A.J. Styles

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A.J. Styles
Aj Styles Smash 2014.jpg
Styles in January 2014
Birth name Allen Neal Jones[1][2]
Ring name(s) Mr. Olympia[3]
Air Styles[4]
A.J. Styles[4][5]
Billed height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[5]
Billed weight 215 lb (98 kg)[5]
Born (1977-06-02) June 2, 1977 (age 37)[1][6]
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina[7]
Billed from Gainesville, Georgia[5]
Trained by Rick Michaels[2]
NCW Wrestling School[2]
Debut 1998[2]

Allen Neal Jones[1][2] (born June 2, 1977),[6] better known by his ring name A.J. Styles is an American professional wrestler currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He is also working for Ring of Honor (ROH) as a free agent,[8] and is best known for his work in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).[5]

While in TNA, Styles held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice. He was also the inaugural TNA X Division Champion, a title he has held six times. Styles has also won the Television Championship twice, during which he also held it during its phases as the Legends Championship and the Global Championship. Styles is also a decorated tag team wrestler, having been a seven-time World Tag Team Champion in his career - winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship four times, the TNA World Tag Team Championship twice, and one reign with the ROH World Tag Team Championship early in his career.

By winning 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 five more times, making him the only man to complete it more than once. His victory over Booker T for the TNA Legends (now Television) Championship made him the first man to have ever won the TNA Grand Slam Championship, which he has done twice. He is also the only wrestler in TNA to have held every male championship owned and sanctioned by TNA at any point during the company's history. All totaled, he has won 19 championships in TNA. In 2010, he became the first TNA contracted wrestler to rank in at #1 on Pro Wrestling Illustrated's annual PWI 500 list.

Styles ended his long association with TNA in 2013 after his contract expired, and has since returned to ROH, (where Styles is a former Pure Wrestling and World Tag Team Champion), and in March 2014, also signed with NJPW, where he won the promotion's top championship, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, in his first match with the company. Between TNA, ROH, and NJPW, Styles has won six World Championships and 22 total championships. Along with his appearances in NJPW and ROH, Styles also wrestles on the independent circuit.[9][10]

Early life[edit]

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.[7]

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 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.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1999-2001)[edit]

Jones was trained by Rick Michaels and debuted in 1998.[2] In the Georgia-based National Championship Wrestling promotion he wrestled as Mr. Olympia, a masked wrestler, losing to Michael Brooks in his first match.[2] By August 1999, he had won the Television Championship.[2] 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.[2] He lost the title to Eddie Golden on April 1 and regained it for a third time on January 6, 2001, defeating Air 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.

World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling All-Stars (2001–2002)[edit]

World Championship Wrestling, a global promotion, observed the feud between Styles and Paris, and both men were offered contracts in early 2001. Styles, now renamed Air Styles, and Paris were placed in a tag team named Air Raid.[2] The team's gimmick saw both men dress in G-suits. Air Raid made appearances on Thunder, and on the March 5, 2001, episode of Nitro they were entered in a tournament for the newly created Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship.[2] They were eliminated from the tournament in the first round by the eventual winners, Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo.[2]

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 WWE on Jakked. Styles was offered a developmental deal by the WWE 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.[2] He declined to sign because moving would interfere with his wife's college plans.[2][11]

Styles toured Australia with the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars promotion in April 2002. He made his pay-per-view debut at WWA: The Eruption on April 13 in Melbourne, defeating Nova and Jerry Lynn in the same night to become the WWA International Cruiserweight Champion.[2] He later vacated the title.

Return to NWA Wildside (2001–2005)[edit]

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.[2] While champion, Styles engaged in a feud with former manager Jeff G. Bailey's client Jason Cross, who debuted as a doppelgänger of Styles, complete with a similar attire and moveset. Styles lost the NWA Wildside Heavyweight Championship to David Young in a Three Way Dance that also included Rick Michaels on March 23, 2002 at Hardcore Hell. Shortly thereafter, Styles signed a contract with NWA: Total Nonstop Action 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. He made several more appearances throughout 2002, defeating Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada, and Jacey North in various singles matches.

In March 2003, Styles defeated former rival Ron Killings at Hardcore Hell. In October 2003, he headlined another Wildside card, facing 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 Seth Delay in an impromptu match, then teamed with Gabriel and Altar Boy Luke (with Dusty Rhodes in their corner) to defeat Rainman, Azrael and "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels in a six man tag team main event on the following night.

After an absence of almost one year, Styles wrestled for the final time in Wildside on March 25, 2005, which he lost to David Young in a match that received a standing ovation from fans in attendance. After this match, Styles presented an award to Wildside's promoter Bill Behrens, along with David Young and Rick Michaels.

Ring of Honor[edit]

2002–2004[edit]

Styles with Matt Sydal at a ROH event in 2006.

Styles debuted in Ring of Honor at their third show, A Night of Appreciation, in 2002.[12] He quickly became a main event wrestler, competing against Low Ki for ROH Championship at Honor Invades Boston.[12] 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.[12] 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 for the championship. After the show, Styles and London agreed to form a tag team and compete for the ROH Tag Team Championship. Instead, Styles competed by himself and defeated The Backseat Boyz (Johnny Kashmere and Trent Acid), The S.A.T. (Jose Maximo [Julio Ramirez] and Joel Maximo [Kelvin Ramirez]), and The Carnage Crew (HC Loc and Tony DeVito) to receive a title shot. He chose Amazing Red as his partner, and the two defeated The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels and Xavier) for the championship.[12][13] 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.[12] 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 made his first appearance in ROH and aligned himself with Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff. 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 as his partner, and the two defeated The Prophecy.[12] Styles then had to vacate the title due to Red being sidelined with a knee injury.[13]

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 for the title, but was once again unable to win it.[12] 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 in the second, and CM Punk in the finals to become the first champion.[12] 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,[14] which caused tensions between ROH and Total Nonstop Action 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 as the guest referee.[12] The match turned out to be Styles final match in ROH for 2004, as TNA withdrew all their contracted wrestlers from ROH.[15] Styles left the company and vacated the Pure Wrestling Championship.

2005–2006[edit]

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 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 while claiming that 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.[12] 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, who was brought in by Prince Nana to face Styles instead of having Jimmy Rave fight him.[12] 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.[16] 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 joining them. Styles first defeated Generation Next member Roderick Strong 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 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 in his corner, Styles hit Rave with the Styles Clash off of the second rope, through a table to win the match.[12] 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 and Matt Sydal were defeated by Rave, Shelley, Abyss and Prince Nana in an eight-man tag match.[12]

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 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.[12] At the Fourth Anniversary Show, Styles and Sydal received their shot at the Tag Team Championship, but were unable to defeat the champions.[12] 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 frequently 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.[12] 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.[17]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2002-2014)[edit]

NWA World Heavyweight Champion (2002–2004)[edit]

In May 2002, Styles was signed to a non-exclusive contract by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and dubbed "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles, a nickname 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).[2] The following week on June 26, Styles defeated Lynn, Low Ki and Psicosis in a double elimination match to become the inaugural TNA X Division Champion.[2] He won a second title on the third TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Lynn and defeating Lenny Lane and Bruce in the finals of a tournament for the vacant NWA World Tag Team Championship.[4] Styles successfully defended both his titles in the following weeks, but began to bicker with the veteran Lynn during their matches together. On August 7, Styles lost the X Division title to Low Ki in a three-way dance also involving Lynn.[4] The following week, he and Lynn fought Ron Killings and Jeff Jarrett to a no-contest, and the Tag Team Title was held-up as a result.[4] 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.[4] On August 28, Low Ki defended the X Division Championship against Lynn and Styles in a ladder match and lost his title to Lynn.[4] Recruiting Mortimer Plumtree and Sonny Siaki as allies, Styles continued to feud with Lynn in successive weeks.[4] On October 23, he defeated Syxx-Pac for the X Division Championship, thus becoming a two time champion.[2] He lost the title to Lynn a second time on November 6 and tried unsuccessfully to regain it throughout the remainder of the year.[2]

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 and associated himself with Vince Russo's Sports Entertainment Xtreme stable.[4] Styles faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett on February 19 but was defeated.[4] 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.[2] The tag team amicably disbanded on May 28 so that both men could pursue the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once again.[2] 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 in a three-way match for the Heavyweight Championship.[2] 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.[2] 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.[4]

Styles feuded with Jeff Jarrett and Abyss 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. Abyss hindered Styles's 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[4]

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.[2] 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.[4]

X Division (2004–2005)[edit]

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 Impact!.[2] On June 9, he defeated Frankie Kazarian to become a three-time X Division Champion.[2] In the following weeks, Styles feuded with Kid Kash and Dallas,[2] 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.[18] On July 28, he defended the title against Kazarian and Michael Shane in an Ultimate X match.[19] After Kash struck Styles with a crutch, Shane and Kazarian simultaneously retrieved the belt and became co-X Division Champions.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[21] Following the bout, the trio proclaimed themselves 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, and B.G. James), Randy Savage, and Styles.[21]

Styles in 2005.

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 and the reigning champion Petey Williams.[22] On the January 21 episode of Impact!, Christopher Daniels accused Styles of "ducking him", as he and Styles had never faced one another in a singles match in TNA.[23] 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 wrestle that day, with Daniels receiving a title shot if Styles could not defeat him within ten minutes.[23] Daniels lasted ten minutes and subsequently faced Styles in a thirty-minute Iron Man match for the X Division Championship at Against All Odds, which ended in a draw with both men having scored a single pinfall.[23][24] Rhodes restarted the match with "sudden death" rules, and Styles defeated Daniels to retain his title.[24] The feud between Styles and Daniels continued, and at Destination X on March 13, Styles lost the title in an Ultimate X Challenge against Daniels, Ron Killings and Elix Skipper.[25] Skipper eliminated Killings and Daniels eliminated Skipper, thus reducing the match to a singles contest.[25] 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.[25] 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.[25]

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.[26] Styles went on to defeat the defending champion, Jeff Jarrett, at Hard Justice on May 15.[27] After Jarrett pushed the special guest referee, cage fighter, Tito Ortiz, Ortiz knocked him down with a punch, enabling Styles to hit the Spiral Tap and pin Jarrett for his third NWA World Heavyweight Championship.[27][28] Styles lost the title at Slammiversary to Raven in a King of the Mountain match.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32]

Teaming with Christopher Daniels (2005–2006)[edit]

A.J. Styles at a TNA house show

The following month at Bound for Glory, Styles successfully defended the title against Christopher Daniels in the second thirty-minute Iron Man match between the two.[33] The following month at Genesis, Styles successfully defended the title against Petey Williams. At the same event, Samoa Joe brutally beat on Christopher Daniels with a chair and put him out of action indefinitely.[34] Styles then started a feud with Joe, claiming that he had broken the unwritten "code of the X Division".[34] On December 11 at Turning Point, Styles lost the X Division Championship to Joe. After the match, Joe tried to take out Styles, until Christopher Daniels made his return and saved him.[35] On February 12, 2006, 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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

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 Xchange (Homicide and Hernandez) (LAX), who signed the contracts for a match at Hard Justice which Styles and Daniels won.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41] 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.[42]

On the November 2 episode of Impact!, he pinned Chris Sabin to begin his sixth reign as the new X Division Champion.[43] 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.[44] On the November 16 episode of Impact!, the show's debut in primetime, Styles lost the X Division Championship to Daniels in a three-way match when Daniels scored the rollup pinfall on Sabin while Styles was outside of the ring dealing with Cage.[45] At Genesis, Styles lost to Cage.[46] 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.[46] After the match, Styles and Daniels shared harsh words, which led to Rhino coming to the ring to settle things.[46] Styles refused to shake Daniels' hand and walked away.[46] Styles and Daniels teamed up for the last time on the Thanksgiving Day episode of Impact!, defeating The Naturals.[47] 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.[47] He yelled at Rhino again during an interview on Impact! to once again become a villain. At Turning Point, Styles beat Rhino after faking a knee injury and rolling him up for the pin.[48]

Christian's Coalition (2006–2008)[edit]

Main article: Christian's Coalition

On the December 22 episode of Impact!, Styles teamed up with Samoa Joe for the first time to compete against Rhino and Kurt Angle.[49] 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.[49] At Final Resolution, Styles faced Rhino in a Last Man Standing match.[50] 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.[50] 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.[50] At Destination X, Styles participated in the first-ever Elevation X match against Rhino, which he lost.[51] 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.[52] At Lockdown, Team Cage was unsuccessful against Team Angle.[53] On the May 31 episode of Impact! he defeated Tomko in a King of the Mountain qualifying match.[54] Styles teamed up with Tomko to face Sting and Abyss at Victory Road but were defeated.[55] At No Surrender, Styles and Tomko won a 10-tag team gauntlet match to earn a tag team title match at Bound for Glory against Team Pacman (Ron Killings and Adam "Pacman" Jones).[56] At Bound for Glory, Styles and Tomko defeated Team Pacman for the TNA World Tag Team Championship.[57] Styles and Tomko defeated LAX on the November 1 episode of Impact! to retain the World Tag Team Title.[58] 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.[59] 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.[59]

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 attempt to help Styles with his decision problems in the middle of the match.[60] Later on the show, Styles came down to the ring to watch Booker T 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.[60] At Final Resolution, he turned on Christian Cage by siding with Angle.[61] The next week on Impact!, Styles was crowned the "Prince of Phenomenal" by Angle, which was incorporated into his ring introductions.

The TNA Frontline (2008–2009)[edit]

Main article: TNA Frontline

On the February 14 episode of Impact! Styles, in storyline, was married to Karen Angle.[62] 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).[63] 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.[64] 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.[65] Styles turned into a face again on the May 29 episode of Impact! after being assaulted backstage before his entrance.[66] 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.[66] At Slammiversary, Styles defeated Kurt but was beat-down by Kurt and his former tag team partner Tomko after the match.[67] 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.[68] 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.[69]

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.[70] 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.[71] Following this, Styles and Joe were both attacked by the Main Event Mafia.[71] 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 the TNA Frontline.[72] Later that night they were once again assaulted by the Main Event Mafia when Scott Steiner returned and joined them.[72]

He challenged Sting at Turning Point for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost thanks to a distraction from Kurt Angle and Booker T.[73] 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.[74]

Since then, the TNA Frontline recruited Rhino and Team 3D 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.[75]

At Against All Odds, Styles returned and attacked Booker T after his defense of the Legends Championship.[76] After doing so, he stole Booker T's Legends Title, then went on a rampage of weekly consecutive backstage sneak attacks on Booker T, which ended once Booker and Scott Steiner goaded him into trying the same in the ring in order to get him arrested. At Destination X 2009, Styles defeated Booker T to become the new Legends Champion and the first TNA Grand Slam Champion.[76] 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.[77] 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.[78] At the Victory Road pay-per-view, Styles lost the Legends Championship to Nash via pinfall.[79] 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.[80][81][82]

TNA World Heavyweight Champion and Fortune (2009–2011)[edit]

On the August 20 episode 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 episode 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.[83] One month later at Bound for Glory, Styles retained his title against Sting, ending his undefeated streak at Bound for Glory in the process.[84] in a match that was later voted the match of the year by the fans of TNA.[85] 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.[86] On the December 10 episode of Impact!, Styles successfully defended the world title against Desmond Wolfe.[87] Later that month at Final Resolution, Styles defeated Daniels to retain the World Heavyweight Title.[88] On the January 4, 2010, live three hour Monday night episode 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.[89] 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, hinting at a possible heel turn.[90] 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.[91] 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.[92] At Against All Odds Styles retained his title against Samoa Joe, with help from Flair, in a match refereed by Eric Bischoff.[93] On the March 8 Monday night episode of Impact! Styles teamed up with Ric Flair in a tag team match, where they faced Abyss and Hulk Hogan. During this time, Styles began wearing Flair's signature style of robe to the ring and reverted to his old short trunks ring gear. Abyss won the match for his team by pinning Styles.[94] Afterwards, the returning Jeff Hardy saved Abyss and Hogan from a beatdown at the hands of Styles, Flair and Desmond Wolfe.[94] The following week Styles was defeated by Hardy in a non-title match.[95] At Destination X Styles defended his title against Abyss in a match that went to No Contest, after Abyss chokeslammed Styles through the ring.[96] On March 29, 2010, Styles became the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion in history by beating Sting's reign of 189 days as champion. The following month at Lockdown, Styles successfully defended his title against D'Angelo Dinero in a steel cage match.[97] The following day on Impact! Styles dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to Rob Van Dam, ending his reign at 211 days.[98]

Fourtune hopefuls: (from left to right) Desmond Wolfe, Robert Roode, Styles, and James Storm.

On the May 3 episode of Impact! Styles defeated Abyss in a Monster's Ball match, and later in the night, attacked Rob Van Dam after his title match with Desmond Wolfe, and announced he was invoking his rematch clause for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Sacrifice.[99] Styles invoked his rematch clause at Sacrifice, but was once again defeated by Van Dam.[100] With Styles' recent shortcomings against Rob Van Dam, Flair adopted Kazarian as his newest protégé. Styles quickly grew jealous of Kazarian and in trying to impress his mentor, first ruined a beatdown of Flair's most recent enemy, Jay Lethal, and the following week was pinned by him in a three-way match also involving Kazarian, after which Flair ordered him to go home and think about his future.[101][102] At Slammiversary VIII Styles attempted to win Flair back by defeating Lethal, but ended up on losing side again, this time in a singles match.[103] On the following episode of Impact! Ric Flair, who had aligned himself with Styles, Desmond Wolfe, Kazarian, Robert Roode and James Storm, announced that he would reform the Four Horsemen under the new name Fourtune, stating that each of them would have to earn their spots in the group and that in order for Styles to earn his spot, he needed to become the Arn Anderson of the group.[104][105] Flair, wanting peace between Styles and Kazarian, booked them in a tag team match against Samoa Joe and Rob Terry at Victory Road.[106] The plan seemed to work as Styles and Kazarian were victorious due to outside interference from Desmond Wolfe and in the process earned themselves spots in Fourtune.[107] On July 13 at the tapings of the July 22 episode of Impact! Styles defeated Terry to win the Global Championship, formerly known as the Legends Championship, for the second time, after some assistance from Kazarian.[108][109] The following week Styles renamed the title the TNA Television Championship.[110] That same night Fourtune's lineup was seemingly completed with the addition of Robert Roode and James Storm as the final two members of the group.[110] However, on the August 12 episode of Impact! Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan were added to Fourtune, as the stable attacked EV 2.0, a stable consisting of former Extreme Championship Wrestling performers.[111][112] The following month at No Surrender, Styles defeated EV 2.0 leader Tommy Dreamer in a non-title "I Quit" match.[113] In the weeks leading to Bound for Glory, the stable's name was tweaked to Fortune to represent the expansion in the number of members in the group.[114][115] At Bound for Glory Styles, Kazarian, Morgan, Roode and Storm were defeated in a Lethal Lockdown match by Dreamer, Raven, Rhino, Sabu and Stevie Richards, when Styles was pinned by Dreamer.[116] On the following episode of Impact! Fortune formed an alliance with Hulk Hogan's and Eric Bischoff's new stable, Immortal.[117] At Turning Point Fortune defeated EV 2.0 in a ten man tag team match and, as a result, EV 2.0's Sabu was released from TNA.[118] The following month at Final Resolution Styles lost the Television Championship to former stable mate Douglas Williams, who had turned on Fortune on the November 18 episode of Impact!.[119] On the December 23 episode of Impact! Styles challenged Williams for the Television Championship in a 20 minute Iron Man match. The match ended in a 1–1 draw, setting up another match at Genesis, where Styles would put his spot in Fortune on the line against Williams' title.[120] However, Styles was forced to pull out of the match, after suffering a legitimate hip injury, which was expected to sideline him for 6–8 weeks.[121] Styles, who was replaced in the title match by Abyss, ended up interfering in the match and costing Williams the title.[122] On January 31 at the tapings of the February 3 episode of Impact!, Fortune turned face by attacking Immortal, when they interfered in a TNA World Heavyweight Championship match between Mr. Anderson and Jeff Hardy.[123][124] At the following day's tapings of the February 10 episode of Impact!, Styles made an in–ring return from his hip injury, teaming with Kurt Angle in a tag team match, where they defeated Jeff Hardy and Jeff Jarrett.[125] Ric Flair, who did not take part in Fortune's turn due to a torn rotator cuff, returned at the February 14 tapings of the February 17 episode of Impact!, turning on Fortune during a match between Styles and Matt Hardy and jumping to Immortal.[126][127] On the March 10 episode of Impact!, Styles faced Flair and Hardy in a three–way street fight, which would turn out to become more of a two–on–one handicap match. Styles was pinned by his former mentor following a low blow from him and a Twist of Hate from Hardy.[128] At Victory Road Styles defeated Hardy in a singles match, despite interference from Flair.[129]

Styles facing Bully Ray at Slammiversary IX.

On the following episode of Impact!, Styles was sidelined with a storyline injury, after Flair helped Bully Ray powerbomb him off the entrance stage through a table.[130][131] On the March 31 episode of Impact!, Christopher Daniels made his return to TNA by saving the three remaining members of Fortune from Immortal, vowing to avenge Styles.[132] Styles made his return on April 17 at Lockdown, attacking Bully Ray and helping Daniels, Kazarian, Roode and Storm defeat Immortal representatives Abyss, Flair, Matt Hardy and Ray in a Lethal Lockdown match.[133] On the May 5 episode of Impact!, Styles and Daniels defeated Bully Ray and Gunner via disqualification, when Tommy Dreamer turned heel and attacked Styles. It was later revealed that Immortal had forced Dreamer to join them in order to save his job.[134] At Sacrifice, Ray cost Styles his No Disqualification match against Dreamer by hitting him with a chain.[135] On the May 26 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles and Daniels defeated Ray and Dreamer in a No Disqualification Street Fight, with Styles pinning Dreamer to avenge his loss at Sacrifice.[136] On June 12 at Slammiversary IX, Styles was defeated by Ray in a feud ending Last Man Standing match,[137] after which Ray put over Styles' resilience.[138] On July 10 at Destination X, TNA's first ever all X Division pay-per-view, Styles defeated fellow Fortune member Christopher Daniels in the main event of the evening.[139] After weeks of asking for a rematch, Styles finally granted Daniels one on the September 1 episode of Impact Wrestling, where Daniels managed to pick up the win. After the match, Daniels refused to shake hands with Styles.[140] On the September 22 episode of Impact Wrestling, Daniels refused to return the favor and give Styles a rematch, which eventually led to a brawl between the two. When the two were finally separated from each other by Kazarian, Daniels kicked Styles in the groin, completing his heel turn.[141] Two weeks later it was announced that, at Daniels' request, he and Styles would face each other at Bound for Glory in an "I Quit" match.[142] On October 16 at Bound for Glory, Styles defeated Daniels in the "I Quit" match, but was after the match attacked by him.[143] On the November 10 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles defeated Daniels in a singles match, after Rob Van Dam prevented Daniels from using a screwdriver. At the end of the evening, Styles confronted new TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode, who had turned on Fortune and won the title from James Storm the previous week, and challenged him to a match for the title.[144] On November 13 at Turning Point, Styles failed in his attempt to regain the World Heavyweight Championship from Roode.[145] The following month at Final Resolution, Styles and Roode wrestled to a 3–3 draw in a 30 minute Iron Man match.[146] Styles and Roode wrestled a sudden death overtime period on the following episode of Impact Wrestling, where Roode managed to retain his title.[147]

During the following episodes of Impact Wrestling, Styles and Kazarian, the last two members of Fortune, made it to the finals of the Wild Card Tournament.[148][149] During the final match against Magnus and Samoa Joe on the January 5, 2012 episode of Impact Wrestling, Kazarian abandoned Styles and aligned himself with Christopher Daniels, effectively ending Fortune.[150]

Feud with Bad Influence (2012–2013)[edit]

On the February 9 episode of Impact Wrestling, Kazarian, now seemingly a reluctant associate of Daniels, helped him defeat Styles in a singles match.[151] Three days later at Against All Odds, Styles was defeated by Kazarian in a singles match.[152] On the February 23 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles was attacked by Kazarian during his Television Championship match with Robbie E, which allowed Robbie to retain the championship.[153] On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Kazarian defeated Styles in a gauntlet match; had Styles been successful, Kazarian would have to explain his alliance with Daniels.[154] On the March 8 episode of Impact Wrestling, the returning Mr. Anderson aligned himself with Styles to help him in his rivalry with Daniels and Kazarian.[155] On March 18 at Victory Road, Styles and Anderson defeated Daniels and Kazarian in a tag team match, with Styles pinning Kazarian for the win.[156] The rivalry continued on April 15 at Lockdown, where the two duos were on opposing teams in the annual Lethal Lockdown match. Styles' and Anderson's team, led by Garett Bischoff, ended up defeating Daniels' and Kazarian's team, led by Eric Bischoff.[157] On the May 10 episode of Impact Wrestling, Kazarian revealed that he originally aligned himself with Daniels to keep him from revealing Styles' secret, but changed his mind after learning what the secret was. Daniels then revealed the secret, a series of photographs insinuating a relationship between Styles and TNA president Dixie Carter.[158]

Three days later at Sacrifice, Daniels and Kazarian, the new TNA World Tag Team Champions, cost Styles his match against Kurt Angle. However, after the match, Angle turned on Daniels and Kazarian, saving Styles from a beatdown.[159] On the May 24 episode of Impact Wrestling, Hulk Hogan chose A.J. Styles as the next challenger for World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode. Styles would go on to fail in his challenge against Roode, who, in the process, also broke his record for the longest reign as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.[160] The following week, Styles defeated Daniels in the main event of a live episode of Impact Wrestling. After the match, Daniels and Kazarian attacked both Styles and Angle, who attempted to make the save, before rolling an audio of a phone conversation to prove an affair between Styles and Carter. The tape was abruptly cut short by Carter ending the show.[161] On June 10 at Slammiversary, Styles and Angle defeated Daniels and Kazarian to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship.[162] On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles entered the 2012 Bound for Glory Series, taking part in the opening gauntlet match, from which he was eliminated by Daniels.[163] On the June 21 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles and Carter revealed their secret; they were not having an affair, but were instead together helping an addicted pregnant woman named Claire Lynch overcome her problems.[164] The following week, Styles and Angle lost the TNA World Tag Team Championship back to Daniels and Kazarian, after Kazarian, who had originally teased dissension with Daniels following the previous week's reveal, hit Styles with a steel chair. Following the match, Daniels admitted that Styles and Carter had told the truth about Claire, but claimed that they had left out the part about Styles being the father of her unborn baby.[165] On July 8 at Destination X, Styles defeated Daniels in a Last Man Standing match.[166] On the August 16 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles again defeated Daniels in a Bound for Glory Series match and, per the pre-match stipulations, earned the right to get a paternity test on Claire's baby.[167] The following week it was revealed that Claire was not pregnant after all with her attorney revealing Daniels' and Kazarian's plot to blackmail Styles, effectively ending the storyline.[168] According Styles, the storyline was boked poorly. He, Daniels and Kazarian discussed abvout and the original idea was to put a hot woman in Claire's place. However, Lynch wasn't hot and spoiled the storyline.[169]

On the August 30 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles wrestled his final match in the 2012 Bound for Glory Series, losing to Samoa Joe, which caused him to get eliminated from the tournament.[170] On September 9 at No Surrender, Styles and Angle unsuccessfully challenged Daniels and Kazarian for the TNA World Tag Team Championship.[171] Four days later on Impact Wrestling, Styles defeated Kazarian in a grudge match to earn himself and Angle another shot at the World Tag Team Championship.[172] Styles and Angle received their title shot against Daniels and Kazarian on October 14 at Bound for Glory, in a three-way match, which was won by Chavo Guerrero, Jr. and Hernandez.[173] On November 11 at Turning Point, Styles was pinned by James Storm in a three-way number one contenders match for the World Heavyweight Championship, also involving Bobby Roode, preventing him from receiving another title opportunity until Bound for Glory 2013 as per the pre-match stipulation set up by General Manager Hulk Hogan two weeks prior.[174] On December 9 at Final Resolution, Styles was defeated by Christopher Daniels in what was billed as their "final match", after being hit with his own Styles Clash finisher.[175] On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles cut a promo, saying he was tired of doing the right thing and that he was going to do his own thing from there.[176]

The Lone Wolf (2013-2014)[edit]

Beginning in February 2013, TNA began airing videos at Styles' home interviewing his wife, a friend, and even attempting to interview Styles himself before he angrily forced them to leave.[177][178] Styles, now sporting a beard, unkempt hair and all-black attire, returned to TNA on the March 14 episode of Impact Wrestling, where he saved James Storm from a post-match assault from Christopher Daniels and Kazarian before attacking Storm himself.[179] The following week, Styles was to explain his actions in an interview with Mike Tenay, and despite being asked by both Storm and Tenay, Styles remained mute and ultimately left the arena.[180] Styles continued his silence on the next episode of Impact Wrestling, refusing to answer Storm's ultimatum to either talk or fight and leaving Storm to be attacked by the Aces & Eights.[181] Styles wrestled his return match on the April 18 episode of Impact Wrestling, defeating Storm via submission with his new Calf Killer submission hold. Afterwards, Styles attacked Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, who were in his corner before leaving both them and Storm to be attacked by the Aces & Eights.[182] Styles then began feuding with Kurt Angle, after refusing to answer to tell Angle whether he is with TNA or the Aces & Eights, which led to a brawl between the two on the May 9 episode of Impact Wrestling.[183] The following week, Aces & Eights member Mr. Anderson announced that Styles would be patched in as member of their stable.[184] On the May 23 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles seemingly joined the Aces & Eights by accepting their signature kutte, drinking his first beer, and aiding the stable in attacking Angle. As they were celebrating, Styles attacked DOC, Knux, and Garett Bischoff before removing the kutte and fleeing the arena, signalling his status as a "lone wolf".[185] On June 2 at Slammiversary XI, Styles was defeated by Angle in a singles match.[186] On the June 13 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles defeated Angle in a rematch to earn the final spot in the 2013 Bound for Glory Series.[187] The following week, Styles' first BFG series match with Samoa Joe ended in a time limit draw and as a result, both competitors received two points.[188] On the July 4 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles defeated old rival Kazarian via submission to earn an additional ten points in the tournament.[189]

On August 22 at Impact Wrestling: Hardcore Justice, Styles filled in for Kurt Angle (who entered rehab two weeks prior) and teamed with The Main Event Mafia in a five-on-five tag team match against Aces & Eights, securing the victory for his team by pinning Devon, which resulted in Devon being forced to leave TNA.[190] On the August 29 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles clarified that despite helping the Mafia and respecting their intentions, he was not their newest member and reiterated that he was allied with no one.[191] That same night, Styles defeated Bobby Roode via pinfall in a Bound For Glory series match to earn seven points, although he needed ten points via submission victory in order to place in the top four.[191] The following week, Styles won a Last Chance Gauntlet Battle Royal match by last eliminating Christopher Daniels to gain twenty points and secure the top spot in the Bound For Glory series.[192] On September 12 at Impact Wrestling: No Surrender, Styles defeated Austin Aries in the semi-finals and later defeated Magnus in the finals to win the 2013 Bound for Glory Series and become the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at Bound For Glory.[193] After his match with Magnus, Styles sent out a message to TNA President Dixie Carter.[193] The following week, Styles claimed he was no longer under contract with TNA, insulted Carter's work ethic, and vowed to make her pay. Carter responded to his remarks by saying that Styles was not a great wrestler and that she was the one who created his Phenomenal One persona to get marketing for the company.[194] On the September 26 episode of Impact Wrestling, General Manager Hulk Hogan presented Styles with a new contract, but Carter tore up the contract before he could sign.[195] On October 20 at Bound for Glory, Styles defeated Bully Ray in No Disqualifications match, despite interference from Aces & Eights and Carter, to win his second TNA World Heavyweight Championship, his fifth world title in the company overall.[196] Styles made his first televised title defense on the following episode of Impact Wrestling, defeating Ray in a rematch after an interference from Mr. Anderson. After the match, Styles refused Carter's new contract offer and made her pay by taking the title and walking out of TNA.[197] On October 29, TNA vacated the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.

On the December 2 taping of Impact Wrestling which aired on tape delay on January 2, Styles returned to TNA with his championship to confront Magnus, who had won a tournament to crown the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion.[198] On December 5 taping of Impact Wrestling which aired on tape delay on January 9, Styles faced Magnus in a no disqualification title unification match. Magnus won the match to unify both titles after interference from eight other wrestlers on Magnus' behalf and Sting interfering on Styles' behalf, in what would be Styles' final match with TNA.[199][200][201] On December 8, it was reported that contract negotiations between Styles and TNA had broken down and that Styles would be leaving the promotion, becoming a free agent effective December 17 ending his near twelve year run with the company.[202] Styles confirmed his status as a free agent on December 16, announcing his return to the independent circuit.[203]

International promotions (2006–2014)[edit]

On September 17, 2006, at Verano de Escándalo, Styles made his debut for Mexican promotion Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA), as part of a cross promotion deal between TNA and AAA. Team TNA (Styles, Homicide, Low Ki and Samoa Joe) defeated Vipers Revolution (Abismo Negro, Charly Manson, Electroshock and Histeria) in a semi finales tournament match then later defeating The Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Lider and Juventud Guerrera) in the finals. His next appearance was on December 16, 2011, at Guerra de Titanes, as part of the TNA invasion storyline, Styles faced El Mesías in a match to earn a shot at the AAA World Heavyweight Championship, but was unsuccessful.[204]

On November 3, 2013, Styles returned to AAA to successfully defend the TNA World Heavyweight Championship (which had been vacated by TNA just days before) in a rematch against El Mesías.[205]

On November 16, 2013, Styles made his debut for Japanese promotion Wrestle-1, successfully defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Seiya Sanada.[206][207]

On March 1, 2014, Styles made an appearance for English promotion, Preston City Wrestling, losing to Scottish wrestler Lionheart in the main event. Following the match, Styles gave Lionheart the Styles Clash, during which Lionheart improperly tucked his chin, resulting in him landing on top of his head and legitimately breaking his neck. Styles will headline SuperClash 2 for English Promotion Superstars Of Wrestling UK at GL1 Gloucester Leisure Centre on October 4, 2014.[208][209]

Return to Ring of Honor (2013–present)[edit]

After leaving TNA in December 2013, Styles was promptly announced to have agreed to wrestle at a TV taping for his former employer ROH as a free agent.[210] It was later reported that Styles would make future appearances for ROH.[10] On the January 4, 2014 taping of Ring of Honor Wrestling, Styles defeated Roderick Strong in his return match.[211] On February 21, 2014, at the 12th Anniversary Show, Styles defeated Jay Lethal.[212] On March 3, 2014, at the Flyin' High event, Styles defeated Chris Hero by submission .[213]

Return to the independent circuit (2013–present)[edit]

In addition to returning to ROH, Styles also wrestles on the independent circuit. On December 29, 2013, Styles made his first post-TNA appearance at Anarchy Wrestling for a meet-and-greet and in-ring confrontation with Mike Posey.[214] On January 26, 2014, Styles defeated Chris Hero at a SMASH event. On February 8, Styles made an appearance for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), defeating CZW World Heavyweight Champion Drew Gulak via disqualification, which meant that Gulak retained his title.[215] On February 15, 2014, Styles suffered his first loss against Amazing Red at House of Glory's Reveange is Phenomenal.[216] On June 6, 2014, Styles made his debut at Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore. Styles defeated Chris Hero.[217] The following day, he would defeat Kevin Steen.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (2014–present)[edit]

Styles in June 2014.

On March 27, 2014, it was reported that Styles had signed a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling.[218] Styles' debut came on April 6 at Invasion Attack 2014, where he attacked IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada after his match and laid him out with the Styles Clash. Styles then challenged Okada to a title match, before revealing himself as the newest member of Bullet Club.[219][220] Styles wrestled his first match under a New Japan contract on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2014, where he defeated Okada with help from Yujiro Takahashi to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion.[221] Styles is only the sixth non-Japanese champion and the first American in nine years to hold the title.[222][223] On May 17, Styles made his first successful title defense in a three-way match with Okada and Michael Elgin at the NJPW/ROH co-produced War of the Worlds event in New York City.[224] On May 25 at Back to the Yokohama Arena, Styles defeated Okada for his second successful title defense.[225][226]

Other media[edit]

Styles helped develop the first TNA wrestling video game known as TNA Impact! and also helped develop Pro Wrestling X with Wrestling Gamers United.[227]

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).

He was also mentioned in the Insane Clown Posse song "Scatterbrain" off their 2007 EP Eye of the Storm.

In 2010, Styles was ranked #1 on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 and is the first ever TNA wrestler to top the annual chart.[228]

In a subsequent podcast interview with Brady Hicks, a seemingly frustrated Styles said several extremely critical things about TNA as a product, some of the company's recent decisions and personnel moves, including their decision to have him drop the World Heavyweight Championship to Rob Van Dam.[229]

In 2011, Styles was featured in the music video for country singer Sarah Darling's song "Something to Do with Your Hands".[230]

In 2012, Styles and Montell Jordan presented the award for Best Rap/Hip Hop Record of the Year to Lecrae at the 43rd annual GMA Dove Awards.[231]

Personal life[edit]

Styles in July 2011.

Jones is married to Wendy Jones.[232] Jones and Wendy have three sons, Ajay Covell Jones (born May 3, 2005), Avery Jones (born February 14, 2007)[2][233] and Albey Jones (born September 15, 2009).[234] In May 2014, it was announced that Jones and Wendy had welcomed a daughter, Anney Jones.[235] 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.[236] Wendy is employed as a school teacher.[232]

Jones is a devout Christian.[11][237] He states that in his life, "It's God first and family second."[232]

He is an avid video game player who mentioned in an interview with PowerSlam Mag that he does not like the WWE SmackDown vs. Raw games & the only games he likes is 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 also revealed on TNA's official website, the TNA home video release Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles Volume 2, and in an interview with New Zealand Pro Wrestling Journalists that he grew up in a poor family and that they could not afford cable television while he was growing up, which resulted in him being unable to watch professional wrestling.[237]

In 2010, Jones acquired a large tattoo down the right side his torso that reads "AJ 05-03-05 02-14-07 09-15-09", which represents the initials and birth dates of his three children.[238]

In wrestling[edit]

Styles preparing to perform the Styles Clash on Matt Hardy.
Styles performing the Styles Clash.
Styles applying a figure-four leglock on Kurt Angle.
Styles performing a dropkick on Matt Morgan.
Styles performing the Pelé Kick on Mr. Anderson.
Styles participating in an Ultimate X match.

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Styles with Tomko as the TNA World Tag Team Champions.
Styles as the TNA Television Champion.

Notes[edit]

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External links[edit]