AJ Lee: Biography Of A Legendary WWE Diva

Birth of a Dream

April Jeanette Mendez better know by her ring name AJ Lee was born and raised in Union City, New Jersey. As a child AJ began her life long love of the wrestling thanks to sharing a passion for it with her older brother. At the age of 12 AJ made a firm decision that she herself would become a professional wrestler just like her many WWE Diva Idol’s. Despite being a very petite girl (even today standing just 5 ft 2 in), the tomboyish, comic book reading, video game playing AJ never wavered from her dream of one day competing in the ring during her adolescent years. AJ worked many different jobs so that she could save money and at the age of 18 AJ used that money to start her training to become a professional wrestler.

After training and wrestling in the northeast for for several indy promotions (most notably WSU), AJ once again had saved up money ($1,500 to be exact) this time to attend a WWE tryout camp. Despite not being exactly what WWE seemed to look for in a Diva at the time, they were very impressed by AJ’s skills, and signed her to a developmental contract in May of 2009.  AJ was placed in WWE’s developmental territory of the time Florida Championship Wrestling or FCW for short. During AJ’s time there her skills grew greatly both in the ring and on the mic. AJ’s passion and talent shined while competing against other now current WWE Divas such as Naomi, whom AJ had perhaps her most memorable feud and matches with while in FCW. AJ would become the Queen of FCW (the highest Divas honor in FCW at the time), and later when FCW made a full fledged Divas Championship AJ would capture that Title as well.

In August of 2010 AJ was announced to be a part of the third season of WWE’s competition show NXT. It was the first and only all female season of the show that made WWE Superstar &  Diva hopefuls compete in challenges (some wrestling based and some not) that would help them gain favor with WWE fans to hopefully win the competition and a contract to join WWE’s main roster. AJ was able to play her on screen role as much more of herself on NXT then she ever had before in FCW. AJ stood out for not being just another wannabe WWE Diva as she was a nerdy, Chuck Taylor wearing, lifelong wrestling fan, or as AJ put it “the girl that every guy would want to hang out with” then the other Diva hopefuls on the show. This difference provided a fresh type of Diva that WWE fans had never seen before, and they instantly accepted her as one of their own and backed AJ.

AJ would win several matches while on NXT against both other Diva hopefuls and even main roster WWE Divas. Despite those match wins, the backing of the fans, and AJ having won more challenges then anybody else, she would ultimately finish 3rd overall on the show to fellow FCW Diva Naomi and Kaitlyn (whom AJ had formed a tight friendship with while on NXT). After being eliminated AJ in tears would give a stirring speech talking about how she had worked her entire life to get to WWE and saying “If you think this is the last time you’ve seen AJ, you are sorely mistaken. Because I will be back, and I’m gonna accomplish all of my dreams.”

The Living of a Dream Begins

AJ’s heartfelt words proved prophetic, as despite losing the competition she would be called up to the WWE’s main roster in May of 2011. AJ was teamed up with the winner of NXT season 3 and good friend Kaitlyn in a rookie Diva tag team named ‘The Chickbusters’. The two somewhat quirky Divas played very well off each other, as their on screen persona’s were really just an extension of their off screen personalities and friendship. That did not manifest into many in victories for the rookie duo though, as they lost more then they won, mostly to more experienced Divas on the roster.

In November of 2011 AJ began an on screen relationship with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan, and began coming to the ring with him for his matches sortly thereafter. While the relationship would start out innocently, Bryan would become egotistical after winning the World Heavyweight Championship and would begin to mistreat AJ. In April 2012 At WrestleMania XXVIII AJ and Daniel’s pre-match good luck kiss would come after the bell had already rung. Thus giving Bryan’s opponent Sheamus a perfect distraction in which he hit Bryan with his finishing move the ‘Brogue Kick’ and would pin him for the win. Taking the Title from Bryan in just 18 seconds.

From Crazy Chick to Divas Champ

Bryan would blame AJ for his Title loss and would break-up with her over it. This sent AJ’s on screen persona into a dark place in which she seemed to snap and lash out at those around her. Even slapping her best friend Kaitlyn not once, but twice, when she tried to tell AJ that she had to let the relationship go, thus ending their on screen friendship and making them rivals. AJ would then begin to try to fill the void left in her heart by Bryan. She began to shift her affection towards other WWE superstars such as CM Punk and Kane. Doing many outlandish things to show her affections for them. For this reason AJ would be given the not self appreciated nickname of “crazy chick”. During this time AJ’s popularity exploded and she became one of WWE’s main attractions, male or female.  In the end none of AJ’s advances toward the various WWE Superstars panned out into what she wanted, even her last ditch effort proposal to CM Punk was denied. Daniel Bryan wanting to further hurt AJ over the trouble she had caused him would himself propose to AJ himself though, and surprisingly AJ would accept.

However all was not what it seemed, and at the 1000th episode of RAW during an on screen wedding ceremony AJ would leave Bryan at the altar as she instead accepted Vince McMahon’s proposal to her to become the RAW General Manager (the head of WWE’s biggest show Monday Night RAW). During this time AJ would take out her frustrations on her former love interests, even famously putting polar opposites Daniel Bryan and Kane in anger management classes and eventually a tag team named “Team Hell No”. AJ’s time as RAW GM would be short lived though, as a jealousy induced “scandal” by Vickie Guerrero of a fictional relationship between AJ and WWE Superstar John Cena to try and discredit AJ would force her to step down as RAW GM in October of 2012. This created a mostly not wrestling based feud with Vickie.

Cena felt bad that AJ lost her job as RAW GM in part because of him and so he showed AJ sympathy in the aftermath. However a still emotionally scarred AJ took this as a sign of loving affection and began to try and start a relationship with Cena. However after Cena treated AJ like she was crazy, and never let her come down to the ring with him for his matches, AJ would use the opportunity of John Cena’s ladder match at WWE’s TLC PPV in December 2012 to hurt him physically like his lack of affection had hurt her emotionally. AJ did this by pushing Cena off the ladder and thus help Dolph Ziggler (whom until this point AJ hated) retain his Money in the Bank Briefcase, while in the process turning AJ fully Heel. The next night AJ would come out and plant a passionate kiss on Dolph Ziggler at the 2013 Slammy Awards on RAW, enraging his then Manager Vickie Guerrero and confusing Dolph.

Ziggler would accept AJ’s romantic gesture though and would begin a passionate on screen relationship with her while also dropping Vickie as his manager in the process. AJ would come to the ring not only with her now boyfriend Dolph, but also her and Dolph’s new bodyguard Big E. Eventually the night after WrestleMania XXIX Dolph would cash in the Money in the Bank Briefcase and become World Heavyweight Champion, making this the second time AJ was an on screen girlfriend to a World Heavyweight Title holder.

It was around this time that with the suggestion of Ziggler AJ began to wrestle more and chase the WWE Divas Championship (now held by her former friend and tag partner now turned rival Kaitlyn) in order to form a dual Title holding “Power Couple”. Also, around this time AJ broke a glass ceiling for Divas in WWE by getting her own Official WWE T-Shirt(something that had not happened for many years in WWE for a female WWE wrestler), with her “Love Bites” shirt, that would soon turn into an entire line of WWE products for AJ.

Shortly after Ziggler’s suggestion, AJ won a Divas Battle Royal match to become #1 contender for the Divas Championship and reignited her feud with Kaitlyn, but this time for the Divas Title. AJ would use her powerful new ‘Black Widow’ submission finisher to win her first Divas Championship from her former friend and tag partner at the Payback 2013 PPV. AJ did this after getting into Kaitlyn’s head with elaborate mind games leading up to the PPV, that made Kaitlyn angry and unfocused during the match. Winning her first Divas Championship was a lifelong dream come true for AJ who was very emotional after the win. In fact AJ was so proud of the accomplishment that she would soon after have the date of the PPV (6/16/13) tattooed on the back of her neck. However that same night AJ’s storyline boyfriend Dolph Ziggler lost his World Heavyweight Championship preventing their on screen dream of becoming a “Power Couple” from happening.

At the next PPV AJ fearing for Ziggler’s own safety would interfere and cost Ziggler his World Heavyweight Title rematch and the next night on RAW Ziggler would break-up with AJ. Once again when her Title holding boyfriend lost his belt AJ had been blamed for it and dumped. However, AJ would also once again have her revenge, as she would have Big E attack Ziggler. Big E would continue to be AJ’s bodyguard until he was banned by WWE from being ringside for anymore of AJ’s matches. This seemingly evened the odds for AJ’s Divas Title rival Kaitlyn, but Kaitlyn’s friend Layla would turn on her and help AJ once again defeat Kaitlyn to retain her Divas Title. AJ & Big E would lose to Ziggler & Kaitlyn in a Mixed Tag match at SummerSlam 2013 thus ending all of their feuds, but AJ was still the Divas Champion.

A Pipebombshell is Dropped, & History is Made

AJ would soon give perhaps her most powerful mic promo to the cast of the reality show ‘Total Divas’ (which is made up of WWE Divas). AJ slammed the cast for being on the show saying they “Turned to reality television because they just weren’t gifted enough to be actresses, and that just weren’t talented enough to be Champion”. AJ also told them that in one year she had done more then all of them had in their collective careers, and that she had saved their Divas division, even if they did not show her any appreciation for it. Further more, AJ would say that she worked her entire life to get where she was, while the reality show cast had been handed “15 minutes of fame” because they “came from some famous wrestling family, or because they sucked up to the right people.” AJ’s most memorable line in the promo though was when she told the cast that they “will never be able to lace up my Chuck Taylors”, once again making the point that while the cast try and talk to the talk, AJ herself both talks it and backs it up with her skills.

Soon after the promo AJ would begin a feud with every single member of the Total Divas Cast, first defeating Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi in a Fatal Four Way match for the Divas Title at Night of Champions 2013. After this AJ would find an ally in Tamina Snuka, her new bodyguard. AJ would continue her feud with the Total Divas defeating Brie Bella one on one at both Battleground 2013 and Hell in the Cell 2013. AJ then captained her own Survivor Series 2013 squad of 7 “True Divas” (Divas not part of the ‘Total Divas’ cast) Vs the 7 members of the ‘Total Divas’ cast. AJ’s team was not fully on the same page however and as a result Natalya would eliminate AJ last to win the match for the ‘Total Divas’ cast.
AJ would once again defeat Natalya this time at TLC 2013, retaining her Divas Title. Then in a one night detour from her current feud AJ would face Kaitlyn one last time. Kaitlyn (AJ’s Divas Championship rival, but real life friend) would retire after their an emotional January 8th 2014 match on WWE Main Event in which AJ defeated Kaitlyn and then embraced her with a hug afterwards to say goodbye.

On January 15th 2014 AJ would become the longest reigning Divas Champion in history as she would pass former WWE Divas Champ Maryse’s 212 consecutive day reign. AJ was set to defend her Divas Title against Naomi one on one at Elimination Chamber 2013, but after Naomi suffered an injury AJ would instead defend her Divas Title against Naomi’s Tag Partner Cameron. AJ would defeat Cameron at Elimination Chamber 2013 and beat her once again later in that same week on Smackdown. AJ would then defend her Divas Title yet again in a memorable one on one match against Natalya on WWE Main Event on March 11th 2014.

Soon after AJ’s old nemesis Vickie Guerrero (now Smackdown General Manager) would concoct a plan to try and finally wrest the Divas Title from AJ’s record breaking grasp. At WrestleMania XXX Vickie would stack the odds against AJ and force her to defend her Divas Title in the “Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational”, a one fall Divas Championship match with AJ and 13 other Divas. However, AJ beat the odds as she has her entire life and won the match foiling Vickie’s plan.

Crazy Chick Vs Anti-Diva Leads to More History

The next night on RAW a jubilant AJ would come out to the ring and gloat about how she had defeated the entire Divas Division and therefore had no more competition. During this promo however a Diva from NXT (now no longer a competition show, but WWE’s developmental territory) named Paige would interrupt and seemingly try to congratulate AJ on her Divas Title win at WrestleMania XXX. The Heel AJ however would cockily disregard Paige’s kind words though and would even boldly challenge Paige to a match in which AJ as a “Special Post-WrestleMania treat” put her Divas Title on the line. This would prove disastrous for AJ though as shockingly in her first RAW appearance Paige would upset her to become the new WWE Divas Champion, and end AJ’s record breaking Divas Title reign at 295 consecutive days.

After this AJ would take a bit of time off from the WWE ring to rest her body and focus on her personal life. During this time also AJ would marry her fiancé Phil Brooks better know by his ring name CM Punk (whom AJ had met and worked with in WWE), and thus took his last name becoming April Jeanette Mendez-Brooks.

AJ returned to WWE on the June 30th 2014 Episode of RAW interrupting Paige while she was in the ring talking on the mic. AJ would address Paige (whom was still Divas Champion) and told her that she was right and that Paige “did what no woman in almost a year could do” by proving her wrong. AJ would express remorse for the cocky champion she had become and would congratulate Paige on becoming the Divas Champion (thus turning AJ Face). However, Paige (whom had developed her own over confident attitude during AJ’s time away from WWE) accused AJ of simply trying to goad her in to a Divas Championship rematch. Paige however would make the mistake of insinuating the crowd would not even want her to defend the Divas Title that night anyway, to which the crowd responded with a cheer that they would indeed. AJ would ask the crowd directly and Paige caved under the pressure of trying to please them and would put the Divas Title on the line against AJ in an impromptu match. This time AJ would be the one winning though, and in doing so she became a two-time Divas Champion.

Following AJ regaining the Divas Championship, her and Paige subsequently began a seemingly respectful Title feud in which they began to call each other “frenemies” (friends/enemies). AJ would successfully defend her Divas Title against Paige at Battleground 2014 however, and after this the feud would take a darker tone as Paige would attack AJ unprovoked the next night on RAW after they had just won a tag match together. The feud developed into one where many mind games were played against each other, including Paige mocking AJ’s signature skipping to the ring and still calling AJ a friend despite her attacking AJ physically numerous times.These attacks even included Paige pushing AJ off the entrance stage, storyline injuring AJ for a bit. AJ as a master of mind games would play along trying not to show Paige any weakness, but in August 2014 Paige would defeat AJ to regain the Divas Title at SummerSlam.

After this AJ would go more on the offensive in her mind games toward Paige, AJ would help Natalya defeat Paige not once, but twice in non-Title matches and would even tell Paige that she loved her and that she would dedicate her life to her. AJ followed up these words with actions such as kissing Paige’s hand. These types of overtures confused Paige and even seemed to creep her out, clearly showing that AJ was in her head. These next level mind games by AJ would prove fruitful as she would defeat both Paige and Nikki Bella in a Divas Championship Triple Threat match at Night of Champions 2014 in September. This win made AJ a Three-Time Divas Champion, tying her for the most Divas Title reigns in history with former WWE Diva Eve Torres. This had been the only Divas Title record that AJ did not already hold. AJ would win her feud with Paige by defeating her at Hell in the Cell on October 26th, 2014.

The End of a Glorious Road

AJ would then begin to Feud with Nikki Bella. AJ would lose her Divas Championship to Nikki in an odd match that recreated the events that occurred during WrestleMania XXVIII when AJ kissing Daniel Bryan cost him his World Heavyweight Championship. However this time AJ was in Daniel Bryan’s shoes and Nikki’s sister Brie distracted AJ with an unwanted surprise kiss that let Nikki take advantage and win the Divas Title from AJ in a matter of seconds, ending AJ’s 3rd Title reign. AJ would continue her Feud with Nikki until she lost her Title rematch in which Nikki would spray hairspray into AJ’s eyes to blind her and help her win.

AJ would then take time off from WWE in order to rest a nagging neck injury, that she had been wrestling through for a while. She would not return until the March 2, 2015 RAW in which AJ came to the aid of her former Diva Title rival Paige in her feud against the Bella Twins. This would lead to a Tag Match being made at WrestleMania 31 between AJ Lee & Paige Vs The Bella Twins. AJ Lee would make Nikki Bella Tap-out to her Black Widow submission to win the match for her team and after being part of the winning team in a 3 on 3 match on the RAW after WrestleMania 31 would Officially Retire from WWE on April 3rd, 2015.

AJ Lee was a small town girl without much growing up that dreamed big anyway, and never stopped fighting to reach her lifelong goal of becoming a WWE Diva and Divas Champion. Today she has not only accomplished those goals, but has become the greatest Divas Champion of all-time, as well as one of the greatest female wrestlers ever. AJ is an inspiration to millions of people male and female alike who fight to make their dreams come true everyday, and her legendary career is a testament in perseverance. AJ has an upcoming book about her amazing life and career, but other then this no one knows what the future holds for AJ. However, if her history has taught us anything, whatever it is, it will be done with the same charismatic passion and never ending drive that has got her where she is today, having lived a dream come true.

Thank you AJ for the memories and the inspiration. I will always be thankful for both, more then you will ever know.

– Andrew Peterson – PWMania.com

From the Author: Those that know my history as a writer know that I may be uniquely qualified to write this Bio about AJ Lee. You see before recently joining the PWMania Staff I wrote for (and helped launch) AJ’s Official Website AJ-Brooks.Com. Before that, and part of the reason I got that honor, was because I wrote for and was Co-Webmaster of her biggest fansite, the now defunct Miss-April.Org.

This here is a both a biography and a love letter for a wrestling career I consider one of the best ever in the business, and one that both helped me fall in love wrestling again, and showed me a love I never knew I had in writing. This is AJ Lee: Biography Of A Legendary Diva.

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