AJ Styles Talks Royal Rumble, Chris Jericho, & the Journey to the WWE
WWE superstar AJ Styles is a star in the squared circle who has been entertaining crowds by sacrificing his body for over 15 years. In part one of our interview, we introduced the wrestler as a man of faith and someone who is obsessed with Christian rap music. In this installment, we’ll dive into the ring with the “Phenomenal One” to discuss his career in sports entertainment.
After many years wrestling in TNA, Ring of Honor, and even Japan, AJ Styles finally made it to the top wrestling promotion, WWE, or so people thought. What many people don’t know, is that Styles began his career in WCW and WWE’s development territories. Styles even had a televised WWE match, but they wanted to send him down, he opted to go elsewhere.
He has had great success traveling the world as a well-known wrestler, and now has finally returned, but this time as a superstar.
“I think the jump was due to timing,” Styles said. “Being in Japan, being away from home, was pretty scary because if something happened, I would have to jump on a plane and go home, and that scared me.”
He continued, “It literally came down to timing. There were a lot of offers out on the table and I thought I’d contact WWE, and there was no money left on the table there.”
AJ made his triumphant return in style, coming back as the third entrant in the Royal Rumble. When his music hit, no one was quite sure of who was coming out. Once the name flashed on the screen the crowd went nuts as the rumors leading up to the event were put to rest.
“My concern was, ‘Would anybody know who I was?’,” he said oddly enough. “The WWE universe is so large, it worried me a little that maybe only a couple of people know who I am. I took my time walking to the ring, I wanted to just soak all of that in. It was an unbelievable experience.”
He said that while the rumors got out, they were never really confirmed.
“They didn’t really know which I think was a really good thing because the anticipation that something crazy could happen in the Royal Rumble, that AJ Styles could come out…” he said. “Coming out third was a big surprise because no one was expecting it.”
AJ was in the match for 28 minutes, almost lasting until the end. He said he wasn’t necessarily exhausted after the match but more relieved it was over. All the stress and the secrecy was now done.
“Yes, now I am with WWE, I belong here. It felt good to get that out.”
There has been the talk by fans that the WWE wasted an opportunity with AJ because he is with the company so late in his career. However, Styles doesn’t see the end in sight and believes he has a lot left in the tank.
“I’d say I’m in my prime now. You don’t really get there until you’re in your thirties. Unless you have been wrestling the top guys for a long time you really don’t get that experience,” he said confidently.
“I feel like I really got that now. I’m able to capitalize on the things I normally wouldn’t. Now is a good time as any,” he said. “Experience is everything…it’s just like life. We learn from everything we’ve faced in our lives and we know what not to do. Everything that’s happened to me no matter where I’ve been has worked to this point now. I get it, this is where I need to be. I belong in the WWE.”
Not only did Styles return in the Royal Rumble, but he was immediately thrown into matches with another wrestling legend, Chris Jericho.
He said that a lot of people have forgotten Jericho went the same road he did. Jericho wrestled in WCW, then went to Japan, and finally the WWE. “Our careers are quite similar, and to have a good match first time we get in the ring together, you know something special is gonna happen.”
Fans are also a bit upset about not being able to see Styles face off against crowd favorite Daniel Bryan. He recently announced his retirement due to injuries and complications brought upon by numerous concussions.
Styles said he has wrestled Bryan several times at other promotions. “We had unbelievable matches and selfishly I was hoping I’d have the chance to wrestle Daniel Bryan and have one of those classic matches that we had years ago. I know we could definitely do that.”
He continued, “It’s unfortunate what had happened and he handled it better than I handled it. That was very emotional for him and he seemed pretty strong and confident that everything is going to be ok. A class act. I can’t say enough great things about him.”
Styles said that taking these huge bumps day after day and year after year will sooner or later take it’s toll on you. He admitted that one day it may come to him, and he’ll have to hang it up.
“Until something unexpected happens, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. You have to keep listening to your body, protect it and also take care it. Don’t wait until the last second. Injuries are going to happen and being in pain is part of the lifestyle we live.”
With that being said, he revealed that sometimes it’s hard to sleep on the road because of the level of intensity they have to be in or the pain they are in. Styles said you have to find time to do something that winds you down. AJ plays video games and it becomes his release.
“These things aren’t easy for us.”
In closing Styles said that he is nothing without the fans and without them he’d have no idea where he’d be. “I just appreciate having fans and being able to entertain them and I will always do it to the best of my abilities,” he said.
Fast Facts with AJ Styles:
TOP 3 WRESTLERS:
The Road Warriors/The Legion of Doom – big strong, wore face paint.
Sting – I like him more as the Crow Sting. Plus I love that movie.
Eddie Guerrero – I just really loved how that guy flowed through the ring.
TOP 3 MATCHES YOU EVER WATCHED:
Ladder Match between Edge and Christian.
Rob Van Damn vs Jerry Lynn ECW.
Undertaker vs Mankind cage match.
ATTITUDE ERA MATCHUP:
Shawn Michaels because we have a very similar style. Some of the stuff I do is conscious of Michaels.
I wrestled CM Punk a lot of times. There was a group of us that came through the rankings of WWE and we all wrestled each other, including Daniel Bryan.
Don’t forget to read part one of the interview. Are you a fan of AJ Styles? Should more Christian athletes be open about their faith?