He is indeed The Phenomenal One, and throughout 2016, AJ Styles has given WWE fans a little something extra to be grateful for. Since his shocking arrival at the Royal Rumble, he has electrified the entire WWE Universe, with a renewed sense of hope that things were likely to change, and change they did.
Throughout his career, AJ Styles has faced some of the greatest wrestlers on the planet, from Kurt Angle to Shinsuke Nakamura. Styles also has a laundry list of accolades, including championship gold, from promotions large and small, all over the globe.
Some of his life and his accomplishments were captured on video, as well as photos. There are some photos that have been seen by millions of the diehard AJ Styles faithful. However, there are several photos that haven't been viewed by too many.
I've scoured the world wide web, in the hopes of coming across some of the rarest of AJ Styles images, and here's what I've found.....
#10 The Dove Awards
This photo was taken at the 43rd annual Dove Awards, in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Fox Theatre. This ceremony took place on April 19, 2012. AJ was a presenter at the awards ceremony, along with Montell Jordan, who is pictured here with AJ.
The Dove Awards is a ceremony that is presented by the Gospel Music Association. During the ceremony, the top artists in the Christian music industry are recognised for their outstanding achievements.
#9 The Family Man
One thing that AJ Styles has always been very upfront and open about is his love for his faith and family. One of the driving forces behind getting Styles to sign with the WWE was the fact that he will usually be a lot closer to his rural Georgia home so that he can see his family more often.
You may have also noticed the tattoos on his rib cage. These particular tattoos are in honour of his children. He has each of his kid’s initials, along with their dates of birth, tattooed on that area.
#8 The TRUE WWE debut
A lot of today's younger fans may not realise this, but the Royal Rumble wasn't the first time AJ Styles saw action in a WWE ring. Styles’ first match came against Hurricane Helms, on an old WWF show called "WWF Metal," back in 2002.
While the five-minute contest was mildly entertaining and slightly competitive, The Hurricane came out on top, handing AJ the loss. It's important to note, this match took place way before AJ was even remotely "phenomenal."
#7 NWA action
Once upon a time, AJ was one of the most well-traveled independent wrestlers in the business. NWA President Bruce Tharpe made it a point to book Styles as often as possible, in as many of the NWA affiliates he could.
One of the current hot-spots for quality NWA wrestling happens to be nestled high in the Great Smoky Mountains, at NWA Smoky Mountain in Kingsport, Tennessee.
AJ Styles made his way to Kingsport for a big match against up and coming indie darling, Chase Owens, as shown in this photo. This was an incredible back-and-forth bout, but in the end, one Styles Clash sealed the deal, giving then IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles the victory. This match took place on May 9, 2015, at NWA Collision Course.
On a related note, Chase Owens would eventually join the infamous Bullet Club, shortly after AJ left for the WWE.
#6 Cracker Barrel
I found this to be one of the most interesting photos of them all. There's not much known about this one, other than the fact that AJ Styles, CM Punk, Evan Bourne, and Daniel Bryan are all together here, outside of a Cracker Barrel, somewhere out on the road between one show, and another.
You'll also probably notice that Bryan and Bourne are sitting in rocking chairs, playing a game of jumbo-checkers.
#5 Two ROH greats
This photo contains two fantastic champions of the current era of professional wrestling. This was obviously taken a couple of years ago when Styles was still IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, and before Jay Lethal had his mind-blowing run as Ring of Honor's top talent and World Champion.
Both Styles and Lethal had tremendous runs with ROH. AJ was a featured talent for Ring of Honor, as he spent the majority of his time in Japan, serving as IWGP WORLD Heavyweight Champion, as well as the leader of the Bullet Club.
#4 Long before the "Takeover"
It's no secret that New Japan Pro Wrestling consistently produces some of the absolute top quality, pure wrestling in the world. At one time, AJ Styles, and Shinsuke Nakamura were top names in that region, and yes, they had several battles against each other, while in NJPW.
This photo shows the mutual respect these two warriors have for one another. Now that things have come full circle, it's only fitting that both men are working for the top company in the world. One can only hope that this rivalry is soon resurrected in a WWE ring.
#3 Just too sweet
As previously noted, AJ Styles was the third official leader of the Bullet Club from April 5, 2014, until January 5, 2016. While leading the Club, the faction was the most dominating force in all of professional wrestling. The Bullet Club not only dominated New Japan Pro Wrestling but also invaded Ring of Honor, where they wrecked havoc as well.
In this photo, Styles is delivering his patented Phenomenal Forearm to Hanson, one-half of former ROH tag team champions War Machine. You'll also notice in Styles' corner, his fellow Bullet Club members, The Young Bucks, and Anderson and Gallows.
#2 World Champion Tour
If you recall, things got legitimately rocky between AJ Styles and TNA management during his last days with the company. At one point, Styles left with the title on what was called the World Champion Tour, or the TNA Invasion. In this photo, AJ made his return to Mexico to defend his TNA World Championship against Mexican legend El Mesias.
Styles would defeat Mesias and retain his title, but the most interesting part of it all was that TNA officials actually vacated the title, just days prior to this match, which took place in November of 2013.
#1 The straight-edge dream match
It was a huge match, featuring two of wrestling’s most promising up-and-comers. AJ Styles faced off against CM Punk for the Ring of Honor Pure Championship, at the 2004 "At Our Best" event. This epic encounter took place in Elizabeth, NJ on March 13, 2004.
One other interesting side-note about this match was that the special guest referee was Ricky The Dragon Steamboat.
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