You may have heard the news that CM Punk made his return to wrestling after a nearly eight-year absence. The move is a major statement by AEW and one never thought possible only a few months ago.
Over the past few years, wrestling fans have witnessed several unbelievable comebacks. Edge made an emphatic return to WWE in 2020, the following year Christain did the same and now CM Punk melted the wrestling universe.
Returns such as these set the minds of the wrestling community buzzing with thoughts and theories of who is next to make their comeback. One name that has cropped up recently more than ever, possibly due to being the wife of Punk, is AJ Lee.
AJ Lee followed her husband out of WWE in 2015 and has not returned to wrestling since. Lee was/is a hugely popular figure from her time in the promotion. She was involved in huge storylines with Daniel Bryan, John Cena and of course CM Punk.
Lee is a three-time Divas Champion and held the title for an (at the time) record-breaking 295 days. Lee was a standout performer in WWE at a time when women’s wrestling was held in the same regard as it is today. Therefore there is a plethora of new talent that would make any return match an unmissable occasion.
Here are the five dream opponents for AJ Lee if she were to return to the ring.
AJ Lee and Paige have a long and storied history. Paige defeated Lee for the Divas Championship on the RAW in 2014 kicking off the lengthy rivalry. They had great chemistry in the ring and on the mic and inspired a whole generation of wrestlers to follow.
Both wrestlers, unfortunately, had their careers cut short, Paige was forced to retire from in-ring action due to reoccurring neck injuries in 2017. Lee retired after WrestleMania 31 because of neck problems and that she was in an impossible position between the company and her husband after his controversial exit from WWE.
The departure of these influential wrestlers in their prime was a bitter pill to swallow as it was clear they still had a lot more to give and left many fans wanting more. Because of the way they left and the reasons behind it, to see AJ Lee and Paige in the ring once again would be a dream come true.
4. Deonna Purrazzo
The first, first time ever match on the list is Deonna Purrazzo. AJ Lee and Purrazzo have never crossed paths and if Lee were to come back during this most interesting period in wrestling history, she could be available to appear for multiple promotions.
Purrazzo has established herself as a most formidable wrestler since her departure from WWE. As IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts Champion the Virtuosa is one the most dominant and defiant champions in the promotion’s history.
AJ Lee was the same as the Divas Champion during her time in WWE. She ran through the best the company had to offer at the time. Therefore it would a pleasure to watch two of the best from their respective generations go at it in the ring.
3. Britt Baker
Out of all the names on the list, this match would likely be the most probable. If a return were on the card for AJ Lee, it would seem more likely be in AEW than WWE.
Since becoming the first woman to sign for AEW, Britt Baker hasn’t looked back. She has worked incredibly hard to improve in and out of the ring and evolve into one of the best performers over the past year or so.
Similar to AJ Lee, Baker is over hugely despite being a heel because fans recognise hustle, hard work and determination to be the best.
The mic work between the two would be off the charts and a visual and verbal treat. Not only would it be an amazing fist-ever match but the inclusion of AJ Lee in the promotion would make a can’t miss marquee bout.
AJ Lee was a huge influence on Bayley during her years as a rookie wrestler. Bayley has gone on record stating that AJ Lee had an immense impact on her early wrestling career.
Speaking on After the Bell earlier this year Bayley praised the former Divas Champion for helping her be herself:
“Obviously I can’t name all the women that have helped us, but I always have to give credit to AJ (Lee). She changed my life when she just said it’s okay to be myself. Her whole thing was stay weird and be yourself, and she dressed how she wanted to and it inspired so many girls. There’s a lot of women that people don’t even realize have made this all possible.”
In 2013 Bayley got to wrestle Lee for the Diva Championship on episode 62 of NXT. The champion walked away as the winner that night, but since then Bayley has grown to be one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Much like her mentor Bayley ran the women’s division by becoming the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion while creating a character and persona she wants to play.
If Bayley were to get a rematch nearly ten years on then it would be the stuff from which wrestling dreams are made.
1. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks is arguably the best women’s wrestler on the planet right now. Everything she does turns to gold and she set wrestling Twitter on fire when she posted “Let’s Light It Up”.
The tweet is about AJ Lee’s WWE entrance theme proving that it is not only fans wanting to see her return.
Banks vs Lee is a match that remains one of wrestling’s biggest “what ifs” as their time scales in WWE didn’t quite match up. Banks was killing in NXT with Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Bayley, while Lee was stuck wrestling the Bella Twins or Summer Rae. By the time Banks and the rest of the NXT crew debuted on the main roster, Lee was long gone.
Banks and Lee would work incredibly well in the ring too. Both have a similar style of technical elements mixed with the Lucha Libre and would undoubtedly “light it up” if this dream match were to ever occur.
Let’s light it up 🔥 pic.twitter.com/UvaPowetCf
— Mercedes Moné Varnado (@MercedesVarnado) August 19, 2021