Here comes the crazy
"I'm a monster. I wear a mask. My only source of pleasure is eviscerating people... and even I find you mentally unstable."April Jeanette Brooksnote
) (born March 19, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, trained by Mo Sexton, Azrieal and Jay Lethal. She is signed to WWE
, where she goes by the ring name A.J. Lee.
Mendez enrolled in a wrestling school in March 2007, where she trained for six months before her first official match. In the following years, she performed for several Northeast-based independent promotions including Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU)
as Miss April. In WSU, she was part of the AC Express alongside Brooke Carter and the duo held the WSU Tag Team Championship once.
In May 2009, she signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental promotion, using the ring name AJ Lee. In FCW, she was Queen of FCW and FCW Divas Champion, and was the first person to have held both titles. In 2010, she was part of the third season of NXT, having dropped her last name. She became part of WWE's SmackDown!
brand in May 2011, forming a tag team with Kaitlyn known as The ChickBusters
A self-professed nerd and tomboy, WWE adapted Mendez's love of comics and video games to her on-screen character, endorsing her as different from the typical women in the WWE and promoting her as the "Geek Goddess". In 2012, she was named the "Diva of the Year" as part of that year's Slammy Awards.
She has become justly famous among wrestling buffs for defying the usual stereotypes of how WWE's Divas are supposed to behave
. Throughout most of 2012, while still a face, AJ portrayed a (genuinely?) mentally unstable female character - the likes of which had not been seen in WWE since Mickie James
in 2006. She also has served as the Kayfabe General Manager of Monday Night RAW
She became Divas Champion in June 2013, and lost the title to Paige
in April 2014, leaving her as the longest-reigning Divas Champion in history at 295 days. After a three month break
, she returned on June 30, 2014 and recaptured the Divas title by defeating Paige. Since then, she lost it to Paige at Summerslam, regained it at Night of Champions, and lost it to Nikki Bella at Survivor Series, making her a three-time champion.
"Geek Goddess Tropes":
- Abhorrent Admirer: To CM Punk in-universe - not so much because she's unattractive (she clearly isn't) but because she's... well, a bit off her rocker. At the height of her insanity, she even made Kane uncomfortable. Amusingly though, she would eventually go on to marry CM Punk in real life.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Oh, boy. Where do we begin...
- To heel!Dolph Ziggler and Primo.
- Dear Lord, the whole AJ/Punk/Bryan/Kane love... thing. She started out with Daniel Bryan who was a face in the beginning of their relationship, then he turned heel, dumped her right after his WrestleMania loss, and even after that she still wanted him. Somewhere along the line she lost her damn mind and turned her attention to both CM Punk, and Kane. Kane turned her down, cause he thought she was crazier then he was, as well as Punk, who only ended up in the middle of it all when he said he digged crazy chicks. Daniel Bryan asked her to marry him. Twice, first so he could win the WWE Championship, then seemingly for real after he lost the match. AJ left him at the altar after getting a position as the RAW GM, and only went through with the wedding in the first place to get back at Bryan.
- All of the Other Reindeer: It'd be very, very hard to find a Diva who likes her now... besides Tamina Snuka, whom AJ recruited because of this trope- she went for the only Diva who was shunned and disliked as much as her. And Tamina being ostracized was an Informed Attribute, prior to her pairing with AJ.
- All Women Love Shoes: As evidenced by this clip.
- Ambiguously Bi:
- One way to interpret this quote;
AJ: Do you not like aggressive women?! Cause I do!
AJ: (Tamina) knows where her bread is buttered. And I mean that quite literally, because I make a mean breakfast.
JBL: You cook her breakfast?
AJ: We're partners! ... partners in crime, is what I was saying.
- And of course this tweet.
When Boss Lady
talked about finding love then moved in close to my face, I thought that entry in my dream journal was about to come true.
- Ambiguously Brown: Part Puerto Rican, but she looks like she could be from quite a few places.
- Ambiguous Disorder: She's definitely got something, but exactly what is hard to pinpoint. Given her wide range of symptoms, though, it's likely that she has more than one disorder, most probably a mood disorder and/or a personality disorder.
- She fits most of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder, and more than a few of the criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder.
- Animal Motifs: The Black Widow spider.
- Appropriated Appellation: In this video, she said that she named her finishing move the 'Black Widow' because people were calling her that in real life as an insult, so she took the insult and turned it on them.
- Arch-Enemy: Kaitlyn, the Bella Twins, Vickie Guerrero, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Total Divas cast.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: AJ to Kaitlyn, when the latter told her to get over the fact Daniel Bryan used her.
- The Artifact/Never Live It Down: She's still often referred to as 'crazy' by rivals and announcers even though the raving mad Yandere aspect of her character has all but disappeared. To be fair, looking at what she's done in the past, who can blame them?
- Attention Whore: During a promo about the Kane/CM Punk triangle. "I like it when men look at me." *grabs the interviewer's tie and pulls him closer* "Look at me."
- Ax-Crazy: If you piss her off, God help you...
- Badass Adorable
- Badass Boast: "At WrestleMania, it's gonna be me against the world... but that's just how I like it."
- Badass in a Nice Suit: When she was GM.
- Bare Your Midriff
- Berserk Button: She's got a few.
- AJ does not like being ignored. After Punk had been on the phone with his sister (a sister who is a recovering drug addict and toward whom Punk feels very protective, let's not forget) during AJ's match, she didn't take that well. So when Bryan and Punk didn't pay her any attention during their match when she came skipping, she pulled out a a table and threatened to jump through. That got their attention, and they both tried stopping her. Punk climbed the turnbuckle and tried to reason with her. She then proceeded to kiss him and then pushed him off, sending him and Bryan crashing through the table.
- Or hearing the word "crazy". No one even has to call her it directly. During her GM days, if she merely happened to hear the word in earshot, she'd put the person who said it through some sort of punishment.
- On the June 10, 2013 episode of WWE RAW, Big E Langston was revealed to be Kaitlyn's secret admirer, only to end up being a ruse by AJ when she accused Kaitlyn of taking away the spotlight. Then all hell broke loose.
- DANIEL BRYAN. Just saying his name is enough to set her off- at one point Kaitlyn was genuinely trying to mend their friendship, and everything was going fine until Kaitlyn said Bryan's name... and AJ slapped her and walked off.
- "After Dolph Ziggler, you should be used to things lasting only eighteen seconds."
- Blatant Lies: At one point, she's told Punk, "I am in full control of my mental faculties at all times." Usually, crazy people can't comprehend that they're crazy, but...
- Big Damn Kiss: Again: she's had a few.
- Before their match at No Way Out, AJ made the rounds to CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane, wishing each man good luck and giving them a peck on the cheek. Kane held her back, and returned the favor for the Big Damn Kiss she had planted on him on the previous RAW, before leaving without a word. She would then some weeks later on Smackdown, give two big damn kisses to Bryan and Punk. Later gives one to Cena. She would win a Slammy for Best Kiss with the latter, although she also placed second, third and fourth.
- Then came repeatedly getting into it with Dolph Ziggler.
- Prior to all of them, AJ won the NXT Kissing Contest by planting a huge one on Cody Rhodes (who was in his "Dashing" phase), knocking them both down to the ground.
- Hell, one year at the Slammys, every contender for Best Kiss was AJ and a guy she dated.
- Boisterous Weakling: While she's more than capable of defending herself in the ring - she wouldn't have become Divas' Champion if that were not so - AJ is in fact the smallest by far of all the Divas. Despite this, she can't seem to avoid antagonizing everyone in the Divas' locker room, particularly the herculean Kaitlyn, and as a result often gets her ass handed to her in non-match situations. On at least two occasions she's been knocked unconscious, requiring either Big E. Langston or Tamina Snuka to carry her fireman-style out of the arena. (It's possible that AJ lets herself get beaten up outside the ring as part of an ongoing Wounded Gazelle Gambit, but when you're the Divas' Champion that's obviously a difficult facade to keep up.)
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Occasionally used Daniel Bryan's 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' to celebrate her own victories.
- Breaking Speech: Gave one hell of one to Kaitlyn after she reveals herself as the mastermind behind the secret admirer hoax.
- Breakup Breakout: After what appears to be the ChickBusters' break up, AJ has been involved in high-profile angles with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane, was made the General Manager of RAW on the 1000th episode on July 23, 2012 and held her position until October 22, 2012, and is remained relevant with her feud with John Cena and her involvement with Dolph Ziggler. Kaitlyn didn't do anything remotely as important for a while, but she then entered a feud over the Divas Championship alongside Layla and Eve, which ended in Kaitlyn winning the Divas title at RAW's 20th Year Anniversary on Janurary 14, 2013. The girls would end up feuding over the championship and various other personal issues, with AJ taking the title from Kaitlyn at the Payback pay-per-view and only continuing to ruin her life since then. Her reign has since become the longest in history. Kaitlyn left the company in January of 2014.
- Bridal Carry: Kane did this with AJ twice (once at No Way Out 2012, when Punk accidentally pushed him into her and she fell, and once after she got in a fight with Vickie Guerrero and got hurt, though it didn't end well). Tamina has taken over this role, though usually it means she just hoists AJ over her shoulder and carries her away after a loss.
- Broken Bird
- The Bus Came Back: Disappeared after NXT was over but resurfaced in May of 2011 as Natalya's new protege.
- Butt Monkey: She was mostly used to make Beth Phoenix and Natalya look strong before she became popular.
- Canon Name: AJ was for a long time only referred to by her first name on WWE TV, but fans still called her AJ Lee, which she used in FCW. She was then finally referred to as AJ Lee during her wedding to Daniel Bryan. And it stuck in-universe after she became the RAW GM. (Which was at the wedding.)
- Catfight: Has had several with Vickie Guerrero and Kaitlyn.
- Characterization Marches On: The "Geek Goddess"/Girl Next Door parts of her personality have been all but forgotten in favor of her somewhat needy Yandere tendencies. Unless you follow her on Twitter, in which it's more of Geek than Yandere. And when she was with Dolph Ziggler, she seemed a bit more like her 'lovestruck schoolgirl' character that she was wearing at the beginning of her relationship with Daniel Bryan.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Something Bryan, Punk and Cena can attest to.
- AJ is either this or Obfuscating Insanity. When she was tagged in by accident in a match and had to face Kanenote , she proceeded to skip around him, then jumped into his arms and gave him one hell of a kiss. This befuddled Kane so much he tagged Bryan in and left the match entirely! That's right, KANE, a guy who had to join The Corporation to avoid being sent to a mental institution back in late 1998, considered her too crazy even by HIS standards.
- A week later, during a tag match between Punk and Sheamus vs Kane and Bryan, she skips down to the ring wearing a Kane outfit, complete with a mask, skips a lap around the ring, and skips back up the stage. Kane is so confused by this he gets down off the apron, abandoning Bryan (who was the legal man at the time) to follow her up the ring, the look on his face simply saying "What the hell was that?"
- He later actually rejected her advances on the grounds that she's too crazy for him!
- The look on her face, after being told that she was too much of a nutcase for WWE's resident masked psycho freak, is enough to make one actually feel bad for her.
- She has yet another aloof moment during a tag team match on an episode of RAW, where everyone else was participating in the match except her. Where exactly was she? At ringside, skipping along.
- She would eventually insert herself into the match only to be rolled up moments later. After AJ looks dumbfounded, wondering what just happened, she just shrugs it off, takes her Divas Championship and skips all the way back to the locker room.
- Companion Cube: Became dangerously obsessed with her title, even referring to the belt as 'her' once and talking to it. She compared it to a boyfriend when doing commentary on Paige vs. Brie.
- Continuity Nod: A couple of her moves are borrowed from former on-screen boyfriends.
- Does the spinning side kick to the midsection that CM Punk loves to do.
- Started using a guillotine as an occasional submission move like Daniel Bryan.
- Sometimes does the Stinger Splash into a Neckbreaker combo that Dolph Ziggler has as one of his signature moves.
- Contortionist: Her talent for NXT Season 3's contest was to demonstrate her flexibility, which Matt Striker has also commented on during her matches, pointing out which stretches probably would not work on her.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: She may be tiny, but when you're as psychotic as AJ, there is no such thing as being in a fight stacked against you. Kane can attest to that.
- Cute and Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: AJ lost her mind after Daniel Bryan broke up with her. It's been over a year and she still hasn't regained her sanity, despite having long since moved on from Bryan.
- Cute Bruiser
- Dare to Be Badass: Her twitter follow up to her reason you suck speech to the Diva's divisionnote ?
AJ: Prove me wrong.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Dem Bones: She has them on her ring gear.
- Did They or Didn't They?: While the PG rating has prevented them from being explicit about AJ's relationships, it's more or less implied that she has slept with Daniel Bryan, and that she hasn't slept with CM Punk. He later said through obvious metaphors that she'd slept with him, though how truthful he was being is still up for debate. But with Kane... it was a little more ambiguous. Then there was the question of if she did or didn't with John Cena, but in a promo after she sided with Ziggler, she pretty much stated that nothing aside from kissing happened between the two. As for Ziggler, the answer is probably yes, given said PG rating.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Vickie Guerrero decided that she was offended by some comments AJ made about her, so she decided to make AJ compete in a title match at Wrestlemania... against all the other Divas. At the same time.
- Paige comes out to congratulate AJ for winning against the other Divas. AJ's response is to flatly say that she doesn't want Paige's congratulations, tells her to go back to NXT, and after Paige tries to gracefully refuse AJ's wanting an impromptu match, AJ slaps her and taunts her and basically forces her into the match. It does backfire in AJ's face when Paige wins the match and the Divas Championship.
- The Dog Bites Back: Oh, boy. She does this a lot, but given how crazy she is, her reasoning has ranged from 'you were toying with my heart' (John Cena, who she pushed off a ladder, leading to him losing Money In The Bank), to 'you missed my match for a phone call' (CM Punk, who she pushed off the apron and through a table).
- She did this twice during an NXT challenge after getting picked on by Kaitlyn and Maxine.
- Foreshadowing maybe? After repeatedly getting rejected and kicked by Daniel Bryan over... and over...and over, she finally seems to have snapped. Then, cue a couple months later, where they get engaged and she leaves him at the altar to be the next RAW GM.
- Evil Costume Switch: As a face and psycho Tweener, her ring gear was typically a plaid sports bra and shorts. After her heel turn, her ring gear became denim hot pants and a shredded t-shirt - also favouring her hair in Girlish Pigtails more often.
- Of Lita. Maybe not intentionally, but there are quite a few commonalities between the two, at least in-character. Both were presented as something of an unorthodox tomboy within the Divas division soon after appearing. Both became known for being the very publicly affectionate on-screen girlfriend of the Money in the Bank briefcase holder - and were even happily present when their boyfriend cashed it in and became champion to a standing ovation despite being a heel. Both were also involved in brief storyline romances with Kane and another individual beforehand. She is also known to favor high-flying maneuvers as an in-ring competitor. They both favor long pants or jeans and shirts that Bare Your Midriff. Both are partly Hispanic/Latina. And finally, both of their real names start with 'A' (April in AJ's case, and Amy for Lita).
- The fact that AJ is a massive Lita fan, has been seen on camera meeting Lita with tears in her eyes before starting her career, and has addressed the Edge & Lita comparisons in a WWE.com article, only adds to this.
- Psycho!AJ was also extremely similar to Psycho!Mickie James from circa 2005. They both were obsessively dedicated to their love interests, both got rejected, and both retaliated erratically - Mickie took the Women's Title from Trish Stratus at WrestleMania, while AJ enacted a convoluted marriage plot to get her revenge on Daniel Bryan for dumping her, stringing him along, along with two of his rivals, then-current WWE Champion CM Punk and future tag team partner Kane, for months. The only real difference is how they reacted and the lesbian overtones of Mickie's storyline—whereas AJ saved the Les Yay for undertones in a feud with someone whose friendship she rebuffed during her descent to insanity.
- When it comes to pop-cultural figures outside of wrestling, AJ bears more than a passing resemblance to 1970s actress Talia Shire, best known as Adrian in the Rocky films, and also Michael Corleone's sister in The Godfather. Her mousy, "ethnic" looks also tend to remind one of Sarah Silverman.
- She's also an Ambiguously Brown Cute and Psycho who's shown resentment/jealousy for her super-athletic blonde former best friend and is developing an Animal Motif with spiders. Haven't we seen this before?
- Finishing Move: In the few matches she participated in and won early in her career, it was a variation of the Shining Wizard. From NXT onward it was a Christo, then after the diva's championship it was an Octopus hold set up in a manner akin to a Christo that she calls the "Black Widow."
- First Name Basis: WWE fans refer to "Lee" about as often as they say "Marella."