During filming of WWE's Tribute to the Troops event on December 11, 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Pierce County, Washington, Lee's relationship with CM Punk became a story when the WWE Diva confronted NBC Sports personality Michelle Beadle after Beadle had spoken to him. Beadle and Punk had been acquainted long before Lee's relationship with Punk began.
As Beadle wrote on Twitter on December 15, 2013, "I've known CM Punk for years. Considered him a friend. When I saw him at the arena, I said 'hey f&$?face'. The exact same way I talk to everyone. His girlfriend was no where near this. And I kept walking along with my assistant and two members of WWE PR. Next thing I know, I'm being yelled at."
The person yelling at Beadle was Lee. The NBC presenter continued, "I honestly thought it was a joke. Period. The event went on and it was amazing. So I hope we can move on from this ridiculously lame 'story.' As for the crazies, BLOCKED! And Happy freaking Holidays!!!"
Shortly after WWE announced that Del Rio was let go "due to unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee," Ring of Honor founder and RF Video owner Rob Feinstein claimed that Del Rio slapped a member of WWE's social media team at a television taping this week. This claim was backed up by both F4WOnline.com and PWInsider.com. Then, as members of the F4WOnline.com message board were discussing Del Rio's termination and speculating which WWE employee was on the receiving end of his slap, Wrestling Observer editor Dave Meltzer remarked "Cody Barbierri."
On LinkedIn and Twitter, Barbierri identifies himself as WWE's manager of social media live events. Though not identified by name, F4WOnline.com's updated story on Del Rio's termination says the altercation involved the company's social media manager. According to the website, WWE's social media manager was supposedly asked to wipe his plate clean following a meal in catering. He allegedly joked that it was Del Rio's job to clean the plate, which could be perceived as racist by Hispanic people. Del Rio was informed of the comment, and confronted him. The individual did not apologize for his remark and then smiled at him. Fuming, Del Rio slapped him.
Meltzer addressed the matter again on the F4WOnline.com message board in response to a user comparing it to Lee's outburst at Beadle. He revealed that WWE officials had decided to terminate her contract over her unprofessional conduct, but were overruled by Vince McMahon.
"A.J. wasn't safe at all," Meltzer wrote. "There was a reason she wasn't fired and it had nothing to do with Punk being her boyfriend nor how good a performer she was, although her star power did play into it."
He continued, "The decision was made to fire her but Vince overruled it because he saw the big picture. It's very complicated, but in that issue, Vince was savvy way beyond those underneath him and saw what would happen long-term and made the big picture smart call. If that happened now, the situation would be the same and she wouldn't be fired for the same reason. Her being fired for that specific incident would have caused a chain of events to happen next that Vince thought would do the company more harm than good. There is no guarantee he was right in how he thought it would play out but it was far more foresight than is usually exhibited in these situations."
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