Based on the fan reaction during the Royal Rumble match, it seems like AJ Styles might very well be the WWE’s next version of Daniel Bryan. Styles got a huge ovation from the WWE Universe when he came down for the #3 spot in the Rumble, but how much do you know about “The Phenomenal One”?
During the Rumble match we saw some possible previews for great opponents for AJ Styles, including a likely WrestleMania preview against Kevin Owens, who finally eliminated him after a good showing in the match. Styles also teased matches against guys like Neville and Chris Jericho during the Rumble.
During his storied career A.J. Styles has competed in the WCW, WWF, NWA, Ring of Honor, TNA Wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as putting in a lot of time in on the independent circuit. Styles has captured seven World Championships and more than 20 titles overall which includes becoming the first TNA Triple Crown Champion and the first TNA Grand Slam Champion.
Things have not always been so glamorous for Allen Neal Jones. A.J. grew up in poverty with an abusive father and dropped out of college to become a pro wrestler. At first he mowed lawns and drove an ambulance to supplement his income. Besides his natural in ring ability, another thing that stands out about Styles is his unusual tattoo which is located on the right side of his torso. The tattoo indicates the initials and birth dates of his first three children Ajay, Avery, and Albey. Here are 10 more Things You Didn’t Know About AJ Styles.
10. He Was the Face of TNA
AJ Styles was a TNA original when the company started in 2002, and wrestled there until 2014, when he was unable to agree to terms on singing a new contract (he turned down $200 thousand). Among his many accomplishments in Total Nonstop Action wrestling, AJ Styles helped build the company’s X Division and was the inaugural X Division Champion. He also had a 5 star match, according to Dave Meltzer, against Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe at the Unbreakable 2005 pay-per-view. Styles was the first TNA wrestler ever ranked #1 on Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s annual PWI 500 list. AJ is a two time TNA World Heavyweight Champion and three time NWA World Heavyweight Champion among many other accomplishments.
9. He’s a Global Superstar
Styles is not only popular in the United States, but he also has had great success overseas in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is a two time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, winning the title from Kazuchika Okada in 2013 before losing it to and gaining it back from Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2014 and 2015. Styles would lose the title back to Okada in the summer of 2015. He became the first American New Japan champion since Brock Lesnar, and one of only six non-Japanese wrestlers who have held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Styles came to Japan and replaced a wrestler by the name of Prince Devitt (also known as Finn Balor) as the leader of the Bullet Club.
8. He Has Familiar Opponents in WWE
Although there are some exciting new opponents waiting for AJ Styles in the WWE, there are also some foes that are quite familiar to him. One of his best rivals in TNA was Samoa Joe, who is now competing in NXT. Styles also worked with Neville on the independent circuit, and those matches could potentially be very exciting in the WWE. He had an epic match with Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10, and Nakamura recently confirmed to Tokyo Sports that he would be leaving NJPW and signing with the WWE. Styles could also take on Finn Balor, who he replaced in Japan. AJ has also had some great matches with Kevin Owens, and that rivalry is likely to resume at WrestleMania.
7. He Was Managed by Ric Flair
Styles has a healthy relationship with the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and was even managed by Flair at one point. AJ defeated David Flair to become the #1 contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 2003, but that didn’t sour the relationship between him and Ric. Flair aligned himself with Styles in 2010 and proclaimed that AJ would become “the new Nature Boy”. A storyline even involved a repeat of the “Montreal screwjob” when Flair paid off referee Earl Hebner, who called for the bell even though Styles did not make Kurt Angle submit. Flair would go on to start a new version of the Four Horsemen named Fortune with Styles belonged to.
6. He Has Tons of Experience
Styles will celebrate his 40th birthday in 2017, so he is no spring chicken. He made his debut back in 1998 after he got into professional wrestling by chance. The story goes that AJ’s friends bugged him to join the wrestling school that they were going to. Styles gave into their peer pressure and found out that he was a natural at wrestling. He didn’t even watch wrestling as a kid because his parents couldn’t afford to have cable TV. Styles was trained by Rick Michaels who briefly competed for ECW, and first wrestled in the Georgia-based National Championship Promotion, under the name “Mr. Olympia”.
5. He Was Involved in Factions
Although he has done a great job as a lone wolf during his career, Styles has been involved with a few factions in his time as a pro wrestler. He was part of Ric Flair’s Four Horsemen remake called Fortune along with James Storm, Robert Roode, and Kazarian. The faction lasted about a year and a half and also included Douglas Williams, Matt Morgan, and Christopher Daniels. Styles was a part of the short lived group TNA Frontline which feuded with the Main Event Mafia and consisted of wrestlers including Jay Lethal, Eric Young, The Motor City Machineguns, and ODB. Styles became the third leader of Bullet Club when he joined New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2014. Rumors have it that fellow Bullet Club members Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson will be joining Styles in the WWE soon.
4. He’s An Avid Gamer
In addition to being passionate about pro wrestling, Styles is also an avid gamer. He has mentioned video games several times in interviews, and is said to be cheap so that he can spend more money on gaming. Styles has been seen with his Nintendo 3DS at merchandise tables at independent shows and has a personal gaming briefcase so he can play his Xbox on the road. AJ helped to develop the first TNA video game TNA Impact! He has stated that he does not care for the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw games and that his favorite wrestling video game is Japanese Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 on the Nintendo 64.
3. He Was In A Scandal in the Gay Community
Styles has become linked to what has become known as “the gay community” over the years. This started off when AJ used some gay slurs in various interviews and during a TNA pay-per-view in the early 2000s. When AJ was a guest on the talk show Wrestling Observer Live, a caller asked him about his feelings about having a large following in the gay community. Styles replied in disgust with “the gay community!?” To which the man said: “Yes, because of your looks.” Someone then exclaimed: “Get rid of this guy” and another caller’s call was taken. Styles’ comments have been paired with the fact that he is a devout Christian to further the allegations of him having an anti-gay stance.
2. He’s A Tag Team Specialist
Although AJ Styles is a very accomplished singles competitor, he is also quite the tag team specialist. Over the years Styles has managed to capture tag team gold with many different partners. He was an ROH World Tag Team Champion with Amazing Red and is a four time NWA World Tag Team Champion with Jerry Lynn, Abyss, and Christopher Daniels (twice). Styles has also held the TNA World Tag Team Championship with both Kurt Angle and Tomko. AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were named the Tag Team of the Year in 2006 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. It will be interesting to see if he can find a regular tag team partner in the WWE.
1. He Briefly Worked in WCW/WWE
Most wrestling fans probably think that AJ Styles stepped into a wrestling ring for the WWE for the first time at the Royal Rumble in 2016. The fact is that for a brief period of time Styles worked for the WWF/E after the promotion was purchased by WCW. Styles also worked in the WCW and appeared in a tag team match for the Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship tournament where he teamed with someone named Air Paris against the team of Kid Romeo and Elix Skipper. Styles came to the WWF where he worked in a few dark matches that took place before TV tapings. He actually appeared once on TV in an edition of WWF Metal against The Hurricane.