Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: AJ Lee
AJ Lee born April Jeanette Mendez was born on March 19, 1987. She would start her professional wrestling career in 2007 working on the independent circuit in New Jersey. She would fall in love with wrestling when she was about 12 years old thanks to her brother citing Lita as being an inspiration to her.
In 2009, AJ would go on to sign with WWE starting in their developmental brand called Florida Championship Wrestling. She paid $1,500 to make the WWE tryout. AJ would have amazing matches there with Naomi and Aksana in particular.
AJ would go on to NXT Season 3. At the time NXT had six-woman participants from FCW competing to be WWE’s “next breakout star”. She would beat Naomi who was the inaugural FCW Divas Champion. AJ would also win the Queen of the FCW making her the first to win both titles. She would lose it in 2011 to Aksana.
On May 27, 2011, AJ would make her main roster debut on SmackDown. She would rise to prominence with her mentally unstable gimmick, a gimmick she said she felt like she was hiding in plain sight as she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20. She shared this in her memoir Crazy Is My Superpower. A New York Times Best Seller and a book I enjoyed. This book was released in 2017.
AJ would go on to be a General Manager on Monday Night Raw and eventually would win the Diva’s Championship at Payback on June 16, 2013. She would go on to win this title 2 more times holding the belt for a combined 406 days.
One of my favorite feuds of mine was her feud with Paige. Paige who won the title the first time on her debut, by beating AJ making her the youngest WWE Diva’s Champion and the only woman to hold both the NXT Women’s title and the Diva’s title at the same time. AJ and Paige’s feud would make for some great matches.
AJ won the Diva of the year in 2012 and 2014 before having to retire in 2017 due to damage to her cervical spine.
Currently, AJ Lee is an advocate for mental health. After being away from wrestling for six years, she joined WOW- Women of Wrestling as an executive producer working alongside Jeanie Buss. She will also provide color commentary on the weekly programming.
AJ has also written a story for DC Comic called Wonder Woman: Black and Gold. As a fellow nerd, AJ Lee is someone who I admired. For being brave and speaking about her mental health struggles. She was a petite woman dominating in the ring, which was everything to me as a fan also being petite. Her finisher “The Black Widow” also looked so cool. There is so much that could be said about AJ, but I will leave there will never be another AJ Lee.