Allen Neal Jones (born June 2, 1977), better known by the ring name A.J. Styles (also formatted as AJ Styles), is an American professional wrestler.
Styles has long been regarded as one of the world's greatest professional wrestlers, is widely known for his 11-year tenure in USA. In 2014, he signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his first match with the company, later becoming co-leader of Bullet Club. Between USA and NJPW, Styles has held eight world championships and 24 total championships. He has also had various championships reigns while competing on the independent circuit including the RPW British Heavyweight Championship, among many others.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Jones was born in Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He grew up in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father. He attended Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia, graduating in the class of 1996. He left college (in Anderson, South Carolina, where he was on a partial wrestling scholarship) to try professional wrestling, entering a professional wrestling school because his friends were doing it and to find out whether he had a natural aptitude for it. To supplement his income, he worked by mowing lawns and driving an ambulance.
Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]
Early Appearances (2006–2008, 2013)[edit | edit source]
During his stay in TNA, Styles worked in various Japanese promotions due to a partnership with TNA.
During a partnership between TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Styles made four appearances for NJPW in 2008. On January 4, at Wrestle Kingdom II, Styles teamed with Christian Cage and Petey Williams to face RISE (Milano Collection AT, Minoru and Prince Devitt) in a six-man tag team match, in a winning effort. On February 17, Styles faced Hiroshi Tanahashi in a losing effort on Day 8 of New Japan's ISM Tour. On August 15, Styles teamed with Shinjiro Otani to face Kurt Angle and Masahiro Chono on Day 5 of New Japan's G1 Climax - Heroes of Supremacy event, in a losing effort. The following day on Day 6 of New Japan's G1 Climax - Heroes of Supremacy show, Styles teamed with Tanahashi to face the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Angle, again in a losing effort. On November 16, 2013, Styles made his debut for Japanese promotion Wrestle-1, successfully defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship against Seiya Sanada.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2014–2016)[edit | edit source]
For the first time since the TNA-NJPW partnership in 2008, on March 27, 2014, it was reported that Styles would return to NJPW and had signed a contract with the company. Styles return 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, and challenged Okada to a title match, before revealing himself as the newest member of Bullet Club, establishing himself as a heel in the process. Following Invasion Attack 2014, with Styles still working a full schedule on the American independent circuit and only booked to work NJPW's larger events, Karl Anderson was positioned as the new leader of Bullet Club. However, Styles was considered the leader of the Ring of Honor (ROH) version of Bullet Club, a role which was also given to him by NJPW by the end of 2015. 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. With this victory, Styles became the sixth gaijin (non-Japanese) champion in the title's history and the first American champion since Brock Lesnar in 2005. The win also made Styles the shortest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history. 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.
On November 8, 2014 at Power Struggle, Styles defeated Yoshitatsu with help from Jarrett and after the match 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 in a match on January 4, 2015, at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, where Styles was victorious. On January 6, 2015, 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 the 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 after Styles' Wrestle Kingdom 10 match, 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.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Pro Wrestling Torch journalist Michael Moore, in a 2016 article, noted that Styles "has long been regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the world". In November 2012, IGN UK columnist Matt Fowler ranked Styles at number 38 in his top 50 professional wrestlers of all-time list.
Ayub Nouinou, a columnist for The Independent, described him as the "crown jewel" of TNA for more than a decade, before "applying his craft" for NJPW and ROH, among others. Nouinou went on to state that Styles had "established himself as one of the best talents on the planet over the last two years (2014 and 2015)" and noted that, pertaining to Styles' 2016 WWE signing, "the addition of Styles would have to be considered one of the greatest signings since the turn of the millennium".
Gold medalist and industry veteran Kurt Angle made the following statement in a February 2016 ESPN interview regarding Styles' wrestling ability: "I would have to say the best wrestler I wrestled was AJ Styles. He's a special talent, a rare breed...".
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Jones is married to a school teacher named Wendy (since 2000). 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, he added the birth date of his fourth child, reading 10-08-14. 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.
Religion[edit | edit source]
Jones is a devout Christian, stating that in his life, "It's God first and family second." He is a big fan of Christian hip hop music, and boasts that he can "school almost any rapper" on the genre's history. His favorite groups to listen to are the West Coast-based K2S, Lil' Raskull, FTF, and L.G. Wise. While Jones was working for TNA, he met GRITS members Stacey "Coffee" Jones and Teron "Bonafide" Carter at Universal Studios Florida, TNA's former primary television taping location. Jones would become good friends with the duo, so much so that he used their song "Get Ready To Fly" for seven years as his second TNA theme song and stays in touch with them to this day.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Brainbuster, sometimes onto the ring apron
- Discus clothesline
- Diving knee drop
- Fireman's carry facebuster
- Frankensteiner, sometimes inverted or preceded by a kip-up
- Hollow Point (Kneeling ganso bomb) – 2014–2015
- Multiple DDT variations
- Bloody Sunday (Lifting single underhook) – 2014–2016; adopted from Prince Devitt
- Cliffhanger (Crucifix powerbomb hold dropped into a sitout DDT Facebuster)
- Phenomenon (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent transitioned into an inverted)
- Multiple kick variations
- Multiple suplex variations
- Muta Lock
- Over the shoulder back-to-belly piledriver
- Rack Bomb (Backbreaker rack dropped into a powerbomb)
- Running swinging neckbreaker
- Springboard forearm smash
- Shooting Styles Press (Springboard shooting star plancha) – 2001–2005; used rarely thereafter
- Sliding forearm smash
- Spine Breaker (Backbreaker followed by a gutbuster)
- "The Phenomenal (One)"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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- Meltzer, Dave (March 27, 2014). "Mar 31 2013 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Giant issue featuring nine-page Billy Robinson bio, two weeks left until WrestleMania, line-up, all the news from around the world and more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 47. ISSN 1083-9593.
A.J. Styles has signed and is going to be given a major push as a singles headliner, to work with all the big guns, with a title shot at Kazuchika Okada coming sooner than later.
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