April Jeanette Mendez (March 19, 1987) is an American professional wrestler. She is signed to WWE, where she goes by the ring name AJ Lee. She is a three time Divas Champion and holds the record for the longest Divas Championship reign in WWE History. Mendez enrolled in a wrestling school in March 2007, where she trained for six months before her first official match. In the following years, she performed for several Northeast-based independent promotions including Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU) as Miss April. In WSU, she was part of the AC Express alongside Brooke Carter and the duo held the WSU Tag Team Championship once.
In May 2009, she signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental promotion, using the ring name AJ Lee. In FCW, she was Queen of FCW and FCW Divas Champion, and was the first person to have held both titles. In 2010, she was part of the third season of NXT, having dropped her last name. She became part of WWE's SmackDown brand in May 2011, forming a tag team with Kaitlyn known as The Chickbusters.
A self-professed nerd and tomboy, WWE adapted Mendez's comics and video game fandom to her on-screen character, endorsing her as different from the typical women in the WWE and promoting her as the "Geek Goddess".
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Training (2007)EditShortly after leaving university Mendez researched wrestling schools and enrolled in one a mile away from her house. To pay the tuition she began working full-time and began training in March 2007 under Jay Lethal. She debuted on September 29, 2007 under the ring name "Miss April", wrestling on the New Jersey independent circuit.
Women Superstars Uncensored (2008–2009)Edit
On October 10, 2008, Miss April made her debut for the New Jersey-based promotion Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), losing to Soul Sister Jana in a singles match. On the following night, she teamed with Malia Hosaka and participated in a tournament to determine the inaugural WSU Tag Team Champions. The team advanced to the second round by defeating the Soul Sisters (Jana and Latasha), where they lost to The Beatdown Betties (Roxxie Cotton and Annie Social). Miss April went on to form a tag team with Brooke Carter called the AC Express. On February 7, 2009, the AC Express to defeat the Beatdown Betties for the WSU Tag Team Championship. On April 10, Miss April competed in the third annual J-Cup Tournament, defeating Roxxie Cotton in the first round before losing to Rain in the second.On the following night, Miss April and Jay Lethal won the 2009 WSU/NWS King and Queen of the Ring tournament, defeating Jana and Danny Demanto in the final.Miss April left WSU in May 2009 upon signing with WWE, vacating her half of the WSU Tag Team Championship.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWEEdit
Florida Championship Wrestling (2009–2011)Edit
Mendez signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment on May 5, 2009, and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling, WWE's developmental territory.Mendez made her FCW debut at the August 14 television tapings under the name "April Lee" in a fatal four-way match won by Serena Mancini.In September 2009, her ring name was changed to "AJ Lee". She began challenging for the Queen of FCW title, and at the television tapings on February 4, 2010, AJ defeated Serena to win the crown. On the March 17 episode of FCW Televison, AJ successfully made her first title defense against Naomi Knight. In the first round of a tournament to determine the inaugural FCW Divas Champion, AJ defeated Tamina on April 29, but was defeated by Serena in the semi-finals on May 20. At the June 10 television tapings, AJ challenged Naomi Knight for the FCW Divas Championship but was unsuccessful.In June 2010, she appeared at Raw house shows, acting as the hostess and later as the ring announcer at an FCW show.
The following month, AJ and Serena interrupted Naomi's interview, and AJ watched while Serena attacked Naomi, turning AJ into a villainess. Knight went on to retain her FCW Divas Championship by defeating both AJ and Serena in a triple threat match. On FCW's 100th episode, AJ fought Knight to a double countout in a match where both AJ's Queen of FCW title and Knight's FCW Divas Championship were on the line. At the September 2 tapings, AJ lost to Knight in a Lumberjill match to end their feud. AJ faced off against Jamie Keyes in singles competition on the September 25 episode of FCW Televison, AJ won when she exploited Keyes injury which happened during the match to gain the win. On November 18, she dropped the Queen of FCW title to Rosa Mendes. On December 16, the evil AJ defeated Naomi to win the FCW Divas Championship. Her victory made her the first FCW Diva to have held both the Divas Championship and the title of Queen of FCW. She held the championship until April 7, 2011 when she lost it to Aksana during an FCW television taping.At the August 7, 2011 episode of FCW television, AJ teamed up with Caylee Turner and Kaitlyn in a winning effort defeating the team of Sonia, Audrey Marie, and Raquel Diaz.
NXT and The Chickbusters (2010–2011)Edit
Lee after being eliminated from NXT in November 2010. Lee was part of the third season of NXT, under the name AJ, with Primo as her Pro. On September 7, Lee made her in-ring debut teaming with Primo to defeat fellow rookie Diva Aksana and her Pro Goldust in a mixed tag team match.Later that night, she unsuccessfully competed in both a "Dance Competition" and a "Capture the Flag" contest. The following week she suffered her first loss when she and Primo were defeated by Kaitlyn and Dolph Ziggler. Over the next two weeks, Lee won three challenges, and on the October 5 episode of NXT she and Kaitlyn were tied for the number of challenges won.Kaitlyn received immunity from elimination in the poll based on crowd reaction. Lee was eliminated from the competition on the November 23 episode of NXT, despite winning a competition and a match earlier in the show.She returned to NXT for the season finale, where she teamed with The Bella Twins to defeat Alicia Fox, Aksana, and Maxine. Lee returned as a special guest on February 8, 2011, during the fourth season of NXT, modeling merchandise during a 'guess the price' challenge. She also made several appearances during NXT Redemption in mid-2011.
Lee made her main roster debut on the May 27, 2011, episode of SmackDown when she and Kaitlyn (known as The Chickbusters) lost to the team of Alicia Fox and Tamina. The duo were accompanied by Natalya, who became a mentor of sorts to the pair.Lee and Kaitlyn lost a rematch to Fox and Tamina the following week.Her first victory came on the June 10 episode of SmackDown, when she pinned Tamina in a singles match, a feat she repeated on the July 8 episode.Lee , Kaitlyn, and Natalya continued to feud with Fox and Tamina, who were joined by Rosa Mendes. On the August 5 episode of SmackDown, Lee lost a singles match to Natalya, who then turned on her protégé, attacking her and declaring war on the "perky little princesses" that comprised the rest of the Divas division. The following week, Lee and Kaitlyn lost to Natalya and Beth Phoenix, before Lee teamed with Kelly Kelly to defeat Natalya and Fox.Lee returned in the new season of NXT Redemption as the secret admirer of Hornswoggle. On the August 23 episode of NXT Redemption, Lee was attacked by a returning Maxine, who later that night defeated Lee in a match, and again the next week. Lee defeated Maxine on the next two weeks of NXT Redemption. On the October 19 episode of NXT Redemption, Lee cornered fellow Chickbuster Kaitlyn in a win over Maxine, ending their feud. Throughout the next few months, The Chickbusters continued to feud with The Divas of Doom, losing both singles and tag team matches to them.
In November, tension began to be teased between The Chickbusters, with Kaitlyn turning villainous due to being upset at their repeated losses to The Divas of Doom. On December 9, The Chickbusters again lost to the Divas of Doom in a tag team match. After the match ended, the evil Kaitlyn turned against AJ and joined the Divas of Doom. However, the match and segment were cut from the broadcast.
Various relationships; Raw General Manager (2011–2012)Edit
Lee began a romantic storyline with Daniel Bryan, In December, Bryan won the World Heavyweight Championship and he began to display villainous traits. Despite Lee 's declaration of love for Bryan,Bryan avoided saying that he loved her in return. On the January 13 episode of SmackDown, Lee accompanied Bryan for his World Heavyweight Championship defense against Big Show. During the match, Big Show accidentally collided with Lee, injuring her (kayfabe) and causing her to be taken out on a stretcher. Lee returned to SmackDown on February 3, saving Bryan from the Big Show. In March, Bryan began to mistreat Lee, publicly demanding that she "shut up" and claiming that she always got in his way.Despite these actions, Lee continued to stand by Bryan. At WrestleMania XXVIII, Bryan's reign as World champion ended when Sheamus defeated him in 18 seconds due to Bryan being distracted after a "good luck kiss" from Lee. On the April 6, episode of SmackDown, Bryan blamed Lee his loss of the World Heavyweight Championship and ended their relationship.
Despite Lee's attempts to mend their relationship, Bryan rebuffed her multiple times, leaving Lee distraught. Throughout the next few weeks, Kaitlyn tried to console Lee about her feelings towards Bryan, but Lee slapped her in response. On the May 11 episode of SmackDown!, Lee quickly defeated Kaitlyn. Afterwards, Bryan came out, seemingly impressed with Lee's new ruthless behavior, but then he revealed that he would rather move on to Kaitlyn, further jilting Lee.Lee then turned her affections to Bryan's rival, WWE Champion CM Punk,as well as fellow WWE title contender Kane. At the No Way Out pay-per-view on June 17, Lee interfered in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship between Punk, Bryan and Kane, helping Punk retain his championship by distracting Kane. As the feud between Bryan and Punk continued, Lee was announced as the special guest referee for their title match at Money in the Bank. While Bryan made advances on Lee in an attempt to influence her, Lee continued showing interest in Punk, but Punk let her down by not watching her match. A vengeful Lee then sent Punk and Bryan crashing through a ringside table during their match on Raw on July 2. The following week, Lee proposed to Punk while Bryan proposed to her; Punk rejected her proposal and Lee slapped both men. At Money in the Bank, as guest referee, Lee counted Punk's pinfall on Bryan resulting in a successful title defence for Punk; as Punk celebrated over a fallen Bryan, Lee was left alone.
The following night on the July 16 episode of Raw Bryan once again proposed to Lee, who accepted During the exchange of vows at Raw 1000, Lee announced she had been offered the job of Raw General Manager by WWE owner Vince McMahon and left Bryan at the altar. Her first official day began July 30 where she alleged Bryan only wanted the legal leverage to have her committed, forcing him to undergo his own psychological evaluation. Later, Lee modified CM Punk's WWE Championship bout at SummerSlam into a triple-threat match due to his interference during a #1 contender match between John Cena and the Big Show. Meanwhile, Lee continued to exact her revenge on Bryan by denying him a WWE Championship shot and instead forcing him to face Kane at SummerSlam. Concurrently, she began feuding with Vickie Guerrero, who demanded Lee's General Manager role, deeming Lee too childish. CM Punk later humiliated Lee for her past affections, leading to Paul Heyman demanding the General Manager position, which he would run with Vickie. On October 22, Lee stepped down from her General Manager duties due to the stress of false allegations of fraternizing and having an affair with a wrestler on the Raw roster, which was later revealed to be Cena. Later, Guerrero showed evidence of John Cena and Lee going to a business dinner,Lee walking into Cena's room[ and more. At Survivor Series, Lee tried to show "evidence" of Vickie Guerrero fraternizing, but was attacked by the returning Tamina Snuka. On the following episode of Raw, John Cena and Lee passionately kissed each other to give Vickie and Dolph Ziggler something "to talk about".On the November 26 episode of Raw, Lee kissed Cena again after his match against Ziggler, starting a relationship between the two. On the December 3 episode of Raw, Lee defeated Tamina in a singles match.
Relationship with Dolph Ziggler (2012–2013)Edit
At TLC on December 16, Lee turned heel after interfering in John Cena's ladder match against Dolph Ziggler on behalf of Ziggler pushing Cena off the ladder. The following night on a special Slammy Awards episode of Raw, Lee won an award with Cena for "Kiss of the Year", which was presented by Vickie Guerrero. However, Lee and Vickie started arguing which led to Ziggler coming in and setting them apart. That allowed Lee to kiss Ziggler in front of Vickie, officially solidifying her heel turn and relationship with Ziggler. In the main event, Lee teamed with Ziggler to take on Cena and Guerrero, with Cena and Guerrero victorious after Big E Langston interfered and attacked Cena on Lee's behalf. On the December 18, at the special live episode of Smackdown, Lee justified her actions saying that Cena doesn’t care about anyone but himself and that Cena had broken her heart like Bryan and Punk and she helped Ziggler break him, The Miz insulted Lee, and Langston laid him out on Lee's behalf. Later that night, she attacked her former tag team partner Kaitlyn after she called her crazy before her WWE Divas Championship match againist Eve Torres.In her first televised match for 2013, Lee lost to Natalya on the March 9 episode of WWE Saturday Morning Slam, after Natalya reversed a diving cross body press. On the March 8 episode of Smackdown, Lee and her ex-boyfriend Daniel Bryan traded insults backstage after Lee was splashed with water by Ricardo Rodriguez. On the March 18 episode of Raw, Lee tried to distract Team Hell No but failed. Later that night after Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston, Lee challenged Team Hell No, to defend their WWE Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 29 againist Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston, which they accepted. On the March 25 episode of Raw, Lee eavesdropped on now WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn while talking to Kane and Daniel Bryan and after Kaitlyn called Lee crazy, she attacked her, smashing her head into a water fountain. Later that night, Lee defeated Kaitlyn via count-out after Kaitlyn tried to spear her through the barricade but rammed her head into it. However, on the March 29 episode of Smackdown, Kaitlyn gained a measure of revenge when she and Bryan defeated Lee and Ziggler in a mixed tag team match, after Lee was speared by Kaitlyn.On April 7 at WrestleMania 29, Lee managed Dolph and Langston to their match, as they were unsuccessfull in winning the championship. The following night on Raw, Lee managed Dolph as he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to win the World Heavyweight Championship for the second time.
On the April 22 episode of Raw, Lee won a Divas battle royal, with lastly eliminating Layla after being supposedly knocked out by Tamina Snuka to become the number one contender for the Divas Championship. On the May 6 episode of Raw, Lee teamed with The Bella Twins in a losing effort againist the team of The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron) and Divas Champion Kaitlyn after Lee walked out on The Bella Twins.On the May 13 episode of Raw, with The Bella Twins and Divas Champion Kaitlyn on commentary, Lee defeated Natalya with a modified Octopus hold, which she dubbed the Black Widow. On May 19 at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, Lee got in a backstage brawl with Kaitlyn after Kaitlyn called Lee "Looney Tunes". The following night on the May 20 episode of Raw, Lee defeated Layla via submission once again using the Black Widow to take the win. Early that night, Lee helped Langston defeated Del Rio after Lee rolled Del Rio’s spittoon across the canvas to distract the referee. On the June 10 episode of Raw, Lee was revealed to be Kaitlyn's secret admirer after setting up Big E Langston to pose as the admirer before revealing the truth, berating Kaitlyn and leaving her in tears.
Divas Champion (2013-2014)Edit
n At the Payback pay-per-view on June 17, 2013, Lee defeated Kaitlyn to capture her first WWE Divas Championship due to Kaitlyn missing a spear attempt landing her in the turnbuckle, which allowed Lee to apply the Black Widow. Lee celebrated her championship win the following night on Raw, but was confronted by Stephanie McMahon and Kaitlyn attacked AJ. Lee faced off against Natalya due her dislike of AJ recent acts of humiliation against Kaitlyn and her disrespect of the entire Divas division on June 21 episode of SmackDown, where Lee emerged victorious due Lee forcing her to submit to the Black Widow. On the June 24 episode of Raw, Lee attempted to distract Kaitlyn by mocking her in a blonde wig and muscle suit re-enact the Catfishing along with Big E Langston during Kaitlyn's match against Aksana in which Kaitlyn still emerged victorious but managed to get to Kaitlyn.
Lee once again faced Natalya in a non-title match on the June 28 episode of SmackDown, where Natalya emerged victorious following a distraction by Kaitlyn whom was dressed up like AJ. After the match, Lee was attacked by Kaitlyn. On the July 12 episode of SmackDown, Lee was a part of the first-ever public Divas Championship match contract signing for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view along with Kaitlyn, which would end in a brawl between the two. At the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, Lee successfully defended the Divas Championship against Kaitlyn whom was accompanied by Layla. Later that night, Lee cost Ziggler his rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship when she snuck into the ring and and hit Del Rio with her Divas Championship, in full view of the referee, prompting a disqualification. On the August 2 episode of SmackDown, it was announced that Langston would not be allowed to accompany AJ to her matches anymore. However, AJ successfully defended her title against Kaitlyn after the evil Layla turned against Kaitlyn and stopped her from spearing AJ. On August 18, 2013 at SummerSlam, AJ and Langston were defeated by Kaitlyn and Ziggler in a mixed tag team match, putting an end to their feud.
On the August 26, 2013 episode of Raw, AJ interrupted the celebration over Brie Bella's victory in a rematch against Natalya, cutting a shoot promo on the cast of Total Divas. On the September 2 episode of Raw, AJ interfered in a triple threat match between Natalya, Naomi, and Brie Bella, which was to determine the #1 contender for her Divas Championship, leading to the match being stopped and her getting beat down afterwards. Later that night, Stephanie McMahon announced that AJ would defend her Divas Championship in a fatal four-way match against Natalya, Naomi and Brie Bella at Night of Champions, where AJ went on to successfully retain her championship. On the September 27 episode of SmackDown, AJ aligned herself with Tamina. AJ successfully defended her championship against Brie Bella at Battleground with help from Tamina, but was sent home from the following night's Raw after she showed signs of a concussion stemming from when her head struck a ring post during her title defense. She returned to action at Hell in a Cell where she once again defeated Brie Bella.
At Survivor Series, AJ captained a team in a traditional seven-on-seven elimination tag team match against the cast of Total Divas, in which she was the last to be eliminated, courtesy of Natalya. This led to a title match between the two at the TLC pay-per-view, where AJ once again retained her championship. On the January 8, 2014 episode of Main Event, AJ defeated her former best friend and tag team partner Kaitlyn in Kaitlyn's final match, officially ending their rivalry. In mid-January, AJ became the longest reigning Divas Champion, surpassing Maryse's previous record. n April 6, at WrestleMania XXX, AJ successfully defended the Divas Championship in the 14-Diva "Vickie Guerrero Invitational" match, after making Naomi submit. The following night on Raw, AJ lost the championship to the debuting Paige after AJ challenged her to an impromptu title match, ending her reign at 295 days. The next week, it was reported that AJ was granted time off from WWE.
Feud with Paige (2014-present)Edit
AJ returned on June 30 as a face and defeated Paige in an impromptu match to win her second Divas Championship. On the July 4 edition of SmackDown, AJ defeated Eva Marie via submission in a non-title match. AJ would team with Paige in victorious outings against The Funkadactyls and Summer Rae & Layla in separate tag team matches, before she would defeat Paige at Battleground to retain her title. On the July 21 edition of Raw, AJ and Paige defeated Emma and Natalya in tag team action when AJ made Natalya submit to the Black Widow. After the match, AJ was invited back to the ring by Paige to celebrate their victory, but she would later be viciously attacked by the evil Paige both in and out of the ring. The following week on Raw, AJ attacked Paige after she was called "crazy," but she would be shoved off the entrance ramp by Paige four days later on SmackDown. The events led to a rematch at SummerSlam, where AJ lost the Divas Championship to Paige. At Night of Champions, AJ would defeat Paige and Nikki Bella to become a three-time Divas Champion.
AJ defeated Paige at Hell In A Cell to retain her title, but she would lose the title to Nikki Bella at Survivor Series after Brie kissed AJ in a reenactment from WrestleMania 28.