On the latest episode of The Kurt Angle Show, the WWE Hall of Famer spoke about AJ Styles’ time in IMPACT Wrestling and his journey to WWE. The former WWE Champion re-lived the first time he met AJ Styles, what the conversation was like, and talked about working with Styles for the first time in the ring.

“He wasn’t brushing me off or kissing my ass,” Angle said. “But he did come up to me and introduce himself, he had a lot of respect for me and I had a lot of respect for him. The feeling was mutual and we just hit it off from the beginning.

“The incredible thing about AJ is when you’re in the ring with him, you don’t have to do anything. He does all the work for you, he bumps and feeds for you, all you have to do is catch him and you’re guaranteed a 5-star match, regardless. AJ was so easy to work with, you didn’t have to do a lot. You didn’t have to expend a lot of energy, he did it all for you.”

Continuing to talk about The Phenomenal One, Kurt Angle also spoke about the similarities between Shawn Michaels and AJ Styles. The Olympic Gold Medalist also detailed who he’d list in the top four all-time talents he’s ever worked with, putting AJ on that list.

“Shawn and AJ, they have so many identical ways about them, especially their in-ring performances,” Angle said. “Their athleticism, the way they were showman, very identical styles.

“I wouldn’t put AJ up there by himself. I think Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit, and Eddie Guerrero deserve to be up there too, but AJ is definitely in my top 3 or 4. He proved that to me every single time he went out there and worked with me. He impressed me every time.”

Kurt Angle continued to talk about AJ’s time in IMPACT and whether or not he ever spoke to the WWE star about jumping to the company before his debut in 2016 at the Royal Rumble. The Olympic Gold Medalist detailed why AJ’s move to NJPW might have accelerated that process for him going to WWE.

“He never talked to me about it but I always knew it was in the back of his mind,” Angle said. “It was crazy because Vince passed on him the first time. I know he was trying to get to the company at the beginning of his career. I understand why Vince passed, he was a little undersized, but showing what he did at this point, 10 years, I’m sure Vince’s attention started drawing towards AJ. Eventually, I think what he wanted AJ to do was get out of TNA, take a little break, and then come to WWE.

“Vince doesn’t like to bring in wrestlers that are hot in other companies, bring them in and push them right away. Instead, what he does is he brings them in, shoves them down a little bit and gets them to a modest degree, and then builds them up again. Vince has a reputation of doing that, you’ll notice that with Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit when they came to WWE. He shoved them down at the beginning and then you eventually built them up. He was going to do that with AJ, I just think AJ needed to leave TNA, go off and do something for a year or two, and then WWE would pick him up, and that’s exactly what happened. AJ went to New Japan and then New Japan to WWE.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Kurt Angle Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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