Sunday, April 14

Why AJ Lee Retired From WWE & What She’s Done Since Retirement, Explained

AJ Lee was perceived as a highly talented and gifted in-ring competitor in the history of WWE. During a time when women were not getting significant opportunities and time, the crazy superstar was knocking down doors by being featured in high-profile programs with main event superstars like John Cena, CM Punk, Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler.

However, in a shocking fashion, AJ Lee announced her retirement from the company in April 2015. This came right after she had a marquee match at WrestleMania 31, teaming up with her friend Paige to defeat The Bella Twins. While fans believed for years that they could see the former WWE Divas Champion back inside the squared circle, AJ Lee has stayed away from competing ever since.

Moreover, there were a lot of speculations indicating various reasons for AJ Lee abruptly leaving her life-long dream. But she has seemed to walk past all those towards a much happier and healthier life, pursuing various ventures and getting associated with wrestling once again in a completely different fashion. So let’s explore the subject of AJ Lee retiring from WWE and her life beyond the global juggernaut.


With CM Punk’s return to professional wrestling in AEW, many fans have also speculated as to if AJ Lee was going to lace up her Converse and step back into the ring. She was an extremely talented professional wrestler and was a star of her era. Lee’s legacy contributed greatly to the changes in the world of professional wrestling for women. Due to her contributions, women’s wrestling is in a far better place than it was a decade ago. That would not have been possible without her. While she has not wrestled since 2015, never say never in professional wrestling. And with CM Punk in WWE, maybe, just maybe, there is an opportunity to see her back in the ring.

AJ Lee’s Retirement Was Believed To Have Happened Due To Her Relationship With CM Punk

The Couple Have Been Married Since 2014

  • CM Punk left WWE in 2014 after the Royal Rumble PLE.
  • AJ Lee had been frustrated with WWE’s treatment of women.
  • Lee had been stuck in an awkward position during CM Punk’s legal issues with WWE.

When AJ Lee surprised the world by announcing her unexpected retirement from WWE, various rumors started making rounds to dig out the reason for her decision. A prime thought running strong at the time was that AJ Lee left due to the strained relationship of the company with her real-life husband, CM Punk. Not so long before that, CM Punk walked out on WWE, citing creative frustrations and health issues.

This led to a lawsuit battle between CM Punk and WWE doctor, Chris Amann, which somewhat created an uncomfortable situation for AJ Lee to still be in the company, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Moreover, she was also frustrated with the way women were treated by WWE with no meaningful TV time or matches at the time. In fact, that was the only way for AJ Lee to exit the company due to being contractually obligated to a multi-year deal with WWE.

AJ Lee Retired Primarily Due To Neck Injuries Sustained

She Had To Be Protected In Numerous Matches

  • Lee started taking fewer and fewer bumps in the ring.
  • She had three herniated discs in her spine.
  • Saraya had protected Lee numerous times in their matches with one another.

Despite being speculated that her relationship with CM Punk led to her WWE departure, AJ Lee clarified that she suffered a series of injuries from her years in the wrestling industry. AJ’s good friend, Paige (Saraya in AEW) revealed on WWE Backstage that she was suffering from nagging issues before their match for the WWE Divas Championship at SummerSlam 2014 with the bout being a short one and AJ not taking a single bump.

“I just remember her nursing something and knowing the next day she was going to take a break and go take care of it. We actually got through the whole match without her taking one bump. Which is wonderful! I said, ‘We’re going to protect you at all costs.”

However, AJ Lee went on to reveal the exact nature of the injuries later during her appearance on The Sessions with Renee Paquette, stating that she had three herniated disks in her spine before the match.

“I herniated 3 discs in my cervical spine the week before this match, and couldn’t turn my head or feel my hands. The doctor asked me if I had been in a car crash, haha.
protected me fiercely like a goddamn superhero (I think even helped dress me), so I heart her forever.”

Therefore, it can be cited that severe injuries sustained from the burnout of the wrestling schedule was the main reason for AJ Lee to hang up her Converse in 2015.

AJ Lee Has Pursued Various Ventures Outside Of Professional Wrestling

She Is A New York Times Best Selling Author

AJ Lee Author Cropped

  • Lee released her memoir in 2017.
  • She has been involved in writing comic books with DC Comics.
  • Lee has been involved with various charities, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Jed Foundation, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

AJ Lee’s life after WWE has been nothing short of remarkable. Two years after her retirement, her first book, titled Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules was published on April 4, 2017. The book outlined her upbringing and highly accomplished career in wrestling and debuted among the top 10 on The New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover non-fiction.

Furthermore, she is also overseeing the post-production process of her upcoming Netflix film Blade of the 47 Ronin for which she has also written the screenplay with John Swetman. AJ Lee also wrote a fair share of comic books and served as an ambassador for organizations that worked towards improving mental health and animal welfare.

AJ Lee’s Legacy In Professional Wrestling Continues To Impact Many

She Is A Three-Time WWE Divas Champion

WWE Signing

May 2009

Final WWE Match

3/30/2015 Monday Night RAW AJ Lee, Naomi, and Paige vs Natalya and The Bella Twins

Notable Accomplishments

WWE Divas Champion

Finally, the former three-time WWE Divas Champion made her return to the world of professional wrestling in October 2021. AJ Lee became a part of Women of Wrestling (WOW), joining the promotion as an executive producer. She has also provided color commentary for WOW’s weekly television program that began in 2022. In some sense, AJ Lee returned to the business, primarily to serve as an advocate for the betterment of women’s wrestling. In 2023, she announced that she was departing WOW.

AJ Lee’s storied career and legacy will always live in the hearts of the fans who admired her work ethic and will continue to pave the way for future generations of female superstars to make it big in the land of giants, just like she did. Lee has gained the respect of numerous big names in the business. Bayley said to Gabby AF (h/t Fightful):

In an interview I just had, they brought up AJ Lee since CM Punk is here. I wouldn’t mind that. I might actually let her throw me over the top rope if she came back. That’s how much I respect her.”

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