A.J. Styles

AJ Styles
AJ Styles in April 2016.jpg
Styles in April 2016
Birth nameAllen Neal Jones
Born (1977-06-02) June 2, 1977 (age 41)
Jacksonville, North Carolina, U.S.
Residenceajstyles.org
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Air Styles[1]
A.J. Styles[1]
AJ Styles[1][2]
Mr. Olympia[3]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)[2]
Billed weight225 lb (102 kg)[2]
Billed fromGainesville, Georgia[4]
Trained byRick Michaels[5]
Debut1998[5]

Allen Neal Jones (born June 2, 1977), best known by the ring name A.J. Styles (also stylized as AJ Styles), is an American professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the SmackDown brand.[2] Long regarded as one of the world's best professional wrestlers,[6] Styles has headlined numerous pay-per-view events internationally and is the longest reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown history.

Styles debuted in 1998 and competed for various independent promotions, before gaining his first mainstream exposure in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2001. From 2002–2013 he became widely known for his tenure in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), who described him as "the cornerstone of the company since the inception in 2002".[4] Within that organization, Styles held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice, and was the inaugural titleholder of the X Division Championship, which he won six times. Styles is the first professional wrestler to complete the TNA Triple Crown (five times) and the TNA Grand Slam (two times).

In 2010, Styles became the first TNA-contracted wrestler to be ranked number one on the annual Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) PWI 500 list. He simultaneously appeared in Ring of Honor (ROH) from 2002–2006, where he became the inaugural ROH Pure Champion. In 2014, Styles signed with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and won his first of two IWGP Heavyweight Championships in his debut match, later becoming the third leader of the Bullet Club.[7][8] Styles has also won various titles on international independent circuits, including the PWG World Championship.

Styles first appeared in WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation, or the WWF) in 2002, but turned down a developmental contract he was offered with the company. He signed a multi-year contract with WWE fourteen years later in January 2016, making his re-debut that month and going on to win the WWE Championship in September. Both PWI and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) voted him Wrestler of the Year for 2016 and in 2017, he was inducted into the WON Hall of Fame. With his second WWE Championship victory in Manchester, England in November 2017, Styles was recognized by WWE as the first wrestler to win the title outside of North America. At 371 days, this reign is the longest in SmackDown history under the brand extension,[9] as well as the eighth-longest overall (tied with Randy Savage's 1988–1989 reign).

Early life

Allen Neal Jones[5] was born at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina[10] on June 2, 1977.[11] He grew up in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father.[10] The family's poverty was such that they could not afford cable television, which resulted in Jones being unable to watch professional wrestling.[12] He attended Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia, graduating in the class of 1996.[13] Jones left Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina, where he was on a partial wrestling scholarship,[14] to try professional wrestling.[15] He entered a professional wrestling school because his friends were doing it and to find out whether he had a natural aptitude for it.[10] To supplement his income, he worked by mowing lawns and driving an ambulance.[15]

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