Allen Neal Jones was born at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina on June 2, 1977. He grew up in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father. The family's poverty was such that they could not afford cable television, which resulted in Jones being unable to watch professional wrestling. He attended Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia, graduating in the class of 1996. Jones left Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina, where he was on a partial wrestling scholarship, to try professional wrestling. He entered 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.
Jones was trained by Rick Michaels and debuted in 1998. In the Georgia-based National Championship Wrestling (NCW) promotion he wrestled as Mr. Olympia, a masked Wrestler, losing to Michael Brooks in his first singles match. By August 1999, he had won the promotion's Television Championship.
Atlanta-based World Championship Wrestling (WCW) had observed Styles' and Air Paris' program in NWA Wildside and offered each a contract in early 2001. Styles (renamed Air Styles) and Paris were placed in a tag team, which was named Air Raid. The team's gimmick saw both men dress in G-suits, with Air Raid appearing on Thunder three times. On the March 5, 2001 episode of Nitro, they were entered into a tournament for the newly created WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Championship, but were eliminated in the first round by eventual winners Elix Skipper and Kid Romeo.
In May 2002, Styles was signed to a non-exclusive contract by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). He appeared on the first weekly TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Low Ki and Jerry Lynn and losing to The Flying Elvises (Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada and Sonny Siaki). The following week, Styles defeated Low Ki, Jerry Lynn and Psicosis in a double elimination match to become the inaugural TNA X Division Champion. He won a second title on the third TNA pay-per-view, teaming with Lynn and defeating Bruce and Lenny Lane in the finals of a tournament for the vacant NWA World Tag Team Championship. Styles successfully defended both titles in the following weeks, but began to bicker with the veteran Lynn during their matches together. On August 7, Styles lost the X Division title to Low Ki in a three-way dance also involving Lynn. The following week, he and Lynn fought Jeff Jarrett and Ron Killings to a no contest, and the tag team title was held-up as a result. The following week, he and Lynn fought one another in a Falls Count Anywhere match (which was won by Lynn), a no disqualification match (which was won by Styles) and a ten-minute Iron Man match, which ended in a draw after both men scored three pinfalls. On August 28, Low Ki defended the X Division Championship against Lynn and Styles in a ladder match and lost the title to Lynn. Recruiting Mortimer Plumtree and Sonny Siaki as allies, Styles continued to feud with Lynn in successive weeks. On October 23, he defeated Syxx-Pac for the X Division Championship, but lost the title to Lynn on November 6 and tried unsuccessfully to regain it throughout the remainder of the year.
In 2003, ROH released Evolution of a Phenom: The Best of AJ Styles, a DVD which covers Styles from his debut to mid-2003. In 2004, ROH released The Phenomenon Continues: The Best of AJ Styles Vol. 2, a follow-up DVD to the original released in 2003. Also in 2004, TNA released Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles, a DVD covering Styles' best matches.
On September 17, Styles returned to IWA: Mid-South, entering the promotions 2004 Ted Petty Invitational. Styles defeated Jimmy Rave in his first round match. The following night, Styles defeated Matt Sydal in the quarter finals. Later that night, Styles defeated Arik Cannon in the semi-finals, as well as defeating Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe in the final to win the 2004 Ted Petty Invitational. On October 21, Styles won the vacant IWA: Mid-South Heavyweight Championship, defeating Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels and Petey Williams in a four-way dance match. Two days later on October 23, Styles lost the title to CM Punk.
Jones has been married to schoolteacher 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), and a daughter, Anney Jones (born October 8, 2014). Their first son'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.
In 2006, ROH released a shoot interview featuring Styles, alongside Christopher Daniels for the promotions "Straight Shootin'" series. In 2007, TNA released Phenomenal: The Best of A.J. Styles Volume 2, a follow-up DVD to the original released in 2004. Also in 2007, Styles was mentioned in the Insane Clown Posse song "Scatterbrain" off their EP Eye of the Storm.
On December 20, 2007, as part of TNA's working relationship with the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF), Styles competeted on the promotion's third event, defeating fellow TNA star Senshi.
In 2008, Styles helped develop the first TNA wrestling video game known as TNA Impact!, which was released the same year on September 9. In 2009, Styles was featured on MTV's Made trying to help a young high schooler become a professional Wrestler alongside Taylor Wilde and The Beautiful People (Angelina Love and Velvet Sky).
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, using their remix of his entrance music "I Am" (renamed "Get Ready to Fly") from 2009 through 2013 and continues to stay in touch with them to this day.
On February 8, Styles returned to Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) after eleven years, defeating CZW World Heavyweight Champion Drew Gulak via disqualification, which meant that Gulak retained the title. In August, Styles also returned to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) after eleven years, taking part in the promotion's annual 10th Battle of Los Angeles tournament, where on August 29 he defeated Brian Myers to make it to the quarterfinals before losing to Roderick Strong via disqualification on August 31.
In 2011, Styles was featured in the music video for country singer Sarah Darling's song "Something to Do with Your Hands". In 2012, Styles and Montell Jordan presented the award for Best Rap/Hip Hop Record of the Year to Lecrae at the 43rd annual GMA Dove Awards.
At Sacrifice, Daniels and Kazarian cost Styles his match against Kurt Angle, who nonetheless saved Styles from a beatdown. On May 31, Styles defeated Daniels in the main event of Impact Wrestlig, after which Daniels and Kazarian played audio of a phone conversation to prove an affair between Styles and Carter. At Slammiversary, Styles and Angle defeated Daniels and Kazarian to win their TNA World Tag Team Championship. On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles entered the 2012 Bound for Glory Series, where he was eliminated in opening gauntlet match by Daniels. On the June 21 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles and Carter revealed their secret—they were not having an affair, but were helping an addicted pregnant woman named Claire Lynch overcome her problems. The following week on Impact Wrestling, Styles and Angle lost the TNA World Tag Team Championship back to Daniels and Kazarian, after which Daniels admitted that Styles and Carter had told the truth about Claire, but claimed that they had left out the part about Styles being the father of her unborn baby. Styles defeated Daniels in a Last Man Standing match at Destination X, and again in a Bound for Glory Series match and, per the pre-match stipulations, earned the right to get a paternity test on Claire's baby. The following week on Impact Wrestling it was revealed that Claire was not pregnant after all and her attorney revealed Daniels' and Kazarian's plot to blackmail Styles. On the August 30 episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles was eliminated in the 2012 Bound for Glory Series after losing to Samoa Joe. At No Surrender and Bound for Glory, Styles and Angle unsuccessfully challenged Daniels and Kazarian for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. Styles was pinned by James Storm in a three-way number one contenders match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Turning Point, also involving Bobby Roode, preventing him from receiving another title opportunity until Bound for Glory 2013 as per the pre-match stipulation. On December 9 at Final Resolution, Styles was defeated by Christopher Daniels in what was billed as their "final match". On the following episode of Impact Wrestling, Styles said he was tired of doing the right thing and that he was going to do his own thing from there.
In 2013, ROH released AJ Styles - Styles Clash, a 2-disc DVD featuring Styles' best ROH matches from 2002 to 2005.
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". Regarding Styles' financial value to WWE, Nouinou stated that "there is no doubt that "The Phenomenal One" can be a huge draw for the company in all departments – whether that be merchandise, television ratings or pay-per-view buys". Nouinou also noted the impact in which WWE chairman Vince McMahon's perspective on professional Wrestlers that may be "too small", may have potentially changed following the signing of Styles, stating that "the acquisition of Styles signifies a change in McMahon's philosophy. Instead of sticking to the stereotypical views of what a main event superstar should look like, it seems like WWE may have accepted that both wrestling ability and the ability to entertain should be prioritised above everything else". Finally, Nouinou made the prediction that "Styles can be the superstar that spearheads WWE into a new era".
On November 8 at Power Struggle, Styles defeated Yoshi Tatsu with help from Jarrett and after the match was confronted by Tetsuya Naito. During the match, Yoshi Tatsu legitimately broke his neck on a botched Styles Clash in which he tucked his head, 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. Styles made his first title defense on April 5 at Invasion Attack, 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. Styles 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 2016, TNA released The Essential AJ Styles Collection, a 4-disc DVD set showcasing Styles' top 30 greatest TNA matches.
Paul Heyman, a renowned professional wrestling promoter and manager, made the following statement after Survivor Series in November 2017: "He's everything that Shawn Michaels, and Bret Hart, and Ric Flair were to their generation and he's updated it. He's evolved their styles to truly be the single most phenomenal in-ring performer I have ever had the honour and the pleasure of watching up close".
At Clash of Champions on December 17, Styles defeated Mahal via submission in his first title defense. Styles' next feud came against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, whom he lost back-to-back matches to due to interference. As a result, SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan made a handicap championship match at the Royal Rumble on January 28, 2018 which Styles won. Styles caught the attention of 2018 Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura, who announced his intentions to face Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34. However, Styles continued to feud with Owens and Zayn, leading to a triple threat match for the title at Fastlane (sanctionated by SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan), later made by SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon it a fatal four-way also including Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler. The Fastlane match was finally turned into a six-pack challenge following Styles' loss to John Cena on the February 27 episode of SmackDown Live. At the event on March 11, Styles pinned Ziggler to retain the title and ensure that he would defend the WWE Championship against Nakamura at WrestleMania 34 in what would be their first encounter since Wrestle Kingdom 10. At the event on April 8, Styles defeated Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship. After the match, Styles was subjected to a classless assault by his opponent, turning Nakamura into a villain and heating up their feud.