AJ Lee is one of those wrestlers that attract a real dedicated fan base. More than just a women’s wrestler who built a following based on her looks, AJ got over because of her performances in the ring and as a character. Everything about how she conducted herself in the ring and in backstage segments indicated that she has been a lifelong passionate wrestling fan, and that’s appealing to other wrestling fans.
In many ways her career path resembles that of Lita’s (more on that later), in that she developed a cult following of fans that saw her as an edgier and more alternative version of what a WWE Diva could be.
At one point during her career AJ was as big of a star as anybody on WWE programming, and was involved in major storyline angles involving Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler and John Cena. Her character was a crazy, intense, and sometimes frightening woman who would stop at nothing to get even with anyone she felt had scorned her. She played the role to perfection as well, possibly because she really is a little crazy.
The dramatic and public falling out between AJ’s husband CM Punk and the WWE would cost fans of AJ further years of seeing her compete inside a wrestling ring however. AJ chose to retire from the ring in 2015 rather than to continue on with the company that is now involved in a serious lawsuit with her husband.
There are lots of great AJ Lee memories for fans to remember her career by, but the following 15 things are just the memories that we would like to forget.
15. She Was the GM of Raw
AJ Lee did a lot of memorable things in her career, but being the General Manager of Monday Night Raw was not one of them.
During the period where AJ was romantically involved with Daniel Bryan (despite a heel-ish Bryan not treating her very well) and the two were set to be married on Raw’s 1000th episode. Unfortunately for Bryan (or fortunately depending on how you see it) AJ decided to accept a different kind of proposal that night: Vince McMahon’s proposal for her to serve as the General Manager of Raw. AJ left Bryan at the altar and began her new role with the company.
AJ would be forced to resign from the position a few months later, but only after making life difficult for Bryan.
She sure did rock a mean pantsuit though.
14. Longest Divas Title Teign Snapped by Nikki Bella
AJ Lee was, at one time, the longest-reigning Divas Champion in history. While this is sometimes played up as a very monumental record, it should be noted that the Divas title was only in existence for 8 years. The title was created in 2008 and at WrestleMania 32 was dumped in favor of the newer, snazzier, WWE Women’s Championship.
Holding the record for the longest Divas Title reign is a little like being proud of holding the record for the longest European Title reign in that regard. Nonetheless the WWE felt the need to eliminate Lee’s name from the record books, and AJ’s 295-day reign as Divas Champion was broken by Nikki Bella in 2015.
13. Loved Lita, Then Married her Ex-Boyfriend
AJ has listed Lita and Miss Elizabeth as her two biggest influences. Lita was a pioneer for women’s wrestling in many ways, having been a major part of the Attitude era.
AJ was so enamored with Lita that when she was a kid and got to meet her at an autograph signing she broke down and cried uncontrollably. Video of the meeting between Lita and a young AJ was shown on WWE’s website for sometime.
Turns out AJ and Lita have similar tastes in guys. AJ Lee would go on to marry CM Punk in 2014, but CM Punk had been dating Lita as recently as 2013, even attending the 2013 Hall of Fame ceremony together.
12. She Cost Daniel Bryan the World Championship
In many ways WrestleMania 28 was the start of Daniel Bryan’s rise towards mega-stardom, and it all started with a kiss from AJ.
Daniel Bryan was the World Champion at the time, and was set to defend the title against Sheamus. Just as the bell rang Bryan turned around and gave AJ, who was standing on the ring apron, a kiss. Sheamus, noticing that Bryan was distracted, promptly kicked him right in the face as soon as he turned around and pinned him to win the title.
It wasn’t so much that her distraction cost Bryan the title, but it prevented the live audience from seeing a Daniel Bryan WrestleMania match.
The WrestleMania crowd loved Bryan, despite his being a heel at the time, and chanted for him the rest of the night, feeling upset that they didn’t get to watch him wrestle a match.
11. She Had an Affair With Cena
Gross, not John Cena! Yes, after AJ was all done with her storyline relationships involving Bryan and Punk she began a brief one with John Cena.
In 2012 AJ was still the GM of Raw but Vickie Guerrero wanted the job, and started claiming that AJ and Cena were having an affair, that it was a conflict of interest, and that AJ should step down from her role as GM.
As all of the evidence poured in it was revealed that Cena and AJ were linked romantically, and AJ did eventually step down.
AJ would turn on Cena at that year’s TLC event however, pushing him off a ladder and aligning with Dolph Ziggler
10. Her Pipebomb Promo on the Total Divas Cast
Possibly trying to capitalize on the success of CM Punk’s famous pipe bomb promo, AJ gave a similar style promo in the summer of 2013.
While Punk’s promo blasted the WWE and many of the top male stars or executives with the company, AJ’s pipebomb was directed at the cast of Total Divas.
Total Divas was all the focus of the Divas division at the time, even though AJ was the champion and not on the reality show. AJ mocked the show and ripped into many of those featured on it.
While the promo was in-character many felt that it did reflect how AJ felt at the time, and some of her message came off a little mean-spirited and hateful towards the other women in the division and it most likely earned her a little heat backstage.
9. Fake Nude Scandal
Many of AJ Lee’s fans want to forget all about the fake nude photos that were briefly treated as real by some wrestling “insiders”.
In 2014 there was a series of naked photos of celebrities that had been leaked onto the internet by hackers. Mila Kunis, Lady Gaga and several others were victims of the scandal that became known as “the Fappening”.
It was originally reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that photos of AJ Lee had also been leaked. The photos in question however were later revealed to be of someone who resembled AJ, but not actually AJ.
The model in the photos did confirm on Twitter that she is the person in the photo.
8. CM Punks Chants During Her Matches
CM Punk has a rabid fan-base, and they were not happy when he left the WWE. Punk would leave the WWE in January of 2014, but AJ wouldn’t officially end her time with the company until after WrestleMania in 2015, leaving over a year of AJ being on the roster after Punk had left the company in such a dramatic way.
While AJ was not active on the roster much during this time, whenever she was the crowd would always chant “CM Punk! CM Punk” during her matches.
The fans were doing this because they knew that AJ and Punk were a couple, seeing AJ reminded them of Punk, and without putting much thought into it they just started chanting for Punk, even after Punk mentioned in an interview with Colt Cabana that fans should be chanting AJ’s name instead.
7. Screamed at Michelle Beadle
A main feature of AJ Lee’s on-screen character is that she is a little crazy, and fairly jealous of women around a man she is seeing. Should it be that much of a surprise that perhaps some of her onscreen persona bleeds into her real life one?
There was a backstage incident between AJ Lee and ESPN personality Michelle Beadle at the Tribute to the Troops taping in 2013. Beadle and Punk had been friends, according to Beadle, so Beadle said hi to Punk in the backstage area that night, but also called him an insult in a joking way that might have been perceived in a more serious tone. Somehow this bit of miscommunication got to AJ who either perceived it as Beadle flirting with or insulting Punk, but either way AJ was not happy about.
AJ got up in Beadle’s face and created a real scene with it. The incident was reported in the press and AJ got some heat on her afterwards.
6. Storyline With Primo that Went Nowhere
There are a few telltale signs that the WWE is not behind a certain wrestler, but none of them are worse than being in a storyline that is abruptly dropped for no reason whatsoever. It’s sort of like the WWE sending a message that they don’t believe anybody is interested in getting updates from this story’s progression, and nobody will notice or care if we just never mention it again.
This is what happened to one of AJ Lee’s first ever angles in the WWE.
Do you remember when AJ and Primo engaging in a very passionate kiss on WWE television? There’s a good chance you answered “no” to that question, even if you’ve been following wrestling for a long time.
Throughout the entire 3rd season of NXT the show teased a romantic relationship between AJ and Primo Colon (formerly one of Los Matadores) with the two sharing a deep kiss on the finale. After all that build up throughout the show’s 3rd season the WWE just dropped the story completely with no mention of it afterwards.
5. “Talent is Not Sexually Transmitted” Comment at the Bellas
You can’t blame AJ for being a little on-edge in the fall of 2014. Her husband CM Punk was gone from the WWE and the two sides were involved in a legal dispute. It must have been tough coming into work at all during that time considering the tense situation between the office and Punk, but throw on top of that the fact that AJ herself had already built up a bunch of heat with some of the female talent in the back and you can see why AJ only made it past the following year’s WrestleMania before retiring.
In November of 2014 AJ may have taken it a touch too far however, going off script to take a shot at the Bella twins. AJ was not scripted to make the comment that “talent is not sexually transmitted” directed at the Bellas in reference to Nikki dating Cena and Brie with Daniel Bryan, and she earned herself a couple of enemies for life in the Bella twins for it.
4. Worst Worked Match of the Year 2013
The Wrestling Observer newsletter is a respected insider wrestling news publication that has been giving out awards for various categories for decades. AJ herself has won the top female category on 3 occasions. She also won an award in 2013 that no wrestler wants to win.
The newsletter awarded her Survivor Series match the “Worst Worked Match” award for 2013. Granted this was not all AJ’s fault, though she was the top heel in the match and the final eliminated wrestler for her team. The match had 14 women wrestlers involved in it, and everything seemed sloppy and unorganized.
Ultimately AJ would tap to Natalya’s sharpshooter to end the terrible match.
3. Nasty Tweets at Stephanie
AJ has never been one to keep quiet if she feels an issue is important. Well, AJ took quite an issue with a tweet that Stephanie McMahon sent out to Patricia Arquette, thanking her for all she has done for women’s rights. This was February of 2015, so AJ only had a couple months left with the company and may have figured that she had nothing to lose anyway. AJ tweeted at Stephanie mentioning that women in WWE are not paid as much as men. It was a very public way to take a shot at Stephanie, and one can probably assume Vince McMahon’s daughter was none too pleased about it.
Stephanie tweeted out a thank you to AJ for sharing her opinion, the insincerity of which was very clear even though it was expressed through a tweet. It was the most insincere tweet anyone has ever tweeted in the history of twitter.
In Stephanie’s defense she is rumored to be the driving force behind WWE Women’s division being rebranded and taken more seriously.
2. The Tattoo on the Back of Her Neck
It is obvious to anyone who has followed the career of AJ Lee that she was a huge wrestling fan growing up, and in the beginning at least, she seemed to really relish and excel in her on-screen role.
But she possibly took becoming the Divas Champion a touch too seriously. To commemorate her winning the title in 2013 AJ got a tattoo on the back of her neck that listed the date through numbers scratched out, as if one was crossing off the number of days on a scratch pad.
Many fans and wrestlers thought the tattoo was a little over the top, considering it is a fake title and wrestling is not a real sport.
AJ would defend the tattoo by saying she promised herself when she was a kid that she would get a tattoo when she won the title in the WWE, which makes the whole thing considerably less lame.
1. She Retired
It’s impossible to blame her considering the circumstances, but all the same fans of AJ Lee have to deal with the fact that one of their favorite wrestlers retired before the age of 30. Is AJ retired for life? Well, that might be another story, but it’s not one we are going to get for a few years still.
AJ was under contract to the WWE when she retired, so she is not able to perform for other wrestling organizations until the dates on her contract are up. Her “retirement” is really just a way for her to stop working with WWE for a few years until she is free to wrestle elsewhere, assuming WWE didn’t kill her passion for the business.
It’s still unclear when AJ’s contract with the WWE will run out, but it will be very interesting to see what trajectory her career path follows once it does.