Ring name(s): Miss April, AJ, AJ Lee, April Mendes, April Lee
Born: March 19th, 1987
Born In: Union City, New Jersey
Resides: Tampa, Florida
Billed from: Union City, New Jersey
Trained by: Jay Lethal, Mo Sexton, Azrieal
Wrestling Debut: September 29th, 2007
April Jeanette Mendez (born March 19, 1987) is an American professional wrestler. She works for WWE under the ring name AJ Lee, where she holds the longest WWE Divas Championship reign in history at 295 days. Before her time in WWE, Mendez performed for several Northeast-based independent promotions as Miss April, including Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU), where she held the WSU Tag Team Championship once.
After signing with WWE in 2009, AJ was part of the third season of NXT in 2010, placing third in the competition. In 2012, after being involved in several relationships with wrestlers feuding over the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship, while also being Raw General Manager for three months, AJ was named WWE’s “Diva of the Year”. In June 2013, AJ captured her first WWE Divas Championship by defeating Kaitlyn.
A self-professed “nerd” and “tomboy”, WWE adapted Mendez’s comics and video game fandom to her on-screen character, portraying her as different from the typical women in the WWE and promoting her as the “Geek Goddess”.
Mendez enrolled in a wrestling school in March 2007, and debuted six months later. In the following years, she has performed for several Northeast-based independent promotions under the ring name Miss April including VPW, NWS, and ACE as well as the all-female promotion Women Superstars Uncensored, where she was one half of the WSU Tag Team Champions along with Brooke Carter, known as The AC Express.
Professional Wrestling Career
Shortly after graduating from high school, Jeanette researched wrestling schools, and enrolled 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 (WSU)
On October 11, 2008 Miss April made her debut for Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU). She teamed with Malia Hosaka to participate in the tournament to determine the inaugural WSU Tag Team Champions. The pairing advanced to the second round, where they were defeated by The Beatdown Betties. On February 7, 2009 Miss April and Brooke Carter defeated The Beatdown Betties (Annie Social and Roxxie Cotton) to win the WSU Tag Team Championship. 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 the final of the tounament.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2009-present)
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 as a face 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 Mancini. On February 4, 2010, however, she defeated Serena to win the crown. In the first round of a tournament to determine the inaugural FCW Divas Championship, Lee defeated Tamina on April 29, but was defeated by Serena in the semi finals on May 20. At the June 10 television tapings, Lee challenged the FCW Divas Champion Naomi Night to a match, but was unsuccessful in winning the title. Following the loss Lee turned heel when she came out to help Serena attack Naomi Night on an episode of FCW TV. The following FCW show featured Night retain her FCW Divas Championship by defeating both Lee and Serena in a triple threat match. On FCW’s 100th episode, AJ Lee fought Naomi Night to a double count-out in a match where both Diva’s titles were on the line. In June 2010, she appeared at Raw house shows, acting as the hostess, and also acted as the ring announcer at an FCW show. On November 18, she lost to Rosa Mendes in a title match, making Mendes the new ‘Queen of FCW’. On December 16, AJ defeated Naomi to win the FCW Divas Championship. Her victory made her the first FCW Diva to hold both the Divas Championship and the title of Queen of FCW. She held the championship until the April 7, 2011 television tapings, when she lost it to Aksana.
On August 31, 2010, it was announced that she would be part of the third season of NXT under the name AJ, with Primo as her Pro. She appeared on the first episode of season three on September 7, teaming with Primo to defeat rookie Diva Aksana and her Pro Goldust in a mixed tag team match. The following week she suffered her first loss when she and Primo were defeated by Kaitlyn and Dolph Ziggler. Over the next two weeks, AJ 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. AJ 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. AJ 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.
AJ 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. AJ 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. AJ, Kaitlyn, and Natalya continued to feud with Fox and Tamina, who were joined by Rosa Mendes. AJ with her on-screen boyfriend Daniel Bryan as World Heavyweight Champion.
On the August 5 episode of 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 following week, AJ and Kaitlyn lost to Natalya and Beth Phoenix, before AJ teamed with Kelly Kelly to defeat Natalya and Fox. Throughout the next few months, The Chickbusters continued to feud with the so-called 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, AJ began a romantic storyline with Daniel Bryan, In December, Bryan won the World Heavyweight Championship and he 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 episode of SmackDown, AJ accompanied Bryan for his World Heavyweight Championship defense against Big Show. During the match Show accidentally collided with AJ, injuring her and causing her to be taken out on a stretcher. AJ returned to SmackDown on February 3, saving Bryan from the Big Show.
In March, Bryan began to mistreat AJ, publicly demanding her to shut up and claiming that she always got in his way. Despite these actions, AJ continued to stand by Bryan. AJ also went on a winning streak defeating both Bella Twins on the March 13 and March 23 episodes of SmackDown. At WrestleMania XXVIII, Bryan’s reign as World champion ended when Sheamus defeated him in eighteen seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII due to Bryan being distracted with receiving a good luck kiss from AJ. On the April 6, episode of SmackDown, Bryan blamed AJ for losing the World Heavyweight Championship and ended their relationship.
Despite AJ’s attempts to mend their relationship, Bryan cruelly rebuffed her multiple times, leaving AJ an emotional wreck. Throughout the next couple of weeks, fellow Chickbuster Kaitlyn tried to console AJ about her feelings towards Bryan. However, this only angered AJ, causing her to slap Kaitlyn week after week. On the May 11 episode of SmackDown, AJ quickly defeated Kaitlyn. Afterwards, Bryan came out, seemingly impressed with AJ’s new ruthless behavior, but then he revealed that he would rather move on to Kaitlyn, further jilting AJ. AJ 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, when Punk, Bryan and Kane faced off for the WWE Championship, AJ interfered and distracted Kane, leading to Punk winning and retaining his championship
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 while Bryan proposed to her; 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 defence for Punk; as Punk celebrated over a fallen Bryan, AJ was left alone. The following night on the July 16 episode of Raw Bryan once again proposed to AJ, who accepted with the wedding scheduled to take place the next week.
Raw General Manager; Heel Turn and Various Relationship (2012-2013)
During the exchange of vows at Raw 1000, AJ 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, AJ 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, 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 would begin feuding with Vickie Guerrero, who would demand AJ’s spot as the GM, deeming AJ too childish. CM Punk would later humiliate AJ for her past affections, leading to Paul Heyman demanding the GM spot, which he would run in conjunction with Vickie.
On October 22, AJ 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 John Cena. Later Vickie Guerrero would show evidence of John 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 Guerrero fraternizing, but was attacked by the returning Tamina Snuka. On the following episode of Raw, John Cena and AJ passionately kissed each other to give Vickie and Dolph Ziggler something “to talk about”. On the November 26 episode of Raw, AJ would kiss Cena again after his match against Ziggler, starting a real relationship between the two. On the December 3 episode of Raw, AJ defeated Tamina in a singles match.
On December 16, at TLC, AJ 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, AJ won an award with Cena for “Kiss of the Year”, which was presented by Vickie Guerrero. However, AJ and Vickie started arguing which led to Ziggler coming in and setting them apart. That allowed AJ to kiss Ziggler in front of Vickie, officially solidifying her heel turn and relationship with Ziggler. In the main event, AJ teamed with Ziggler to take on Cena and Guerrero, with Cena and Guerrero victorious after Big E. Langston interfered and attacked Cena on AJ’s behalf. On the December 18, at the special live episode of Smackdown, AJ justified her actions saying that Cena broke her heart like Bryan and Punk and she helped Ziggler break him.
In March 2013, AJ re-entered a feud with her 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 Championships at WrestleMania 29 against Ziggler and Langston, which they accepted. Concurrently, AJ got into a brawl with Divas Champion Kaitlyn after Kaitlyn insulted her, and then defeated Kaitlyn in a non-title match via countout. Later, AJ and Ziggler were defeated by Kaitlyn and Bryan in a mixed tag team match, in which AJ was 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.
Divas Champion and hiatus (2013–present)
AJ won a battle royal on the April 22, 2013 episode of Raw to become the number one contender to Kaitlyn’s Divas Championship. 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’s record reign ends with a loss to Paige on the post-WrestleMania Raw.
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. In late September, AJ enlisted Tamina as her bodyguard. AJ went on to successfully defend her championship against Brie Bella at Battleground with help from Tamina, but was legitimately 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 the latter’s final match, officially ending their rivalry.
In mid-January, AJ became the longest reigning Divas Champion, surpassing Maryse’s previous record. On April 6, at WrestleMania XXX, AJ successfully defended the Divas Championship in the 14-Diva “Vickie Guerrero Invitational” match. The following night on Raw, AJ lost the championship to the debuting Paige after AJ boastfully 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.
AJ, alongside several other WWE employees, voiced an animated version of herself in the 2014 film Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery.
Mendez grew up in Union City, New Jersey, describing her family’s experience as having to live in motels and other people’s houses. Mendez cited her brother’s childhood interest in WWE as an influence on her decision to break into the male-dominated world of wrestling, and she cemented her ambition to pursue a professional wrestling career when she was 12 years old. Mendez was inspired by the female WWE stars that came before her, especially Lita, whom Mendez met as a child at an autograph signing. A video of the encounter, which shows the young Mendez being brought to tears by the meeting, is available on YouTube.
April has stated she is of Puerto Rican heritage. 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. April was previously in a relationship with her trainer Jay Lethal. She is a self-described geek and enjoys comic books, video games and action movies. She is also an animal lover, owning two rescue dogs.
April became enamoured with comic books in the fourth grade, citing her love for the medium as imbuing her with a sense of creativity that carried over to her later life. Her favorite series is X-Men followed by Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four; characterwise she prefers “badass chicks” (in particular X-Men’s Jean Grey, of whom April is especially fond) and Cyclops. She also enjoys video games and was the first-ever female winner of WWE’s “THQ Superstar Challenge” at Wrestlemania XXVIII Axxess, last defeating Mark Henry in a game of WWE ’12 to finish first out of a sixteen-person field.
Black Widow (Octopus hold)
Shiranui, sometimes while standing
Guillotine choke with bodyscissors
Hurricanrana, sometimes to an oncoming opponent
Multiple swinging neckbreakers
Sleeper hold with bodyscissors
Tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown