John Cena may be “the face that runs the place,” but “SummerSlam” opponent A.J. Styles isn’t exactly a jobber himself.
The relative WWE newbie Superstar is anything but a rookie — the 39-year-old was known as arguably the greatest professional wrestler to never play in Vince McMahon‘s sandbox. Now Styles is right there, where he’s been living up to his “Phenomenal” moniker since Day 1.
On (exactly) Day 178, Styles was drafted for Tuesday’s “SmackDown Live” when the WWE split up its roster between two USA Network shows. Styles may not be on the call sheet for flagship series “Raw,” but he’s personally thrilled with the brand shakeup, which means he no longer works on Mondays.
“It definitely helps me being home one extra day,” the family man told TheWrap. “I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re gone as much as we are, being home one extra day is everything.”
“Just relaxing for a minute — sometimes it’s hard to wind down with the hours we’re [scheduled]. When we leave the venue, we’re going to next town,” he continued. “By the time we’re done [and] everyone gets to bed — we don’t get to talk to our kids.”
“Maybe right before they go to bed,” Styles added.
The lifestyle is rough, but Styles says the WWE is a wonderful environment for a married father of four, which he is. The top-promotion-going encourages talent to bring their kids along, and has even granted A.J. — real name Allen Neal Jones — time off to watch one of his sons play in the 10-year-old Little League World Series.
Of course, this business doesn’t just take a toll on one’s familial life, sports entertainment’s “fake” combat can do some real physical damage. We asked Styles which pro wrestling finishing move is the most painful to the recipient.
“They vary. It’s hard to say. Power-bombs aren’t the most pleasant things to take,” he said. “That obviously depends who’s giving ‘em. When you’re taking it from a guy who’s 7-foot-tall, well, it is what it is. I’ve yet to take everyone’s finisher in the WWE, but I’m sure there will be some that I’m not very excited about as I am others.”
What about Superkicks?
“Some guys are better than others at throwing them, I’ll say that,” Styles said. “But, you know, man, I’ve always been taught that the quicker I react, the less it hurts.”
A.J. Styles wrestles John Cena Sunday at “WWE SummerSlam” from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Check back that day for more from our conversation with high-flyer.