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Hall native-turned-pro wrestler brings battle to his hometown
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A.J. Styles fights an opponent in the ring.

TNA Wrestling
What: Local professional wrestler A.J. Styles will headline a show of wrestling by TNA wrestlers
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St. SW, Gainesville
How much: $20-$35
More info: 770-534-8420

For all you wrestling fans out there, breathe a sigh of relief — A.J. Styles isn’t quitting the ring.

He’s fighting back from the disappointing losses he’s had, and his good friend and mentor Sting has talked him out of ending his career. As a result, Styles has been on a winning streak and earned a spot on "No Surrender," the TNA wrestling pay-per-view event on Sept. 20.

Now, for all you readers who don’t keep up with the weekly drama among the wrestlers of TNA (that’s Total Nonstop Action) on Spike TV, this weekend’s show at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville will set you straight.

Hall County native A.J. Styles will highlight the event. A graduate of Johnson High School, where he was known as Allen Jones, Styles went on to work his way through the wrestling ranks. He started wrestling for TNA in 2002 and is one of just a few who can call themselves TNA’s original wrestlers.

But what’s even more interesting about Styles is how he manages to blend his professional life — one of body slams and trash talking — with his personal life, where God and family are placed at the top of the list.

"It’s not something that I get to share a lot on TV," Styles said of his faith. "But I think for the most part if they know A.J. Styles, they know he’s a Christian. I’m not one of those guys on the TV cussing because I’m just not comfortable with it."

It’s a tricky line to straddle as a professional wrestler, he said. Good guys cuss and say all the "bad" words, while the bad guys use, well, language more suited for nerds. "Unfortunately, wrestling, sometimes you’re perceived as cool or whatever if you do cuss a lot, whereas I just can’t see myself saying that," he said. "And if you’re a bad guy and you say ‘butt’ or ‘butthole,’ (people say) ‘Aw, look how goofy.’"

So when Styles was sporting the "bad guy" image, laying off the cuss words was easy. But now that he’s turned to the "good" side, the challenge becomes trash talking his opponents in a slightly less offensive way.

"The kids want to see you’re super tough, saying super tough words," he said. "So I’ve got to let my ringwork speak for itself."

Styles keeps up with the training throughout his grueling schedule that includes "house shows" on the weekends (like the show at the Mountains Center), plus tapings for the weekly episodes of TNA Wrestling every Monday and Tuesday and then the pay-per-view specials every so often.

Styles’ schedule gets even more hectic when the TNA wrestlers do shows overseas, too. But sometimes, he said, that’s when he sees some of the coolest places.

"One of my favorite places is Sydney, Australia. And Korea — I’ve been there a couple times now," he said. "They treat us like superstars there, five-star hotels. I remember staying at the hotel and you can take the elevator all the way down to the hotel’s mall that’s under the hotel. It’s so cool."

But, he said, if he had to pick a favorite, it would be his North Hall home. "You’re gone so much, it’s nice to sleep in your own bed. ... I love this place," he said. "I told my wife the other day, if we win the lottery, we’re buying the house across the street or something. We’ll never move."

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