AJ Lee was once the longest reigning Divas Champion in WWE history. She was a woman who walked into WWE and changed the entire perception of female wrestlers and she did it her way.
AJ left WWE back in 2015 after she decided that she had accomplished everything that she thought she could in the company that she called home for more than five years.
The New Jersey-born former Superstar recently released her autobiography entitled "Crazy Is My Superpower: How I Triumphed By Breaking Hearts, Breaking Bones And Breaking All The Rules" where she finally was able to openly talk about the way she was raised, and how she managed to blaze her own trail in WWE.
April Mendez talks openly throughout the book about the way she was brought up by her two young parents and the way she coped as a poor child in an even poorer neighbourhood. While the story is one of the best rags to riches examples that has ever been seen as a true story, there are many things in the book that the WWE Universe didn't know about AJ Lee while she was still on our TV screens every week.
Here are 15 examples of things we have learnt from AJ's autobiography.
15 She Attended College But Dropped Out Because She Couldn't Afford It
April Mendez was always a smart child. She states many times in the book that despite her living conditions she was an avid reader and she was always one of the top five percent of her class, even though she didn't like to socialize with her classmates.
It probably comes as no surprise then that AJ was accepted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts after her classmates helped her to raise the money to apply because her mother used the money she had made for bills. AJ couldn't afford the college but did manage to get a scholarship. Her mother had a lot of problems throughout her time at college and could no longer work so she couldn't keep up with the payments which meant that AJ was forced to drop out and get a regular job instead.
14 AJ Is The Youngest Of Three Children
AJ hasn't always been the kind of Superstar who has talked openly about her personal life or her family life, so it was unknown that AJ was the youngest of three children. AJ has an older brother named Robert, who's interest in both video games and WWE helped to form AJ into the person she is today.
She also has an older sister named Erica who has always been an integral part of AJ's life. She was forced to share a bed with until she left home to go to college. She and Erica then decided to move into a flat together where she slept on the sofa. AJ brought Erica to Florida when she was signed to WWE's FCW brand back in 2009 and the duo continued to live together in a different state.
13 She Has Struggled With Bipolar Disorder Her Entire Life
AJ aptly called her autobiography 'Crazy Is My Superpower" even though the world crazy was one that her family refused to use whilst she was growing up. AJ managed to handle growing up with her mother's sensitive mental state as well as developing bipolar herself. She sees this as the reason that she managed to achieve what she did, rather than her acting it in spite of it.
AJ does talk in detail about many of the struggles she went through as a child and later how hard she found college and socializing with other people when she was in a different mindset. Her family had different views on therapy and counselling, so it took AJ a lot of effort to go and look for help and to finally realize that she had a problem, a problem which she managed to control and live with.
12 She Retired Because She Had Nothing Left To Accomplish In WWE
Break the rules. Be a fighter. Any dream is possible if you are brave enough to do it YOUR way. Thank you all. pic.twitter.com/qu7bBOMFdu— AJ (@TheAJMendez) April 5, 2015
AJ Lee shocked the world back in 2015 when she decided to retire from WWE just days after WrestleMania 31. AJ and Paige had been victorious at WrestleMania against The Bella Twins and it came from out of nowhere that AJ decided to walk away. In fact, many fans blamed WWE's relationship with her husband CM Punk.
It turns out that AJ actually left because she felt like she had nothing left to achieve. She walked into WrestleMania XXX as the champion and walked back out with the title. She sat in the crowd at WrestleMania XX and told her father that she would be in that ring one day and she was. She didn't think it would ever get any better than that as a wrestler so she decided it was time for her to hang up her Converse.
11 She Refused To Dress Like A Girl On WWE TV
April Mendez always wanted to be a WWE Superstar on her terms. This was omething that got her in trouble with WWE management many times. AJ was never a girly girl. She was the nerd who never went to prom, instead, she stayed home and played video games.
AJ always wanted to wear Converse and shorts and make it easy for the WWE Universe to dress the same as her. She was a woman who wanted to make a difference and show that there were different types of women. AJ was not going to dress like all the other women. She didn't wear dresses and heels. She wanted to show that there was this woman who was giving them something different and they should use it and promote a very different image on WWE TV. Something that WWE later accepted.
10 AJ Was Very Poor As A Child But Made It Work For Her
AJ Lee was a poor child. That is something that has always been known about her and she managed to make her life a success despite her rough start in life. AJ had a lot of problems growing up, which included the fact that she only had one pair of trousers and three shirts that she shared with her sister.
This was something that many of her classmates began to pick up on so she was forced to act as though she wasn't poor. AJ said that she made up many lies about food at school that she couldn't afford. Stating that she wasn't hungry, she couldn't attend field trips because her parents were scared for her safety, and she didn't ever invite any other kids back to her home.
9 She Dated A Fellow Wrestler Named Greg
AJ talks openly in the second half of her book about her personal life when she first joined WWE. She was a woman who was never interested in a relationship, instead, making the decision to buy a dog if she wanted companionship.
When she joined WWE though AJ finally went on her first date and was linked to a wrestler named Greg; a man who she stated she was happy with for a while, but she began focusing so much on touring with WWE and her wrestling career that Greg ended up breaking up with her. She was able to bring the emotions she was feeling from this break-up into her WWE career because she was going through an on-screen break-up with Daniel Bryan at the time. It is currently unknown as to who Greg was in WWE.
8 Someone In The Company Told AJ That She Was Unattractive
AJ has stated many times that she never wanted to be known as a sex symbol. That wasn't what she went to WWE for. That being said, it seemed that WWE decided to make it obvious that they were unable to do a lot with her because she was unattractive.
That wasn't the exact phrasing, it was a little less PG and it is thought that John Laurinaitis was the one who told AJ that he didn't think she would make it in WWE because she just didn't appeal to the male demographic. At that point, AJ stated that she hadn't looked at herself that way and that she understood that she wasn't seen by male fans as a sex symbol because she wasn't trying to be sexy, she was trying to be a wrestler.
7 She Was Almost Fired By WWE
AJ was signed to WWE after a tryout back in 2009 and was stuck in FCW for a very long time while WWE were trying to work out what to do with her. She was invited to be part of many live tours with the main roster during this time and messed up a lot of her lines when she was used as an announcer.
AJ was sure that the writing was on the wall for her before she had even got onto main roster TV because she was becoming a little bit of a problem, but it seems that matches with Layla and Beth Phoenix helped save her career and show WWE what they would be missing out on. Both Layla and Beth vouched for AJ backstage as well and told officials that she needed to be on WWE TV.
6 She Skipped Meals And Was Close To Being Ill So She Could Attend A WWE Tryout
AJ was working as a secretary as well as paying for wrestling training back in 2009 when it was announced that WWE would be holding a tryout. The tryout cost $2000 for anyone who wanted to take part and AJ just didn't have that kind of money.
She talked about how her sister Erica helped her by putting more money towards the rent for a few months and skipping meals in order to ensure she raised the money she needed. AJ said she was living off rice at that point and weighed very little when she finally attended her tryout, which made it much easier to throw her around the ring. Luckily, AJ began eating much better once she signed for WWE and got her body into much better shape.
5 She Was Evicted From Her Home More Than 20 Times As A Child
AJ's childhood has been well documented as well as the fact that her family were very poor while she was growing up. AJ talked about never having anything but beer in the fridge and no food in the cupboards, but AJ never really stayed in a house long enough to call it a home.
Her mother worked as a carer and did long hours whilst her father was always looking for work, but it was never enough for them to stay on top of the rent so they ended up being evicted from every house that they lived in. For a time they lived in a car, they lived at friends and families houses, and even at a motel for two years. AJ even wrote about the fact that her family once moved out of their house and left AJ, her mother, father, and siblings in the house because they couldn't live with them anymore.
4 AJ Was Abused By Her Mother
AJ didn't only manage to fight through her own tough mental state during her life, but she also had to fight through her mother's. AJ wrote quite personally about how her mother treated her when she was younger and how she often accused her of doing impure things with boys when she was a teenager.
AJ talked about how she wouldn't know which version of her mother she was going to see each night when she came home from school and how much she would be beaten when she didn't tell her mother what she wanted to hear. It was a torrid time for AJ who at the time was struggling with her own mental state whilst also trying to empathize with what her mum was going through. The relationship between them was so broken that Janet didn't even attend her daughter's wedding, even though AJ really wanted her there.
3 3.The Tension Between WWE And CM Punk Tested Her Mental State
It was a well-known fact that AJ Lee and CM Punk were dating and then engaged back in 2014 when Punk decided to walk away from WWE. This left AJ in a horrible position when it came to being in the middle of both WWE and Punk.
AJ talked about this and how she was tested every time she arrived at WWE each week and at one point she was crying and having a breakdown in the toilets a few minutes before she went outside onto live TV. This tension caused her problems with her bipolar disorder and could have been one of the reasons why AJ Lee had so much time off from WWE between 2014 and 2015. Shethen decided to retire from the business altogether a few months later.
2 AJ Accidentally Overdosed When She Was Younger
AJ struggled with bipolar when she first found out that she had the condition and just wanted to make the pain go away. She had some painkillers that the doctor had given her a few months before and decided to take some.
It seems that AJ had taken a lethal cocktail of pills because she said that she later remembers throwing up in her sister's car on her way to the emergency room before she woke up in the hospital and they thought that she had tried to kill herself. AJ managed to convince them that it was a complete accident and was discharged without a problem. it could have been much worse and it taught AJ a valuable lesson about her illness, something that she's managed to control ever since.
1 When AJ Lee Knew CM Punk Was 'The One'
It was obvious that CM Punk would be mentioned in AJ's autobiography at some point and it was in the cutest way. AJ talks about how CM Punk had always been a good friend of hers ever since the beginning of her WWE career.
AJ said that Punk approached her just before she was forced to kiss both Daniel Bryan and CM Punk on the same show and saw how nervous she was. She said that he told her not to be nervous and that 'he could be the one.' These are the words that AJ remembered after the kiss when she realized that he was right. But the duo still took two more years to get together. There is an eight year age difference between the couple and this is why AJ began calling Punk 'Grandpa' something he is still saved as in her phone. Meanwhile, he called her 'extra whip' because he remembered that she always had her coffee that way. AJ said that she rushed into marriage with CM Punk because she knew that even though she had never believed in marriage before, this was right because she was finally ready to be alone, which meant that she was finally ready to let someone else in.