New York- AJ Lee (April Mendez) has decided to retire from in-ring competition with WWE. We wish AJ the very best.
WWE tweeted the following:
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
WWE also posted the message on their official website.
While we still don’t know the underlying reason for AJ retiring from the ring, we do know what her next non-wrestling project is. She’s writing a book
Thank you @LeshneAgency. I hope our book inspires girls to become strong women & underdogs to make their dreams a reality.
— AJ Mendez Brooks (@AJBrooks) March 31, 2015
The announcement comes less than a week after WrestleMania, where she performed in the show’s only all-female match with Paige and the Bella Twins.
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Normally, if a 28-year-old athlete—or sports entertainer if you prefer in this case—retired near the peak of his or her powers, it would come as a huge surprise. That wasn’t the case here.
AJ is married to former WWE Superstar CM Punk. As wrestling fans know, Punk walked away from the company just over a year ago due to problems behind the scenes. The aftermath led to litigation against him from WWE doctor Chris Amann.
Ever since that happened, it’s felt like only a matter of time before AJ would leave too. She missed an extended stretch due to a neck injury before returning to team with Paige against the Bella Twins for a WrestleMania feud.
Mendez, 28, began her career performing on the New Jersey independent circuit as Miss April, mostly in Women Superstars Uncensored. After joining WWE in 2009, she was assigned to its developmental system, Florida Championship Wrestling, where she spent the following two years before getting called up to the main roster. Meanwhile, she took part in season three of NXT in 2010, placing third in the competition.
In 2012, AJ became the first female winner of WWE’s annual “Superstar Challenge”, in what was a 16-person WWE ’12 tournament at WrestleMania XXVIII Axxess. This received recognition in the 2015 Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition.
After a three month absence to heal a legitimate neck injury, AJ returned on March 2, 2015, before announcing her retirement today.