Born as Allen Neal Jones on June 2, 1977, AJ Styles became one of the best fighters in history while participating in companies such as PWG, TNA, ROH and NJPW. When he returned to WWE in 2016, the gladiator had already become one of the most famous and beloved fighters among the fans globally.
The Phenomenal has been one of the most decorated fighters in the history of show sport, as it has been more than fifty monarch occasions of different divisions and categories during his career.
In addition to being recognized by specialized media as one of the best of all time. The Wrestling Observer decorated him twice as the best fighter of the year (2015 and 2016), in addition to inducing him to his Hall of Fame in 2017. Pro Wrestling Illustrated also considered him two fighter occasions of the year (2016 and 2018).
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► AJ Styles not-so-phenomenal start
He debuted in 1998, fighting masked as Mr. Olympia in the Georgia company: National Championship Wrestling (NCW), where in less than a year he had already managed to assert himself as NCW Television Champion.
Between 1999 and 2001, he wandered in several companies in Georgia until he got the attention of the largest in the region, the WCW. Which was already in crisis. The young man was renamed Air Styles to form an interesting pair with Air Paris, making his debut on television nationwide in Thunder. They even debuted at Nitro during the tournament that would crown the new WCW Weight Cruiser Couples Champions, losing in the first round.
After the closure of WCW, Styles received the opportunity to fight for the then WWF, but apparently it did not surprise the agents, as it did not receive a formal offer in 2001. In 2002 it had other opportunities in that company, including recording some struggles for the company's satellite programs, such as Metal.
WWF offered him a development contract to polish the Heartland Wrestling Association of Cincinnati (where guys like Charlie Hass, Victoria and the Hardy brothers were polished). In what may have been the most important decision of his life, Styles decided to decline the opportunity, because in those days his wedding was coming.
►The Kingdom of the Quadrilateral of Honor
Ring of Honor had in its third function (Night of Appreciation, April 27, 2002) the appearance of AJ Styles who was defeated by Low Ki, in what would only be the beginning of a chain of meetings for the next four years.
Styles was consolidated in Ring of Honor as one of the best gladiators of the independent scene before names like Brian Danielson, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Frankie Kazarian, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn, Amazing Red and several more. Generating a golden age that would position Ring of Honor as one of the best companies on the planet. However, the scandal in which its owner, Rob Feinstein, fell, caused several of them to move away during a time of the company.
However, in those ups and downs during those four years, AJ Styles could not conquer the maximum title of the company, it only conquered the Pure Wrestling ROH Championship, when said belt was inaugurated, and the ROH Couples World Championship next to Amazing Red. He left ROH in 2006, due to his signature exclusively with TNA.
He returned to ROH in 2014 becoming the number one contender for the title that Jay Lethal held at the time. However, he could not conquer that title.
It was in that company where he made his last appearance before joining WWE. On January 23, 2016, in Duluth, Georgia, Styles was able to reunite for the last time the Bullet Club (The Young Bucks, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows), sealing their friendship with a fraternal hug.
► AJ Styles, Mr. TNA
A few months after debuting in Ring of Honor, in May 2002, Jeff Jarrett invited Styles to participate in his new project: Total Nonstop Action. Styles signed a contract with the company that allowed him to continue hiring outside, which was very beneficial for the gladiator. And since its appearance at the company's first weekly PPV on June 23, 2002, Styles accumulated a total of 171 consecutive PPVs without failing a single event. This streak ended in Hard Justice 09, when a week before the event he lost the opportunity to challenge Kurt Angle for the TNA World Full Weight Championship against Matt Morgan.
After that, Styles only further consolidated his career within TNA, becoming the company's standard until his departure in early 2014.
In TNA, Styles got everything there was and for having. It was the franchise fighter. On 6 occasions he was Champion of Division X TNA; in teams he got six other titles: 4 when they were still endorsed by NWA and 2 already from TNA; he had the TNA Legends Championship twice, in the second he changed the name to the TNA Television Championship; The maximum belts of the company showed them five times: 3 when it was still the NWA Full Weight World Championship, and two more with only the TNA brand. He was the first to obtain the Triple Crown (three of the main belts of the company), and obviously the first to have the Grand Slam (the four belts of the company).
Its rivals in the company can be summed up in one word: Everyone. From legends like Sting, Ric Flair, Booker T, Kevin Nash and Mick Foley to figures at their best as Jeff Hardy, Ken Anderson, Christian Cage, Desmond Wolfe and Kurt Angle. A good part of the ECW Originals: Rhino, Sabu, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Team 3D, Jerry Lynn and Rob Van Dam; and of course to all the great generation of TNA fighters: Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, James Storm, Robert Roode, Eric Young, Frankie Kazarian, Abyss, Magnus and so many more. Also as a member of the company, Styles was able to fight against several rivals in different parts of the world. In Mexico he participated in the Grand Prix 08 in the Arena Mexico, he also took part in several functions with AAA. In Japan he appeared several times in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestle-1. In summary, his rivals were: All.
At the end of 2013, AJ Styles' contract with the Impact Wrestling already ended. It was thought that he could renegotiate and that he would re-sign with the company, however, according to his own words, he was offered 60% less than he earned. And he decided better to leave the company.
► Japanese Style
After his departure from Impact Wrestling, Styles had a lot of activity the following two years: he fought in Europe and in the American independent circuit in companies such as Chikara, PWG, CZW, FWE, HOG, 5SW and some more, but his main activity was in Japan, under the signature of the lion of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
In the company of the Red Lion, Styles fell like a ring to the finger, because The Bullet Club, the foreigners faction founded and directed by Prince Devitt had become acquainted, when he signed with WWE in May 2014. Styles assumed the role of leader of the faction and took it to a higher level than it had. Styles won the IWGP World Full Weight Championship twice, and under his tenure Kenny Omega won the IWGP World Cruiserweight Championship, The Young Bucks won the IWGP World Junior Weight Championship three times, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson the IWGP World Couples Championship was hung three times, and Yujiro Takahashi was crowned NEVER Free Weight Champion.
However, after failing to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 10 against Shinsuke Nakamura, the Bullett Club turned his back on him and assaulted him on January 5, 2016, in what was his last NJPW performance.
► WWE became phenomenal
After much speculation about a possible return to TNA, on January 24, 2016, during the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles entered turn 3 into the pitched battle. He had a more than acceptable participation and lasted almost thirty minutes in the ring eliminating two rivals (Curtis Axel and Tyler Breeze).
Styles became the rival to beat, having rivalries with Chris Jericho, John Cena, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose (who was wrested from the WWE World Championship at Backlash 2016), Randy Orton, Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Jinder Mahal (whom He took away the same Championship and then retained it for 371 days),