If you were to ask a casual wrestling fan two years ago if World Wrestling Entertainment had a chance of signing A.J. Styles, they probably would've laughed in your face. Fast forward to 2016 and A.J. Styles is an employee for the world's largest wrestling promotion, the WWE.
Since his debut back in January at the Royal Rumble, Styles has made a huge impact, feuding with the likes of Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, and recently dethroning the face that runs the place, John Cena.
Some of you may be asking, what's so phenomenal about A.J. Styles ? Well, have you seen his resume? It's pretty impressive. Besides being technically brilliant in the ring, he's captured championships all over the world and is recognized as one of the best to ever lace up their boots. In fact, in 2010, he was ranked number one on PWI’s annual list of top 500 wrestlers.
What really separates him from the rest is the number of promotions he has made a name for himself in.
Now that you have an idea about why he's known as "The Phenomenal One," here's a list of 11 different promotions around the world that A.J. Styles came, saw and conquered on his journey to professional wrestling stardom.
11 WCW (World Championship Wrestling)
Okay, so maybe "conquered" isn't the right word to describe his time in WCW (World Championship Wrestling). Bolstering a record of one win and three losses, Styles was a hapless no one who was thrown in the ring to make other talents look better. Also, Styles wasn't exactly working with guys like Goldberg, Sting, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall during his WCW stint.
He was there in 2001 when the company was grasping for straws while the WWE was busy turning The Rock into a household name. However, before Vince McMahon could give WCW their mercy killing, Styles was in a tag team called Air Raid with his partner Air Paris. The team never really made any significant noise in the company, but they did wear some skin tight flight suits.
As insignificant as it was, Styles' time spent in WCW was his first big action on the national stage and the first step in one of the most decorated careers in pro wrestling history, making it worth mentioning.
10 WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)
A.J. Styles took the entire wrestling world by storm when he made his long-awaited debut at the Royal Rumble back in January. He entered to an eruption of cheers and emotions from the WWE Universe.
A few weeks later, he would get into a program with a Hall of Famer, Chris Jericho, setting up a match between the two at WrestleMania, which Styles would lose. He'd then feud with Roman Reigns over the WWE World Championship, eventually coming up short, but making Reigns look really good in the process.
The Phenomenal One took his career to another chapter after embarking in a feud with the face that runs the place, John Cena. The two would score a win on one another on two separate occasions, but the most important match the two had was at "the biggest party of the summer," SummerSlam. It was a match of the year caliber fight that would see A.J. Styles defeat the 15-time world champion.
A clean win over John Cena is an accolade only a select few people can brag about. Now, we can add A.J. Styles to that exclusive list.
9 AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración)
During A.J. Styles' rise up the TNA ladder, he appeared in numerous Indy promotions. One such promotion being AAA in Mexico. In 2006, he and fellow TNA wrestlers Samoa Joe, Low Ki, and Homicide won an AAA tournament defeating "The Mexican Powers."
Five years later in 2011, Styles returned to AAA to face El Mesias for the right to be declared number one contender to the AAA World Heavyweight Championship, a match that Styles went on to lose. Now obviously a huge singles lose like that wouldn't be considered dominating a promotion, but, three years later, Styles returned as TNA champion and defeated El Mesias, getting his win back.
While his tenure in AAA may not have been the longest, it did help A.J. Styles build a reputation as one of the best workers in the world with an international audience, which is something that became extremely beneficial to his career down the road.
8 PCW (Preston City Wrestling)
In March of 2014, A.J. Styles begin his second tour of the independent scene after leaving TNA, starting with Preston City Wrestling. PCW is a British based wrestling promotion that was founded in 2011, located in Lancashire, England.
In his debut match with the promotion, Styles took on British wrestler Lionheart in singles competition, which ended in a losing effort. Following the match, The Phenomenal One gave Lionheart the "Styles Clash." Again, this wasn't necessarily conquering, but it added to the lore of A.J. Styles.
7 5 Star Wrestling
Fast forward to January 14th, 2016, where The Phenomenal One found himself in Sheffield, England, wrestling in a one-time match for 5 Star Wrestling. The promotional event featured many great superstars on its card, including Jay Lethal, Johnny Mundo (John Morrison) and former WWE United States Champion Carlito.
A.J. Styles would take on Rey Mysterio in a historic, first-time ever, dream match. He would go on to defeat Mysterio with a Styles Clash.
This would cap off yet another batch of promotions A.J. Styles added to his list.
6 RPW (Revolution Pro Wrestling)
Continuing his worldwide journey, Styles found himself at one of the most prestigious promotions in all of England, Revolution Pro Wrestlings. RPW has featured some of the greatest independent wrestlers the world has ever seen, including Kevin Owens, El Generico (Sami Zayn), Shinsuke Nakamura and Prince Devitt (Finn Balor).
On June 14th, 2015, A.J. Styles defeated Marty Scurll for the Revolution Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship. Only five men since the unification of the UK Championship and the All-England Championship back in 2012 can say they have been a member of this elite list. Fortunately enough, Styles is one of them.
The Phenomenal One held the gold for a whopping 216 days until he lost to Zack Sabre Jr. at High Stakes.
5 PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla)
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, or PWG, may have a weird name, but as far as Indy promotions go, it's the real deal. Elite performers such as Frankie Kazarian, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn (El Generico) and Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen) have all competed inside a PWG ring, and where there's elite wrestling, there's A.J. Styles.
On the debut PWG show, A.J. Styles defeated Frankie Kazarian, but would lose to him in a triple threat, that also involved Christopher Daniels, at the PWG show "Are You Adequately Prepared to Rock?" in 2003 for the PWG title.
A couple of years later, Styles captured the PWG championship from Super Dragon at PWG All Star Weekend. In that same year, Styles would defeat NWA World Heavyweight Champion James Gibson as well.
However, in August of 2005, Styles would lose the PWG title to Kevin Steen. After being the face of TNA, Styles returned at "The Battle for Los Angeles" in 2014, where he beat Bryan Myers but lost to Roderick String via DQ. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla may not be the first promotion you think of in Styles' career, but there is not doubt it was paramount to his success.
4 CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling)
When ECW folded back in the early 2000s, a new hardcore wrestling promotion known as Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) filled the niche they left behind. Dubbed as "Ultraviolence," the promotion is widely known for its hardcore style matchups as well as traditionally contested bouts.
Since its opening back in 1999, it's become a well-established independent promotion that has featured incredible talents like current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens and, of course, A.J. Styles.
Styles debuted in CZW back in 2003 at the "Best of The Best" event, fighting side by side with Jason Cross to face Jay Briscoe and Jimmy Rave, where they lost. While wrestling under TNA's cross-promotion partnership with CZW, Styles would defend his NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Rave successfully at Deja Vu II.
After 11 years, A.J. Styles would make his long-awaited return to CZW. In his first match back, The Phenomenal One challenged Drew Gulak for the CZW World Heavyweight Championship, which Styles would win via disqualification.
3 ROH (Ring of Honor)
Ring of Honor is an American based wrestling promotion that came together in 2002, known as the stomping ground and home to many of the greats that we know and love, including CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and The Phenomenal One, A.J. Styles.
Despite being under contract with TNA at the time, he was allowed to wrestle for other promotions, like ROH. However, he would actually make his ROH debut in 2002, before working with TNA. During his run, he captured the ROH Tag Team Championship with Amazing Red and the ROH Pure Championship, when he defeated CM Punk in the finals of an eight man, one-night tournament. However, the title would become vacated after TNA withdrew all contracted wrestlers from ROH events.
His most notable moment in ROH was being handpicked by Brian Danielson (Daniel Bryan) to challenge him for the ROH World Championship. Known as two of the best wrestlers in the world at the time, the match would tear the house down, but, in the end, Styles would fall short of winning the gold.
He then returned to ROH in 2014, wrestling a handful of matches, including one of his last ones before going to the WWE, which included members of the Bullet Club.
2 NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling)
On April 6th, 2014, A.J. Styles made his return to New Japan Pro Wrestling. He previously had wrestled in the promotion in 2008 during a partnership between TNA and NJPW, but would only wrestle on four occasions. In his second coming, he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first match with the company, defeating Kazuchika Okada.
His success wouldn't stop there, as in 2015, he became the leader of one of the most successful factions in New Japan Pro Wrestling history, the Bullet Club. He rode alongside American wrestlers Luke Gallows, Carl Anderson, and Matt and Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks. At one point, the stable held all the titles that NJPW had to offer.
At this point in his career, Style was riding high, as he conquered yet another popular wrestling promotion.
1 TNA (Total Nonstop Action)
This is where A.J. Styles really took his career to a whole another level.
Styles ran the Impact Zone for over a decade, capturing multiple world championships including the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice. He was also the first X Division Champion, holding it on six different occasions.
As noted earlier, in 2010, he was ranked number one on PWI’s annual list of top 500 wrestlers, an accolade no other superstar from TNA has ever accomplished. In 2015, he was given the opportunity to join the TNA Hall of Fame and wrestle at the Slammiversary pay-per-view, but would decline the offer due to his involvement with other promotions at the time.
Overall, A.J. Styles built his legacy during his tenure with this company, defining the odds and accomplishing everything one could dream of in a single promotion. He simply came, saw and conquered.
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