There was a sickening CRACK a split second after the contact as the bone snapped in half. Kaitlyn let out an almost inhuman scream of pure agony and grabbed her leg. She rolled from side to side on the map, her face dampening as a flood of tears poured from her eyes.
AJ dropped the mic onto the mat, watching the spectacle before her eyes. She kept her eyes locked on her former best friend's figure writhing in pain. Referees and security swarmed into the ring around her, with at least half a dozen forming a barrier between the two women. She could vaguely remember a stretcher being brought into the ring and Charles Robinson telling her to back off while they attended to the Texan.
AJ smirked as she watched the panic and pandemonium flourish around the ring. EMTs knelt beside Kaitlyn, trying to comfort her and calm her down so they could get her onto the stretcher and stabilize her leg. AJ made the tiniest step towards her former friend and had to hold back a laugh at the alarm in Robinson's eyes as he pleaded with her to stay back.
AJ slowly backed away and slid under the bottom rope. As she started backing away up the ramp, more EMTs rushed past her into the ring carrying medical bags. At this point, she finally allowed the atmosphere of the arena to wash over her and allow the boos and jeers from the fans to reach her ears. Looking over towards the front row, she saw little kids looking at her with a scared expression on their faces and young college kids shouting insults at her and giving her obscene gestures. Her gaze turned over towards the fan with the red cap who was now staring daggers at her and booing relentlessly. He had flipped his sign around and held it high over his head. It now read AJ IS A PSYCHO.
She looked around the entire arena- an arena that just two minutes earlier had cheered her like she was a hometown hero. That same arena was now tearing her apart verbally. The Geek Goddess had become Public Enemy Number One in a matter of moments.
AJ laughed, turned around and skipped on her merry way to the back.
That moment was now replaying itself over and over in her mind as she skipped down the hallway towards her office. Oh, what fun it was to be the boss! She could do what she wanted when she wanted and there was no one who even wanted to approach her to call her on it.
Well, almost no one.
"AJ!" The GM stopped in her tracks as Layla rushed up to her. The British Diva had a look of shock and concern on her face that nearly caused AJ to burst out laughing once again. She managed to restrain herself and say in a reasonably professional tone, "Yes, Layla, something I can help you with?"
"What the bloody hell was that?" Layla demanded.
"What was what?"
"What just happened out there in the ring with Kaitlyn! What else?" Layla exclaimed.
"Oh, right! Yeah, that was pretty disappointing, wasn't it?" AJ said with mock disappointment. "For a second there I thought she was actually going to pull it off. Oh, well. Guess she wasn't champion material after all."
"You know perfectly well what I mean! AJ, that's your best friend!"
"Was," AJ corrected without hesitation. "Somehow I don't think we are any more."
Layla stared at the General Manager. "How could you do that to her?"
AJ stared right back. "How?" she repeated. "Simple. I wanted to do something fun. So I did something fun!" She spoke as though it were the simplest thing in the world.
"AJ," Layla said slowly. "I'm really worried about you. I mean, ever since you got involved with Punk there's been something… different about you."
"Different," AJ repeated. "You mean something wrong with me."
"No, no!" Layla said quickly. "I just mean I'm concerned that maybe you've become a little too wrapped up in this whole 'crazy chick' thing. I mean, let's face it… you're not the same woman you were a year ago."
"So that's a problem?" The tone in AJ's voice changed, just a little bit.
"I think maybe you need to tone it down a little bit, that's all."
"What's wrong, Layla?" AJ narrowed her eyes. "You don't like crazy chicks?"
AJ was suddenly right up in her face. Layla suddenly felt rather uncomfortable as the GM went on in a slow, almost dazed voice. "I thought you had a thing for bad boys. What about bad girls, Lay? I thought you liked it…both ways."
Layla made a very strange face. It was a bizarre combination of wide-eyed confusion, shock and disbelief. She raised her hands and slowly backed away from AJ without saying another word.
AJ laughed again and continued on her way.
The Geek Goddess came to a halt- almost a screeching halt- as the World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus suddenly appeared right in front of her. "What the hell was that ou' there?" the Irishman demanded. "And don' tell me ya don' know what I'm talkin' about!"
AJ looked at him coolly. She knew that unlike Layla, the Great White was unlikely to be cowed by her unpredictable attitude. "If you're referring to what happened with Kaitlyn in the ring Sheamus, don't bother. It's not your concern."
"Not my concern?" Sheamus drew himself to his full height, towering over her. "It is my concern when one of the few Divas in this company who can actually wrestle gets her leg broken by her alleged best friend!"
"Former best friend." AJ corrected.
"What the hell's goin' on, AJ? First Punk turns his back on the WWE universe and now you turn yer back on Kaitlyn? Did ye both drink the same Kool-Aid or somethin' like that?"
AJ could barely hold back an amused snicker. Really, she thought, how pathetic was that? Comparing her to CM Punk was so yesterday's news- so five comic book issues ago. But what amused her more was the World Champion's aggressive defence of her former best friend. It didn't take someone with the detective skills of Batman to see the looks shared between Sheamus and Kaitlyn. In fact, the two-toned Texan had mentioned to her on more than one occasion- while they were still friends- on how impressive she found the Celtic Warrior and how she wouldn't mind getting to spend more time with him. Sheamus for his part was much the same way; she had heard through the grapevine that was locker-room gossip that his limitless self-confidence seemed to evaporate whenever Kaitlyn's name was brought up and he became as irreversibly tongue-tied as a pubescent teenage boy. That was, unless, someone brought her up in a negative way; John Cena had let it slip to her last week that Antonio del Rio had announced his less-than-noble intentions towards the Texan, and that Sheamus had threatened to 'kick his bleedin' 'ead off' if he so much as laid a finger on her.
Really, how pathetic could you get?
"What I choose to do as General Manager is my business, Sheamus. I'd advise you to stay out of it."
"Like hell." Sheamus looked down at her, not giving an inch. "I don't know what's gone through yer head lately but I sure as hell am not going to stand for it."
"Be careful," she warned. "You forget who you're talking to."
"Oh, I know exactly who I'm talkin' to. I just never realized Vickie Guerrero suddenly went on a health kick."
AJ swore she felt her eye twitch. "Don't compare me to Vickie."
"Why not? 'Cause right now I can't tell the difference. Damn it all, AJ! Kaitlyn was yer friend-"
"And I am your boss." AJ's voice was colder than concrete. "Which means you'll do what I tell you to do. If I tell you to dance, I expect you to dance. If I tell you to back off, I expect you to back off. And right now, I'm telling you to back off and get ready to get out there because as of right now, you're in a handicap match against Kane and Daniel Bryan. Since you're so eager for confrontation, I'm giving you the opportunity to take it out in the ring- where it belongs."
"I've got no problem with that." Sheamus glared at her. "But lemme just tell you right now AJ, this isn't over by a long shot. If Kaitlyn's career is ended because you let all that power go to yer head," he got right up close to her face, "I won't be so nice next time."
AJ stared right back at him unblinkingly. For a moment she didn't say anything. If she were being honest, she'd admit she was a more than a little bit intimidated. But she wasn't about to let that show. Pursuing her lips, she straightened out her suit jacket. "Your match is next. I suggest you get ready." And she strode past him without saying another word.
There was no more skip in her step as she headed towards her office. How dare he, she thought. How dare he compare her to Vickie Guerrero? She was ten times the General Manager that Vickie had been. She was ten times the General Manger that anyone else had been. Better than Vickie, better than John Laurinaitis or Teddy Long. Better than Eric Bischoff or Stephanie McMahon. And at least she treated her position of power with some dignity. She didn't do what Eve had done, slinking around in outfits that she looked she was about to pop out of any second or using her looks to gain power over men. She took her job seriously and no one was going to stop her!
Her hardened look slowly gave way to a small smirk as she entered her office. Sheamus could make all the noise he wanted; it wouldn't change anything. But if he knew what was good for him, he'd concentrate on defending his World Heavyweight Championship and stay out of her personal affairs.
And if he didn't, well… it would be a damn shame for him to get suspended while he was so over with the fans. Sure, he wasn't technically doing anything that would merit that, but things could be arranged so they would lean against him. The company was so stringent about Superstars following their Wellness Policy they wouldn't accept anyone straying from it. Even one of the top guys wouldn't be spared if his next test came up positive for steroids…
Settling at her desk, AJ's smirk transformed into a giggling grin. Sure, she could be a little harsh but everything she did was for the best. Kaitlyn wasn't worthy of being Divas Champion so she had cleared the way for someone who would be successful. There was only one championship for women in the WWE and only the cream of the crop deserved to have a shot at it. She had opened up an opportunity for another young Diva to live her dream.
She opened up a black leather notebook on her desk at opened it to a blank page. At the top of the page, she wrote WrestleMania. Right underneath, she scribbled out her latest stroke of genius.
Last Woman Standing Match for the Divas Championship: Eve Torres vs. AJ Lee.