Love her or hate her, AJ Lee is fantastic at what she does. She may be tanned and beautiful but AJ has gone through murky waters to reach the status she achieved in WWE.
Born April Jeanette "AJ" Mendez in 1987, Lee grew up in poverty. She worked several part-time jobs to provide for her family and put herself through wrestling school. In fact, she was forced to drop out of university because she wasn't able to pay her tuition fees.
Despite all these challenges, she was able to get a full-time job, which enabled her to pay for wrestling school. She has gone on to break records such as becoming the youngest General Manager in the history of WWE as well as clinching several WWE Divas Championship titles over the years.
Although she is now retired from professional wrestling, fans won't soon forget about AJ and her remarkable career with WWE. Here are the 10 interesting things you probably didn’t know about AJ Lee:
10 She Grew Up In Abject Poverty
AJ Lee grew up in a poor family. This Puerto Rican diva describes her childhood experience as ‘living in motels’, ‘other people's houses’ and ‘their car’. She was forced to work multiple part-time jobs to provide for her family that included her two siblings – Erica and Robert. In addition to supporting her family financially, she also hustled to get money to enroll into wrestling school. At university, she was also forced to drop out because of financial issues. She was taking film and television production at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts at the time.
9 She Had a Three-Month Stint as the General Manager of Raw
AJ Lee became the General Manager of Raw on July 30, 2012. At the time, she was the youngest General Manager in WWE history. During her reign, several disputes arose. The first one was with Vickie Guerrero who termed AJ as too foolish for the General Manager position. Her current husband CM Punk also brought AJ’s past relationships into the light, making Paul Heyman also demand her firing from the position. AJ was also busted for having an affair with John Cena. She later stepped down from the position on October 22 due to the stresses of the allegations pinned on her.
8 Her First Reign As the WWE Divas Champion Is the Longest In the Title's History
AJ Lee has held the WWE Divas Championship thrice. Her first title earned her a record she holds to this day. Her first reign, which started June 16, 2013, is the longest in the title's history having been held for 295 days. The second longest reign of the title is held by Maryse who held it for 216 days while Beth Phoenix, who held if for 204 days, holds the third longest reign. AJ also has the highest number of reigns as a WWE Divas champion in WWE’s history with three reigns. She won the title the second time in September 21, 2014 at a triple threat match which also involved Nikki Bella.
7 She Was Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Woman of the Year for Three Consecutive Years
Pro Wrestling Illustrated is an international professional wrestling magazine. It issues regular awards in categories such as Wrestler of the Year, Feud of the Year, Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year and Manager of the Year. It also has a Woman of the Year Category. The magazine named AJ Lee as its Woman of the Year consecutively from 2012 to 2014. The magazine also ranked her second in its top 50 female wrestlers segment in 2014. No wonder they call her the ‘Crazy Chick’.
6 Her Signature Moves
AJ has multiple signature moves. These include the diving crossbody, where she jumps from an elevated position onto her opponent’s torso resulting in a pinfall attempt. She is also known for the front dropkick. In this move, she jumps up and kicks forward hitting her opponents with both her soles. She also uses the hurricanrana, the sleeper hold with body scissors, the swinging neckbreaker and tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown moves. Additionally, she has also been known to perform the tornado DDT on her opponents where she applies the front facelock on an opponent from the top rope.
5 Despite Growing Up In Poverty, She Raised $1,500 to Get Wrestling Training
Despite growing in poverty, AJ Lee hustled hard to cater to her family's needs as well as to get into wrestling training. After dropping out of school, she got a full-time job to raise money for wrestling school. She began training in 2007 under Jay Lethal. In September of that year, she made her first appearance as Miss April on the independent circuit. Two years later, she raised $1,500 to attend a WWE tryout camp. She then signed a contract with WWE and was assigned to the Florida Championship Wrestling in 2009.
4 She Has Admired Lita Since Childhood
AJ Lee always knew she had a strong passion for wrestling since childhood. She wasn’t the only family member who had a strong desire for wrestling as her brother Robert’s incessant interest in the sport also played a role in attracting AJ Lee. At 12 years of age, she made the decision to follow the wrestling career path. She always admired Lita, especially after meeting the superstar at an autograph signing. In fact, AJ Lee cried tears of joy upon meeting her childhood idol. She also admired Miss Elizabeth for her beauty and classy nature.
3 She Once Wrestled As Miss April
AJ Lee debuted on the independent circuit as Miss April. In 2009, she joined Women Superstars Uncensored under the same name. Unfortunately, she lost her first match to Jana. Her losing streak didn't continue for long. She formed a tag team with Brooke Carter and went on to thrash the Beatdown Betties. Together with Jay Lethal, Miss April won the WSU/NWS King and Queen of the Ring tournament in 2009 before leaving for WWE. WWE then changed her name to AJ Lee. AJ is also widely known by other nicknames including ‘Black Widow’, ‘Crazy Chick’ and ‘Geek Goddess’.
2 She Is Married To CM Punk
In 2007 to 2010, AJ Lee dated her trainer Jamar Shipman. In 2011, the diva started dating Trent Barreta. In 2012, they broke up and in September 2013, she started dating CM Punk. Phil Brooks (CM Punk’s real name) proposed to her in March of 2014. The two finally got married on June 13, 2014 and they live in Chicago, Illinois. CM Punk is a three-time holder of the World Heavyweight Championship title, a two-time holder of the WWE Championship title and a one-time holder of the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
1 She Is A Self-Described Tomboy
AJ Lee is a self-proclaimed tomboy. In essence, a tomboy is a girl who portrays characteristics you would find in a boy. She has a strong love for anime, video games and comic books. In an interview with ESPN.com, she revealed that her favorite video game is Batman: Arkham City. She is so good at both PlayStation and X-Box that she won a 2012 Superstar Challenge held the night before WrestleMania XXVIII. In addition to portraying tomboy characteristics, AJ also has an action figure and a video game character. She is also an avid animal rights crusader.