“The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles has seen an impressive career in professional wrestling, from humble beginnings in TNA/Impact Wrestling, to his dominance in New Japan and Ring of Honor, to his current Intercontinental Title run in WWE.
During a recent Twitch stream, AJ recalled some of his fondest moments while working for TNA. He also disclosed the last time he spoke to former TNA president, Dixie Carter.
“It’s been a while [since we talked],” AJ explained during a recent Twitch stream. “There were a couple – maybe a year or two ago, or maybe more than that, she called me and asked if I would say hello to a little boy who was sick. So, of course I did that.”
AJ’s experience in New Japan brought upon some new fans, but he explained that the fans in Japan are generally quieter with their receptions to the wrestling. He believes that because NJPW fans react this way, it gave Dave Meltzer the idea to create a rating system for the matches
“It’s just that in Japan, they’re quieter. There’s just not as much people making as much noise,” AJ said. “If you didn’t know any better, if you’re not used to this, if you’ve never seen it before, in Japan [the fans] are just very quiet and respectful. Every now and then you’ll get, ‘Go AJ!’ or something like that, right? The great thing about that is if you’re a bad guy, which I was, it’s easy to go, ‘Shut up!’ and everyone hears it. It’s great, I love it.
“See, I’m big into fans and how they react and stuff like that, and I think that’s why [Dave] Meltzer for instance, he does all these star ratings. It’s because of the way people react, and it’s great.”
Continuing his discussion of being a heel, AJ opened up about what he believes are the keys to getting over as the bad guy in a match. He also explained that as time goes on and flexibility diminishes, certain moves are more difficult to perform.
“I think that if you do too much ‘cool’ stuff as a bad guy, then you’re begging people to cheer for you,” AJ noted. “To be that bad guy, it’s a lot more kick and punch, and grittiness, and cheating, and stuff like that. So, there’s a reason for everything. But I’ll make no excuses – the older you get, the harder that stuff is. I guess maybe I am going to give you an excuse, because the older you get, the more your body isn’t as flexible as it used to be. And you have pains that you didn’t have before, and the risk of hurting yourself, it definitely goes up as you get older. So you have to be smarter when you do these certain moves.”
Now, as a part of the WWE roster, AJ says that he doesn’t get much time to watch other pro wrestling promotions. He does admit to catching up on certain highlights though, especially the ones that include his friends.
“The one thing about TNA and, like, AEW is that you get stuck in this bubble. I’m stuck in the WWE bubble, when I was in New Japan, I was stuck in the New Japan bubble, and TNA I was stuck in that bubble,” AJ explained. “So it’s hard to know what everyone is doing around you because you’re so focused on trying to do a great job with where you’re at… Don’t get me wrong, I catch highlights of a little bit of everything because, like you guys, I’m still a fan. I still enjoy good stuff. So, I catch the highlights, especially when you’ve got friends doing stuff. Yeah, I don’t really get a chance to watch all that stuff.”
If the Hall Of Fame is in store for AJ somewhere down the line, he would prefer that no one gives him a traditional induction speech. He believes that it should be more so focused on the person who is going into the Hall of Fame class.
“If I had the opportunity to go into the WWE Hall Of Fame, I’d rather a music video play, and then I come out, and I do my thing,” AJ said. “That’s what I’d rather happen. I think that’s more entertaining – I mean, sometimes I feel like they take too long when they’re inducting someone. Like, it’s not your time, it’s someone else’s time. Induct them short and sweet.
“John Cena inducted Kurt Angle and John Cena did it perfectly, probably because he has had to sit through many, many of these. He knows how it works. He did it perfectly.”