Allen Neal Jones (June 2, 1977), better known by his ring name A.J. Styles is an American professional wrestler currently working for WWE, performing on the SmackDown brand, where he is the current WWE United States Champion in his second reign. He is also a one-time WWE Champion. He is best known for his work in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Ring of Honor (ROH), and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).
In TNA, Styles is a four-time World Heavyweight Champion, having held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship once, the very first TNA X Division Champion, while also sharing the record for most reigns (six) with Jay Lethal, a five-time World Tag Team Champion (4 NWA and 1 TNA), and a two-time Television Champion. With having won the TNA X Division, NWA World Tag Team, and NWA World Heavyweight Championships, Styles was the first to complete the TNA Triple Crown Championship. Styles would later complete the Triple Crown three more times, making him the only man to complete it more than once. 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 longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion in the company's history. Also, he is 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 17 championships in TNA. In 2010 he became the first TNA contracted wrestler to rank in at #1 on Pro Wrestling Illustrated annual PWI 500 list.
Styles ended his long association with TNA in 2013 after his contract expired, returning to ROH (where he is a former Pure Wrestling and World Tag Team Champion). In March 2014, Styles signed a non-exclusive deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), and took the promotion's top championship—the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, in his first match with the company. Between TNA, ROH, and NJPW, Styles has held seven world championships and 23 championships, overall. Concurrent with his NJPW and ROH work, Styles also made regular appearances on the independent circuit, where he has held numerous additional championships, as well, for a total amount of 51 championships.
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.
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
NWA Wildside (1999–2001)
Jones was trained by Rick Michaels and debuted in 1998. In the Georgia-based National Championship Wrestling promotion he wrestled as Mr Olympia, a masked wrestler, losing to Michael Brooks in his first match. By August 1999, he had won the Television Championship. 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. 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.
WCW and WWA (2001–2002)
World Championship Wrestling, a global promotion, observed the feud between Styles (renamed Air Styles) and Paris, and both men were offered contracts in early 2001. Styles and Paris were placed in a tag team named "Air Raid", and their gimmick required both men to dress in G-suits. Air Raid made appearances on WCW Thunder, and on the March 5, 2001, episode of WCW Monday Nitro they were entered in a tournament for the newly created WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship. They were eliminated from the tournament in the first round by the eventual winners, Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo.
After WCW was purchased by the World Wrestling Federation in March 2001, Styles was left without a job. He returned to NWA Wildside, where he competed for the Wildside Heavyweight Championship and wrestled several matches for the WWF on WWF Jakked. Styles was offered a developmental deal by the WWF in April 2002. The offered contract was for US$500 per week and required Styles to relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Heartland Wrestling Association developmental territory was located. He declined to sign because moving would interfere with his wife's college plans.
Styles toured Australia with the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) promotion in April 2002. He made his pay-per-view debut at WWA: The Eruption on April 13 in Melbourne, defeating Nova and Jerry Lynn in the same night to become the WWA International Cruiserweight Champion. He later vacated the title.
Return to NWA Wildside (2001–2005)
Following his stint in World Championship Wrestling, Styles returned to Wildside and began pursuing the NWA Georgia Championship, then held by Rick Michaels. He defeated Michaels for the title on December 22, 2001, at Christmas Chaos. While champion, Styles engaged in a rivalry with former manager Jeff G. Bailey's copycat version of Styles, "The Role Model" Jason Cross, who debuted as a total clone of Styles, all the way down to his in-ring attire and finishing move (this angle was later partially reused on a larger scale by Ring of Honor, with Jimmy Rave acting as Styles's doppelgänger). Styles lost the NWA Wildside Heavyweight Championship to David Young in a 3-Way Dance that also included Rick Michaels on March 23, 2002 at Hardcore Hell. Shortly thereafter, Styles signed a contract with NWA:TNA and only returned to Wildside for sporadic special appearances due to an increase in his higher profile bookings. These special appearances reached an apex at Freedom Fight in July 2002, where Styles was the final man entered into the "Holy Wars" steel cage match for the Wildside Championship. The then-TNA X Division Champion, Styles was pinned by long-time rival "All That" Adam Jacobs. He made several more appearances throughout 2002, defeating Sonny Siaki, Jorge Estrada, and Jacey North in various one on one encounters.
In March 2003, Styles defeated former rival Ron Killings at Hardcore Hell. In October 2003, he headlined another Wildside card, facing "The Soul Assassin" Rainman. Styles had been the NWA World Heavyweight Champion at the time of booking, and this was scheduled to be a title match, but Jeff Jarrett defeated Styles for the title just three days prior to the scheduled bout. As a result, Jarrett agreed to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a three-way match. Jarrett, however, withdrew from the event at the last minute, leaving Styles and Rainman to fight one another in a non-title match which was won by Rainman following interference from Jeff G. Bailey. Styles defeated David Young at Christmas Chaos in December 2003. On March 26, 2004 at the two-night Hardcore Hell event he defeated his protégé, "Kool" Seth Delay in an impromptu match, then teamed with Gabriel and Altar Boy Luke (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 returned to Wildside on March 25, 2005, losing to Wildside mainstay David Young in a match that received a standing ovation from fans in attendance. After this match, Styles presented an award to Wildside Promoter Bill Behrens, along with David Young and Rick Michaels. This was his final Wildside appearance.
Ring of Honor
Styles debuted in Ring of Honor (ROH) at their third show, A Night of Appreciation, in 2002. He quickly became a main event wrestler, competing against Low Ki for ROH Championship at Honor Invades Boston. 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. 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. 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. 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. Styles then had to vacate the title due to Red being sidelined with a knee injury.
After his reign as one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions, Styles took on fellow Georgia wrestler Jimmy Rave as his protégé. While coaching Rave, who was competing in the "Field of Honor" tournament, Styles attempted to become the ROH World Champion. He defeated Bryan Danielson at Main Event Spectacles to become the number one contender for the title. At War of the Wire, Styles challenged Samoa Joe for the title, but was once again unable to win it. 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. 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, 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. The match turned out to be Styles final match in ROH for 2004, as TNA withdrew all their contracted wrestlers from ROH. Styles left the company and vacated the Pure Wrestling Championship.
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, claiming Styles stole it from him. Eventually, Styles had enough and returned to Ring of Honor for one night only, at the Third Anniversary Celebration: Part Two, to wrestle Rave. Styles was unsuccessful in defeating Rave, who won after he sprayed air freshener in Styles’ eyes. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Following his feud with The Embassy, Styles set his sights on winning a Ring of Honor title. At A Night of Tribute, Styles faced Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal in a Triple Threat match, with the winner receiving a shot at the ROH World Championship later that night. Daniels won the match, but was unable to defeat Bryan Danielson for the title. On the first show of 2006, Styles wrestled and defeated Matt Sydal. Following the match, the two agreed to form a tag team and challenge for the ROH Tag Team Championship, which were held by Sydal’s Generation Next teammates Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. Before receiving a shot at the tag team title, Styles received a shot at the ROH World Championship when he was handpicked by Danielson. Despite having won both of his previous encounters against Danielson in ROH, Styles was unable to defeat him for the title. At the Fourth Anniversary Show, Styles and Sydal received their shot at the ROH Tag Team Championships, but were unable to defeat the champions. Following the match, Aries and Strong were attacked by the Briscoe Brothers, who had made their return to ROH for the first time since 2004. Styles and Sydal came to their aid and chased away the Briscoes.
Styles then appeared less and less in Ring of Honor. After an absence, Styles returned at Death Before Dishonor IV, defeating ROH up-and-comer Davey Richards. Styles returned to Ring of Honor at Time to Man Up, losing to Samoa Joe. 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. Since then, Styles has not returned to Ring of Honor.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
In May 2002, Styles was signed to a non-exclusive contract by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) and dubbed "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles (originally coined by NWA Wildside commentator Dan "The Dragon" Wilson). He appeared on the first weekly TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Jerry Lynn and Low-Ki and losing to The Flying Elvises (Jorge Estrada, Sonny Siaki and Jimmy Yang). The following week, on June 26, Styles defeated Lynn, Low-Ki and Psicosis in a double elimination match to become the first ever TNA X Division Champion. 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. 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. The following week, he and Lynn fought Ron Killings and Jeff Jarrett to a no-contest, and the Tag Team titles were held-up as a result. The following week, he and Lynn fought one another in a Falls Count Anywhere match (which was won by Lynn), a No Disqualification match (which was won by Styles) and a ten-minute Iron Man match, which ended in a draw after both men scored three pinfalls. On August 28, Low-Ki defended the X Division Championship against Lynn and Styles in a ladder match and lost his title to Lynn. Recruiting Mortimer Plumtree and Sonny Siaki as allies, Styles continued to feud with Lynn in successive weeks. On October 23, he defeated Syxx-Pac for the X Division Championship, thus becoming a two-time champion. He lost the title to Lynn a second time on November 6 and tried unsuccessfully to regain it throughout the remainder of the year.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion (2003–2004)
In 2003, Styles began focusing on the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. After defeating David Flair on January 15 to become the number one contender, Styles recruited the help of Larry Zbyszko and associated himself with Vince Russo's Sports Entertainment Xtreme faction. Styles faced NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett on February 19 but was defeated. In the course of the match, Styles became a fan favorite, attacking S.E.X. as they tried to interfere on his behalf because he did not want to win in that manner.
Styles formed a new tag team with D'Lo Brown in April 2003. During their time together, Styles learned the frog splash (Art Barr version) from Brown, and Brown likewise picked up Styles' suicide plancha. The tag team amicably disbanded on May 28 so that both men could pursue the NWA World Heavyweight Championship once again. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. Abyss and Styles continued to feud, and on March 17 Abyss defeated Styles to become the number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
On April 21, Chris Harris, who was scheduled to face Jarrett in a title match that night, was attacked by Raven. As a result, Vince Russo, by now the TNA Director of Authority, selected Styles to face Jarrett in his place in a steel cage match. When Jarrett tried to hit Styles with his guitar, Russo tried to stop him through the cage, allowing Styles to get up and shatter the guitar mid-swing with a Pelé kick. Styles pinned Jarrett to become a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. He successfully defended the title in matches with Ron Killings, Raven and Chris Harris, and on May 19 he defended against all three men in a four-way title match. Styles lost his title to Killings after Jarrett interfered in the match, hitting him with a guitar.
X Division (2004–2005)
Styles returned to the X Division shortly thereafter, winning a four-way match to become the number one contender to the X Division Championship on the June 4 episode of TNA Impact!. On June 9, he defeated Frankie Kazarian to become a three-time X Division Champion. In the following weeks, Styles feuded with Kid Kash and Dallas, 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. On July 28, he defended the title against Kazarian and Michael Shane in an Ultimate X match. After Kash struck Styles with a crutch, Shane and Kazarian simultaneously retrieved the belt and became co-X Division Champions. 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. 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. 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. Following the bout, the trio proclaimed themselves to be the "Kings of Wrestling" and issued an open challenge to the rest of the TNA roster. Several wrestlers charged the ring in response to the challenge, including the 3Live Kru (Ron Killings, Konnan, and B.G. James), Randy Savage, and Styles.
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. On the January 21 episode of Impact!, Christopher Daniels accused Styles of "ducking him" (Styles and Daniels had never fought one another in a singles match in TNA). After Daniels challenged Styles to a match at the next monthly TNA pay-per-view, TNA Director of Authority Dusty Rhodes announced that Styles and Daniels would fight that day, with Daniels receiving a title shot if Styles could not defeat him within ten minutes. Daniels lasted ten minutes and subsequently faced Styles in a thirty-minute Iron Man match for the X Division Championship at Against All Odds in which ended in a draw with both men having scored a single pinfall. Rhodes restarted the match with "sudden death" rules, and Styles defeated Daniels to retain his title. The feud between Styles and Daniels continued, and at Destination X on March 13, Styles lost his title in an Ultimate X Challenge against Daniels, Ron Killings and Elix Skipper. Skipper eliminated Killings and Daniels eliminated Skipper, thus reducing the match to a singles contest. 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. 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.
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. Styles went on to defeat the defending champion, Jeff Jarrett, at Hard Justice on May 15. After Jarrett pushed the special guest referee, cage fighter, Tito Ortiz, Ortiz knocked him down with a punch, enabling Styles to hit his Spiral Tap maneuver and pin Jarrett for his third NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Styles lost the title at Slammiversary to Raven in a King of the Mountain match. 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. 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. In addition to being rated a 5 Star Match by Dave Meltzer, this match also finished as the first runner up for Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year honors.
Teaming with Christopher Daniels (2005–2006)
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. 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. Styles then started a feud with Joe, claiming that he had broken the unwritten "code of the X Division". 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. 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. 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. 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.
On an episode of Impact!, Styles and Daniels introduced contracts for all tag teams on the TNA roster, which sparked a rivalry with The Latin American X-Change (Homicide and Hernandez) (LAX), who signed the contracts for a match at Hard Justice which Styles and Daniels won. 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. 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. 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.
On the November 2 episode of Impact!, he pinned Chris Sabin to begin his sixth reign as the new X Division Champion. 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. On the November 16 episode of Impact!, the show's debut in primetime, Styles lost the TNA X Division Championship to Daniels in a 3-way match when Daniels scored the rollup pinfall on Sabin while Styles was outside of the ring dealing with Cage. At Genesis, Styles lost to Cage. 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. After the match, Styles and Daniels shared harsh words, which led to Rhino coming to the ring to settle things. Styles refused to shake Daniels' hand and walked away. Styles and Daniels teamed up for the last time on the Thanksgiving Day episode of Impact!, defeating The Naturals. 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. He yelled at Rhino again during an interview on Impact! to once again becoming a heel. At Turning Point Styles beat Rhino after faking a knee injury and rolling him up for the pin.
Christian's Coalition (2006–2008)
On the December 22 episode of Impact!, Styles teamed up with Samoa Joe for the first time to go against Rhino and Kurt Angle. 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. At Final Resolution, Styles faced Rhino in a Last Man Standing match. 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. 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. At Destination X, Styles participated in the first ever Elevation X match against Rhino. The match consisted of a 20 feet tall steel structure of an X that they used to fight each other. Styles took the fall off the Elevation X structure. On the following episode of Impact!, he tried to assault Rhino, but was unsuccessful.
It was later revealed that he was the first member of Christian Cage's team at Lockdown. At Lockdown, Team Cage was unsuccessful against Team Angle. On the May 31 episode of Impact! he defeated Tomko in a King of the Mountain qualifying match. Styles teamed up with Tomko to face Sting and Abyss at Victory Road but were defeated. 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). At Bound for Glory, Styles and Tomko defeated Team Pacman for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Styles and Tomko defeated LAX on the November 1 episode of Impact! to retain the TNA Tag Team titles. 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. 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.
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. 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. At Final Resolution, he turned on Christian Cage by siding with Angle. The next week on Impact!, Styles was crowned the "Prince of Phenomenal" by Angle, which has since been incorporated into his ring introductions.
TNA Frontline (2008–2009)
On the February 14 episode of Impact! Styles, in storyline, was married to Karen Angle. 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). 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. 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. Styles turned into a face again on the May 29 episode of Impact! after being assaulted backstage before his entrance. 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. At Slammiversary, Styles defeated Kurt but was beat-down by Kurt and his former tag team partner Tomko after the match. 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. 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.
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. 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. Following this, Styles and Joe were both attacked by the Main Event Mafia. On the October 30 episode of Impact!, Styles and Joe formed a faction of younger wrestlers also featuring Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Petey Williams, Eric Young, ODB and The Motor City Machineguns, which later would be collectively known as TNA Frontline. Later that night they were once again assaulted by the Main Event Mafia when Scott Steiner returned and joined them.
He challenged Sting at Turning Point for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but lost thanks to a distraction from Kurt Angle and Booker T. 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.
Since then, The TNA Frontline recruited Rhino and Team 3-D into their ranks. The Frontline also had to deal with problems with The Motor City Machineguns, who showed little respect to the other members, and gang style attacks on members, such as Petey Williams, Brother Ray, and Samoa Joe, from the Mafia. On the January 22, 2009 episode of Impact! Kurt Angle vowed to end Styles' career and later that night beat Styles in a tables match, where Styles was (kayfabe) injured.
At Against All Odds, Styles returned and attacked Booker T after his defense of the TNA Legends Championship. After doing so, he stole Booker T's Legends belt, then went on a rampage of weekly consecutive backstage sneak attacks on Booker T, which ended once Booker (with Scott Steiner) goaded him into trying the same in the ring in order to get him (kayfabe) arrested. At Destination X 2009, Styles defeated Booker T to become the new TNA Legends Champion and the first TNA Grand Slam Champion. 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. 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. At the Victory Road pay-per-view, Styles lost the Legends Championship to Nash via pinfall. 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.
TNA World Heavyweight Champion (2009–2010)
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. One month later at Bound for Glory, Styles retained his title against Sting, ending his undefeated streak at Bound for Glory in the process. in a match that was later voted the match of the year by the fans of TNA. 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. On the December 10 episode of Impact!, Styles successfully defended the world title against Desmond Wolfe. Later that month at Final Resolution, Styles defeated Daniels to retain the World Heavyweight Title. 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. 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. 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. 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. At Against All Odds Styles retained his title against Samoa Joe, with help from Flair, in a match refereed by Eric Bischoff. 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. Afterwards, the returning Jeff Hardy saved Abyss and Hogan from a beatdown at the hands of Styles, Flair and Desmond Wolfe. The following week Styles was defeated by Hardy in a non-title match. At Destination X Styles defended his title against Abyss in a match that went to No Contest, after Abyss chokeslammed Styles through the ring. 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. The following day on Impact! Styles dropped the World Heavyweight Championship to Rob Van Dam, ending his reign at 211 days.
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. Styles invoked his rematch clause at Sacrifice, but was once again defeated by Van Dam. 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. 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. 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 Fortune, 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. Flair, wanting peace between Styles and Kazarian, booked them in a tag team match against Samoa Joe and Rob Terry at Victory Road. 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 Fortune. 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. The following week Styles renamed the title the TNA Television Championship. That same night Fortune's lineup was seemingly completed with the addition of Robert Roode and James Storm as the final two members of the group. However, on the August 12 episode of Impact! Douglas Williams and Matt Morgan were added to Fortune, as the stable attacked EV 2.0, a stable consisting of former Extreme Championship Wrestling performers. The following month at No Surrender, Styles defeated EV 2.0 leader Tommy Dreamer in a non-title "I Quit" match. 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. 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. On the following episode of Impact! Fortune formed an alliance with Hulk Hogan's and Eric Bischoff's new stable, Immortal. 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. 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!. 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. 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. Styles, who was replaced in the title match by Abyss, ended up interfering in the match and costing Williams the title. 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. 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. 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. 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. At Victory Road Styles defeated Hardy in a singles match, despite interference from Flair.
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. 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. 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. 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. At Sacrifice, Ray cost Styles his No Disqualification match against Dreamer by hitting him with a chain. 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. On June 12 at Slammiversary IX, Styles was defeated by Ray in a feud ending Last Man Standing match, after which Ray put over Styles' resilience. 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. 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. 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. 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. On [[[[[[[[[[October 16]]]]]]]]]] at Bound for Glory, Styles defeated Daniels in the "I Quit" match, but was after the match attacked by him. 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. On November 13 at Turning Point, Styles failed in his attempt to regain the World Heavyweight Championship from Roode. The following month at Final Resolution, Styles and Roode wrestled to a 3–3 draw in a 30-minute Iron Man match. Styles and Roode wrestled a sudden death overtime period on the following episode of Impact Wrestling, where Roode managed to retain his title.
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. 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.
Singles competition (2012)
On the February 9 episode of Impact Wrestling, Kazarian, now seemingly a reluctant associate of Daniels, helped him defeat Styles in a singles match. Three days later at Against All Odds, Styles was defeated by Kazarian in a singles match. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. On the May 10 episode of Impact Wrestling, the returning Mr. Anderson aligned himself with Daniels to keep him from revealing Styles' secret, but changed his mind after learing what the secret was. Daniels then revealed the secret, a series of photographs insinuating a relationship between Styles and TNA President Dixie Carter. Three days later, 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. On the May 24 episode of Impact Wrestling, Hulk Hogan chose A.J. Styles as the next challenger for World Heavyweight Champions Bobby Roode. Styles would go on to fail in his challenge against Bobby Roode, who, in the process, also broke the record for the longest reign as TNA World Heavyweight Champion. The following week, Styles defeated Daniels in the main event. after the match, Daniels and Kazarian attacked both Styles and Angle, who attempted to make the save, before rolling an audio of an phone conversation to prove an affair between styles and Carter. The tape was abruptly cut short by Carter ending the show. On June 10 at Slammiversary, Styles and Angle defeated Daniels and Kazarian to win the TNA Tag Team Championship. On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles entered himself in the 2012 Bound for Glory Series, taking part in the opening gaulet match, from which he was eliminated to Daniels. On the June 21 episode of Impact Wrestling, Carter and styles revealed their secret; they were not having an affair, but were instead together helping an addicted pregnant woman named Claire Lynch overcome her problems. The following week, styles and Angle lost the TNA Tag team Championships to Daniels and Kazarian, after Kazarian, who had originally teased dissension with Daniels following the previous weeks 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 left out the part about Styles being the father of her unborn child. On July 8 at Destination X, Styles defeated Daniels in a Last Man Standing match. 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. The following week it was revealed that Claire was never pregnant with her attorney revealing, Daniels' and Kazarian's plan to blackmail Styles, effectively ending the storyline. 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 be eliminated from the tournament. On September 9 at No Surrender, Styles and Angle unsuccessfully challenged Daniels and Kazarian for the TNA Tag Team Championship. 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. Styles and Angle received another 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. 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 shot until Bound for Glory 2013 as per the pre-match stipulation set by General Manager Hulk Hogan two weeks prior. On December 9 at Final Resolution, Styles was defeated by Christopher Daniels in what was billed as their "final match", after being hit by his own Styles Clash finisher. On the following week of Impoact 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.
The Lone Wolf and departure (2013–2014)
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The following week, Aces & Eights member Mr. Anderson announced that Styles would be patched in as member of their stable. 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". On June 2 at Slammiversary XI, Styles was defeated by Angle in a singles match. 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. 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. On the July 4 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles defeated old rival Kazarian via submission to earn an additional ten points in the tournament.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. After his match with Magnus, Styles sent out a message to TNA President Dixie Carter. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. According to Styles, TNA offered him $200,000 per year. Styles confirmed his status as a free agent on December 16, announcing his return to the independent circuit.
International promotions (2006–2014)
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.
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.
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.
Return to the independent circuit (2013–2016)
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. 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. On February 15, 2014, Styles suffered his first loss against Amazing Red at House of Glory's Reveange is Phenomenal. On June 6, 2014, Styles made his debut at Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore, defeating Chris Hero. The following day, he would defeat Kevin Steen. AJ would face PJ Black in a "Dream Match" at House of Glory High Intensity 4 on May 29, 2015, and he was managed by Jonny Ferrari during the match as well.
Return to Ring of Honor (2013–2016)
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. It was later reported that Styles would make future appearances for ROH. On the January 4, 2014 taping of Ring of Honor Wrestling, Styles defeated Roderick Strong in his return match. On February 21, 2014, at the 12th Anniversary Show, Styles defeated Jay Lethal. On March 3, 2014, at the Flyin' High event, Styles defeated Chris Hero by submission . At All Star Extravaganza VII, AJ won a four-way match involving himself, Adam Cole, Michael Elgin, and Roderick Strong to become the number one contender for the ROH World Championship. Then on an episode of ROH TV in October, it was revealed that Styles would receive his title shot against champion Jay Lethal at Final Battle on December 18, in which he lost to Lethal.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2014–2016)
On March 27, 2014, it was reported that Styles had signed a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling. 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, establishing himself as a heel in the process. 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. Styles is only the sixth Gaijin (non-Japanese) champion in nine years to hold the title. 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. On May 25 at Back to the Yokohama Arena, Styles defeated Okada for his second successful title defense. Styles suffered his first loss in NJPW on July 21, when he was defeated by Okada in his first match in the 2014 G1 Climax tournament. Out of his nine remaining matches in the tournament, Styles lost only one, but failed to advance to the finals due to his loss against Okada in the head-to-head match. On October 13 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Styles lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi in his third defense, after the returning Yoshitatsu stopped Bullet Club's newest member, Jeff Jarrett, from interfering in the match.
This led to a match on November 8 at Power Struggle, where Styles defeated Yoshitatsu with help from Jarrett. After the match, Styles was confronted by Tetsuya Naito. During the match, Yoshitatsu legitimately broke his neck on a Styles Clash, leading to NJPW pushing Styles as a "killer" and the Styles Clash as a controversial maneuver. Later in the month, Styles entered the 2014 World Tag League, alongside Yujiro Takahashi. Despite a win over the reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions, Bullet Club stablemates Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, Styles and Takahashi failed to advance from their block with a record of four wins and three losses due to losing to Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi on the final day. Styles and Naito faced off on January 4, 2015, at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, in a match, where Styles was victorious. The following day, Styles inserted himself back into the IWGP Heavyweight Championship picture, when he pinned Tanahashi in an eight-man tag team match, setting up a title match between the two at The New Beginning in Osaka. On February 11, Styles defeated Tanahashi to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the second time. He made his first title defense on April 5 at Invasion Attack 2015, where he defeated 2015 New Japan Cup winner Kota Ibushi. His five-month reign ended in his second defense on July 5 at Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall, where he was defeated by Kazuchika Okada.
From July 20 to August 14, Styles took part in the 2015 G1 Climax. He entered the final day with a chance to advance from his block, but a loss against Hiroshi Tanahashi cost him a spot in the finals, giving him a record of six wins and three losses. On October 12 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Styles received a rematch for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but was again defeated by Okada. In November, Styles entered the IWGP Intercontinental Championship picture by challenging Shinsuke Nakamura to a title match. Later that month, Styles was forced to pull out of the 2015 World Tag League, where he teamed with Yujiro Takahashi, after suffering a back injury. Styles returned to NJPW ring on January 4, 2016, at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome, where he unsuccessfully challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Hours later, it was reported that Styles had given his notice to NJPW on the morning of January 4, announcing that he was leaving the promotion and signing with WWE. The following day, Styles made his final appearance for NJPW, where the rest of Bullet Club turned on him with Kenny Omega becoming the stable's new leader. Thus turning face in the progress.
After weeks of speculation and WWE themselves covering the rumors of Styles leaving NJPW for WWE, on January 20, 2016, it was confirmed that he had signed with WWE. Prior to signing, Styles also had extensive discussions with TNA and according to TNA had agreed to return to the promotion with Bullet Club stablemates Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, before being offered a "blow-away deal" by WWE.
Styles officially made his WWE debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble match, entering at number three under the slightly altered ring name AJ Styles, but was eliminated by Kevin Owens after lasting twenty eight minutes in the match.
Immediately after his return at the Royal Rumble, Styles entered a storyline with Chris Jericho, with the two exchanging victories on both Raw and SmackDown, which ultimately led to a final encounter between the two at Fastlane, on February 20, where Styles emerged victorious. After Fastlane, Jericho and Styles formed a team, dubbed "Y2AJ", and went on to defeat The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) in a non-title match. This led to a match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, on the March 7 episode of Raw, which Styles and Jericho failed to win. After the match, Jericho turned on Styles and attacked him, officially ending their team. Starting on March 17, Jericho would begin intervening in Styles' matches, distracting him each time and ultimately causing Styles to lose. This would first occur on the March 17 episode of SmackDown when Styles faced Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens in a non-title match,and again on the March 21 episode of Raw, again against Owens. Styles started to do the same in Jericho's matches to challenge Jericho to a match at WrestleMania 32, but Jericho kept refusing, until the March 28 episode of Raw. On April 3 at WrestleMania, Styles was defeated by Jericho.
On the Raw after Wrestlemania, Styles won a Fatal 4 Way Match to determine the #1 Contender for Roman Reigns's WWE Championship at Payback. When fellow Bullet Club members Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson debuted, Styles immediately allied with them. However, Reigns believed that AJ will use Gallows and Anderson against him at WWE Payback, which Styles continually denied. At WWE Payback, Reigns would beat Styles to retain his title. Styles would challenge Reigns to an Extreme Rules Match for the title at Extreme Rules, but Styles failed again.
Following his loss at Extreme Rules, Styles turned his attention away from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and on the May 23 episode of Raw he would disband from The Club. However, on the May 30 episode of Raw, Styles welcomed back a returning John Cena, only to attack Cena with help from Anderson and Gallows, thus turning heel in the process. This set up a match between Styles and Cena at Money in the Bank, which Styles won with help from The Club, picking up his first pay-per-view victory since Fastlane. He then issued a challenge to Cena for a fight at Summerslam, one on one, no count-outs, no Club, which Cena accepted but would then be pinned by Styles. On the following episode of SmackDown Live, Styles demanded a match against Ambrose at Backlash for the WWE World Champion, which the SmackDown Live GM Daniel Bryan had to come out to settle tensions between Styles and Dolph Ziggler, due to Styles provoking Ziggler earlier that night. Bryan made Styles the No.1 Contender for the WWE World Champion at Backlash. However, a match was arranged between Styles and Ziggler that very night, and if Ziggler won, he would be added to the World title match at Backlash, making it a triple threat match. The match ended with Styles pinning Ziggler, having the title match remaining a one on one match. At Backlash, Styles would pin Ambrose after a low-blow following up with a Styles Clash, capturing his first title in his WWE career: the WWE World Championship. Styles then faced both Ambrose and John Cena in a triple threat match for the title at No Mercy where he won by cheating, hitting Cena with a chair.
Dean Ambrose would then inflict his rematch clause against Styles for the next and last SmackDown Pay Per View of the year, Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, but would lose due to interference from a former foe of Styles who tried capturing his WWE World Championship from him on multiple SmackDowns with help from Ambrose himself, James Ellsworth.
On January 29, 2017 at Royal Rumble, John Cena would defeat AJ Styles via Attitude Adjustment, capturing his 16th World championship, then tying Ric Flair's after Cena had been rewarded the opportunity of a one on one rematch by Shane McMahon a month prior to the match.
At Elimination Chamber the next month, Styles would try to regain his title in the matchup, only to be pinned and eliminated by Bray Wyatt via Sister Abigail. Wyatt would go on to win the match and the WWE Championship, which since December of 2016, was called by that name again.
AJ furious due to him not getting a rematch for the title which he felt was fair went into a feud with Shane McMahon which resulted with AJ winning at WrestleMania 33, his first Mania win.
On April 11's edition of SmackDown Live, Styles would defeat Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn for the number one contendership for Kevin Owens' United States Championship at Backlash. Styles would lose the match as well as lose the Money In The Bank ladder match for the WWE Championship on June 19. However AJ would defeat Owens at Madison Square Garden on July 7 for his championship, winning his first United States Championship in his career. The reign only lasted for 16 days however as Owens would beat Styles at Battleground on July 23, winning his WWE United States Championship once again.
Styles helped develop the first TNA wrestling video game known as TNA Impact! and was helping develop Pro Wrestling X with Wrestling Gamers United.
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 mentioned in the Insane Clown Posse song "Scatterbrain" off their 2007 EP, Eye of the Storm.
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 title to Rob Van Dam.
In 2011 Styles was featured in country singer Sarah Darling's latest music video called "Something to Do with Your Hands".
Jones is married to a schoolteacher named Wendy (since 1995). They have three sons: Ajay Covell Jones (born May 3, 2005), Avery Jones (born February 14, 2007), and Albey Jones (born September 15, 2009), as well as a daughter, Anney Jones (born October 8, 2014).The first child's middle name was taken from the last name of Jones' best friend and fellow wrestler Christopher Daniels, whose real name is Daniel Covell. In 2010, Jones acquired a large tattoo down the right side his torso which reads "AJ 05-03-05 02-14-07 09-15-09", representing the initials and birth dates of his first three children. In 2016 Jones added his daughter's birth date "10-08-14" to his tattoo. The family lives in Gainesville, Georgia. Jones 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.
Jones is a devout Christian. He states that in his life, "It's God first and Family second."
He is an avid video game player who recently mentioned (to PowerSlam Mag) that he does not like the WWE SmackDown games but only the old Nintendo 64 AKI wrestling games. He has also stated that his favorite wrestling game is the Japanese Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 for the Nintendo 64. Jones also admitted on tnawrestling.com that he grew up in a poor family, something spoken of on the TNA home video release, Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles Volume 2, where Styles took a camera crew around his childhood home.
- Finishing moves
- Styles Clash (Belly-to-back inverted mat slam, sometimes from the second rope) – 2002–present
- Calf Crusher (WWE) / Calf Killer (NJPW/TNA/W-1) / Calf slicer (Independent circuit/ROH) – 2013–present
- Phenomenal Forearm (WWE) / Springboard forearm smash (TNA/ROH/NJPW/AAA/W-1)
- Spiral Tap (Corkscrew senton bomb) – 2002–present; used rarely
- Superman (Springboard 450° splash)
- Figure-four leglock – 2010–2011; adopted from Ric Flair
- Flying armbar – 2008–2009
- Frog splash – 2003–2006
- Signature moves
- Bloody Sunday (Lifting single underhook DDT) – 2014–present; adopted from Prince Devitt
- Brainbuster, sometimes onto the ring apron
- Discus clothesline
- Diving knee drop
- Ushigoroshi (Fireman's carry neckbreaker) - name adopted from Hirooki Goto
- Fireman's carry facebuster
- Frankensteiner, sometimes inverted or preceded by a kip-up
- Hollow Point (Kneeling ganso bomb) – 2014–present
- Multiple DDT variations
- Cliffhanger (Crucifix hold dropped into a)
- Phenomenon / Stylin' DDT (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent transitioned into an inverted)
- Multiple kick variations
- Drop, sometimes from the top rope
- Pelé Kick (Backflip)
- Multiple suplex variations
- Snap, sometimes into the turnbuckles
- Starmaker (High-angle belly-to-back)
- Styles Suplex Special (German followed by a belly-to-back wheelbarrow facebuster)
- Vertical lifted and dropped into a neckbreaker slam
- Muta Lock
- Over-the-shoulder back-to-belly piledriver
- Rack Bomb (Backbreaker rack dropped into a powerbomb)
- Running swinging neckbreaker
- Shooting Styles Press (Springboard shooting star plancha) – 2001–2005; used rarely thereafter
- Spine Breaker (Backbreaker followed by a gutbuster)
- Springboard forearm smash
- Stylin' Crab (Modified Boston crab) – 2001–2002
- "The Phenomenal One"
- "The Prince of Phenomenal"
- "Mr. TNA"
- "The Most Decorated Man in TNA
- "The Prince of Phenomenal
- "T.N.A.J. Styles"
- AJ "Stylin' and Profilin" Styles (Bestowed by Flair)
- Tag teams and stables
- Entrance themes
- "I Am" by Dale Oliver (TNA)
- "I Am" by GRITZ (TNA)
- "I Am" by Dale Oliver (Phenomanal Remix) (TNA)
- "I Am" by Dale Oliver (Heel Remix) (TNA/NJPW)
- "Touched" By VAST (ROH)
- "Re-Arranged" by Limp Bizkit (NKPW)
- "Demi-Gods" by LabRats feat. Slim J (ROH/Independent Circuit)
- "Shot'Em" by Q Brick (NJPW)
- "Styles Clash" by Yonosuke Kitamura (NJPW)
- "Phenomenal" by CFO$ (January 24, 2016 – Present)
Championships and accomplishments
- Natural Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- FWE Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- IWR King Of The Indies Champion (1 time)
- IWC Super Indy Champion (2 time)
- IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- PWG Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Jerry Lynn (1), Abyss (1) and Christopher Daniels (2)
- TNA World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- TNA Legends/Global/Television Championship (2 times)
- TNA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Tomko (1) and Kurt Angle (1)
- TNA X Division Championship (6 times)
- Bound For Glory Series 2013
- First TNA Triple Crown Champion (5 times)
- First TNA Grand Slam Champion (2 times)
- Feud of the Year (2005) vs. Christopher Daniels
- Finisher of the Year (2003) Styles Clash
- Match of the Year (2006) with Christopher Daniels vs. Homicide and Hernandez at No Surrender, September 24, 2006
- Match of the Year (2009) vs. Sting at Bound for Glory, October 18, 2009
- Mr. TNA (2003–2005)<
- Tag Team of the Year (2006) with Christopher Daniels
- X Division Star of the Year (2004)
- Revolution Pro Wrestling
- RevPro British Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Entertainment