“There are professional wrestlers…and then there is “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles” begins the blurb on the back of TNA’s last DVD release of AJ Styles’ wrestling highlights. A DVD simply entitled “Phenomenal”.
To many TNA fans AJ Styles has been the epitome of all that they love about the company: fast paced, full bloodied and supremely athletic. Since the days of the Asylum in Nashville, “The Phenomenal One” stood out from other wrestlers who graced the TNA ring. Not only could he produce death defying moves such as The Spiral Tap and the 450 Splash, but AJ seemed to connect with the fans in a way that most non-WWE wrestlers couldn’t. Despite a heel run supported by every IWC smark’s favourite hate figure Vince Russo, Styles remained a crowd favourite, capturing his first NWA World Heavyweight title and then blazing a trail for the emerging X Division.
When TNA left the Asylum and uprooted to Soundstage 21 in Universal Studios, Florida, AJ was at the forefront of TNA’s push for wider exposure, featuring prominently on the new weekly show Impact! that had begun to air on the Fox Sports Network in the US. Styles became TNA’s first ever Triple Crown winner when he added the TNA tag titles (partnering long time friend Christopher Daniels) to his impressive haul of World Heavweight and X Division belts.
During 2005 AJ was involved in probably TNA’s most successful ever feud when he was a part of the intriguing three way battle that had evolved between himself, former friend Christopher Daniels and newcomer Samoa Joe. The matches that these three had were bloody, brutal and mesmerising to wrestling fans who had not seen such intensity within a wrestling ring in years. The feud culminated in what many argue is TNA’s finest ever bout, the three way at the Unbreakable PPV of 2005.
Despite taking a back seat to ex-WWE wrestlers who jumped to TNA -such as Christian Cage and Kurt Angle- Styles remained at the core of all that TNA did- even becoming a Grand Slam champion (after defeating Booker T for the Legends title)- and in 2009 Styles claimed his fourth World Heavyweight Title when he pinned Kurt Angle at No Surrender. This title reign was to last for an amazing 211 days, making him the longest reigning champion in TNA history.
As a member of Fortune(as well as the protege of the legendary Ric Flair) and their alliance with Hogan’s Immortals in TNA, “The Phenomenal One” is still present in the upper echelons of TNA and proving why he is a true cornerstone of the company.