AJ Lee, originally from Union City New Jersey and trained by Jay Lethal, was everything one could want in a WWE Diva. She was incredibly athletic, great on the mic, able to connect with fans as both face and heel, and gorgeous. She was a geek girl who put her real life into her character rocking hi-top Converse Chuck’s to the ring. She was the longest reigning Diva’s champion at 295 consecutive days. And now, as of this writing anyway, she is done. AJ Lee retired from the ring at the age of 28, leaving on top after a victory at WrestleMania 31. In a super classy move, during her last match on Raw, AJ wore a Bailey shirt to the ring. (Bailey being one of the NXT divas and someone AJ had mentioned as having a bright future in WWE) I’m sad to see her go, but happy it was her decision.
AJ didn’t start out as the best female wrestler in the world. She started out as a girl that for whatever reason, WWE felt compelled to make the “girlfriend/stalker/love-obsessed crazy chick” of a number of WWE performers. During her time with the company AJ was featured in romantic storylines with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Kane, John Cena, and Dolph Ziggler. There were proposals, affairs, weddings, and general nonsense built around these storylines that in my opinion, truly diminished the overall product. (I know it’s fake but should WWE have run a storyline with John Cena having an on-air relationship with a coworker while he was going through a divorce for having a relationship with a coworker? No, they should not have.)
Once they broke from that tired trope though, AJ was week in and week out one of the top performers on the show, male or female. In June of 2013, AJ won her first Diva’s Championship, getting the victory over former friend and tag-team partner, Kaitlyn. She would hold that belt for 295 days before dropping it to a debuting Paige on April 7th, 2014. During this time most of her feuds were with the cast of the WWE reality TV series, Total Divas. Being one of the only Divas, not on the show, AJ claimed a certain credibility over the other girls. This feud led to one of the most important moments of AJ’s career and one of the most important moments for women in the WWE.
While that video is pretty damn scathing, just look at the difference between AJ and the rest of the division. She is leaps and bounds above those girls. She is a complete person, not a shrieking child yelling “you’re jealous” or “say it to my face” or rolling her eyes. And she was right by the way. 2013 was the year of AJ and she did more to legitimize the division than any before her.
There may never be another Diva more important to WWE than AJ Lee. She is a no doubt hall of famer. I’m certainly going to miss the black widow and the shinning wizard every week. (badass moves btw) I’m sure she will be back at some point but until then, just like was trending after the announcement was made, #thankyouaj