Indie women’s wrestler Aja Smith has signed with WWE and reported to the WWE Performance Center, becoming the first full-time African-American female referee signed to WWE.
Famously known as Aja Perera, the 25-year-old “competed across the United States, Japan and Mexico under the name Aja Perera, and has held the SHINE Nova and Tag Team Championship,” according to a statement by the WWE.
“She will now don the stripes and join the crew of referees who enforce the rules for NXT every week on USA Network,” the statement added.
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Smith, who is a native of Brazil and currently resides outside Atlanta, GA, was at a WWE Tryout in December 2019 and offered a contract not too long after.
Smith joins Jessika Carr on the side of female referees at WWE. Carr recently moved from NXT to the SmackDown brand.
Independent star Smith debuted in October 2013 under the ring name Aja Perera and has been involved in scores of independent promotions, including Shimmer, Canadian Wrestling Elite, and Lucha Libre Femenil, according to reports.
A video released by the WWE Performance Center channel on YouTube shows Smith at the WWE Performance tryouts held last December.
“Referees are really the unsung heroes,” Smith said on the significance of referees to the pro wrestling industry. “They put in so much work and they’re seemingly invisible, but without them, there would be no wrestling, honestly.”
Somewhere in the video, Smith spoke out about how she almost skipped a championship match last year because she wanted to be with her sick mother.
However, the highlight of the video was when she was told that WWE would be hiring her.
“This is the greatest moment of my life,” Smith said. “It’s something I never thought of, and just to think to myself, I’m going to be the first African American female referee in WWE…”
Watch the full video below: