So on Friday night, I was pretty much ready to go to bed. I was pretty tired after a day of university work combined with the How I Would Book Brock Lesnar vs Batista blog posts (part one’s on this link and part two at this link). I was pretty much set… until I read the following tweet from @WWE themselves. And it involved one of the most important divas on the roster and one of the most “over” divas in the last five years.
The tweet read….
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
I sent out a blog post following the tweet and it’s proven to be a big hit! However, I wanted to do a follow-up piece a few days later and just before RAW. The first blog post was not really intended to be a huge analysis on the story. I did make a few observations here and there but it was short and sweet just to let you guys know of the situation at the time. Now a day or so has passed and I’ve decided to do the follow-up piece that I promised you when I wrote the first one. To take a look at the situation, what we NOW know about it and where WWE and AJ goes from here….
So as stated, the only things we had before were the tweet sent by WWE and a tweet CM Punk sent out soon afterwards…
Now with her wife involved, this tweet was inevitable. But it’s probably Punk’s first mention in a REALLY long time. Possibly since the Colt Cabana podcast back in November. Of course, it didn’t hint at anything. However, I just felt it was just a nice thing to point out. Punk leading the praises of his wife as any husband should…
Many more have tweeted about AJ as well. Mick Foley, as usual, was very active on social media about. Heck, the Bellas broke kayfabe to send their farewells to AJ too. And considering all the things AJ have said about the Bellas on television, it’s a ture touch of professionalism and class from the Bellas.
Big loss 4 the Divas Division 2day. Wish @WWEAJLee the absolute best! Want 2 c who wants 2 take the Champ on..Train harder..Ready 4 anything
— Nikki & Brie (@BellaTwins) April 4, 2015
However, it’s still not known for certain WHY AJ “retired” or what the reasons were for her departure.
Just to state the record, we’re not going to throw around the idea that WWE are hiding something or some WWE conspiracy reason for her departure. That’s not what this post is for. It’s pretty much a summary of what we know and the impact of her “retirement”.
That being said, there have been “hints” for the reasons behind her sudden departure. At least to US it was sudden. Looking back at her Wrestlemania tag team match with Paige, it could be that AJ knew she was calling it a day at WWE.
According to a NoDQ.com article,
“Regarding AJ Lee retiring from WWE, there’s already some speculation that she knew she was leaving this week before WrestleMania 31. A colleague who watched WrestleMania 31 with me thought that AJ’s post-match celebration with Paige “seemed weird” as if AJ knew this was her last big match. The two hugged for a while and AJ told Paige she loves her, which to most people didn’t seem out of the way at the time but is interesting now. We should have more on the AJ story later tonight so stay tuned.”
To be honest, I thought the huge was a pretty weird post-match celebration… at least from a kayfabe perspective. On the RAW before, Paige and AJ got into a scuffle and according to storyline couldn’t get along. Unless AJ was pulling out some unscripted jargon, which AJ has done quite a bit in the past, then there shouldn’t really be a reason for a hug like in the context of the story. Therefore, this speculation about AJ hugging Paige being a sign that AJ knew that she was leaving makes complete sense.
Again though, this doesn’t really explain WHY she left. It just indicates that AJ had been planning this departure for some time.
Now I think the general belief is that AJ’s last year in WWE has been quite an eventful one. Coming off the departure of her husband CM Punk, AJ’s been on the receiving end of a lot of idiotic “CM Punk” chants due to her relationship with the superstar turned MMA fighter. Not really AJ’s fault, but it probably effected her attitude in and out the ring a lot. AJ’s been known for a number of off-script or “shoot” moments in 2014, particularly with her Slammys speech where she praised a lot of the NXT women. I think with her being off of TV a lot of the time to be with her husband, she herself was pretty unhappy at the company.
I stated before that if AJ felt unhappy at the company than she should have just quit and I think she’s taken up my advice. I never said that in a nasty “I don’t want AJ at this company because I hate her” way by the way. It’s just if you don’t like your job and you feel it’s making you unhappy, then why bother continue it? I admire AJ for following her heart and choosing happiness over fame if that is the case. At least that’s the reason her husband gave for leaving in the Cabana podcast. So I don’t have a problem with her leaving what’s so ever. If anything, this opens the way for the NXT divas which AJ praised in the Slammys speech. This certainly paves the way for the likes of Paige and Naomi to becoming the top favorites in WWE. And that’s awesome for the both of them, who truly deserves it.
Now before I wrap this up, I’m going to look at a theory for AJ’s departure. By the way, the only reason I’m referring to it as a “departure” is because the chances are she’s just leaving the company. It would make sense for WWE to input a bit of damage control for a top star leaving by referring to it as a “retirement”. That’s what they did with Jim Ross. Again, I’m not suggesting that this is some WWE conspiracy or something. I’m just saying you shouldn’t take everything WWE tells you to be the 100% truth. Just because THEY say AJ’s done from in-ring competition doesn’t mean that she’ll wind up wrestling in the indies in a few months time. As a journalism student, the first thing I was told was to question… everything!
However, this notion suggested over why AJ left did need to be questioned… purely because of how daft it is!
InQuisitr writer Patrick Frye suggested that the UFC would be in AJ’s immediate future, following her husband into the octagon. One of the smallest divas I’ve seen in WWE fighting the toughest women in the world in the realms of MMA. Patrick first writes…
“During UFC 182, CM Punk spent almost an hour talking during a Q & A session. At one point, he was asked about who he thought could also end up in the UFC over time. Perhaps giving us a hint of things to come, CM Punk said he couldn’t count out AJ Lee as a possibility. With AJ Lee leaving the WWE, the possibility seems more than just an off-the-cuff remark.
“Ronda Rousey just so happens to be a big fan of CM Punk. In fact, the first time they met in person Rousey actually fangasmed all over Punk. While it’s questionable whether AJ Lee Vs. Ronda Rousey would be a good idea based upon MMA skill (or lack thereof), you have to believe that Dana White is seeing potential dollar signs floating in the air.”
Saying Rousey is a big of Punk is a potential reason for AJ wanting to go to WWE is like me saying that because Jeremy Clarkson is a fan of Will Young, he’s gonna start performing duets with the singer and form a band with him! As great of a future that sounds,that’s obviously NOT going to happen.
Also, the potential of AJ vs Rousey is very far-fetched considering the weight differences between the two. AJ Lee weights 52kg, compared to Rousey’s 61kg. You have to be at least 57kg in order to compete in the division so a potential fight is unlikely unless AJ were to proper beef up!
I can’t necessarily RULE OUT a UFC run for AJ since I thought there was no way Punk would sign with UFC and I was proven wrong. However, the idea of Rousey vs AJ at UFC is pretty ridiculous and UFC can’t constantly be thinking of signing AJ to their women’s division. Unless they were doing to say “Screw you WWE” or just as a publicity stunt, in which case that would be pretty absurd.
I was gonna keep going through other theories as well like marriage problems and a potential pregnancy but I’ve decided to call it a day for now. My estimation is that it’s down to simply AJ being unhappy at the company. It’s pretty hard not to be. Considering a lot of wrestlers that have left WWE nowadays seem to be leaving on sour terms, it seems to be that Punk’s description of WWE as being a very toxic working environment is pretty accurate. AJ having taken breaks from WWE a few times in the past year were probably indicators to this.
All I can say is that after four years, AJ Lee is no longer a WWE diva. To say that AJ’s career was “legendary” seems to be a little too much. I’d hardly call it a Hall Of Fame worthy run, as Joey Styles suggested. But in her time in WWE, AJ did impact the WWE divas division quite a bit. Having held the divas title for nearly a year herself, AJ’s done a pretty good job in getting people talking about the women of WWE. But with her career only lasting four years and a lot of it being clouded by affiliation with CM Punk, I don’t think her career had reached the point of legendary. I don’t think she did so much for the company that she should be bestowed this honor. Unless she were to somewhere down the road return, I don’t think she’s done enough to be considered one of the best divas of all time.I personally didn’t see her to be SUCH a strong in-ring worker.
But nevertheless, AJ was still a top diva, even at the end of her run. And good luck to her, wherever she ends up…