AJ Styles Rips Flair Angle, Talks Direction Of TNA, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Hardy & More
On Hulk Hogan: "If you want to see my take my hair and dye it all blonde, slick it back, and hang out with girls all the time, and you know, do that whole thing, and just totally not be AJ at all, then you would've went with Hogan's idea. To me, that was the same thing they did in WCW with the referee. I don't know if you guys remember that, but that's exactly what popped in my mind. I was like, I'm not that guy, and I am AJ Styles. I'm not Ric Flair. I am who I am. I mean, just because he hasn't been watching, doesn't mean that a lot of people haven't. They know who AJ Styles is. I got to be honest man; I don't think that I need to ride Ric Flair's coat-tails to be the next great thing in wrestling. I mean, you gotta' have storylines. You gotta' have em' or you can't build up for the next big match. So, we all agree that you gotta' have those storylines, but you gotta' pick and choose which ones you're gonna' go after because people still want to see that wrestling. I know in Canada, they cut out most of the talking because they only have, I think they only have an hour of TV? I'm not sure exactly on that, but I know they cut out on a lot of the promos, but they're watching all wrestling. You know, the Canadian fans are some of the hottest fans that we've got. So, we must be doing something right in that ring. I think that our guys are more than capable of telling great stories in that right; more than capable if given the opportunity, and the time in the ring. That's what some guys think, that championship titles are props; that the ring is just a prop. I know that I enjoy personally the wrestling part, I really do. I love the physical atmosphere of what's going on in a wrestling ring. I always say to people, "If you haven't seen it live, see it live, and you can see how hard-hitting this really can be, and I take pride in that ring."
On Jeff Hardy: "Listen, I hope Jeff really comes back strong. I think that so far, so good. I think he's doing great. He looks better. I mean, he just looks physically better. I think maybe having a baby girl has changed some things for him. I think the time that he had off was a good time to be off, but he's still got a lot to prove in some fans' eyes, and I think he's more than capable of doing that, but time will tell. You know I said times have changed before, and they really have. I mean, we're not the same kind of guys that were working in the 80's; in the 90's even."
Doing minimal interviews: "You know what, man? That's not even a question for me (Laughs). That's a question for Impact Wrestling. I don't know why that is. I busted my butt for how many years now, but I'm not going to be a guy that's gonna' complain about every little thing. Yeah, sure, you know, there's some stuff that I could say and mention, but that's not who I am. That's not what I do. I support my company, and whatever they think is best is…well, what we'll do. I'm behind em'."
On the direction of the company: "Don't get me wrong, we're growing. There's no doubt about that. We are growing, but… we want to grow more. I want us to have household names. I want us to be a household company that people say, "Oh, yeah, Impact Wrestling! I know exactly what that is." You know, not when we go through security at the airport or immigration or whatnot where you hear, "Oh, oh like WWE?" I don't want to hear that. I want them to know exactly who we are. And the thing about us is we have our core crowd. It's how do we get our core crowd, our core fans… giving them something to talk about. That's what we've got to give em' like, "You've got to see this!" You know, that's what we need. We'll then get more fans. It's not gonna' work that way.
"We just need to make something more interesting to watch. It's night and day. It's great you know, going to The Impact Zone, but it's phenomenal going outside of that, man, and really seeing what the crowd really thinks about you because that's how you tell. I mean we've got a lot of fans that come, but we got a lotta' tourists that come to The Impact Zone too where they really haven't followed the story; they really don't know what's going on. They just know that there's wrestling, but when you get out of that Impact Zone, you really get to see these fans who've watched weekly. They will tell you what they wanna' see. They'll tell you who they wanna' see. They'll tell you who they want them to be. You know what I'm sayin'? That's what it's all about! That's who we have to listen to!"
Raj Giri is the owner of WrestlingINC.com. He can be followed on Twitter (@RajGiri_303) at http://twitter.com/RajGiri_303.