Mark For War: EarLEE Exit
Out of nowhere this week, AJ Lee announced her retirement from the WWE. And just like that, the other shoe has dropped in the CM Punk saga.
Before my thoughts on this are misconstrued, I’ll say that I do not think that Punk’s departure from WWE was what led of AJ’s untimely retirement. But I don’t think it helped any, either.
Upon hearing the news, I was immediately bummed, especially considering the strides AJ has made in the WWE over the last two years. Frankly, during her crazy girl angle with Punk/Bryan/Dolph/Kane and whoever else a couple of years ago, I considered her arguably to be the most over superstar in the company. Not an easy task for a WWE diva. The sky was the limit for this young lady. Retiring during her prime, even if she comes back with a vengeance sometime in the next couple of years, will ultimately curb her legacy.
AJ was a top WWE diva. Few waves were made by her departure, though, because so few fans care about the Divas’ Division like they do the rest of the roster. Which leads to an interesting point: perhaps one of the reasons there’s a lack of connection between the WWE universe and the Divas’ Division is the flightiness the Divas’ Division has seen over the years. Remember a few short years ago when Beth Phoenix, Mickey James, and Eve Torres were the main gals? What about the pushes Maryse and Kelly Kelly received a few years back, before they deciding they wanted to move on? Revolving doors lead to instability and lack of interest. Arguably, the most successful era for the Divas’ Division was during the late 90s-early 2000s. It’s not a coincidence that Trish Stratus and Lita were there for the long haul during this time, not to mention a few other select names. It was stability that led to an increased interest from the fans.
Frankly, regardless of the reason, I fully support the move if that’s ultimately what AJ wanted. But I don’t care for the fact that, technically, she departed improperly. There’s a time-honored tradition in sports entertainment: going out on your back. I’m fairly certain the WWE did not know about AJ’s retirement during Wrestlemania weekend, but I’m certain AJ did. If the WWE knew, the Bella’s probably wouldn’t have put over AJ on the big card.
No clear-cut reason has been given as to why AJ left. For a minute, it was rumored that she was pregnant with CM Punk’s child. A recent photo of AJ dropped with a NXT diva rubbing AJ’s stomach, insinuating pregnancy. But for the most part, it appears that those rumors were just that.
The AJ pregnancy rumors actually made me think about the current state of children in the world of wrestling, and the fact that they are few and far between in this era. It’s the year 2015. Parenting, and the importance of good parenting, has been put heavily in perspective over the last fifteen years. Smart people are not into the idea of being an absentee parent. This is a good thing. It’s well documented that in the 80s, the vast majority of the WWE roster had children, many from whom they ultimately became estranged as a result of their insane touring schedule. Case in point: Jake the Snake’s relationship with his daughter in Beyond the Mat. Ironically, I’ve noticed that the best parent/children relationships from that era seemingly come from kids who ultimately became wrestlers when they got older. Arguably it’s their love for the lifestyle that allows them to put their parents’ work schedule in perspective. Barely any of the thirty-something WWE superstars have children these days. It’s well documented that Brie Bella is probably retiring within the year as well to start a family with Daniel Bryan. Ultimately, if AJ’s motive for retirement was similar to Brie’s, I fully understand the move.
Now, the silver lining: If Punk EVER decided to come back to WWE, he more than likely will return with AJ in tow. It would almost be like an NWO Army of two. From there, can you imagine a Cena/Bryan/Punk three-way feud five years from now, with all their retired females friends backing them up? But that’s WAYYYYY down the line, and a pipe dream.
I hope we haven’t seen the last of the WWE’s answer to Elmira from Tiny Toons.
To close this week’s article, I’ve got a story for you:
I’m on tour with The Atlas Moth right now. I met a good dude by the name of Jake the other night in Knoxville, TN.
In 2008, during a road trip to Vegas with his friends, Jake’s car broke down. As smoked billowed from their Pathfinder, a black Cadillac Limo pulled up beside them.
Ric Flair emerged from said limo, saw the troubles they were having, and said, without skipping a beat, “Should have bought a Cadillac. WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!,” before disappearing into the night.
Stories like this prove to me, once again, that wrestling is indeed real.
Match of the Week: AJ Lee vs. Natalya, Divas’ Championship Match, WWE Main Event, March 11, 2014
For now, this will be the match for which we remember AJ Lee. In 2014, I wholeheartedly felt that AJ was the measuring stick for the WWE Diva, and Natalya was the only other diva in the conversation. If there’s one thing that’s good about the WWE’s plethora of television/network time to fill, it’s that matches have started getting more time to breathe. What’s special about this match, which has been heavily noted by people with a stop watch, is the length. These gals went at it for nearly fifteen minutes, clocking the longest televised Divas’ title match in WWE history since Sensational Sherri defeated Velvet McIntyre in 1987.