WWE Diva AJ Lee Retires

WWE announced on its website Friday that one of its top divas, A.J. Lee, had retired from active wrestling.

Honestly, it’s surprising she made it this far.

It’s not that A.J. Lee isn’t good at what she does. She’s one of the best, if we’re being honest. But if you’re not “in the know,” A.J. is married to former WWE wrestler CM Punk, who had a well-publicized split from the company last January.

A.J. returned to work around June of last year, and had been working full-time with WWE for months until this past week. In November of 2014, Punk went on The Art of Wrestling podcast, hosted by his close friend Colt Cabana, and blasted WWE for several things, most notably how the medical staff treated his many injuries. Punk was blunt, and admitted that there was a lawsuit involved, of which WWE sent Punk a settlement.

I’ve never worked a day in my life for WWE, but I’m guessing it was a fairly uncomfortable work environment for A.J., even though I’m sure WWE was forced to go out of its way to pretend everything was OK.

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Last month, in response to Patricia Arquette’s speech at the Academy Awards, WWE Chief Brand Officer, Stephanie McMahon, tweeted a thank you, including using the hashtag #UseYourVoice.

Well, A.J. responded to Stephanie with a pair of tweets:

“Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise & have starred in the highest rated segment of the show several times,” A.J. wrote in her first tweet before following up with, “and yet they receive a fraction of the wages & screen time of the majority of the male roster. #UseYourVoice

Stephanie responded with a thank you tweet, saying “I appreciate [A.J.’s] opinion.”

Awkward.

Given her husband’s grievances with the company, my guess is that A.J. — rightfully — just wanted out. She worked WrestleMania 31 last weekend, teaming with Paige to defeat the Bella Twins, and then it appears that she promptly gave her notice.

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I find it interesting that WWE has worded this as a retirement, but that probably has to do with legalities. My guess is that A.J.’s contract isn’t up, and therefore she would be in breach if she did anything other than retire. But by using retirement, it also makes it abundantly clear that WWE is intent on making her honor whatever terms are left on her deal. So I’d be surprised if you saw A.J. turn up on TNA, or any other television entity for that matter, until the terms of her contract are fulfilled. But that said, I’m not sure she has any intent to go back on television.

If A.J. and Punk were smart with their money, and none of us have any reason to believe they weren’t, then perhaps living a normal life after so much time in the public eye is what they’re looking for. I can’t argue with that.

Punk’s jump to MMA with the UFC still keeps him as a celebrity, if you will, but he’s also not nearly on the road as much as he was with WWE and has a chance to live much more of a normal lifestyle. Far be it from anyone to be upset about that.

As a fan, you can be upset that you’ll miss watching A.J. perform. But let’s remember that fans don’t own these performers. They don’t “owe” you anything. If they want to ride off into the sunset, then so be it.