If you’ve been on social media today, you already know. It’s the number one trend on both Facebook and Twitter. It’s on the front page of Reddit. If Pinterest has trends, custom AJ jewelry is probably blowing up.
Why? Because she retired.
Now, if you’ve been paying attention over the last 16 months, this probably isn’t a surprise to you. You already know that the real-life April Mendez’s then-real-life fiancee, CM Punk, walked out on WWE. You know he was “released” on their wedding day. You know that CM Punk and WWE filed lawsuits against one another…all while Punk’s now-wife was still under an active performer contract with WWE.
It was a matter of time, and we knew it was coming. But whether we saw this in our crystal ball or not, AJ’s retirement is still a pretty big shock to the wrestling world, and more specifically, the WWE Divas division.
Why it works: For starters, there was nothing left to do in AJ’s career. Take a look back over the last 4 years or so that she’s been on the active roster. She’s been the Divas champion several times. She’s been embroiled in main event feuds, with the biggest stars of the company. She’s been general manager. She’s managed World Champions. She even married one.
But, shy of heading down to NXT to work with the next crop of Divas, there really wasn’t much left for her to do. There are no fresh matchups. There are no new titles, or goals for her character to set. From her character’s eyes, AJ Lee has nothing left to prove, and nothing left to fight for. She’s done it all.
And, not for nothing, I’m excited, and the reason why is quite simple. I’m happy that WWE fans are classy enough to thank her, across social media, instead of giving her shit for following her husband out the door. And I’m happy that AJ’s last big match was a win, on the grandest stage of them all. Not everyone gets to say that. Sorry, Mr. Borden.
Why I’m angry: I was already pretty annoyed that the Divas match at WrestleMania was a 6-minute tag match, instead of a title match. If you take a retiring AJ out of the picture, you’ve got more time for a one-on-one title match between Nikki and Page.
In six months: AJ is fielding a nonstop barrage of “when are you coming back?!?” questions on Twitter. Deflated fanboys post pictures of her looking adorable at cageside during Punk’s UFC fights.
In two years: She’s either back in the ring full-time, rocking the convention circuit like a boss, a la Lita and Trish Stratus, or she’s fallen into gorgeous obscurity, like Stacy Kiebler.