TNA Impact Wrestling
When: Doors open 6:30 p.m., showtime 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
Tickets: $20-$50; georgiamountainscenter.com, 770-534-8420
Pro wrestling fans will get a chance to see some of the stars of the sport, including a hometown favorite, when the TNA Impact Wrestling World Tour visits Gainesville on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The event is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Georgia Mountains Center, featuring some of the top stars from the Spike TV series.
Among them will be “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles, a 1996 Johnson High graduate, then known as Allen Jones, who still makes his home in North Hall County.
Styles was the first Grand Slam Champion in Impact Wrestling, and has held the World Heavyweight, X Division, Television Title and World Tag Team championship belts. He also has received multiple MVP of the year awards.
Styles has visited Gainesville with the tour before, and always enjoys performing in front of the home folks.
“I love being home when my friends and family get to come out and see me live,” he said.
“We hope to get a good crowd out. They always make me feel welcome at home.”
With no offseason to speak of on the wrestling tour, Styles savors any chance he can to spend time with his wife and three sons, one of whom is becoming a big fan himself.
“They do watch it,” Styles said. “My middle son has become obsessed with it. And I just took my youngest on the road with me for the first time.”
Styles’ ring persona is a bit unique. In an arena of “good guy/bad guy” characters and storylines, he has expressed his faith openly both in his personal and professional lives, and has won over many fans by doing so.
“I do Twitter, and I see lot of people who respect me for what I believe in and follow me because of it,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”
For now, he’s enjoying the blend of sport and soap opera.
“It’s one storyline to the next, a lot of great matches and a lot of great guys,” he said. “It’s been fun. It’s what fans want to see.”
Styles, 35, hopes to ride the wrestling wave as long as he can, but the 215-pounder knows how injuries and physical wear and tear can shorten careers.
“Wrestling is tough, and you have to do the things you need to survive, go to the gym and eat healthy,” he said. “It’s a rough business and you sometimes pay the price for getting old. I won’t even take aspirin for the pain because I don’t want to get hooked on anything.
“I’ve love to retire in a couple of years, but who knows? I just don’t want to be one who goes past his prime and have people say, ‘that guy needs to retire.’ I don’t want to be that guy.”
Fans will be able to meet Styles and other wrestlers at a meet-and-greet for $50 ticket holders at 5:30 p.m. before the matches begin.
Other wrestlers scheduled to appear in Saturday’s event will include Mr. Anderson, Rob Van Dam, Mickie James, Zema Ion, James Storm and Christopher Daniels.