There was a shocking announcement late on Friday afternoon as World Wrestling Entertainment announced that former three-time Divas Champion AJ Lee has retired. Lee was on the winning side in the divas tag match at WrestleMania on Sunday.
WWE announced her retirement via Twitter with the following tweet.
BREAKING: AJ Lee (April Mendez) has decided to retire from in-ring competition with WWE. We wish AJ the very best.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2015
The news was also confirmed on WWE.com as well. Lee just turned 28 years old a few weeks ago. She changed her last name to Brooks when she got married.
As most people know, Lee married CM Punk (Phil Brooks) last summer. He left WWE on very bad terms in January 2014, then ripped the company in a major way in November 2014 and WWE’s Dr. Chris Amann has sued Punk as well as his friend Colt Cabana for comments they made criticizing Amann’s work as a doctor. Is that a factor in her retiring? It might.
Lee has been working with a back injury for several months. We don’t know the severity of it, but it has been bad enough that she missed several months of action multiple times in the last year and hasn’t worked that many house shows in that period as well.
Another factor could be that she has lost interest in wrestling or is dissatisfied with things in WWE in terms of creative. She didn’t look that excited to be out there. A babyface should play to the fans a lot more than she did. Sometimes it looked like she was just going through the motions.
We’ve seen other divas retire at relatively young ages like her friend Kaitlyn or Kelly Kelly. Women like Michelle McCool and Beth Phoenix chose to walk away, then had children soon after because they were ready for that aspect of their life. Maybe AJ wants to start a family and this was the best thing for her.
Until we hear something from her and keep in mind we may not hear anything for a while, we won’t know for sure. It could be a case of simply not wanting to do it anymore, in which case we all should understand because it’s not an easy business.
Her WWE career lasted six years since she signed in developmental in 2009 and she accomplished a lot. She was unquestionably the top diva in the company from 2011 to 2013 and received more screen time than any other woman in the company during that period. In 2014 she appeared less often although she had a lengthy feud with Paige.
As for WWE and the future of their divas division, they won’t be hurt by this too much. They have a lot of talented women on the main roster that are waiting for an opportunity. In addition to that, the NXT roster is full of female talent with Charlotte and Sasha Banks both proving they are very ready to be on the main roster.
Good luck to AJ Lee in her future in whatever she does next. This is just another reminder that we should appreciate the performers that are in the ring while they are because you just never know when they might walk away.