A.J. Styles has been one of the best wrestlers of the last fifteen years. Following the death of WCW and ECW in 2001, the industry changed for the worse with very limited options for wrestlers to make a living. If WWE didn’t want a wrestler, the chances of the talent being able to make a successful life in the business was extremely difficult. Styles was one of the rare stars to succeed against the odds and make it in the sport despite not getting a WWE contract. The moniker of “The Phenomenal One” was true as A.J. was a must see act in TNA and ROH.
TNA’s rise to relevance came with Styles being their biggest homegrown talent. Fans would tune in to see former WWE names like Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy or Raven but they would continue to watch due to seeing someone like Styles progress the business. The fast paced action and overall excitement showcased by A.J. was unlike anything wrestling had seen up to that point. Styles was arguably the most must-see wrestling talent in the world and became the face of TNA. While he did leave on less than pleasant terms, Styles is still the popular choice for the top star in company history.
Following his TNA departure, Styles took his game to another level and his stock improved even more. A.J. become an elite performer for New Japan Wrestling, Ring of Honor and various other independent wrestling promotions. The work of Styles in 2014-2016 rejuvenated his career and reminded the wrestling world just how special he was. There are currently rumors out that WWE is on the verge of signing Styles and has huge plans for him in 2016. Through his career, Styles has delivered many tremendous matches and moments but there are plenty of things that can get lost in the shuffle. These are the fifteen things you probably don’t know about A.J. Styles.
15 Tough Childhood
Many wrestlers come from families in the business or another form of life that provided them many blessings growing up but that wasn’t the case for A.J. Styles. The wrestling star came from humble beginnings with a family that struggled to pay the bills. Styles has stated that he wasn’t a big fan of pro wrestling as a kid because his parents could not afford cable, making it impossible for him to watch the television shows. His father dealt with alcoholism issues and A.J. was forced to grow up at a very young age due to all the problems surrounding him.
14 Wrestled on WCW TV
The dying days of WCW led to a lot of matches and wrestlers that the most diehard of fans can barely remember. A.J. Styles was one of the young prospects the company was hoping to build and get over on the big stage. The tag team of Air Raid saw A.J. and Air Paris work together in the tag division in 2001. Both men delivered aerial displays with high risk maneuvers and showed promise. Unfortunately, this was when WCW officially died after the company was sold to Vince McMahon. Styles managed to appear on a couple episodes of Nitro and Thunder before WCW ended. The most memorable match was against Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo in a tournament match for the WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team titles.
13 Wrestled on WWE TV
While A.J. Styles has never been employed by the WWE, he does have a match in the WWE library. Styles faced “The Hurricane” in 2002 on an episode of WWE Metal. This was akin to a dark match but ended up taped for WWE’s secondary Saturday night show that would air in local markets. Considering how big of a star Styles blossomed into, many fans have sought out this match on the internet and found out he did look at home in a WWE ring. A.J. worked another dark match in that time frame and was offered an extremely cheap deal to work in WWE developmental but turned it down due to not wanting to have his wife relocate.
12 MVP of the X-Division
TNA’s biggest hit in the early stages of the company was the X-Division. The athleticism and aerial displays by the X-Division was something WWE failed to spotlight at the time. Fans would find joy in TNA offering something unique and new but that would have never happened without A.J. Styles. Wrestlers like Jerry Lynn, Low Ki and Chris Sabin contributed to the great matches but there was just something extra that Styles added. It felt like this was his division and you were watching something special blossom. Styles would also lead the boom during TNA’s biggest rise in classic matches with Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and various others. For as many talented wrestlers TNA employed at the time, there’s no chance the division would have worked without A.J. at the front.
11 Avid Gamer
If you’ve ever listened to an A.J. Styles interview, there’s a great chance you have heard him pine about his love for video games but not many know the extent of this. Styles is a huge nerd about the consoles and games he plays. The star is known for being frugal in his lifestyle but he chooses to indulge when it comes to the gaming world. Everyone has a vice or hobby and it's video games for Styles. Fans have reported seeing him with a Nintendo 3DS at merchandise tables at independent wrestling shows. Styles even owns one of those snazzy personal gaming briefcase stations, so he can play Xbox while traveling on the road.
10 Won Tag Titles With Six Different Partners
A.J. Styles has played just about every role in his career. We’ve seen him main event, work in the X-Division or in tag team action. In order for a tag team to succeed, a wrestler must have an unselfish mentality and A.J. always delivered on his part despite having a multitude of partners. Styles won the ROH tag team titles with Amazing Red. His TNA tag title reigns came with five different partners and all delivered different styles. Styles captured TNA tag gold with Jerry Lynn, Abyss, Christopher Daniels, Tomko and Kurt Angle. Quite the list of variety but all were successful teaming with him.
9 Finn Balor’s Replacement
The move from TNA to New Japan was the absolute perfect timing for A.J. Styles. Finn Balor was on his way to WWE and Styles replaced him as the leader of The Bullet Club. For those unaware, The Bullet Club are the top heel faction in Japan and have been one of the hottest acts in the company. The potential signing of Styles comes at a very interesting time in WWE. There are rumors that WWE will try to start their own version of The Bullet Club. This could put Styles and Balor together in a faction. It could also see the company have A.J. replace Finn yet again. Balor is due to get called up to the main roster soon but NXT would need another elite star to carry the brand and that could be Styles.
8 First American Champ for New Japan Since Brock Lesnar
A.J. Styles captured the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, New Japan’s biggest prize. This marked the first time the company put the prestigious title on an American wrestler since Brock Lesnar, almost ten years prior. Styles became just the sixth gaijin (non-Japanese) wrestler to hold the company’s top championship. This showed great faith in his ability by the promotion to obtain the title in his first match as a contracted talent for NJPW. Styles had one of the greatest runs ever by an American wrestler in New Japan with countless classic matches and playing a big role in the company’s desire to become more popular in the States.
7 Controversy with the Gay Community
One of the facts about A.J. Styles lifestyle is his Christian religion beliefs. Many have speculated if Styles has a homophobic side due to using some gay slurs in various interviews and during a TNA PPV in the early-2000s. Styles also had a legendary moment of responding with confusion when a fan called into a show to ask about his fan base in “the gay community.” The language he used in the past was inexcusable, but it was sadly more commonly used in that time. Styles has stated he has no issues with anyone’s sexual preference and even makes jokes about how “the gay community” quote became a popular internet moment.
6 Hated Losing TNA Title to Rob Van Dam
Many forget A.J. Styles was the TNA Champion during the early stages of the Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff regime. Styles turned heel and held the title for a few more months until Rob Van Dam defeated him on an episode of Impact. Following his departure from TNA, Styles filmed a shoot interview with Highspots and revealed he strongly disagreed with the decision to lose to RVD. His feelings were the decision showed fans that the WWE guys were superior to TNA homegrown stars and A.J. also expressed he felt Van Dam didn’t respect him or many of the other TNA stars that never worked for WWE.
5 Strongly Believed in the Six-sided Ring
A huge debate in TNA came from fans and wrestlers petitioning for which ring they preferred to see in the company. The company used the six-sided ring for years but the debut of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff saw the change to a traditional four-sided ring. A.J. Styles stated he felt the decision to get rid of the six-sided ring was a terrible move because it helped set TNA apart from WWE and any other wrestling show on television. Many of the diehard TNA fans at the time felt the ring change was a sign of something bigger happening with Hogan and Bischoff looking to ruin “their” company and Styles agreed with that thought process.
4 Leaving TNA was a Business Decision
The popular belief out there is that A.J. Styles left TNA because he was fed up with how he was being used and the overall instability within the company. That was partly true but the main reason for his exit was money. Styles would have stayed if they offered a pay raise or matched what he was making with them for years. Between John Gaburick coming in to make the big decisions and the Carter family putting less money into the company, TNA requested that Styles take a big pay cut but he chose to hit the free agent market. It was an overall brilliant decision on his part as he’s been making great money, building his brand and may be heading to WWE now.
3 Participated in TNA’s Only “Five-star Match”
Dave Meltzer’s match reviews in The Wrestling Observer have been a controversial topic for years but we’ve learned in recent history that wrestlers do appreciate the positive feedback. Only a select few matches have ever been granted the perfect five-star rating. Most matches were in Japan. WWE, WCW and even ROH all have a few in their history. TNA only delivered one match worthy of the “five stars” by Meltzer. A.J. Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe at Unbreakable 2005 was judged as a perfect match. Whether you agree it’s the greatest match in TNA history or not, everyone would have to say it was a classic and a must-see affair. Styles won the X-Division title in the tremendous match.
2 Entered Pro Wrestling by Luck
The majority of star wrestlers today have been dreaming about this goal since childhood but A.J. Styles was not one of them. Styles originally got into the business due to peer pressure. A few of his friends were trying out professional wrestling school and Styles decided to tag along with them. Given his athletic ability, Styles was more of a natural than his friends and went on to have an extremely successful career. If not for this turn of luck, Styles likely would have never gone after pro wrestling.
1 Best Wrestler to Never Work for WWE
Yes, A.J. Styles did have a couple of dark matches for WWE but he’s never been employed by the company. After Sting made his debut in 2014, Styles moved up on the list as the best talent of the modern era to never work for the company under a contract of some sort. That’s the main reason the rumors of Styles signing with WWE this year have become one of the biggest wrestling stories in recent memory. After becoming one of the top stars in the industry outside of WWE, we’re close to finally seeing him make it to the grandest stage in the business. A.J. Styles is the best talent of this generation that WWE fans have yet to be introduced to and hopefully that changes very soon.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!