Chris Sabin, one half of Impact World Tag Team Champions, has revealed that AJ Styles was not fond of him during his early years in TNA.
Sabin, who returned to Impact Wrestling at last month’s Slammiversary pay-per-view, caught up with Chris Van Vliet and opened up about his strained relationship with Styles and why The Phenomenal One never took Sabin under his wing as a young performer.
When asked what he learned from Styles during their time together in TNA, Sabin said it was difficult to soak up knowledge from someone who did not like him, at least initially.
“I’m not sure (what I learned from Styles). He didn’t really like me at first. I don’t know if I wanted to learn from a guy who didn’t really like me, you know what I mean. I guess you can ask him why he didn’t like me,” Sabin said during the interview.
However, Sabin acknowledged that his relationship with Styles improved over the years.
“Oh yeah, absolutely. Of course, we respect each other and I would say he’s one of my friends. I’ve known him for a long time, but I haven’t talked to him in a long time, but yeah.”
Sabin also revealed the various wrestlers who influenced his high-flying wrestling style.
“As far as my style goes, I liked studying Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Shinjiro Otani. I would really like watching the WCW Cruiserweights because I’m like, ‘Okay, these guys are my size.'”
“Growing up, I would watch all these crazy Japanese guys that I didn’t even know existed. I really studied a lot of cruiserweight wrestling when I was younger you know, because I’m a cruiserweight,” he added.
Sabin also spoke in length about his short stint as TNA World Heavyweight Champion in 2013, and why he wasn’t ready to hold the top prize in Impact Wrestling.
“I wasn’t ready because I was a tag team wrestler basically from 2007 until 2011. After returning from injury, I had only a few matches with the Machine Guns before Alex Shelley left, and I was on my own. I had only like 10 or 11 singles matches and tore my other ACL, and was out for another year.
“So, I was basically out for almost two years straight, and then several years before that, I was only a tag team wrestler,” said Sabin.
At the Impact: Destination X event in 2013, Sabin voluntarily vacated his X Division Championship in exchange for a title shot against Bully Ray, the world champion at the time.
“They wanted to put the title on me like really quickly. This was barely two or three months after I came back and I just didn’t feel like I was ready as a singles wrestler. Do I feel like I could have done better if they would have built me up over a year as a singles guy? Yes, absolutely, but it is what it is.”
Nearly seven years later, Sabin believes he is now a lot more polished to carry the torch as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
“I would be a lot more prepared now. I would feel more comfortable and I don’t think that they would throw it on me right away or anything. I think that the company’s just different now and hopefully, I have time to prepare and build something up as opposed to a shotgun in a story like that real quick.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labrini contributed to this article.