Former TNA Wrestling star AJ Styles was a guest on the PWTorch Livecast Friday and had a lot to say about his time in TNA and his wrestling career in general.
Host Wade Keller opened the podcast with a couple of questions before talking calls from fans.
About watching TNA Impact from the outside looking in:
“I guess the thing that really was strange for me was my friends putting over TNA, that still work there, on film, on Twitter and I was like, ‘Wow! It’s weird not being there.’ It’s just odd. I’ve gotten kind of used to it now.”
On whether his departure from TNA Wrestling is all apart of a story:
“Wouldn’t that be an awesome story, though? Wouldn’t that be really creative of TNA to do this elaborate, big thing where I finally do come back? How awesome would that be? But, well, there’s a lot of cool stuff TNA could have done, but this isn’t one of them. I wish it were. It would have been an awesome storyline.”
On being compared to the CM Punk angle from 2011:
“It was a storyline. And sure, tell me someone who isn’t somewhat disgruntled with their job when they think they can do a better job or what not. That’s in everything. But it was a lot easier to cut some of these promos and I think you guys probably noticed that some the stuff seemed more real than fake. There is some truth to what I said and I guarantee you there is some truth to what Dixie [Carter] said. I guess it did turn into reality for me because I don’t think either one of us — TNA nor I — expected me to leave. So I guess it did turn into reality.”
On whether a new contract would have changed the on-camera storyline:
“Yeah. As far as I know, they wanted me to be in Huntsville [for Genesis]. It wouldn’t have lasted as long. The storyline is different. It was very similar to what Punk did, but we actually went away for a while and were actually doing something. We were wrestling in Mexico and Japan, but when everything didn’t work out the way we thought it was going to do, we had to speed things up. I had to drop the title and that’s just the way the game’s played.”
On whether he’s excited for the variety the independent wrestling circuit has to offer:
“Absolutely. I’ve always liked doing the independents and wrestling different guys and being able to share the knowledge that I’ve gotten over the years, not that I have all of it. I have a little bit. And do what Jerry Lynn did for me and get better at what I do.” It’s fun getting in front of new fans, even some old ones. On a quality, when they leave they’re like, ‘Wow! That AJ Styles, man. He’s something. I’m glad that I came and saw him before his career ends.’ I want them to be excited about coming and watch me wrestle because that’s what they came to see. I want to entertain.”
On whether he’s been happy dealing independent promoters again:
“Well, truth be known, I do have an agent who takes care of that. […] He’s very fair. He does exactly what I ask him to do and I’m making him work very hard now. These promoters are going to be treated fair and they’re going to get a fair price and they’re going to definitely get what they ask for when AJ Styles steps in the ring.”
A listener called in and asked Styles about the chances of him landing with WWE and whether or not he would be offended about having to go to the WWE Performance Center.
“A lot of people have said, ‘AJ, got to WWE.’ I can’t really make that decision. I can’t hire myself there. That’s not the decision that I get to make. I’m going to what’s best for my family. If the opportunity came up, it’s just like anything else. You’re going to have to weigh your options. Would I like to work for WWE? Sure. I haven’t worked there before. I’d love to get the opportunity to go out there and show them what I can do, but time will tell if that ever will happen.”
Styles did note that he was offered a developmental deal from WWE back before its developmental system was in Florida. The deal required him to move to Cincinnati, something he was not willing to do given that his wife was in college. He did say that if he were single and accountable for only himself he would have accepted the offer.
He also said that he’d welcome a name and even a character change. WWE already has an AJ (AJ Lee) and would more than likely not want to on the same roster. Styles said he’d be open to work under his real name, Allen Jones.
Another caller asked him when did he think TNA Wrestling had hit its proverbial stride.
“I really was excited about TNA in 2005, 2006 because we were definitely hitting our stride. We were definitely hitting our marks. When Samoa Joe came in it changed everything. It was such a big deal when Kurt Angle came in soon after Christian. When Christian came in it was a huge deal. He opened the door for Kurt Angle. There were a couple years there — ’05, ’06, ’07 — where we were really gaining ground. We were really making a difference and it was exciting to see all of this. […] It didn’t matter what the storylines were because the matches were so good. We were doing exactly what we should have been doing, and that was capitalizing on our roster because our roster was second to no one as far as the wrestling goes. I thought most of the matches you see there were brilliant and the group of guys were just amazing.”
The same caller asked Styles when he thought TNA Wrestling began to lose that steam.
“Man, that’s a hard one. It’s tough to say. I really don’t know exactly when that happened. I think the problem was when we would go from one television station to another, which happened twice, we hit the reset button. I don’t know how many people enjoyed that. But you do what you have to do. Jeff Jarrett at the time … everybody knew who Jeff Jarrett was. They didn’t really know who AJ Styles was so I understand why they did that. It was discouraging then, but you understand now. But I want to say once we started hiring too many guys from maybe WWE that it started to slow down because you started to see less of the wrestling you fell in love with and more of what you’ve already seen.”
Another caller asked whether he thought Hulk Hogan had the best interests of the company.
“Hulk Hogan is old school and old school means you got to get yourself over. That’s your job, and I’ve heard it from numerous guys who’ve been the old school guys. Your first priority is to get yourself over and it’s not a bad thing. But I think when they bring you in at a certain level you got to do your job. I don’t know exactly what his job was. If it was just to be there every now and then and do this or that … did TNA tell him, ‘Hey when you get on a TV show or when get on The View or whatever it is that you’re getting on, mention TNA.’ If they didn’t tell him that? If they didn’t make any beef about it, then what’s the problem? I would say Hulk Hogan did what he needed to for Hulk Hogan. He went through a lot of crap. He probably lost a lot of money so I’m sure he did what he thought he needed to do. I don’t blame him for that. If the ATM keeps spitting out money then why would you change anything?”
To listen to the full podcast, click HERE.