BIOGRAPHY - APRIL JEANNETTE MENDEZ

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Wrestler: A.J. Lee
Real Name: April Jeanette Mendez
Birthday: March 19, 1987
Hometown: Union City, New Jersey
Marital Status: Dating Jay Lethal
Height & Weight: 5'2" - 107 lbs
Trained by: Jay Lethal
Debut: September 29, 2007
Previous Gimmicks: Miss April (Indy), April Jeanette, April Lee (FCW), A.J. Lee (FCW)
Finishing Move: Shining Wizard, Sliced Bread #2
Favorite Moves: Hurracanrana, Spinning Heel Kick, Head Scissors, Mexican Armdrags
Notable Feuds: Alexa Thatcher

 

Jeanette was born in Union City, New Jersey. She attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City where

she majored in Film and Television production. As a tribute to her brother, who was in the army, Jeanette wears camouflage wrestling attire.

 

Shortly after graduating from high school, Jeanette researched wrestling schools, and enroled in one a mile away from her house. To pay the tuition, she began working full-time, and became an official wrestling student in March 2007. Women Superstars Uncensored On October 11, 2008 April debuted at WSU during the WSU Tag Team Tournament to crown the first ever Tag team champion. She and Malia Hosaka teamed together and made it to the second round but then were defeated by The Beatdown Betties. On February 7, 2009 Miss April and Brooke carter defeated The Beatdown betties to become the new WSU Tag team champions after Miss April hit her April Showers on Annie Social. On April 11, 2009 Miss April and Jay Lethal were crowned the WSU/NWS 2009 King and Queen of the Ring after defeating Jana and Danny Demanto in a 20 min bout.

 

Miss April signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment on May 5, 2009 and is currently training at Florida Championship Wrestling. April made her FCW TV debut at the August 14, 2009 tapings under the name April Lee in a fatal four way match also including Serena Mancini, Alicia Fox, and Tiffany. At the August 22, 2009 television tapings of FCW, April was unsuccessful in winning the Queen of FCW crown from Serena Mancini. In February 2010, however, she defeated Mancini to win the crown.

Mendez signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment on May 5, 2009 after taking part in a tryout camp that she paid $1,500 to attend, and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental territory. Mendez made her FCW debut at the August 13 TV 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 TV tapings on February 4, 2010, AJ defeated Serena to win the crown. On the March 7 episode of FCW TV, 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 FCW TV on May 16, but was defeated by Serena in the semi-finals on June 6. AJ later challenged Naomi for a shot at the FCW Divas Championship on June 27, but was unsuccessful in their bout the following week. On July 11, AJ and Serena interrupted Naomi during a promo, and AJ watched while Serena attacked Naomi, turning AJ into a heel. Naomi went on to retain her FCW Divas Championship by defeating both AJ and Serena in a triple threat match the following week. On the 100th episode of FCW TV (which aired on August 29), AJ fought Naomi to a double countout in a match where both AJ's Queen of FCW title and Naomi's FCW Divas Championship were on the line. On the September 26 FCW TV, AJ lost to Naomi in a lumberjill match to end their feud.

 

At the November 18, 2010 TV tapings, AJ dropped the Queen of FCW title to Rosa Mendes. At the next tapings on December 16, 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 a TV taping.

 

On August 31, 2010, AJ was announced as a participant in the all-female third season of NXT, with Primo as her WWE pro. AJ made her televised in-ring debut in a mixed tag team match alongside Primo against Aksana and Goldust in a winning effort on the September 7 season premiere of NXT. The following week, she and Primo competed in another mixed tag team match, suffering her first loss against Kaitlyn and Dolph Ziggler. Over the next three weeks, AJ won a singles match against Maxine and three challenges, tying her with Kaitlyn in immunity points, but she lost a crowd reaction poll to receive immunity from elimination on October 5. Over the next four weeks, she won two challenges, and survived elimination on November 2. Over the next two weeks, AJ defeated both Nikki Bella and Aksana in singles competition, and won two challenges, thus earning immunity from elimination on November 16. Despite winning a challenge and in singles competition against Naomi on November 23, AJ was eliminated from the competition. She returned to NXT on the November 30 season finale, where she teamed with The Bella Twins against Aksana, Maxine, and Alicia Fox, with AJ's team coming out victorious pinning Maxine, and afterwards shared a kiss with Primo; she also celebrated with her friend Kaitlyn after she was named WWE's Breakout Diva.

 

On the May 27, 2011 episode of SmackDown, AJ made her main roster debut alongside Kaitlyn as a tag team known as the Chickbusters, being accompanied by their mentor Natalya, in a tag team match against the team of Alicia Fox and Tamina in a losing effort, establishing herself as a face. The Chickbusters were again defeated in a rematch against Fox and Tamina the following week. Her first victory came on June 10, when she pinned Tamina in singles competition on SmackDown. The Chickbusters and Natalya continued to feud with Fox and Tamina, who were soon joined by Rosa Mendes in a six-Diva tag team match, with AJ pinning Fox on the June 23 Superstars.

 

On the August 5 SmackDown, AJ 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 Chickbusters lost to the Divas of Doom (Natalya and Beth Phoenix) in a tag team match the following week, and were attacked by both members after the match. 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 upset at their repeated losses to the Divas of Doom.

 

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

 

In March 2012, Bryan began mistreating AJ, publicly demanding that she "shut up" and claiming that she always got in his way. Despite these actions, AJ 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 AJ. On the April 6 SmackDown, Bryan blamed AJ for his loss of the World Heavyweight Championship and ended their relationship. Despite AJ's attempts to mend their relationship, Bryan rebuffed her multiple times, leaving AJ distraught. AJ assaulted fellow Chickbuster Kaitlyn when she attempted to comfort AJ backstage two weeks in a row, which led to a match on the May 11 SmackDown, which AJ won, and was afterwards visited by Bryan, who stated he was moving on from her and going after Kaitlyn. Two days later on Twitter, Kaitlyn announced she was officially breaking up the Chickbusters.

 

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, but Punk let her down by not watching her match. A vengeful AJ then sent Punk and Bryan crashing through a ringside table during their match on Raw on July 2. The following week, AJ proposed to Punk, prompting Bryan to propose to her in return; Punk rejected her proposal and AJ slapped both men. At Money in the Bank, as guest 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 once again proposed to AJ, who accepted.

 

During the exchange of vows at Raw 1000, AJ announced she had been offered the job of Raw General Manager by WWE chairman 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, AJ modified Punk's WWE Championship bout at SummerSlam into a triple threat match due to his interference during a number one contender 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 Vickie.

 

AJ stepped down from her General Manager duties on October 22, due to the stress of allegations of fraternizing and having an affair with a wrestler on the Raw roster, which was later revealed to be John Cena. In the following weeks, Vickie showed evidence of Cena and AJ going to a business dinner, AJ walking into Cena's room and more. At Survivor Series, AJ tried to show "evidence" of Vickie fraternizing, but was attacked by the returning Tamina Snuka. The following night on Raw, Cena and AJ passionately kissed each other to give Vickie and Dolph Ziggler something "to talk about". AJ kissed Cena again after his match against Ziggler the following week, starting a relationship between the two. On the December 3 episode of Raw, AJ defeated Tamina in a singles match.

 

At the TLC pay-per-view, AJ turned heel after interfering in John Cena and Dolph Ziggler's ladder match by pushing Cena off the ladder. The following night on the Raw Slammy Awards special, AJ won the Slammy award for "Kiss of the Year" with Cena, which was presented by Vickie Guerrero. AJ and Vickie started arguing, which led to Ziggler intervening and AJ kissing him in front of Vickie, officially solidifying her heel turn and relationship with Ziggler. In the main event, AJ teamed up with Ziggler to take on Cena and Vickie, with Cena and Vickie emerging victorious via disqualification after the debuting Big E Langston interfered and attacked Cena on AJ's behalf. The next day, on a special live episode of SmackDown, AJ justified her actions on MizTV, saying that Cena did not care about anyone but himself and that he broke her heart like Bryan and Punk did before, so she helped Ziggler break him. After The Miz insulted AJ, Langston laid him out on AJ's behalf.

 

In March 2013, AJ re-entered a feud with her ex-boyfriend Daniel Bryan after they traded insults backstage. AJ and Langston then helped Ziggler defeat Bryan and his tag team partner Kane in singles competition the following week. AJ then challenged Team Hell No (Bryan and Kane) to defend their WWE Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania 29 against Ziggler and Langston, which they accepted. AJ got into a brawl with Divas Champion Kaitlyn after Kaitlyn called her crazy on the March 25 Raw. Later that night, AJ defeated Kaitlyn in a non-title match via countout after Kaitlyn's attempt to spear her through the barricade backfired. Later that week on SmackDown, AJ and Ziggler were defeated by Kaitlyn and Bryan in a mixed tag team match, after AJ was speared and pinned by Kaitlyn. At WrestleMania 29 on April 7, AJ accompanied Ziggler and Langston to their title match against Team Hell No, where they were unsuccessful in their bout. 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.

 

AJ won a battle royal on the April 22, 2013 episode of Raw by lastly eliminating Layla to become the number one contender to Kaitlyn's Divas Championship. AJ unsuccessfully challenged Kaitlyn for the championship on the April 24 episode of NXT, after Kaitlyn speared her. On the June 10 episode of Raw, AJ was revealed as 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. Six days later at the inaugural Payback pay-per-view, AJ defeated Kaitlyn to capture her first Divas Championship. AJ celebrated her championship win the following night on Raw, but was confronted by Stephanie McMahon and eventually attacked by Kaitlyn. In the following weeks, AJ and Langston continued to mock Kaitlyn, with AJ ultimately retaining her Divas Championship against Kaitlyn in a rematch at Money in the Bank 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 and hit Del Rio with her Divas title, prompting a disqualification.

 

The following night on Raw, Ziggler ended his relationship with AJ due to her actions the previous night. AJ exacted revenge by costing Ziggler a non-title match against Del Rio, then she attacked Ziggler and unleashed Langston on him. On the August 2 episode of SmackDown, Langston was banned from attending AJ's matches. However, AJ successfully defended her title against Kaitlyn after Kaitlyn's friend Layla turned on her. At SummerSlam, AJ and Langston were defeated by Kaitlyn and Ziggler in a mixed tag team match, putting an end to their feud. AJ allied herself with Tamina in 2013.

 

On the August 26 episode of Raw, 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 at Night of Champions, where she retained her championship. On the September 27 episode of SmackDown, AJ enlisted Tamina as her enforcer. 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.


In January 2014, AJ became the longest-reigning Divas Champion at the time. 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 won the match on April 6, marking the first time the championship had been contested for at WWE's flagship event. The next night on Raw, AJ challenged the debuting Paige to an impromptu title match and was defeated, ending her then record-breaking reign at 295 days. Mendez was then granted time off.

 

Upon her return on June 30, AJ switched to a face role and was no longer accompanied by Tamina. She challenged Paige to an impromptu rematch and won back the Divas Championship. They started pretending to be best friends in a facetious manner. When AJ retained the title from Paige at Battleground, their act escalated into unprovoked attacks. At SummerSlam on August 17, AJ lost the championship to Paige. Their storyline was then intertwined with that of Nikki and Brie Bella, at the behest of Stephanie McMahon, who granted Nikki a championship opportunity. A triple threat match ensued at Night of Champions on September 21, where AJ became a record-tying three-time Divas Champion. Her feud with Paige concluded at Hell in a Cell in October, with her emerging victorious. She changed focus to Nikki Bella, whose sister, Brie, was involved as her "personal assistant". AJ quickly lost the championship to Nikki at Survivor Series on November 23, due to a distraction by Brie. After losing the rematch at TLC the following month, Mendez took time off to heal a pre-existing neck injury.

 

In February 2015, Mendez spoke out via Twitter amidst widespread criticism from fans towards WWE's treatment of its female wrestlers. WWE executive Stephanie McMahon had 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, female wrestlers in WWE receive only a fraction of the wages and screen time of their male counterparts. McMahon thanked Mendez for her public statement and her father, WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, also acknowledged the issue.

 

AJ returned on the March 2 episode of Raw, saving her former rival Paige, who was being attacked by Nikki and Brie Bella. AJ and Paige 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.

 

In her 2017 memoir, Mendez said that the discovery of permanent damage to her cervical spine was the catalyst to her retirement. She had also "felt caught in the middle" between WWE and her husband Phil "CM Punk" Brooks after his controversial departure in January 2014, but wanted to continue wrestling for as long as she could. She made the decision to retire once she had fulfilled all of her goals in the industry.

 

AJ, along with several other WWE employees, will be voicing a character in the 2014 film Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery.

 

Mendez is of Puerto Rican heritage. She was previously in a relationship with her trainer Jay Lethal, and is currently dating WWE superstar CM Punk. She is best friends with former WWE Diva Kaitlyn. She has a tattoo in tally marks on the back of her neck, which read as "6-16-13", commemorating the date on which she won her first WWE Divas Championship.

 

Mendez became a fan of comic books in the fourth grade and claims that comics gave her a sense of creativity that carried over to her later life. Her favorite series are X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. As for characters, some of her favorites include Harley Quinn and Jean Grey. Mendez also enjoys video games, and was the first female winner of WWE's "Superstar Challenge", defeating Mark Henry in the final round of a WWE '12 tournament at WrestleMania XXVIII Axxess.

 

She won the Slammy Award for Diva of the Year in 2012 and 2014 and was voted Woman of the Year by readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated from 2012 to 2014.

 

Since her retirement from wrestling, Mendez has focused on writing. Her 2017 memoir, Crazy Is My Superpower, was a New York Times Best Seller.

 

Mendez married former professional wrestler Phil Brooks, better known as CM Punk, on June 13, 2014. They reside in Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

An advocate for animal welfare and mental health awareness, she has served as an ambassador for organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

 

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