What: MTV reality show episode starring Hall County native and professional wrestler A.J. Styles
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
What: Wrestling event featuring A.J. Styles
When: 5 p.m. Sept. 13
Where: Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
More info: 770-534-8420
Professional wrestler A.J. Styles had a busy morning planned, between appearances on two TV sets and a lineup of speaking engagements — all before lunch.
The adoring fans were around every corner, some with glossy 8-by-10 pictures ready to be signed. Others quizzed him about the latest stunt he pulled on the "TNA Wrestling" TV show, where Styles announced his intention to quit.
But Styles just rolled along with the ever-changing schedule at Johnson High School. And his appearance with the teenagers at his alma mater was another way this professional wrestler from Hall County is reaching out to kids.
Styles, who grew up as Allen Jones before embarking on his wrestling career after college, is one of the original wrestlers for TNA, or Total Nonstop Action. He still lives in Hall, and in between TV show tapings and live events across the country, Styles also taped an episode of MTV’s "Made," which airs at 5 p.m. Sunday.
"You don’t realize how hard professional wrestling is until you actually get into it and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really hard,’" said Styles after filming a segment of Johnson High’s video newscast, which is shown to the school during the day. "Your body really takes a beating."
The premise of the MTV show takes high schoolers who want to excel at something they don’t seem well suited for, but have a passion for, and trains them in a short amount of time to master it.
In Sunday’s episode, "Pro Wrestler," Styles has five weeks to train a "girlie-girl" to be a professional wrestler. Styles will take his own turn in the ring here in Hall County on Sept. 13, when he brings a TNA Wrestling event to the Georgia Mountains Center.
"You (usually) have months and months, sometimes years to train. She had five weeks, so her training was brutal," he said. "She had places she had to go, and she actually got hurt and she had to go to the hospital."
But just because she was a girl didn’t mean Styles kept the training light.
"I didn’t lay off her because she was a girl. She was being trained like a guy."
But one of the messages Styles had for teens, both on TV and at Johnson High on Friday morning, was to have a backup plan and not just rely on athletic ability.
"I told my 4-year-old, I said, ‘I’ll train you to be a professional wrestler after you graduate from college,’" he said. "I know what’s important, and I wish I would have known a long time ago how important school was. Luckily, I married a woman who’s a lot smarter than I am."