Regarding NXT Rookie Diva AJ Lee, WWE’s creative department discussed changing the 23-year-old’s ring name due to a rival promotion’s wrestler sharing the same first name, but ultimately felt it was no concern.
WWE officials originally intended to promote Lee over the summer to the SmackDown brand as a new babyface Diva, replacing released performer Mickie James as ‘the cute small girl’. A vignette featuring Lee aired before the live crowd at the July 6th Friday Night SmackDown television taping om Atlanta, Georgia but cut from the television broadcast because they were introducing Alberto Del Rio via vignettes and felt that other talent shouldn’t be introduced simultaneously.
Lee, who’s real name is believed to be April Jeanette, started wrestling independently in the Northeast in 2007, two years after graduating from high school. While plying her trade on the indy circuit, Lee attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, majoring in Film and Television production. With just over 20 matches under her belt, she attended WWE’s May 2009 talent evaluation clinic and nabbed a developmental deal — the first female with prior wrestling experience to be signed to a contract in over two years.
Lee debuted in Florida Championship Wrestling in August 2009 and has been among the most prominently featured performers in the developmental promotion since then. She currently reigns as the Queen of FCW.
Of the six NXT season three contestants, Lee is the only contestant with prior WWE wrestling experience, having just competed last week at a SmackDown live event in Odessa, Texas. She is regarded as ‘far and away’ the best in-ring performer of the cast and thus considered the favorite entering the competition.