Monday night lessons: What I learned from Big E Langston, Kaitlyn and AJ Lee

1. Big E has more to him than you think.

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On the surface, Big E looks like your run of the mill meathead. He has an impressive physique, but there’s not much about him that commands attention besides his choice of ring attire. Or so I thought.

Once the initial shock of him being the crush faded away, Big E held my attention. My usual reaction to someone speaking during the course of a wrestling show is to listen until I’m bored enough to check an app, or until someone else’s music hits.

When Big E was downright likeable until he threw Kaitlyn down and started laughing at her.

Yelling and intimidation can work in certain situations, but sometimes believability goes a longer way than bravado.

2. Characters have layers. And that’s good.

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AJ Lee is a tiny firecracker who plays head games with her opponents. She’s unstable and almost always garners a reaction solely for being crazy. But as we all heard on Monday, she’s not just crazy. She’s downright diabolical.

The only thing you have that means anything is that Diva’s title.

In my opinion, AJ’s words and actions on Monday took this problem between ladies from catfight to serious business very quickly.

AJ admitted that she’d been envious of Kaitlyn being champion, and would she would be happy to put the final nail in the coffin on Kaitlyn’s title reign.

When AJ says she wants the title in the manner that she did, she gave the title legitimacy. It’s not just a pretty accessory to these women. This title is something worth fighting for and to be jealous of someone else possessing. Until Monday, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a lady grappler talk about the Diva’s title that way.

You don’t always hear a wrestler talk about wanting anything, and when you do, it’s usually how I sound when asking a store clerk for a certain color of nail polish. AJ made me believe that she’s going to beat Kaitlyn and take what’s hers. That was unexpected. Kind of like what happened next.

3. Expecting the unexpected.

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Kaitlyn’s performance on Monday surprised me. She’s known as the goofy, funny diva who cracks mustache jokes on Twitter. It’s her trademark. And we all know that it’s easy to do what’s expected. But since Kaitlyn began having issues with AJ, she’s ditching comfortable and taking the viewer to another place.

Kaitlyn made herself human and vulnerable on Monday. That’s a detail usually lost in the plethora of screaming and chest beating that we normally see in wrestling. She added a new dimension to her character by acting like anybody would if put in that situation. She was uncomfortable, hurt and human. And it worked in a big way.

4. Go beyond the norm to tell your story.

It’s become too easy for a performer to go the normal route to get a reaction. Sneering at kids and making a serious face means you’re bad. Smiling and high fiving fans means you’re good. It’s easy as fans to expect that.

AJ lit into Kaitlyn in a deeply personal way, and Kaitlyn allowed herself to go to a personal place to sell us all on just how terrible AJ and Big E were to her. I haven’t seen anybody, male or female be able to do this effectively in a long time. But these two managed to do it and get a great reaction while doing it.

There’s a reason why this segment resonated with so many people watching, and I’m glad these two were able to show everyone how this complicated dance should be done.

5. Sometimes 5 minutes is all you need.

As fans, we’ve gotten used to a wrestler coming out at the beginning of a show and taking 20 minutes to meander to their point. More popular wrestlers are allotted a longer time than others, so at times that means other people’s TV time suffers and you don’t get the 20 minutes to do a segment that John Cena does.

Monday night’s promo told me that sometimes 5 minutes is just as effective as 25. It’s up to the performers to make their time in the spotlight meaningful.

And those are the Monday lessons.

Until next time.

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