As one of the most successful WWE Divas of the last decade, the retirement of AJ Lee is another black-eye for the world’s leader in sports-entertainment. Leaving after Wrestle Mania 31, it was a significant loss for the Divas division.
Rampant speculation online has led some to assume that the cause of this retirement is attributed to an ongoing legal battle involving her husband, former champion CM Punk. Of note, the legal issues surround frustrations with one of WWE’s corporate physicians and a misdiagnosis, followed by a subsequent distribution of medication.
The matter that truly compounds such Lee’s retirement is the fact that CM Punk was dismissed from the WWE on their wedding day in June 2014. Although this was stated on a podcast as a coincidence, obviously it was not the easiest situation for Lee to endure. Taking into account that she was never a cast member of WWE’s successful television program, Total Divas, this recent development could certainly lead to speculation as to why she was never involved. Considering the almost three years that WWE invested into developing her character (from Florida Championship Wrestling to NXT), there is almost the feeling that talent is treated as disposable.
In many ways, the suffering endured by Lee and her husband bears many similarities to Bret Hart and the sad turn his career took back in 1997. With family working in the company as well, it led to bad blood as some accompanied him to WCW. Sadly, it placed his brother Owen in a difficult situation as he was still contractually obligated to the company.
A tactic also used in mixed martial arts, the use of the word retirement was perceived as the only way to escape from her contract with WWE. Compounding this decision is the fact that she cannot work elsewhere until the remainder of her contract has expired. With very few other promotions offering a viable alternative, the next stage in Lee’s career may be one filled with frustration.
Messages on social media have already indicated that Lee may be engaging in a new career altogether, with a book deal in the works. Regardless, Lee’s wrestling career should not have faced such an abrupt and somewhat malicious ending. A three-time WWE Divas champion, she was also its longest reigning champion. Unfortunately, politics is an ugly reality in wrestling, and one that does not show much mercy.