WWE superstar AJ Styles has been in the wrestling business a long time, but did you know that even before stepping into the ring he’s been obsessed with Christian hip-hop?
Styles took some time on an off day to chat with Rapzilla about wrestling, his faith, and, of course, his affinity for God inspired rhymes.
AJ has been a Christian since he was a Sophomore in High School, and he recalls the exact night it happened.
He and some friends had gone to see a play called a Judgment House. In the play, you follow two characters, a boy, and a girl. They get into a car wreck and one goes to Heaven and one goes to Hell.
“I knew I didn’t want to go to Hell,” Styles said but revealed it didn’t scare him to Christianity because he always sort of knew about God.
Growing up, his babysitter was the preacher’s wife, and his parents took him to church. However, that night, when it came down to make a decision about the afterlife – “I was ready.”
“I remember them saying if anybody wants to give their lives to Jesus please raise your hands,” the wrestler shared. “We all had our eyes closed and I was amongst friends. And I thought everybody would raise their hands, and they didn’t. I was the only one. That night I accepted Jesus, and my life started changing.”
AJ revealed that the breakup with his girlfriend went terrible, and other things started getting weird for him too. He wound up asking another girl out and she told him to come to church with her. There, he met the youth pastor and was taught to be a “Christian man” and the rest is history.
Now as a WWE superstar with a platform and celebrity status, he tries his best to outwardly live his faith. Styles said being in wrestling is no different than living your life as a Christian among other people at a normal job. There will always be things around you to distract you from your focus but you have to remain steadfast.
“There are some things that are maybe a little bit harder because there are attractive women around but you can’t forget who you are and what you have,” he said. “I love my wife, I love my kids and at the end of the day is it really worth it to live with that guilt?”
The wrestling business seems to have been good to his beliefs as well because he does not recall ever being put into a storyline that compromised his Christianity or made him feel uncomfortable. He said they know who he is and they are respectful of that.
As a Christian, Styles loves listening to Hip-Hop artists who are believers. He boasts that he can “school almost any rapper on the history of Christian hip-hop” (Will anyone take the challenge?)
His love affair with the music began in the mid-90s when his wife, then girlfriend, bought him a DJ Dove tape in 1997. He went to a Christian bookstore called Celebration and bought the whole rap section of artists on the Grapetree record label. Some of his favorites were Lil’ Raskull, FTF, and L.G. Wise.
However, the West Coast-based K2S turned out to be one of his favorite rap groups. He would buy CD’s even if he didn’t like it that much because “Where else was I going to get Christian rap music?” His wife would be upset because he would keep buying the records even when money was tight.
“Christian rap is huge now. I remember listening to GRITS and then I met them at Universal Studios and they were able to do my music,” said the performer. “I became good friends with these guys, we still keep in touch this very day.”
In fact, Styles heard their recently released new track, “Skin Deep.” He said it was “so different” and speaks to why he enjoys them so much.
He also cites T-Bone as another guy he makes people listen to because “he just tears it up.”
“The 116 crew, holy cow, all of those guys. Trip Lee, Lecrae, Tedashii…those guys are tearing it up, It’s amazing to hear those guys,” Styles said excitedly. “Those guys remind me of Grapetree which was 15 to 20 years ago.”
Unfortunately, AJ can’t have a song made by this generation of Christian rappers because it isn’t about him saying yes anymore since signing to the WWE. “I would love it, but when you have an entrance song that is in the top 200 on iTunes, you can’t really say too much about that.”
He continued, “I love those guys and would love for them to do something for me. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this music. I make the kids listen to it whether they like it or not.”
Now, of course, the most important of questions was asked, “If you had a chance to train one of your favorite Christian rappers in the ring, who would you pick?”
“I would have K2S as my tag team partners…Tedashii is Samoan, right? He’s gotta be an athlete? Lecrae is tall, so you never know…”
Read part two with AJ Styles here, where we discuss his transition to the WWE, debuting in the Royal Rumble, and some of his favorite wrestling moments.