These days, A.J. Styles is known as one of the best wrestlers in the world. But 15 years ago he was basically jobbing to people like Gregory “The Hurricane” Helms on WWE Metal, the company’s now-defunct Saturday afternoon show, in a try-out match. Even then, though, he was announced as A.J. Styles.
Styles real name is Allen Jones, which is where the A.J. part of the name comes from. In a recent interview with Georgia Rock 100.5’s morning show “Bailey and Southside,” Styles revealed how he got the second part of his wrestling persona, along with his original (and truly awful idea) for his gimmick.
“I wanted to wear a mask! I loved those [masked wrestler] guys. I’m so glad that didn’t happen … You can’t breathe in masks. I don’t know how these guys do it. I wanted to wear a mask and call myself ‘Velocity.’ What a terrible name. But I could do flips and everything. That was easy for me to do in the ring …
“I did my first match ever, I was ‘Mr. Olympia.’ I wore a mask, and wore my old singlet that I took from my college, turned it inside out, and I wore wrestling shoes, and I looked absolutely ridiculous. And my next match, I didn’t have a name, and everybody always called me ‘AJ’ anyway, so I stuck with AJ. And then, [the promoter] is like, ‘yeah, you’re tagging with Damien Steel. We need a last name. Styles! Go!’ That’s it. That’s how the name [came] about, AJ Styles. I hated it. I hated Styles for a really long time.”
He may not have been fond of the Styles moniker, but just remember that guys named Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, and Dude Love have all ascended to the top of the business at one point or another. Styles seems perfectly fine, really. Way better than Mr. Olympia, at least. Besides, most people don’t get strike gold with their first gimmick. Just ask Rocky Maivia, Mean Mark Callous, or Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Or Stunning Steve Austin, one half of the Hollywood Blonds in WCW.
Here’s the entire video, for those interested: