This was filmed on January 2, 2014 inside of the home of AJ Styles in Gainesville, GA.
The interview runs at two hours and twelve minutes long.
The interview starts with the interviewer putting over AJ’s “man-cave” as AJ briefly discusses his love for video games. After that, they briefly mention AJ’s last shoot interview from 2006, in which AJ states that he doesn’t remember a single thing that happened then. It was a really bad interview and apparently rushed as they filmed it before a match that he had.
AJ is asked about being a free agent for the first time in eleven years. He said that he always loved the independents and would like to give advice and help the younger guys. He does feel glad that he started in the independents and got to incorporate different styles. He compares that to UFC and how everyone uses different fighting styles.
AJ said that he was hardly able to keep up with the independents while in TNA. He said that he would want a guy who had potential to make money work with him in TNA when he was still with the company but as the years went by, it was harder to keep up and he was told by the company that they didnt have the money so he lost touch with the scene.
He is now asked about TNA putting a high price tag on their talent when independents called looking for them. AJ said they did that deliberately but understands where they were coming from as if they got hurt, they wanted it to be in their ring instead of someone else’s.
When asked if the house show idea’s were too big for TNA, AJ agreed that it was and thought that they did a bad job of promotion, noting that they would come into some towns and there would not be any signs or any other advertising at all. He even said he would ask people at the hotels they would stay at if they heard about the show being in town and they said no.
AJ gets asked if he felt that TNA was a competitor to the WWE, he said yes. He believes that both companies paid attention to each other’s shows, noting that the WWE had taken stuff that they had done prior and put in on television. He talks about speaking with John Gaburik when he came into TNA, from the WWE, and he said that they would take stuff if they thought it was a good idea, knowing that there was no copyright on what they did. AJ also said that he wanted the WWE to do well because that meant TNA would do better in return.
Now, AJ is asked if there is any feeling in the locker room of TNA that they would not have a fair chance in the WWE because they came from them, AJ thinks that Vince McMahon likes to make money and if believes he can do that with someone from TNA, he would do try to make that happen.
He is asked point blank if he has had any contact with the WWE since leaving TNA and he says no. Before that, AJ said that he is scene as a TNA guy instead of an independent guy and that he still has the “TNA stink” on him. When asked if he was surprised the WWE hasn’t contacted him yet, AJ said no and that he has learned from being in the business that you do not get excited about the prospects of something that might happen. He then talks about the rumors about him getting a contract from the “dirt sheets” and how he can’t believe the stuff he reads about himself or what others send him through Twitter.
AJ doesnt believe that TNA has closed the door on him and he hasn’t closed the door on them and if there was an opportunity to make something happen, he think it can happen.
When asked if there was any point during his TNA run that he wanted to leave and go somewhere else, AJ said that he was 100% behind the company and wanted to give it all he head and to trust the people in control to do the right thing, which he said is a hard thing to do. AJ said he is a team player.
He is asked about watching any of the guys he wrestled on the independents become stars in the WWE. He said that the first time he wrestled Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) he knew he had whatever “it” was and that Claudio (Antonio Cesaro) would make it and AJ said he was surprised that it took him so long to get to that point as he is a great wrestler and extremely strong. He mentions how it is also cool to see Daniel Bryan do his thing too.
AJ said that his kids watch wrestling but do not usually watch the WWE. However, he bought his son the WWE video game and mentions how if TNA made another video game, he would buy him that too. This leads to a discussion about wresting video games and how AJ said that the best ones come from Nintendo 64 and are better known as “No Mercy” and “WCW/NWO Revenge” but he knows it as “Virtual Pro Wrestling 2.” AJ said it is without a doubt the best wrestling game ever made. He said it is an All-Japan Pro Wrestling game but it has New Japan guys and shoot fighters too. He said the newer ones are doing a better job but the controls for the one on Nintendo 64 are the best because they are easy to play but hard to master. He even pitched the idea to TNA that they should have a downloadable feature that put the heads of the TNA characters onto the guys from that game and you can keep the old engine.
We go back to wrestling talk as AJ is asked about his contract negotiations. He thought that they would eventually reach a deal, especially with the character and storyline going the way it did. His extension was for three months and expired on December 15th. AJ is asked about rumors of TN wanting to cut his salary in half. AJ said that there were a few inclusions in the contract that were hard to swallow. He said it was only a two-year deal and felt it was like a slap in the face. AJ felt hurt by the offer, stating that he had given them everything and when he feels all of his pain as he gets older, most of that happened inside of TNA rings.
AJ is now asked to compare the differences between WWE, TNA, and the independents if you had the same base salary. AJ said the money is in the WWE, with more shows and merchandise, if you are able to make a name for yourself. In TNA, you have a little bit of royalties and can make some extra at house shows. On the independents, you can get paid under the table at times plus you can sell your merchandise after the shows and only claim that you made $60,000 on your taxes when in reality, you made more. Also, promoters usually pay for rooms for the bigger names, unlike the WWE or TNA does with most of their talent.
When asked if he regrets spending 11 years in TNA, AJ said no and that he ended up making a lot more money than he ever thought he would, has a nice home, wife, and three kids so he has nothing at all to regret.
He is asked if he would accept a WWE offer today, knowing that he would have to go down to the Performance Center and if he would feel insulted. AJ said he would have no problem spending time down there and getting used to the ring but would not like to move his whole family to Florida. He would love the opportunity to wrestle in the WWE but would not be broken if it didn’t happen. He said that his main goal in wrestling is to make money, regardless where he is wrestling.
AJ is asked about his relationship with Dixie and if it is now strained due to the contract negotiations. AJ believes that she didnt have the final say in his contract and that the company did not want to give out big deals due to all of the money poured into veterans who did not deliver. He said that they are still on good terms.
When asked if he has paid attention to Ring of Honor lately, AJ said that he is excited about wrestling there and would love to open the doors for other great wrestlers but fears that he might come across as the old guy. He does not want to open up the doors for those who want to be lazy and said he wants guys who take pride in what they do to join him.
AJ then talks about while he was in TNA, he told Samoa Joe shortly after he came in and got popular that after a few years, when the older guys left the company, they would be the stars of the promotion, no matter how many bad gimmicks they got saddled. AJ said that he was wrong about that.
He now follows up the above comment by talking about how TNA brought in WWE guys and other older stars. He said that Christian was the first big name to go to TNA from the WWE and he made a huge impact and was just an awesome guy. Then, Kurt Angle came in right as Joe was getting hot and they made them wrestle each other, which AJ thought was a terrible and that they should have built up to a big match instead of jumping in right away. The interviewer mentions how AJ lost the title to Jeff Jarrett right when they got the Fox Sports Deal as AJ said that TNA wanted the big name for TV, which is fine, but that during all of that, they forgot to build a company and just put out guys that were more recognizable, which did not work and did not make them different from the WWE.
AJ is asked about the veterans that tried and the ones that phoned it in and were only there for the paycheck. AJ puts over Christian strong as a person and a wrestler. He said that he is funny and a great all-around guy. The interviewer then brings up how AJ more or less played an idiot comedy character at that time as AJ said he just thought up stuff that made him laugh at that time and loved the stuff he did with Tomko. At first, AJ said that not a lot of people liked Kurt Angle. He apparently kept on referring to Chris Sabin as “pig pen.” AJ thinks that Kurt’s attitude changed once Kurt realized the roster had talent and could go in the ring. AJ said that he thought about confronting Kurt about his ridiculous statements but that Kurt ultimately gained respect for the guys and AJ now likes him a lot, saying that they have a friendship. He also said some of the best matches he has ever had were with Kurt.
The interviewer goes back to Tomko for a minute and asks him if he was surprised about the legal and drug issues he currently has. AJ said that he tore his pec while in Japan and could not afford to take time off and ended up really hurting badly and he lost touch with him. After that he tried a comeback with TNA but he didn’t last long. Basically, he didnt know or want to answer the question.
He is asked about the “Elevation X” match and said that he volunteered to take the bump over Rhino because he was afraid that if Rhino took the bump, he would really hurt himself bad. AJ said that they were on boards that were about two feet high and they practiced by walking on the boards at a lower level before the match. He thinks they made the best out of the stipulations.
AJ is asked about the Lethal Lockdown matches and if he was worried that the cages would hold all of the table and ladders, along with their weight. He said the first time, he was with James Storm and they almost fell through. AJ said he didnt like doing that two years in a row, as the fans have already seen it before. AJ then said he suggested a War Games match that year with two rings and they thought about doing it but it turned out that TNA already sold seats that were right around the ring and they had no room for the second ring.
He calls Christopher Daniels a “ring general” and said that he can it on the fly and recalls some of the matches they had as a team, specifcally against LAX. The interviewer brings up how LAX was a hot act and said that TNA always seemed to have one hot act but that they always ended up pulling the plug from them and as a result, they never got as over as they could have. AJ agrees with him about that and said that they do not leave guys in teams long enough and adds that once they seem like they can draw something, they decide to split them up. He also thought that the Fortune group could have done something big but that TNA decided to split them up just as they were starting to gain traction. AJ said that they had ideas for Fortune including a scene of them all getting off of a plane called “Flair Force One” together with Ric Flair and re-enacting scenes from the film “The Hangover” but that TNA just wanted them to wear suits and ride in limousines. AJ didn’t think that was cool and would rather wear a sports jacket with an “Affliction” t-shirt and have them show up in their own sports cars or motorcycles and that even though they showed up in something different, you knew that they were cool because you could relate to them. He said that they were all for that but TNA never wanted to do that with them.
When asked about Ric Flair, AJ said he was quite the character. At one point, they wanted him to be like Flair and AJ said that they had Flair overshadow him completely during the angle. He is now asked about Flair’s bar tab during the European tour. AJ said he was not there at the time, he was home nursing an injury, but had others tell him what happened. AJ said that Flair was acting like he always does, buying everyone drinks and acting crazy, then ran out of money and started to ask some of the others for cash. After that, then started to flip out on the promoter about not getting more money. AJ said that he doesnt know all of the specifics though.
AJ is now asked if he thought Ric Flair lived up to his end of the bargain. He said that he did exactly what he was told to do, even when he thought the ideas were terrible. AJ then adds that no one had any balls to confront Flair when he acted out of control, especially how he acted in the United Kingdom.
He is then asked if he was surprised that Chris Harris’s career never took off. AJ said when you looked back at America’s Most Wanted when they first started to become popular, you would think that Harris would become a star as he was tall and athletic. He thinks that he just got frustrated at a certain point and never reached is potential.
When asked about working with Adam “Pacman” Jones, AJ said he thought it was funny and made no sense then brings up how no one in TNA even bothered to think if he could actually work at all in the ring. AJ credits Bill Behrens for creating the finish to the match.
When asked if Booker T was in TNA only for the paycheck, he said that he wrestled him a few times and that he asked Booker to call it in the ring and he just did all of his moves and never called anything at all. AJ also said that he didnt want to put some people over then questioned how much he had left to give to TNA. AJ said that Booker got him upset when he apparently told Kazarian that he should have stretched after he tore his tricep. At the same time, AJ said that he still managed to learn from him. He gives an example of Booker showing him how to hit someone with a title belt. After Booker left TNA, AJ approached him and said that despite the fact they did not always get along, he still learned a lot from him and he said Booker was cool about that.
AJ is asked about the promo that Samoa Joe cut on Scott Hall after he no-showed a PPV then asked about the alleged confrontation between Kevin Nash and Joe backstage. AJ said he did not see that take place and thinks that Nash pulled Joe aside somewhere away from the locker room and confronted him. AJ then talks about the promo itself and said that Joe was told what to say but Joe dug a bit deeper and can understand the anger that Nash had, stating that he would be upset to if someone was saying this about his friend. AJ then said that once Nash and Joe realzied that TNA was pitting them agaisnt each other, they stopped being angry with each other.
Now, he is asked about Kevin Nash’s involvement in the X Division. AJ said that you need characters, even in the X Division, but you also need good matches. He never felt insulted by what he did and stressed how you need characters in wrestling.
When asked about the storyline involving Kurt and his then wife Karen, he thought it got really ridiculous at times but he had fun being involved in the story.
AJ thinks that Eric Young is very entertaining and can play many different characters. He then said that more people know him from his show “Off the Hook” than they do for the ten years he spent in TNA. He puts over Eric for being funny and said that TNA has missed the boat on him.
He compares Sting as the Undertaker of TNA. He then puts him over for being a great guy who does his best whenever he wrestles. He said that Sting is incredibly humble and would even let him call the match when they wrestled.
When asked about Mick Foley, he said that he never knew what his role in the company was supposed to be. He didnt know if he was a wrestler or a commissioner. He said before a match with Fortune, Foley came up and told them that he and Flair were going to stay out of their way and let them do their thing. As soon as the match began, Flair and Foley began to fight. He said that ate up a lot of time.
They talk about Matt Morgan and how it seemed like there were so many times that it seemed like they were going to give him the push but for some reason they pulled back. AJ said that he liked wrestling with Nigel McGuinness (He wrestled as Desmond Wolfe in TNA) and was happy that they brought in him but sadly, he had to stop due to medical concerns.
AJ believed that the company was slowly growing before Hogan and Bischoff came into TNA. He said the talent was getting better and they were having good matches. He did say that he looked at them entering the company as a positive but after their debut, they could not sustain the ratings. AJ did state that the live crowds went nuts for Hogan when he came into the company. AJ didn’t understand why TNA did not use Hogan more to advertise their shows and TV in different markets. He also said that Hogan barely mentioned TNA when he made public appearances and said that someone should have told him about to talk about the company. He did state that Hogan was able to listen to their ideas and he appreciated that.
He is now asked if the older guys that TNA were bringing in like Hogan, Bischoff, Flair, and Cornette had the business pass by them at that point. AJ pretty much agrees with that but stated that he saw eye-to-eye with Cornette when it came to the wrestling part and loved having him as an agent. AJ states that while everyone has their own ways of doing things, you have to at least try to do some different and think outside of the wrestling box.
AJ is asked about changing back to the six-sided ring. AJ said that it made them different and he thought they should have kept it but the squared ring was much easier on the body.
The interviewer asks AJ if he felt that RVD gave his best effort in TNA, after telling AJ he did not believe that he tried his best. AJ thought that having RVD come in and beat him for the title was wrong not because he lost but that someone else came from the WWE and immediately beat a homegrown TNA talent. AJ said he wanted to say something but at the end, it was better to be professional. He did state that RVD should have grabbed his left when he pinned him.
He didnt understand why they got rid of Jay Lethal, who was entertaining, young, and a great athlete.
AJ said that he heard a rumor that Paul Heyman was asked to come in but declined as he wanted complete creative control. When asked if he thought that Heyman could have been the savior of TNA, AJ just said that he was able to create characters in ECW and make that company popular. AJ then put over Tommy Dreamer for having a lot of great ideas and heard that he was similar into Heyman in that regard.
When asked how it is to tape in a studio rather than on the road, AJ said it is harder to tape at the same place with the same people as they are always seeing the same thing. He also talks how it makes it harder to gauge how other crowds in different cities will react to the product.
Now, AJ is asked about the Jeff Hardy vs. Sting match at the 2011 Victory Road PPV. AJ heard that Bischoff saw Hardy backstage twenty minutes before his match then when he headed to the ring, he saw Hardy was in no condition to perform and told Sting to take it home. AJ said that now, Hardy is clean and sober and luckily nothing dangerous happened.
AJ is asked if he was TNA management and had to make a decision about his contract and who would he cut to retain his deal. AJ said that you cannot spend more than what you take in and joked that you probably shouldn’t rent a castle when you stay in the United Kingdom. He then said you have to find a way to get around and thinks they were not trying hard enough to retain him. The interviewer then tells AJ about what Austin Idol told him. He said that when they are not willing to pay his price, he will disappear because he will be worth more when he comes back. AJ said that time apart might help that and if they realize if he is someone that they need, it might be too late and he could be somewhere else. AJ also said that he is taking a risk too because he might not get paid as much but he has to weigh his options himself and grab the opportunities in front of him.
AJ is asked about the storyline with Claire Lynch. AJ said that this might sound crazy but it could have turned out to be a great story but the problem was that Claire was originally supposed to be a niece. However, they did not want to make the company look bad so they did not want Claire to be a Carter in storyline. Also, AJ said Claire had to be hot to make it work, to make it believable but that was not the case. He then said the moment Claire came out, the story was ruined.
He is then asked how Vince Russo should be remembered in TNA. AJ said he tried his best but at the end, he succumbed to pressure and he got burned out. At then time, he didnt notice because he was too frustrated himself with the storylines.
When asked about Jeff Jarrett leaving TNA, AJ asks what does that say about the company when he is leaving? AJ then talks about Jarrett having a lot of inside knowledge in the company and when he left, he knew something bad was going on in the company.
AJ said that you cannot let a company bully you into signing a bad contract. He knew for sure on December 28th that he was not going to re-sign. He talks briefly about his last TNA appearance and said that now he understood why Bret Hart was pissed at the WWE and did not want to drop the title, because they were taking away his contract. He said he didnt have a contract and could have laid down and told Magnus to pin him but chose to do it professionally and do it in a way that satisfied him.
He is asked about his book and AJ said it involves his personal life and wrestling, along with his future.
When asked what he will be doing a year from today, he has no idea career wise. He would like to say he would be with one of the bigger companies but said he could go out and get hurt the next day. Regardless, he will give 100% when you see him in the ring.
Final Thoughts: Not the most entertaining shoot but it was decent enough. It was really slow-paced so that might turn people off. Also, the questions were not asked in chronological order so they jumped around a lot. This was a follow-up to his shoot in 2006 so that is why they asked questions from then until present day.
As for AJ, he seemed like a nice enough guy. He did not have an agenda and was not looking to bury anyone. It was clear that he was frustrated with how TNA was run and valued himself as being with the company from day one for a reason as to why he was upset with an offer that he felt was low. The guy did bust his ass for this company and along with a few others were the reason it stayed alive it’s first year. I came away from this interview liking AJ as a person. I also saw that he was sad to be gone from TNA and did not trash them too much, leaving a door open for a return. Still, I think he was confident that he made the right decision to leave.
The interviewer, I do not know his name, was not the greatest. He really tried to get AJ to trash Flair, but he wouldn’t bite. Flair screwed over Highspots so you can probably figure out why he asked those questions.
If you are a fan of AJ or TNA, I would recommend this shoot. If you are not, then I wouldn’t bother watching. Its not an in-depth look at his career and if you want that, RF Video is releasing a 4 hour long shoot with him in the next few weeks.