AJ Lee was one of the most influential Divas in modern WWE history

April Jeanette Mendez, most commonly known by her in-ring name AJ Lee, was one of the most popular WWE Divas before she announced her retirement in 2015.

She signed on for the third season of WWE NXT in 2010 and was promoted to the main roster in May 2011. She made her SmackDown debut in May when she was in a tag team with Kaitlyn.

AJ Lee decided to leave WWE despite having a lot of years on her side
AJ Lee was one of the top Divas in WWE (WWE)

Lee started out as a ‘valet’ who gained prominence because of her on-screen relationship with Daniel Bryan. However, Lee began to truly shine after Bryan left her. She went on to work with Kane and CM Punk and even became WWE RAW General Manager for a short while.

It was in 2013 that she truly made a name for herself as an independent in-ring wrestler. She captured the WWE Divas Championship defeating Kaitlyn on WWE Payback.

AJ Lee enjoyed a highly productive one and a half year at WWE from thereon. However, things turned when her husband, CM Punk, left WWE in a highly controversial manner.

CM Punk’s retirement, injury, and winning everything there was to win made Lee quit the promotion

CM Punk was one of the biggest superstars on WWE. He decided to leave the brand after making multiple allegations against WWE for ignoring his health and discarding the safety of other superstars.

CM Punk wwe return
CM Punk is a former WWE Champion (Image credit: Getty)

Punk alleged that WWE did not give enough training to newcomers which led to many avoidable injuries. The most serious allegation that he made was that a WWE doctor told him that a mass on his back was not serious.

However, it turned out to be a staph infection which could have been fatal if left untreated. Things reached a boiling point when Dr. Chris Amann of WWE filed a lawsuit against CM Punk for defamation.

All of this led to WWE firing Punk on his wedding day in June 2014. The manner of the termination would have surely left a sour taste in AJ Lee’s mouth.

Lee also suffered a neck injury in Survivor Series 2014. This could have also influenced her decision to call it quits in April 2015.

Lee also mentioned in her memoir “Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules” that fulfilment of her goals was also one of the reasons behind her retirement.

CM Punk left WWE in 2014
CM Punk joined the WWE from ROH (Image credit: Getty)

Hence, a combination of marital life, physical health, and career fulfilment made one of the most influential WWE Divas call it quits just 5 days after winning a championship match at Wrestlemania XXXI.

AJ Lee was also a vocal supporter of empowering the WWE Divas. She felt that the women superstars were not being paid enough for their efforts, a view Vince McMohan shared after AJ Lee made her comments on the topic.

Lee was the face of a new era of empowered, talented, and successful female wrestlers in WWE.

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