The longest reigning WWE Divas champion of the modern era, AJ Lee, has officially retired from in-ring competition with the WWE, as announced by the company via Twitter.
BREAKING: AJ Lee (April Mendez) has decided to retire from in-ring competition with WWE. We wish AJ the very best.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2015
Lee, whose real name is April Mendez, recently returned from a lengthy break to begin a program with her former enemy, Paige, as the two divas formed a tag team to face The Bella Twins at Wrestlemania 31. This past Sunday, the dynamic duo bested the Bellas in a relatively quick outing.
A former three-time Divas champion, the 28-year-old Lee became one of the company’s most popular female acts in recent years with her quirky personality and fast paced in-ring style. After making her debut with the NXT brand in 2010, the Union City, New Jersey native quickly ascended the Diva ranks as she has been embroiled in some the most memorable and unprecedented storylines in the past few years.
Those three title reigns tie her with Eve Torres as the most reigns by a single female since the titles inception, according to Wrestling Facts on Twitter.
Along with Eve Torres, AJ Lee holds the record for most reigns as Divas champion, with 3. pic.twitter.com/ziiWgdiKiy
— Wrestling Facts (@WrestlingsFacts) April 3, 2015
From being romantically linked with the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Kane, and Hornswoggle, to being the General Manager of Monday night Raw, Lee’s on-screen presence helped her reach a childhood dream of not only being Divas champion, but recognized by many as the face of the Divas division in WWE.
Recently, Lee became engaged and subsequently married former WWE champion and superstar CM Punk. Ever since the two have been linked, rumors of Lee wanting to leave the company have skyrocketed. Reasons such as pregnancy, spending time with her husband, and wanting to start a family have all been mentioned as rumors that could lead to her departure.
The most recent rumor came when Lee won a Slammy award for Diva of the Year last year. Her “shoot” style promo gave people the impression that she would be leaving the company after the TLC pay-per-view, which didn’t turn out to be the case.
Also, prior to her most recent return, Lee called out Stephanie McMahon on Twitter about the treatment of the female performers in the company. She claimed that the company doesn’t provide equal television time or pay to the female portion of the roster, despite the female portion of the roster providing successful content.
Her departure is still a shock as the “Geek Goddess” showed no indication of wanting to leave WWE. She not only wrestled at Wrestlemania this past Sunday, she also wrestled on RAW this past Monday in a six-women tag team match, which now marks her final match with WWE.
There are no specific details as to why AJ Lee decided to retire from the WWE, but once information is passed along, we’ll provide an update.
[Image via WWE]