AJ Lee and Paige's battle over the WWE Divas Championship has felt more like pat-a-cake than a war.
Their story is limping along. A clash between two of the top Divas should be more engaging and generating more buzz. That won't happen until the aggression between them is amped up.
A lack of violence and rage is hurting the feud. Monday's Raw was a prime example of how tame things have been between them.
During their tag match, they antagonized each other but only playfully. Paige mockingly blew a kiss at AJ. AJ later skipped around the ring, mirroring Paige and annoying her.
Mild irritation is not the centerpiece of an anticipated matchup. There has only been the faintest hint of aggression between them so far, and that has made it a more lackluster story than it could be.
A grinning Paige confronted AJ on the Aug. 5 edition of Main Event. She talked about respecting and loving her in a segment with little spark.
In a tag match on Raw from Sept. 8, AJ tagged herself in with a slap to the chest. Rather than have that blow build to something, the mood shifted. AJ grabbed the Divas title and pressed her lips to it. Paige kissed it as well, giving her foe a dismissive look.
Tension between the women has to escalate more than that.
There's more bad blood between The Bunny and Heath Slater right now. And that's a problem.
Paige and AJ's feud simply hasn't had enough aggression. There have been no backstage brawls, sneak attacks or injury—all tropes we have seen time and time again in the best feuds.
The most intense thing to happen between them so far has been Paige pushing her "frenemy" off the entrance ramp on Aug. 1.
We simply haven't seen enough of this kind of moment. Instead, Paige and AJ have been busy annoying each other and, on occasion, what appears to be flirting.
And that's the direction WWE is apparently headed with the story moving forward. According to PWInsider Elite (subscription required) (h/t Wrestling Inc), the idea of their feud has been to tease sexual tension between the two Divas. The report also notes that WWE wants to go further with the angle.
AJ and Paige closing in for a kiss is tantalizing and all, especially for the teenage boys in the crowd, but that's a misguided route to take.
It doesn't make the audience want to see them fight. It does little to get one pumped for Night of Champions or future bouts.
What can the Divas champ and the No. 1 contender playing out some hackneyed lesbian fantasy lead to anyway? This is the era of PG-TV. WWE is not going to go much further than innuendo.
The smarter path is for the two wrestlers to be angrier with each other, to inject the fury that this feud has been lacking.
As painful as Nikki vs. Brie Bella has been, at least they have been clawing at each other. They have clear reasons to want to kick each other in the face.
What's the incentive to see AJ and Paige fight?
Acts of treachery cause the crowd to root against the villain. The pursuit of revenge encourages folks to pay attention to how a story unfolds. Neither of those things is at play enough here.
For WWE to make the most of two of its most talented female wrestlers, it needs to turn up the dial on the intensity. Skipping, smiling and kisses aren't going to cut it.