Friends can knock each other out I guess?
AJ Styles Interview
By Phil Allely
TNA wrestler AJ Styles has done it all in the company and been one of its most well respected performers on what is at its heart a truly talented roster. As an exemplary star of the one-time hugely popular X Division current Fortune front man AJ was given the chance to headline the recent all X Division PPV Destination X.
In an exclusive interview with Phil Allely, Styles discussed that event and many more aspects of his career and working for TNA.
‘Destination X was probably one of best events of the year so far. There’s no doubt about it. Daniels and I had a great match. It was also one of our longest as well (almost 30 minutes). The only thing was I think he got knocked out during it. But maybe that’s what friends are for eh? They knock each other out (laughs). It was a great pay-per-view and one that I particularly enjoyed being a part of. The whole event worked well’. Said a clearly excited and enthused Styles.
Destination X saw the return of the six-sided ring to TNA. The decision to ditch that unique ring was one that many thought would hamper TNA’s attempts to take the fight to its nearest rival the WWE and perhaps even turn fans away from their product. However as live audiences and pay=per-view numbers/TV viewing figures grow, perhaps the ring wasn’t an issue after all.
Styles for one, was sorry to see the structure removed. ‘I hated to see it leave, I was excited to see it return though. I have I guess got kind of used to the four sided ring now and then here it was back again, I’d forgot how hard it was to perform in the six-sided one. The top rope stuff was harder, the ropes are thicker and to be honest it threw me off a bit. But you see that (the six-sided ring) is what made TNA and it was all about the six sided ring. It may have only been back for one event, but we showed how special it is’.
The six-sided ring was replaced by the more traditional four-sided one during the formative months of the Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff regime. With fewer current roster wrestlers being familiar with that ring these days, was the choice of Daniels as his opponent a welcome one?
‘Of course it was the perfect scenario really, Daniels and I have had some great matches in the past and having a good friend like him to work with helped me greatly. We’ve both had plenty of experience in the old-style ring. This match came together wonderfully because of our history and knowledge’.
The X Division was once one of TNA’s biggest draws and one that AJ himself was a major part of. Recently the emphasis on TNA programming has been less on the always exciting high flyers and more on the more established big men, or in some cases old pals of company big names.
‘The X Division is one of the best things we do. They do deserve TV time and unfortunately they don’t always get it. It’s been a case of guys like Hogan and Sting needing TV airtime and the X guys getting lost in the shuffle. My hope is that Destination X is the wake-up call they need to give them the shot they deserve. I’d like to see those matches return to form and being the reason that people tune in to see us doing this stuff once again’.
Having already netted himself every piece of gold available in TNA AJ still has dreams of holding more. ‘I’d like to win more titles, I don’t want to be after just one thing but. If I have an opportunity I’ll take it, as I’ve proved before that’s what I do best. I’ll take on anybody anywhere for the belts, no matter which one or who it is. The only good thing at present is that a lot of the X Division guys have moved up to other places on the roster, so at least you can still see them. So whilst I miss the push on that division a lot of us are still here doing our thing.’
The Fortune group which Styles heads up have been in some decent outings as of late, becoming a good sized thorn in the sides of Hulk Hogan’s Immortal collective.
‘Fortune still have some unfinished business with them (Immortal). My recent match with Bully Ray was awesome. I took him to a good match (maybe one of his best) and don’t for a minute think we’re done yet. You never know what’s around the corner. Fortune are getting stronger too, If you want to liken us to factions like The Four Horsemen I’ll agree. I mean how cool would it be to take control of all of the TNA gold and be running things here?’.
With his headline match at Destination X going down extremely well with fans and management alike, what does a guy like AJ look forward to now in TNA?
‘Well my sights are on the Bound For Glory series of matches on Impact Wrestling. I have no issues in saying that I want that title shot and I’m gonna work my hardest in these matches to get there. ‘
With the company adoption a new logo and new motto we just had to discuss Why wrestling Matters to a guy like AJ Styles.
Why wrestling matters to me is simple really, It’s what I know and what I do, it should matter to me because that’s exactly who AJ Styles is, I am a wrestler and wrestling matters to a wrestler.’
The UK fan base is ever growing and TNA yearly jaunts to these shores for tours are met with sell-out crowds. Styles has participated in previous tours, but missed out on the 2011 dates due to an injury.
‘Yeah being injured meant I missed the tour. I heard it was awesome too, so it was gutting to miss it. I am geared up for this one though. It was the right decision to not go last time though, health wise I just had to take a break to heal up. But I do still feel bad that I missed out on it all. Maximum Impact IV will see AJ Styles at full power and you can all expect me wrestling at 100%. Fans will get everything you expect form me for your hard earned money.’
Prior to our interview news had just broke that TNA roster members Orlando Jordan and generation Me had been released from their contracts. The question on everyone’s lips at times like this is how do their friedns, work makes and peers feel about these company decisions?
‘You know these guys are always just trying to do what’s right and make the decisions for their families etc. These guys are trying to make the right decisions for their families etc. I know they haven’t burnt their bridges here, so anything can happen down the line. They are all talented guys and they will find work easily enough. I’ve seen many friends come and co. from here (TNA) it’s something that’s gonna happen, it’s the nature of the business, who knows when its going to happen. It may even happen to me someday.’
A question we always ask to a Wrestler is are there any grapplers they think would benefit their company and perhaps even be a dream feud for them. AJ was only too happy to respond with what would be a very interesting and popular talent to join TNA.
‘Well I’d love to see Rey Mysterio end his career here. I’d love that opportunity, he is such a superstar and I’d hope it could happen, you just never know. Maybe some of our UK fans will give me a few other ideas in response to this one. Rey’s the only guy I can think of right now.
You can catch up with AJ Styles each and every week on Impact Wrestling, shown here in the UK on Challenge every Tuesday Night at 10pm.