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April Jeanette Mendez
Aj bio 20130315
Statistics
Ring Names AJ Lee
Height 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Weight 107 lbs (49 kg)
Born March 19, 1987
Union City, New Jersey
Died
Resides Tampa, Florida
Billed Union City, New Jersey
Trained by Jay Lethal
Mo Sexton
Azriael
Debut August 31, 2010
Retired April 3, 2015 (Retired)

April Jeanette "AJBrooks(née Mendez; born March 19, 1987), better known by the ring name AJ Lee, is an American retiredprofessional wrestler. She is best known for her time in WWE.

Brooks began her professional wrestling career on the New Jersey independent circuit in 2007, where she performed as Miss April, notably in Women Superstars Uncensored. She signed with WWE in 2009 and spent two years in its developmental system, Florida Championship Wrestling, before she was called up to the main roster. Meanwhile, she took part in season three of NXT in 2010 and placed third in the competition.

In 2012, Brooks rose to prominence through several storylines, such as relationships with wrestlers who feuded over WWE's world championships, along with a three-month stint as the General Manager of Raw. In subsequent years, she won the Divas Championship a record-tying three times. She also won the Diva of the Year Slammy Award twice (2012 and 2014), and was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated'sWoman of the Year for an unprecedented three consecutive years (2012–2014). She retired from in-ring competition in 2015.

Early life Edit

April Jeanette Mendez was born in Union City, New Jersey.She is of Puerto Rican descent,and has two older siblings: a sister, Erica, and brother, Robert. She has described her family's experience while growing up as having to live in motels, other people's houses, and their car.

Her brother's childhood interest in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now known as WWE) influenced her ambition to pursue a professional wrestling career, which she cemented when she was 12 years old.She was inspired by the WWF's female stars, especiallyLita, whom she met as a child at an autograph signing. Footage of the encounter, which shows the young Mendez being brought to tears, surfaced on YouTube. As an homage to her brother, who was in the U.S. Army, Mendez once wore camouflage wrestling attire.

After graduating from Memorial High School in 2005,Mendez worked several part-time jobs in order to save up the money she needed to both support her family and enroll in wrestling school. She attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, where she majored in film and television production and writing,until family and financial issues led to her dropping out six months into her studies.

Professional wrestling career Edit

Early career (2007–2009) Edit

Shortly after leaving university, Mendez enrolled in a wrestling school one mile away from her house. She worked full-time to pay the tuition and started 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.

Miss April joined the New Jersey-based promotion Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU) in October 2008, losing her debut match against Jana. After unsuccessfully competing alongside Malia Hosaka in a tournament to determine the inaugural WSU Tag Team Champions, she formed a tag team with Brooke Carter and on February 7, 2009, they captured the tag titles by defeating the Beatdown Betties (Roxie Cotton and Annie Social).On April 11, 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.In May, she left WSU upon signing with WWE and vacated her half of the WSU Tag Team Championships.

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE Edit

Florida Championship Wrestling (2009–2011) Edit

Mendez signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in May 2009, after she took part in a tryout camp that she paid US$1,500 to attend. She was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental territory,and debuted under the ring name April Lee at a television taping in August. Shortly thereafter, her name was changed to AJ Lee.

In February 2010, AJ defeated Serena Mancini to win the Queen of FCW title. A few months later, AJ was eliminated from a tournament which determined the inaugural FCW Divas Champion; she engaged in a storyline feud with the winner, Naomi Knight, and her character became a villain.In November, AJ lost the Queen of FCW title to Rosa Mendes. AJ then defeated Naomi for the FCW Divas Championship in December, which made her the first to win both titles available to FCW's female wrestlers. She held the championship until April 2011, when she lost it to Aksana.

NXT and teaming with Kaitlyn (2010–2011) Edit

AJ delivering a farewell speech after being eliminated from season three of NXT

On August 31, 2010, AJ was announced as one of the six participants in the all-female third season of NXT, with Primo serving as her WWE pro. She began portraying a fan favorite role on the show, with WWE adapting her real life comic book and video game fandom to her character. Throughout the season, a relationship between herself and Primo was teased, with them ultimately kissing on the finale. She also developed an on-screen friendship with fellow competitor, Kaitlyn. After surviving until the final three, AJ was eliminated from the competition on November 23.

On the May 27, 2011 episode of SmackDown, AJ made her main roster debut alongside Kaitlyn as a tag team, referring to themselves as "The Chickbusters". They were led by their storyline mentor Natalya and faced the team of Alicia Fox and Tamina, losing to them in consecutive weeks. Her first victory came on June 10, when she pinned Tamina in singles competition. The trio feuded with Fox, Tamina and Rosa Mendesthroughout the next two months.

In late July, AJ began a brief storyline on NXT Redemption as the girlfriend of Hornswoggle, and feuded with Maxine. Meanwhile on SmackDown, she was attacked by Natalya, who turned on her protégé and allied with Beth Phoenix to form the Divas of Doom. AJ and Kaitlyn lost several matches to the Divas of Doom over the following months, causing tension between them, with Kaitlyn upset at their repeated losses.

Various relationships and General Manager of Raw (2011–2013) Edit

In November 2011, AJ began a romantic storyline with Daniel Bryan, who won the World Heavyweight Championship the following month and started displaying villainous traits. Despite AJ's declaration of love for Bryan, Bryan avoided saying that he loved her in return. On the January 13, 2012 episode of SmackDown, AJ accompanied Bryan for his title defense against Big Show and during the match, Big Show accidentally collided with AJ, injuring her in the storyline and causing her to be taken out on a stretcher. AJ returned on February 3, saving Bryan from Big Show.

In March, Bryan demanded that AJ "shut up" and stated that she gets in his way. Despite such actions, AJ continued to stand by Bryan. AtWrestleMania XXVIII, on April 1, 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 AJ. Bryan then blamed AJ for his loss and ended their relationship. Despite AJ's attempts to mend their relationship, Bryan cruelly rebuffed her multiple times, leaving AJ distraught. As a result, AJ lashed out towards Natalya and Kaitlyn when they attempted to comfort her, which marked the transition of her character as "mentally unstable".

AJ then turned her affections to Bryan's rival, WWE Champion CM Punk, as well as fellow WWE title contender Kane. At No Way Out, on June 17, AJ 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, AJ was announced as the special guest referee for their title match at Money in the Bank. While Bryan made advances on AJ in an attempt to influence her, AJ continued showing interest in Punk. On July 9, sheproposed to Punk but Bryan responded by proposing to her in return; Punk rejected her proposal and AJ slapped both men. At Money in the Bank, on July 15, as referee, AJ counted Punk's pinfall on Bryan, resulting in a successful title defense for Punk; as Punk celebrated over a fallen Bryan, AJ was left alone. The following night on Raw, Bryan again proposed to AJ, who accepted.

During the exchange of vows at Raw 1000, AJ announced that she had been offered the job of Raw General Manager by WWE chairman Vince McMahon and left Bryan at the altar.Her on-screen authority role began on July 30, where she alleged Bryan only wanted the legal leverage to have her committed, forcing him to undergo his own psychological evaluation. Later, AJ modified Punk's WWE Championship bout at SummerSlam into a triple threat match due to his interference during a number one contender's match between John Cena and Big Show. Meanwhile, AJ 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 AJ's General Manager role, deeming AJ too childish. Punk later humiliated AJ for her past affections, leading to Paul Heyman also demanding the General Manager position alongside Guerrero.[81]

AJ with Dolph Ziggler (center) andBig E Langston (right) in 2013

AJ stepped down from her General Manager duties on October 22, beginning a scandal storyline with John Cena. Vickie Guerrero alleged that they had an affair and presented various material suggesting their relationship. After denying the claims for several weeks, AJ and Cena started a relationship, despite Cena showing reluctance towards AJ. Meanwhile, Cena feuded with Guerrero's client, Dolph Ziggler, over Ziggler's Money in the Bank contract. During their match at TLC, on December 16, AJ turned villainous by interfering and pushing Cena off a ladder, causing him to lose. AJ solidified a relationship with Ziggler the following night on Raw and they teamed together against Cena and Guerrero in the main event, which ended in disqualification after the debuting Big E Langston interfered and attacked Cena on AJ's behalf. AJ later explained her actions, stating that Cena did not care about anyone but himself and that he broke her heart, so she helped Ziggler break him.

In March 2013, AJ continued her on-screen rivalry with ex-boyfriend Daniel Bryan after they traded insults backstage. Following AJ and Langston's assistance towards Ziggler's victories over Bryan and his tag team partner Kane, she challenged Team Hell No (Bryan and Kane) to defend their WWE Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania 29 against Ziggler and Langston, which they accepted. On April 7, AJ accompanied Ziggler and Langston to the bout, which they lost. The following night on Raw, AJ and Langston accompanied Ziggler as he cashed in his Money in the Bank contract on Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

Divas Champion (2013–2014) Edit

AJ won a battle royal on April 22, 2013, to become the number one contender to Kaitlyn's WWE Divas Championship. Kaitlyn then began a storyline where she received gifts from a secret admirer. On June 10, after setting up Big E Langston to pose as the admirer, AJ revealed it to be a mind game, berated Kaitlyn and left her in tears. Six days later at Payback, AJ defeated Kaitlyn to capture her first Divas Championship.[ AJ continued to mock Kaitlyn, and they later participated in the first-ever in-ring Divas Championship contract signing for their rematch at Money in the Bank, which AJ won on July 14. Later that night, AJ cost Dolph Ziggler his rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship against Alberto Del Rio, after she prematurely snuck into the ring and hit Del Rio with her Divas title, prompting a disqualification. Due to her actions, Ziggler ended their relationship the following night on Raw and AJ exacted revenge by costing Ziggler a non-title match against Del Rio, then she attacked Ziggler and unleashed Langston on him. On August 2, Langston was banned from attending AJ's matches. However, AJ successfully defended her title against Kaitlyn after Kaitlyn's friend, Layla, turned on her. Ziggler and Kaitlyn then joined together to ultimately defeat AJ and Langston in a mixed tag team match at SummerSlam on August 18.

AJ, as the WWE Divas Champion, with her bodyguard Tamina Snuka

On August 26, AJ started a feud with the cast of Total Divas by cutting a worked shoot promo criticizing them. The following week on Raw, AJ interfered in a triple threat number one contender's match between the Total Divas of Natalya, Naomi and Brie Bella, resulting in the match being stopped when they all attacked her. Thus, AJ had to defend her title against the trio in a fatal four-way match at Night of Champions, on September 15, where she retained her championship. In late September, AJ enlisted Tamina Snuka as her bodyguard. AJ went on to successfully defend her championship against Brie Bella at Battleground with help from Tamina, but was sent home from the following night's Raw after she showed legit signs of a concussionstemming from when her head struck a ring post during her title defense. She returned to action at Hell in a Cell, where she 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 following month's TLC event, where AJ again retained her championship.

In January 2014, AJ became the longest-reigning Divas Champion, surpassing the previous record set by Maryse. After fending off title contenders Cameron and Natalya, AJ renewed her on-screen rivalry with SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero, who forced her to defend the Divas Championship in a 14-woman match at WrestleMania XXX. AJ retained the title on April 6, marking the first time the Divas Championship had been contested for at WWE's flagship event. The following night on Raw, AJ lost the championship after she challenged the debuting Paige to an impromptu title match, ending her record-breaking reign at 295 days (which was surpassed by Nikki Bella in September 2015. It was subsequently reported that Mendez had requested time off from WWE.

AJ and Paige feuded throughout 2014 (left) before they allied together in March 2015 (right)

AJ returned on June 30 as a fan favorite, having quietly dismissed Tamina. That night, she challenged Paige to an impromptu rematch and emerged victorious to capture her second Divas Championship. After successfully defending the title against Paige at Battleground on July 20, AJ was viciously assaulted by Paige, and later shoved off the entrance ramp, briefly injuring her in the storyline. On August 17, at SummerSlam, AJ lost the Divas Championship to Paige. She won back the title in a triple threat match, also involving Nikki Bella, at Night of Champions on September 21, tying the record for most reigns with three. AJ's feud with Paige ended the following month at the Hell in a Cell event, with her retaining the title. On November 23, at Survivor Series, AJ quickly lost the championship to Nikki Bella after Nikki's sister, Brie, distracted her. She lost a rematch the following month at TLC, after Nikki sprayed a substance in her eyes. Afterward, Mendez took time off to heal a legit neck injury.

Retirement (2015) Edit

In February 2015, amid widespread criticism from fans towards WWE's treatment of its female performers, Mendez spoke out to WWE executive Stephanie McMahon. McMahon had posted a prior tweet, which praised actress Patricia Arquette for advocating women's rights, and encouraged women to "use your voice". Mendez responded that, despite having generated record-selling merchandise and several top-rated segments on WWE shows, female wrestlers in WWE receive a fraction of the wages and screen time of the company's male roster. McMahon thanked Mendez for her public statement, and her father, WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, also acknowledged the issue.

AJ returned to WWE television on the March 2 episode of Raw, saving her former rival Paige, who was being attacked by Nikki and Brie Bella. AJ and Paige then allied together to defeat the Bella Twins at WrestleMania 31 on March 29. Five days later, on April 3, WWE announced that Mendez decided to retire from in-ring competition.

Other media Edit

AJ in March 2015

In 2012, Brooks became the first female winner of WWE's annual Superstar Challenge, a video game tournament which consisted of 16 wrestlers who competed in WWE '12 at WrestleMania XXVIII Axxess. This received recognition in the 2015 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition.

Brooks' WWE character is playable in several video games: WWE '13 (as downloadable content), WWE 2K14, and WWE 2K15.

In 2015, Brooks appeared in a promotional short film and animated series for the Madden NFL 16 video game.

A memoir written by Brooks, titled Crazy Is My Superpower, is scheduled to be published in early 2017. The book will cover her upbringing and career in professional wrestling.

Filmography Edit

Appearances in feature film
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2014 Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery AJ Lee (voice) Direct-to-video [154]
TBA Hellstorm TBA Pre-production [155]


Personal life Edit

Mendez married Phil "CM Punk" Brooks on June 13, 2014. They reside in Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was previously in a relationship with her trainer Jay "Lethal" Shipman.

Mendez has described herself as a "tomboy" and credited her brother for her interest in comic books, anime, and video games. She has the numbers 6, 16, and 13 tattooed intally marks on the back of her neck to commemorate her first WWE Divas Championship win on June 16, 2013.

Mendez is an avid animal welfare advocate. In 2015, she appeared in an ASPCA campaign to end dog fighting.

In wrestling Edit

  • Finishing moves
    • Black Widow (Octopus hold)
    • Shining Wizard
    • Shiranui, sometimes while standing
  • Signature moves
    • Diving crossbody
    • Front dropkick
    • Guillotine choke with body scissors
    • Hurricanrana,sometimes to an oncoming opponent
    • Sleeper hold with body scissors
    • Spin kick
    • Swinging neckbreaker, sometimes back-to-back
    • Tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown
    • Tornado DDT
  • Managers
    • Big E Langston
    • Natalya
    • Primo
    • Tamina Snuka
  • Wrestlers managed
    • Daniel Bryan
    • Dolph Ziggler
  • Nicknames
    • "Black Widow"
    • "Crazy Chick"
    • "Geek Goddess"
  • Entrance themes
    • "Right Now" by Tyler Van Den Berg (2011)
    • "Let's Light It Up" by Jim Johnston featuring Kari Kimmel (October 26, 2011 – March 30, 2015)

Professional wrestling career Edit

Early career (2007–2009) Edit

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE Edit

Florida Championship Wrestling (2009–2011) Edit

Edit

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

    • Florida Championship Wrestling
      • FCW Divas Championship (1 time)
      • Queen of FCW (1 time)
    • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
      • Woman of the Year (2012–2014)
      • Ranked No. 2 of the top 50 female wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2014
    • Women Superstars Uncensored
      • WSU Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Brooke Carter
      • WSU/NWS King and Queen of the Ring (2009) – with Jay Lethal
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter
      • Worst Worked Match of the Year (2013) 14-woman elimination tag team match at Survivor Series on November 24
    • WWE
      • WWE Divas Championship (3 times)
      • Slammy Award (3 times)
        • Diva of the Year (2012, 2014)
        • Kiss of the Year (2012) – with John Cena

GalleryEdit

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