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A.J. Styles

Jones in April 2005.
Ring name(s) Mr. Olympia[1]
Air Styles[2]
A.J. Styles[3]
Billed height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[3][4]
Billed weight 215 lb (98 kg)[3]
Born June 2, 1978 (1978-06-02) (age 31)[4]
Gainesville, Georgia
Billed from Gainesville, Georgia[3]
Atlanta, Georgia
Trained by Rick Michaels[4]
NCW Wrestling School[4]
Debut 1998[4]

Allen Jones[4] (born June 2, 1978),[4] better known by his ring name A.J. Styles (also written as AJ Styles on occasion), is an American professional wrestler currently working for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA),[3] where he is the current TNA World Heavyweight Champion. He, James Storm, Scott Hall and Jeff Jarrett are the only wrestlers to perform on the inaugural NWA-TNA pay-per-view event on June 19, 2002, and still be employed by the company in a wrestling role today. Since he joined TNA, Styles has been the first TNA X Division Champion while also having the most reigns with six, a five-time World Tag Team Champion (4 NWA and 1 TNA) and a four-time World Heavyweight Champion (3 NWA and 1 TNA). With having won the TNA X Division, NWA World Tag Team, and NWA World Heavyweight Championships, Styles was the first to complete the TNA Triple Crown Championship. Styles would later complete the Triple Crown three more times, making him the only man to complete it more than once and for most of TNA's existence the only one to complete it at all. His victory over Booker T for the TNA Legends Championship made him the first, and only, man to have ever won the TNA Grand Slam Championship.

Contents

Early life

Allen Jones discussed his harsh childhood in the DVD Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles: Volume 2, where he talks about growing up in poverty with an abusive and alcoholic father. He entered wrestling school because his friends were doing it, to find out that he was a natural at the sport.[5]

Jones attended college in Anderson, South Carolina, on a partial wrestling scholarship after graduating from Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia, class of 1996. During his time at college, he participated in the 1998 NAIA National Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, before leaving Anderson College to pursue his professional wrestling career.

During the early years of his professional wrestling career, Jones worked an assortment of jobs on the weekends to supplement his income, including delivering water and driving an ambulance.[6]

Professional wrestling career

NWA Wildside (1999–2001)

Allen Jones was trained by Rick Michaels (Raymond Rawls) and debuted in 1998.[4] In the Georgia-based National Championship Wrestling promotion he wrestled as Mr Olympia, a masked wrestler, losing to Michael Brooks in his first match.[4] By August 1999, he had won the Television Championship.[4] In December 1999, NCW merged with NWA Georgia to form NWA Wildside, and Jones was renamed A.J. Styles. Styles won his second Television Championship on January 8, 2000, defeating K-Krush (Ron Killings).[4] He lost the title to Eddie Golden on April 1 and regained it for a third time on January 6, 2001, defeating Air Paris (Frank Paris) during his run as a villain in NWA Wildside as a member of attorney Jeff G. Bailey's NWA Elite stable, an alliance of wrestlers. His final reign ended on February 21 when he lost to Robbie Rage in Athens, Georgia.

WCW, WWF, and WWA (2001–2002)

World Championship Wrestling, a global promotion, observed the feud between Styles (renamed Air Styles) and Paris, and both men were offered contracts in early-2001. Styles and Paris were placed in a tag team named "Air Raid",[4] and their gimmick required both men to dress in G-suits. Air Raid made appearances on WCW Thunder, and on the March 5, 2001, episode of WCW Monday Nitro they were entered in a tournament for the newly created WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship.[4] They were eliminated from the tournament in the first round by the eventual winners, Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo (Sam Roman).[4]

After WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation in March 2001, Styles was left without a job. He returned to NWA Wildside, where he competed for the Wildside Heavyweight Championship and wrestled several matches for the WWF on WWF Jakked. Styles was offered a developmental deal by the WWF in April 2002. The offered contract was for US$500 per week and required Styles to relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Heartland Wrestling Association developmental territory was located.[4] He declined to sign because moving would interfere with his wife's college plans.[4][7]

Styles toured Australia with the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) promotion in April 2002. He made his pay-per-view debut at WWA: The Eruption on April 13 in Melbourne, defeating Nova(Michael Bucci) and Jerry Lynn in the same night to become the WWA International Cruiserweight Champion.[4] He later vacated the title.

Return to NWA Wildside (2001–2005)

Following his stint in World Championship Wrestling, Styles returned to Wildside and began pursuing the NWA Georgia Championship, then held by Rick Michaels. He defeated Michaels for the title on December 22, 2001, at Christmas Chaos.[4] While champion, Styles engaged in a rivalry with former manager Jeff G. Bailey's copycat version of Styles, "The Role Model" Jason Cross (William Massengale), who debuted as a total clone of Styles, all the way down to his in-ring attire and finishing move (this angle was later partially reused on a larger scale by Ring of Honor, with Jimmy Rave (James Guffey) acting as Styles's doppelgänger). Styles lost the NWA Wildside Heavyweight Championship to David Young (David Williams) in a 3-Way Dance that also included Rick Michaels on March 23, 2002 at Hardcore Hell. Shortly thereafter, Styles signed a contract with NWA:TNA and only returned to Wildside for sporadic special appearances due to an increase in his higher profile bookings. These special appearances reached an apex at Freedom Fight in July 2002, where Styles was the final man entered into the "Holy Wars" steel cage match for the Wildside Championship. The then-TNA X Division Champion, Styles was pinned by long-time rival "All That" Adam Jacobs. He made several more appearances throughout 2002, defeating Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada, and Jacey North in various one on one encounters.

In March 2003, Styles defeated former rival Ron Killings at Hardcore Hell. In October 2003, he headlined another Wildside card, facing "The Soul Assassin" Rainman. Styles had been the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at the time of booking, and this was scheduled to be a title match, but Jeff Jarrett defeated Styles for the title just three days prior to the scheduled bout. As a result, Jarrett agreed to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a three way match. Jarrett, however, withdrew from the event at the last minute, leaving Styles and Rainman to fight one another in a non-title match which was won by Rainman following interference from Jeff G. Bailey. Styles defeated David Young at Christmas Chaos in December 2003. On March 26, 2004 at the two-night Hardcore Hell event he defeated his protégé, "Kool" Seth Delay in an impromptu match, then teamed with Gabriel and Altar Boy Luke (Oren Hawxhurst) (with Dusty Rhodes [Virgil Runnels, Jr.] in their corner) to defeat Rainman, Azrael and "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels (Daniel Covell) in a six man tag team main event on the following night.

After an absence of almost one year, Styles returned to Wildside on March 25, 2005, losing to Wildside mainstay David Young in a match that received a standing ovation from fans in attendance. After this match, Styles presented an award to Wildside Promoter Bill Behrens, along with David Young and Rick Michaels. This was his final Wildside appearance.

Ring of Honor

2002–2004

Styles with Matt Sydal at an ROH event in 2006.

Styles debuted in Ring of Honor (ROH) at their third show, A Night of Appreciation, in 2002.[8] He quickly became a main event wrestler, competing against Low Ki (Brandon Silvestry) for ROH Championship at Honor Invades Boston.[8] After failing to win the title, he became the first holder of the "Number One Contender's Trophy", which was viewed as a second title at the time.[8] At the One Year Anniversary Show in February 2003, Styles competed against Low Ki and Paul London in a three-way match, with the winner receiving a shot at the ROH Championship later that night. London won the match but failed to defeat Xavier (John Jirus) for the championship. After the show, Styles and London agreed to form a tag team and compete for the ROH Tag Team Championship. Set to compete for the number one contendership for the titles at the following show, London was unable to attend after having emergency sinus surgery the day before.[citation needed] Instead, Styles competed by himself and defeated The Backseat Boyz (Johnny Kashmere and Trent Acid [Michael Verde]), The S.A.T. (Jose Maximo [Julio Ramirez] and Joel Maximo [Kelvin Ramirez]), and The Carnage Crew (HC Loc [Matt Knowles] and Tony DeVito) to receive a title shot. He chose Amazing Red (Jonathan Figueroa) as his partner, and the two defeated The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels and Xavier) for the championship.[8] When London returned, he was upset when Styles chose to remain a team with Red instead of forming one with him. The two wrestled against each other at Night of the Grudges, with the match ending in a draw.[8] Styles and Red, as the ROH Tag Team Champions, defeated the Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) on three separate occasions. The duo, however, were not as successful against The Prophecy. At Wrath of the Racket, Jim Cornette (James Cornette) made his first appearance in ROH and aligned himself with Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff (Dan Lopez). During intermission, he convinced the two to attack Amazing Red, who was already suffering from a knee injury, while he was signing autographs. With Red unable to compete, Styles chose Maff's former trainer Homicide (Nelson Erazo) as his partner, and the two defeated The Prophecy.[8] Styles then had to vacate the title due to Red being sidelined with a knee injury.

After his reign as one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions, Styles took on fellow Georgia wrestler Jimmy Rave as his protégé. While coaching Rave, who was competing in the "Field of Honor" tournament, Styles attempted to become the ROH World Champion. He defeated Bryan Danielson at Main Event Spectacles to become the number one contender for the title. At War of the Wire, Styles challenged Samoa Joe (Joe Seanoa) for the title, but was once again unable to win it.[8] At the Second Anniversary Show, however, he competed in a one night tournament to become the first Pure Wrestling Champion. He defeated his protégé Jimmy Rave in the first round, Matt Stryker (Brian Woermann) in the second, and CM Punk (Phillip Brooks) in the finals to become the first champion.[8] His title reign, however, was short lived. Not long after the Second Anniversary Show, ROH's owner Rob Feinstein was caught by an internet sting trying to solicit sex from a minor,[9] which caused tensions between ROH and TNA Wrestling (TNA), where Styles was under contract. Despite this, Styles returned to ROH at the following show, At Our Best, and defeated CM Punk in a rematch with Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) as the guest referee.[8] The match turned out to be Styles final match in ROH for 2004, as TNA withdrew all their contracted wrestlers from ROH.[10] Styles left the company and vacated the Pure Wrestling Championship.

2005–2006

In the summer of 2004, Styles' protégé Jimmy Rave was "fired" by Ring of Honor due to not winning any matches. He was brought back to the company by Prince Nana (Prince Bandoh) and became known as "The Crown Jewel of The Embassy". He began to use the Rave Clash (better known as the "Styles Clash") as a finisher, claiming Styles stole it from him. Eventually, Styles had enough and returned to Ring of Honor for one night only, at the Third Anniversary Celebration: Part Two, to wrestle Rave. Styles was unsuccessful in defeating Rave, who won after he sprayed air freshener in Styles’ eyes.[8] Several months later, Styles returned to wrestling for Ring of Honor full time. He made his return at Death Before Dishonor III defeating fellow TNA wrestler Petey Williams (Peter Williams), who was brought in by Prince Nana to face Styles instead of having Jimmy Rave fight him.[8] Styles got a match and a win, against Rave at the following show. Rave, however, after losing, he put a plastic bag over Styles and attempted to suffocate him.[11] During his feud with Jimmy Rave and The Embassy, Styles formed an alliance with Generation Next, who were also feuding with The Embassy due to their former leader Alex Shelley (Patrick Martin) joining them. Styles first defeated Generation Next member Roderick Strong (Chris Lindsey) at Fate of an Angel in mid-July. The following show, The Homecoming, Styles faced and lost to Jimmy Rave in a street fight when Alex Shelley attacked him and Rave hit the Rave Clash. Following the match, Styles was attacked by The Embassy, with Rave performing the Rave Clash on him. Austin Aries (Dan Solwold) and Roderick Strong attempted to come to his aid, but they were fought off. At Glory by Honor IV, Styles once again faced off against Jimmy Rave, with this match having a special stipulation: the loser could no longer use the Rave/Styles Clash in Ring of Honor. With Mick Foley (Michael Foley, Sr in his corner, Styles hit Rave with the Styles Clash off of the second rope, through a table to win the match.[8] Styles then took a short break from ROH before returning at This Means War in late October. He defeated Generation Next leader Austin Aries, who was attacked by The Embassy following the show. The following show, Aries defeated the former Generation Next leader Alex Shelley. Following the match, he was attacked by The Embassy, until Generation Next member Matt Sydal came to his aid. Later that night, Styles and Sydal defeated Embassy members Jimmy Rave and Abyss in a tag match. At Vendetta, Styles had his final match against The Embassy when he, along with Austin Aries, Jack Evans (Jack Miller) and Matt Sydal were defeated by Rave, Shelley, Abyss and Prince Nana in an eight-man tag match.[8]

Following his feud with The Embassy, Styles set his sights on winning a Ring of Honor title. At A Night of Tribute, Styles faced Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal in a Triple Threat match, with the winner receiving a shot at the ROH World Championship later that night. Daniels won the match, but was unable to defeat Bryan Danielson for the title. On the first show of 2006, Styles wrestled and defeated Matt Sydal. Following the match, the two agreed to form a tag team and challenge for the ROH Tag Team Championship, which were held by Sydal’s Generation Next teammates Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. Before receiving a shot at the tag team title, Styles received a shot at the ROH World Championship when he was handpicked by Danielson. Despite having won both of his previous encounters against Danielson in ROH, Styles was unable to defeat him for the title.[8] At the Fourth Anniversary Show, Styles and Sydal received their shot at the ROH Tag Team Championships, but were unable to defeat the champions.[8] Following the match, Aries and Strong were attacked by the Briscoe Brothers, who had made their return to ROH for the first time since 2004. Styles and Sydal came to their aid and chased away the Briscoes.

Styles then appeared less and less in Ring of Honor. After an absence, Styles returned at Death Before Dishonor IV, defeating ROH up-and-comer Davey Richards. Styles returned to Ring of Honor at Time to Man Up, losing to Samoa Joe.[8] In a pre-taped promo, Styles said he would be taking several months off from Ring of Honor following the match. ROH commentators, however, continually referred to the match as his final match and even played a special tribute to him after it.[12] Since then, Styles has not returned to Ring of Honor.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling

Debut (2002)

In May 2002, Styles was signed to a non-exclusive contract by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and dubbed "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles (originally coined by NWA Wildside commentator Dan "The Dragon" Wilson). He appeared on the first weekly TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Jerry Lynn and Low-Ki and losing to The Flying Elvises Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki and Jimmy Yang [James Yun]).[4] The following week, on June 26, Styles defeated Lynn, Low-Ki and Psicosis in a double elimination match to become the first ever TNA X Division Champion.[4] He won a second title on the third TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Lynn and defeating Lenny Lane (Leonard Carlson) and Bruce (Alan Funk) in the finals of a tournament for the vacant NWA World Tag Team Championship. Styles successfully defended both his titles in the following weeks, but began to bicker with the veteran Lynn during their matches together. On August 14, he and Lynn fought Ron Killings and Jeff Jarrett to a no-contest, and the titles were held-up as a result. The following week, he and Lynn fought one another in a Falls Count Anywhere match (which was won by Lynn), a No Disqualification match (which was won by Styles) and a ten-minute Iron Man match, which ended in a draw after both men scored three pinfalls. Styles lost the title to Low-Ki in a three way dance. On August 28, Low-Ki defended the X Division Championship against Lynn and Styles in a ladder match and lost his title to Lynn. Recruiting Mortimer Plumtree (David Webber) and Sonny Siaki as allies, Styles continued to feud with Lynn in successive weeks. On October 23, he defeated Syxx-Pac (Sean Waltman) for the X Division Championship, thus becoming a two-time champion.[4] He lost the title to Lynn a second time on November 6 and tried unsuccessfully to regain it throughout the remainder of the year.[4]

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (2003–2004)

In 2003, Styles began focusing on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. After defeating David Flair on January 15 to become the number one contender, Styles recruited the help of Larry Zbyszko (Lawrence Whistler) and associated himself with Vince Russo's Sports Entertainment Xtreme faction. Styles faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett on February 19 but was defeated. In the course of the match, Styles became a fan favorite, attacking S.E.X. as they tried to interfere on his behalf because he did not want to win in that manner.

Styles formed a new tag team with D'Lo Brown in April 2003.[4] During their time together, Styles learned the frog splash (Art Barr version) from Brown, and Brown likewise picked up Styles' suicide plancha. The tag team amicably disbanded on May 28 so that both men could pursue the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once again.[4] They fought one another on June 4 in a number one contendership match which was won by Styles, and on June 11, Styles faced Jarrett and Raven (Scott Levy) in a three-way match for the Heavyweight Championship.[4] Styles won the match and the title (becoming the first TNA Triple Crown winner in the process) after Vince Russo entered the ring and struck Jarrett with a guitar, then celebrated with Russo following his victory, thus becoming a villain once again. Throughout July 2003, Styles successfully defended his title in matches against Brown. Throughout the remainder of his reign, he defeated a myriad selection of opponents before losing the title to Jarrett on October 22.[4] Following his loss, Styles reverted to being a fan favorite, while Jarrett became a villain. Despite Jarrett's demand that Styles return to the X Division, Styles continued to pursue the World Heavyweight Championship. On November 12, he teamed with Sting to defeat Jarrett and Lex Luger. Styles faced Jarrett for the Heavyweight Championship on December 3, but lost following interference from Kid Kash (David Cash).

Styles feuded with Jeff Jarrett and Abyss (Chris Parks) throughout January, and on February 4, 2004 after Styles demanded a title shot, Jarrett's ally Don Callis forced him to team with Abyss in a match with the NWA World Tag Team Champions, Kevin Northcutt and Legend (Joe Hitchen). Abyss hindered Styles' efforts before abandoning him completely. Styles, however, defeated both of his opponents, thus becoming a two-time NWA World Tag Team Champion with Abyss as his partner.[4] The following week, Styles defeated Abyss in a match for both tag team titles by disqualification after Jarrett interfered. His victory was overturned by Callis, leading to another match the following week which was won by Abyss after Lex Luger interfered, thus granting Abyss control of both titles.[4] Abyss and Styles continued to feud, and on March 17 Abyss defeated Styles to become the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

On April 21, Chris Harris, who was scheduled to face Jarrett in a title match that night, was attacked by Raven. As a result, Vince Russo, by now the TNA Director of Authority, selected Styles to face Jarrett in his place in a steel cage match. When Jarrett tried to hit Styles with his guitar, Russo tried to stop him through the cage, allowing Styles to get up and shatter the guitar mid-swing with a Pelé kick. Styles pinned Jarrett to become a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion.[4] He successfully defended the title in matches with Ron Killings, Raven and Chris Harris, and on May 19 he defended against all three men in a four-way title match. Styles lost his title to Killings after Jarrett interfered in the match, hitting him with a guitar.

X Division (2004–2005)

Styles returned to the X Division shortly thereafter, winning a four-way match to become the number one contender to the X Division Championship on the June 4 episode of TNA Impact!.[4] On June 9, he defeated Frankie Kazarian (Frank Gerdelman) to become a three-time X Division Champion.[4] In the following weeks, Styles feuded with Kid Kash and Dallas (Lance Hoyt),[4] while successfully defending his title in matches with Kazarian and Mr. Águila. An additional match on June 23 with the debuting Jeff Hardy was interrupted by Kash and Dallas.[13] On July 28, he defended the title against Kazarian and Michael Shane (Matt Bentley) in an Ultimate X match.[14] After Kash struck Styles with a crutch, Shane and Kazarian simultaneously retrieved the belt and became co-X Division Champions.[14] After several abortive attempts to regain the title, Styles fought Kash in a number of matches, culminating on September 8 in a tables match which was won by Styles.[15] In October he began feuding with Petey Williams, by now the TNA X Division Champion, and on November 7 at Victory Road, the first monthly pay-per-view held by TNA, Styles challenged Williams for the X Division Championship.[16] During the weeks preceding the match, Styles even went as far as to use Williams' own finisher, the Canadian Destroyer, after Williams himself performed the Styles Clash on others. Williams retained his title with the help of his manager, Scott D'Amore. Later that night, Jeff Jarrett retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a ladder match with Jeff Hardy after Scott Hall and Kevin Nash interfered in the match.[16] Following the bout, the trio proclaimed themselves to be the "Kings of Wrestling" and issued an open challenge to the rest of the TNA roster. Several wrestlers charged the ring in response to the challenge, including the 3Live Kru (Ron Killings, Konnan [Charles Ashenoff], and B.G. James [Brian Gerard James]), Randy Savage (Randall Poffo), and Styles.[16]

At Final Resolution on January 16, 2005 Styles won the X Division Championship for a fourth time in an Ultimate X match, defeating Chris Sabin (Joshua Harter) and the reigning champion, Petey Williams.[17] On the January 21 edition of Impact!, Christopher Daniels accused Styles of "ducking him" (Styles and Daniels had never fought one another in a singles match in TNA).[18] After Daniels challenged Styles to a match at the next monthly TNA pay-per-view, TNA Director of Authority Dusty Rhodes announced that Styles and Daniels would fight that day, with Daniels receiving a title shot if Styles could not defeat him within ten minutes.[18] Daniels lasted ten minutes and subsequently faced Styles in a thirty-minute iron man match for the X Division Championship at Against All Odds in which ended in a draw with both men having scored a single pinfall.[18][19] Rhodes restarted the match with "sudden death" rules, and Styles defeated Daniels to retain his title.[19] The feud between Styles and Daniels continued, and at Destination X on March 13, Styles lost his title in an Ultimate X Challenge against Daniels, Ron Killings and Elix Skipper.[20] Skipper eliminated Killings and Daniels eliminated Skipper, thus reducing the match to a singles contest.[20] With the referee unconscious, Styles was able to retrieve the belt, but Daniels knocked him out with the Angel's Wings and then embraced the title belt.[20] When the referee recovered shortly thereafter, he saw both men prone—but Daniels with the title belt—and awarded the match and the X Division Championship to Daniels.[20]

Having lost the X Division Championship, Styles began feuding with Abyss. At Lockdown, he defeated Abyss in a steel cage match to become the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[21] Styles went on to defeat the defending champion, Jeff Jarrett, at Hard Justice on May 15.[22] After Jarrett pushed the special guest referee, cage fighter, Tito Ortiz, Ortiz knocked him down with a punch, enabling Styles to hit his Spiral Tap maneuver and pin Jarrett for his third NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[22][23] Styles lost the title at Slammiversary to Raven in a King of the Mountain match.[24] Styles then returned to his perennial pursuit of the X Division Championship, entering the TNA 2005 Super X Cup Tournament, which granted the winner a shot at the X Division Championship. Styles defeated Matt Bentley in the quarter-finals and Petey Williams in the semi-finals, but lost to Samoa Joe at Sacrifice.[25] As Christopher Daniels (the reigning X Division champion) had interfered in the match, TNA Director of Authority Larry Zbyszko added Styles to the resultant title bout. On September 11 at Unbreakable, Styles defeated Samoa Joe and Daniels in a three-way match to become the TNA X Division Champion for a fifth time.[26] In addition to being rated a 5 Star Match by Dave Meltzer, this match also finished as the first runner up for Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year honors.

Teaming with Christopher Daniels (2006)

A.J. Styles at a TNA house show

At Against All Odds, Styles and Daniels challenged Samoa Joe for the X Division Championship in a rematch of Unbreakable. Styles lost the bout when he was given a Muscle Buster by Joe, who then pinned him to retain.[27] Samoa Joe defended the X Division Championship against Styles and Daniels in an Ultimate X match at Destination X and lost the belt to Daniels.[28] After Daniels lost the belt back to Samoa Joe, Styles went on to join forces with Daniels and challenge America's Most Wanted for the NWA World Tag Team Championship. After losing to America's Most Wanted in title matches on two occasions, Styles and Daniels won the NWA World Tag Team Championship at Slammiversary.[29]

On an episode of Impact!, Styles and Daniels introduced contracts for all tag teams on the TNA roster, which sparked a rivalry with The Latin American X-Change (Homicide and Hernandez [Shawn Hernandez]) (LAX), who signed the contracts for a match at Hard Justice which Styles and Daniels won.[30] On the August 24 episode of Impact!, Homicide and Hernandez defeated Styles and Daniels in a Border Brawl to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship.[31] At No Surrender Styles and Daniels defeated LAX in a Tag-Team Ultimate X match to regain the titles after Styles hit a Styles Clash on Homicide through a table allowing his tag partner Christopher Daniels to capture the hanging belts.[32] They lost the titles back to LAX at Bound for Glory in a Six Sides of Steel match after Homicide hit the Gringo Killer on Styles as Daniels was tied up to the cage by Konnan with a coat hanger.[33]

On the November 2 edition of Impact!, he pinned Chris Sabin to begin his sixth reign as the new X Division Champion.[34] The match was also the quarter-finals of the Fight For The Right tournament for number one contendership to Sting's NWA World Heavyweight Championship. On the November 9 Impact!, Styles won the semi-final match but was pinned in the finals by Abyss after interference by Christian Cage (Jason Reso) and Sabin.[35] On the November 16 edition of Impact!, the show's debut in primetime, Styles lost the TNA X Division Championship to Daniels in a 3-way match when Daniels scored the rollup pinfall on Sabin while Styles was outside of the ring dealing with Cage.[36] At Genesis, Styles lost to Cage.[37] During the match, Daniels attempted to stop Cage from using a steel chair in the match, which led to Styles rolling up Cage, which Cage reversed for a rollup of his own and the 3 count.[37] After the match, Styles and Daniels shared harsh words, which led to Rhino coming to the ring to settle things.[37] Styles refused to shake Daniels' hand and walked away.[37] Styles and Daniels teamed up for the last time on the Thanksgiving Day edition of Impact!, defeating The Naturals.[38] After the match, Rhino came out to the ring to raise both of their hands. Styles pulled his arm away, and left the ring, saying that he was tired of Rhino getting into his business.[38] He yelled at Rhino again during an interview on Impact! to once again becoming a heel. At Turning Point Styles beat Rhino after faking a knee injury and rolling him up for the pin.[39]

Feud with Rhino and team with Tomko (2006–2008)

On the December 22 episode of Impact!, Styles teamed up with Samoa Joe for the first time to go against Rhino and Kurt Angle.[40] Styles and Joe won after a roll up pin on Rhino by Styles, but Kurt Angle and Rhino continued to beat down Styles and Joe.[40] At Final Resolution, Styles faced Rhino in a Last Man Standing match.[41] After a Gore by Rhino, Styles decided to let Rhino win the match despite the fact that he was almost to his feet at one point.[41] This was due to the fact that Styles saw that Rhino was setting up a table to use on him and did not want to continue.[41] At Destination X, Styles participated in the first ever Elevation X match against Rhino.[42] The match consisted of a 20 foot tall steel structure of an X that they used to fight each other. Styles took the fall off the Elevation X structure. On the following episode of Impact!, he tried to assault Rhino, but was unsuccessful.

Styles making his entrance at Lockdown.

It was later revealed that he was the first member of Christian Cage's team at Lockdown.[43] At Lockdown, Team Cage was unsuccessful against Team Angle.[44] On the May 31 edition of Impact! he defeated Tomko in a King of the Mountain qualifying match.[45] Styles teamed up with Tomko to face Sting and Abyss at Victory Road but were defeated.[46] At No Surrender, Styles and Tomko won a 10-tag team gauntlet match to earn a tag team title match at Bound for Glory 2007 against Team Pacman (Ron Killings and Adam "Pacman" Jones).[47] At Bound for Glory, Styles and Tomko defeated Team Pacman for the TNA World Tag Team Championship.[48] Styles and Tomko defeated LAX on the November 1 edition of Impact! to retain the TNA Tag Team titles.[49] Then Styles challenged Scott Steiner to a takedown challenge, which he lost by disqualification. At Genesis, they retained against The Steiner Brothers (Scott and Rick Steiner) after hitting Rick with a low blow and then a chair shot.[50] Later that night, Styles and Tomko cost Christian his number one contender's shot by arguing and distracting him, and they helped Kurt Angle retain his championship.[50]

After Christian Cage accepted Angle's invitation to The Angle Alliance on the circumstance that Cage be the leader, Angle and the rest of the alliance attacked Cage, with the exception of Styles (who made an attempt to save Cage) and Tomko (who walked away up the ramp). On December 28, Styles and Tomko lost to the Motor City Machineguns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) in a tag team match due to Eric Young's (Jeremy Fritz) attempt to help Styles with his decision problems in the middle of the match.[51] Later on the show, Styles came down to the ring to watch Booker T (Robert Huffman) and Christian Cage take on Kurt Angle and Robert Roode; he was pressured to choose between Christian's or Angle's team, but could not decide before the show went off the air.[51] At Final Resolution, he turned on Christian Cage by siding with Angle.[52] The next week on Impact!, Styles was crowned the "Prince of Phenomenal" by Angle, which has since been incorporated into his ring introductions.

Face turn and TNA Frontline (2008–2009)

On the February 14 episode of Impact! Styles, in storyline, was married to Karen Angle.[53] The next several weeks showed videos of Karen Angle and Styles on their honeymoon, talking, getting close, and acting like a married couple. The following week, Styles came to Karen's rescue when she hit her head (she was pushed by Kurt when she came out to check on him).[54] Karen later revealed that she wanted a separation from Kurt. Meanwhile, Styles and Tomko lost the TNA World tag Team titles to Kaz and Super Eric.[55] With Kurt constantly accusing Styles and Karen of seeing each other despite both vehemently denying anything beyond friendship, Styles snapped and quit the Alliance. In retaliation, Tomko (after Styles teamed with Super Eric while he was out in Japan) cost Styles his King of the Mountain qualifying match against Booker T.[56] Styles became turned into a face again on the May 29 edition of Impact! after being assaulted backstage before his entrance.[57] He then ran to the ring several minutes later to help Karen, only to be beat down by Team 3D and Kurt for the second week in a row.[57] At Slammiversary, Styles defeated Kurt but was beat-down by Kurt and his former tag team partner Tomko after the match.[58] The feud continued through Hard Justice, with Styles and Angle trading wins. The episode after Hard Justice, he defeated Angle for his Olympic gold medal.[59] Styles also won the rematch ladder match the following week, thus ending the feud. Later he was asked to give Kurt back his gold medal by Jeff Jarrett, in an effort to try to mend things with Kurt.[60]

Styles at a TNA show in 2008.

At Bound for Glory IV, Styles faced Christian Cage and Booker T in a 3-way dance in which Booker T won after performing the axe kick from the middle rope on Cage.[61] Shortly after that, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash and Sting (who had turned heel) formed the team now known as The Main Event Mafia. On the October 23 episode of Impact! Styles teamed up with Samoa Joe against Sting and Nash but came up short after Nash hit Joe with Sting's TNA World Heavyweight Championship belt.[62] Following this, Styles and Joe were both attacked by the Main Event Mafia.[62] On the October 30 episode of Impact!, Styles and Joe formed a faction of younger wrestlers also featuring Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Petey Williams, Eric Young, ODB and The Motor City Machineguns, which later would be collectively known as TNA Frontline.[63] Later that night they were once again assaulted by the Main Event Mafia when Scott Steiner returned and joined them.[63]

He challenged Sting at Turning Point for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost thanks to a distraction from Kurt Angle and Booker T.[64] At the Final Resolution PPV, Styles was once again unsuccessful in capturing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, losing in an eight-man tag team match to the Main Event Mafia.[65]

Since then, The TNA Frontline recruited Rhino and Team 3-D into their ranks. The Frontline also had to deal with problems with The Motor City Machineguns, who showed little respect to the other members, and gang style attacks on members, such as Petey Williams, Brother Ray, and Samoa Joe, from the Mafia. On the January 22, 2009 episode of Impact! Kurt Angle vowed to end Styles' career and later that night beat Styles in a tables match, where Styles was (kayfabe) injured.[66]

At Against All Odds, Styles returned and attacked Booker T after his defense of the TNA Legends Championship.[67] After doing so, he stole Booker T's Legends belt, then went on a rampage of weekly consecutive backstage sneak attacks on Booker T, which ended once Booker (with Scott Steiner) goaded him into trying the same in the ring in order to get him (kayfabe) arrested. At Destination X 2009, Styles defeated Booker T to become the new TNA Legends Champion and the first TNA Grand Slam Champion.[68] Styles defeated Booker T in an "I Quit" match for the TNA Legends Championship at Sacrifice when Jenna Morasca threw in the towel on Booker's behalf.[69] At Slammiversary, Styles competed in the King of the Mountain match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but was unsuccessful after Samoa Joe turned his back on Styles, helping Kurt Angle win, and in the process, Joe turned heel.[70] At the Victory Road pay-per-view, Styles lost the Legends Championship to Nash via pinfall.[71] Following the loss, Styles began a "Best of Three Series" against Matt Morgan for entry into the Heavyweight Championship match with Sting and Kurt Angle at Hard Justice. He won the first match, but lost the following two, resulting in Morgan advancing to Hard Justice.[72][73][74]

TNA World Heavyweight Champion (2009)

On the August 20 edition of iMPACT! Styles came to the ring to announce his retirement because of his recent setbacks, but ended up being talked out of it by Sting, who said he had chosen Styles to carry the torch after him. Styles then went on to gain his place in the No Surrender main event in a tournament on the August 27 edition of iMPACT! defeating Chris Sabin and Doug Williams in singles matches. On September 20, 2009, at No Surrender, Styles won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a five-way match against Matt Morgan, Sting, Hernandez (who was cashing in his Feast or Fired briefcase), and defending champion Kurt Angle.[75] One month later at Bound for Glory, Styles retained his title against Sting[76] in a match that was later voted the match of the year by the fans of TNA.[77] Styles was mysteriously attacked by an anonymous assailant backstage leading him to believe it was Samoa Joe or Daniels, both of whom he faced the following month at Turning Point to retain his World Heavyweight Title in what was heavily hyped as the rematch from the Unbreakable main event, four years earlier.[78] On the December 10 edition of Impact!, Styles successfully defended the world title against Desmond Wolfe.[79] Later that month at Final Resolution, Styles defeated Daniels to retain the World Heavyweight Title.[80]

Heel turn and alliance with Ric Flair (2010)

On the January 4, 2010, live three hour Monday night edition of Impact!, by order of Eric Bischoff now running TNA with Hulk Hogan, Styles was forced to defend his title against Angle before Genesis; he defeated Angle in the main event, despite further interference from the unknown attacker.[81] Styles' mystery attacker was revealed on the January 14, 2010 episode of Impact! as his former tag team partner Tomko. Later during that episode, Styles defeated Tomko in a match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. After the match, he was assaulted by Tomko; Angle came to his rescue and offered a handshake, but Styles looked to Ric Flair at the commentary table and instead just exited the ring.[82] At Genesis, Styles turned heel and defeated Angle in a Last Chance match after hitting him with the title belt, while Ric Flair was distracting the referee.[83] On the January 21, 2010 episode of Impact!, Flair announced that he had aligned himself with Styles and would make Styles "the New Nature Boy". On the same episode, Hulk Hogan announced that due to Ric Flair's interference in the Genesis match, Kurt Angle would get a rematch that same night, and if Flair were to interfere, Styles would be stripped of the title and awarded to Angle. During the match, Angle applied his signature move, the Ankle Lock, on Styles. Styles reversed it and applied the same move to Angle, when suddenly referee Earl Hebner, paid off by Flair, called for the bell although Angle did not submit, essentially repeating the Montreal Screwjob.[84] At Against All Odds Styles retained his title against Samoa Joe, with help from Flair, in a match refereed by Eric Bischoff.[85] On the March 8 Monday night edition of Impact! Styles teamed up with Ric Flair in a tag team match, where they faced Abyss and Hulk Hogan. Abyss won the match for his team by pinning Styles.[86] Afterwards,the Pope D'Angelo Dinero and the returning Jeff Hardy saved Abyss and Hogan from a beatdown at the hands of Styles, Flair and Desmond Wolfe.[86]

Other media

Styles helped develop the first TNA wrestling video game known as TNA Impact! and was helping develop Pro Wrestling X with Wrestling Gamers United.[87]

In 2004, TNA released Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles, a DVD covering Styles' best matches. In 2007, TNA released a follow-up DVD, Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles Volume 2. In addition, Ring of Honor has released two DVDs covering his early career with the company. Evolution of a Phenom: The Best of AJ Styles covers from his debut to mid-2003. The Phenomenon Continues: The Best of AJ Styles Vol. 2 picks up where the last one left off, covering from mid-2003 to his match with CM Punk at the ROH Second Anniversary Show in 2004 (his second to last match before leaving ROH in 2004). He also sat down for a shoot interview alongside Christopher Daniels for ROH's "Straight Shootin’" series.

He was also featured on MTV's Made trying to help a young high schooler become a professional wrestler alongside Taylor Wilde and The Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky).

Personal life

Jones is married to a woman named Wendy,[6] and the couple have three sons, Ajay Covell Jones (born May 3, 2005), Avery Jones (born February 14, 2007)[4][88] and Albey Jones (born September 2009).[89] The first child's middle name was taken from the real last name of Styles' best friend and fellow wrestler Daniel Covell, who wrestles as "Christopher Daniels". The family lives in Gainesville, Georgia.[90] Wendy is employed as a school teacher.[6]

Jones is a devout Christian.[7][91] He states that in his life, "It's God first and family second."[6] Jason Clevett of SLAM! Wrestling has called Styles "one of the most respected and well-liked wrestlers in the world".[90]

He is an avid video game player who recently mentioned (to PowerSlam Mag) that he does not like the WWE SmackDown games but only the old Nintendo 64 AKI wrestling games. He has also stated that his favorite wrestling game is the Japanese Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 for the Nintendo 64. Jones is also an avid fan of J.K. Rowling. Jones also admitted on tnawrestling.com that he grew up in a poor family, something spoken of on the TNA home video release, Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles Volume 2, where Styles took a camera crew around his childhood home.

Jones stated in an interview with New Zealand Pro Wrestling Journalists that his family could not afford cable television growing up and he was not able to watch professional wrestling.[91]

In wrestling

AJ Styles & Samoa Joe vs Matt Morgan & Abyss.jpg
Styles performing a dropkick on Matt Morgan.

AJC.jpg
Styles prepares to perform a Styles Clash on Sheik Abdul Bashir.

AJ en Destination X.jpg
Styles participating in an Ultimate X match

Championships and accomplishments

AJ with Tomko as TNA World Tag Team Champions.
  • All Access Wrestling
    • AAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[2]
  • Ballpark Brawl
    • Natural Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[113]
  • Christian Wrestling Federation / Christian Wrestling Entertainment
    • CWF/E Heavyweight Championship (2 times)[2]
  • Independent Professional Wrestling
    • IPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[114]
  • International Wrestling Cartel
  • Independent Wrestling Revolution
    • IWR King Of The Indies Championship (1 time)[118]
  • Maximum Pro Wrestling
    • Max-Pro Cruiserweight Championship (1 time)[4]
  • Midwest Pro Wrestling
    • MPW Universal Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[2]
  • New Korea Pro Wrestling Association
    • NKPWA Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[2]

1Even though he won the championship, the win and reign aren't officially recognized by Ring of Honor due to TNA Wrestling's temporary split with ROH following the Rob Feinstein controversy.

Notes

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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq Milner, John (2995-02-18). "A.J. Styles' bio". Slam Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/Bios/styles-aj.html. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
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