Photos courtesy of WWE
By Craig Tello
If you notice a spry, fit brunette in Converses fulfilling a mutant-centric pull list the next time you're at the comic store—especially if it's in Miami during WrestleMania week—ask her if she wrestles. But keep watch for her World Champion boyfriend.
|AJ gets geeky|
WWE Diva AJ is every geeky sports-entertainment fan's dream girl. Unlike every other femme fatale in the squared circle, AJ’s not a leggy blonde in heels and bedazzled ring gear. Whereas her fellow ladies of the ring walk around garbed in the la
Today, the spunky damsel has come a long way from tussling with her sibling. When not at the side of World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, AJ clashes with WWE’s top Divas on Friday Night SmackDown. But when she’s not doing that or preparing for WrestleMania XXVIII on April 1, she’s got her mind on the things that young dudes typically dig, including the upcoming battle between Marvel’s X-Men and the Avengers.
Marvel.com: The WWE Universe knows that you're not like the other WWE Divas. You play video games, enjoy cartoons and wear casual Converses over heels. What about comic books?
AJ: I grew up pretty much mimicking whatever my older brother would do. He was a huge comic fan and would give them to me when he was done. I was his comic book sidekick. I never realized that being into comics, anime, video games, wrestling, and borrowing my brother's clothes made me a tomboy. I guess I never changed, except I buy my own men's clothing now.
Marvel.com: Tell us about your Marvel Comics roots. How far back does this appreciation for comics extend? What are some of your best Marvel memories? Who are your favorites and why?
|"The Dark Phoenix Saga"|
AJ: I started reading Marvel around the fourth grade. My favorites were always X-Men, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four, but I've dabbled in a few others. I majored in Film and Television production and writing in college and that love for creating was born through reading comics. At such a young age I was emotionally connected to these dramatic stories and I just wanted to be a part of them. I remember really being affected by “The
Marvel.com: Would you say that you can relate to Jean Grey?
AJ: I've never been a girly girl. I always found it fascinating to be someone who people look at and say is pretty, but is also so much more than that. [Jean] was super smart and in control, and I love her powers too. I really liked a woman who had a little masculinity to her and was kind of badass, and that's kind of who I felt I was my whole life. I'm more of a chick than a girl. Jean represented that. I was inspired and want to do the same for girls who want to be super heroes but are two-feet tall like I am. [Laughs]
I hate Emma Frost. I feel like her character is taking Jean's place and it upsets me. I always wanted to see Jean return and it never really happened, so I have something against [Emma].
|AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1 cover by Jim Cheung|
Marvel.com: Marvel’s next big event, Avengers vs. X-Men, kicks off in April, coincidentally the same week as WrestleMania. It's pretty much the biggest battle in all of comics much like WWE's annual spectacle. Whose side are you on? Why?
AJ: My favorite series of all time is X-Men, so my loyalty is definitely there. Also I feel like [the] X-Men have just been more stable of a team. There's been a lot of changing of the guard with the Avengers. The fact that some of the X-Men universe has made their way into the Avengers at times, like Wolverine and The Scarlet Witch, adds an interesting layer to the story.
Marvel.com: People are considering this comic book clash a dream matchup. Would you agree? How does this compare/relate to the dream matchup between The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania?
AJ: You're never going to get fans to 100 percent agree on something. Not everyone is going to root for the same person, and that's the great thing about our fans. When you have two of the most popular of all time going against each other it creates this visible rift between fans who whole heatedly believe either Rock or Cena are the best, and that's very similar to Avengers vs. X-Men. I'm excited to see who comes out on top in both scenarios.
Marvel.com: As an admitted Cyclops fan, what are you expecting from Cyke as he leads the mutants into war in Avengers Vs. X-Men?
AJ: I've always loved Cyclops because he's simply a good guy. I've never been one of those girls who [are] into bad boys. Ok, Wolverine, you're badass and all, but anger management is not attractive. For the most part Cyclops has always been the leader, whereas Avengers has changed leadership constantly. Cyclops has always had a high moral standard, and I'd like to see how that comes into play. Will the Avengers be a little more ruthless?
|AJ ready for action|
Marvel.com: WrestleMania is the setting for Daniel Bryan's biggest World Heavyweight Title match to date. How are you helping your man prepare?
AJ: Daniel doesn't need any help. He is positive he is going to win at WrestleMania. I just hope I get to be at his side during it.
Marvel.com: True or false: You sometimes think of yourself and Daniel Bryan as the Scott and Jean of WWE.
AJ: Oh interesting comparison. I'd say true. Daniel is a role model and an all around good guy, just like Scott Summers. Everyone should look up to Daniel. I'd say I'm like Jean Grey because A) I'm obsessed with her and it makes the fangirl in me happy to be in the same sentence as her, and B) I'm a more conservative, cerebral, independent, and strong type of woman. But if Daniel's Cyclops and I'm Jean—who's Emma Frost? I will mess her up.
Marvel.com: If you were to ever, say, break up with Daniel Bryan, would a comic geek have a chance? Would you say you skew geek?
AJ: Well, Daniel is a comic geek, so yes. I've never been into jocks or flashy dressing guys. I like laid back, modest, geeky guys who can watch “The X-Files” and “Ancient Aliens” with me. I also wouldn't want to be with someone who uses more hair products or dresses nicer than I do. For reference I use none and wear jeans from Target, “Futurama” T-shirts, and old Chucks every day. I am a self professed geek and proud of it, and I wouldn't want to be with someone who made me feel bad about that. With that said, Daniel and I will never break up. Why would you jinx us like that when you know I'm superstitious?
Marvel.com: What's more of an ideal date for you: seeing a flick like "Marvel’s The Avengers" in theaters then debating favorite characters with your date over fro-yo or a musical followed by a multi-course meal at a five-star restaurant?
AJ: First, you should probably never use the word “fro-yo” again. Trust me, it's for the best. Second, I would never see a chick flick much less a musical. And, as referenced earlier, my jeans and chucks would probably be frowned upon at a fancy restaurant. I'm definitely not the type of girl who ever wants the fancy things in life. A Marvel movie and ice cream sounds like my dream date. In fact I will have to take Daniel to see “The Avengers” when it comes out. I pay for most dates.
Catch AJ in action every week on Friday Night SmackDown at 8/7 p.m. EST on Syfy, then be sure to tune in to WWE’s annual spectacle, WrestleMania on April 1, live on pay-per-view. You can also get a closer look at AJ in eye-popping detail on the all-new WWE.com.