The flag for AJ Styles has been and gone. A harsh blunt statement I’ve provided here considering we are talking about easily one of the most technically gifted wrestlers in the business. His work ethic and prowess in the ring would be an asset to any organisation some might say including WWE. Personally I don’t believe we will ever see AJ styles in the WWE, and I think it’s in his best interest for his career that we don’t see him jump ship.
With recent contract negotiations and budget cuts on-going at TNA, it is inevitable that people are going to speculate about Styles’ tenure with the company. Why would he stay there? TNA at this current moment is a sinking ship in my mind. Cutting people left and right while still having overpaid 60 year olds and past their prime MMA fighters on their payroll. You have a person like AJ Styles who has given pretty much his whole career to that company, “Mr TNA” that still manage to be further down the pecking order than washed up talent from WWE.
Just take a look at his promo on last week’s Impact, although it was obviously a work, there had to have been some self-belief in what Styles was saying when talking about his situation and status in the company. What also hit home in the promo to me as a viewer was how the fans didn’t really grasp the supposed importance of the situation and the non “kayfabe” elements regarding his contract that surrounded this whole promo. When CM Punk dropped the infamous “pipe bomb”, people stood still and took notice. WWE really built it around the fact that they we’re going to lose their hottest talent on the roster at that time whereas with Styles, it didn’t seem apparent during that promo that this was one of the biggest guys on the roster teasing a departure with the company, if you read between the lines.
Regardless of the pop two weeks ago when the “phenomenal” gimmick was brought back, the fans or company didn’t really do a big job of making AJ Styles seem like the reason anyone should be watching TNA. When you look at WWE at this current moment, people want to see RAW for someone like Daniel Bryan, his intensity and skill in the ring is selling PPVs at the moment, can the same be said for AJ styles I’m not too sure.
Now we look back at TNA between 2006-2010 much can be said differently about Styles then. Matches with Samoa Joe, Daniels etc. were easily stealing the show. It is during this time that maybe I could have seen Styles moving over to WWE and being built into one of the great Indy stars turned superstars like Punk & Bryan. However Styles stayed loyal and has given his whole career to this company, but at what cost?
Styles is seen as one of the true originals, one of the faces of TNA, influential in making the product what it is today with his wrestling style that was so prominent in building the X Division, yet TNA as a company has failed to capitalise on these great unique moments and talent involved, instead focusing on the Hulk Hogan’s, Jeff Hardy and other former stars instead of building up their own.
If AJ Styles moved to WWE, it should be as big as Goldberg coming to WWE from WCW or the outsiders jumping ship to WCW back in 96 but it won’t be. A move like that can either go as well as Nash and Hall’s or instead be as completely uninspiring as Goldberg’s move to WWE and that is how I feel it would go for him. Styles will always be seen as a “TNA Original” and at this time with the company in the state it is in and the stigma around it, it isn’t necessarily a good thing to be hanging over your head.
TNA are less relevant now than they ever have been, they are not even competing with WWE and the talent is surely not attracting Vince or Triple H for a potential move. The best thing AJ Styles can hope for is for the company to give him a little service back for all the service he has given them with a push and a little emphasis on the “phenomenal” we might even see the gold back round his waist this year. Although if I was AJ, I’d think less about loyalty and a little bit more on what’s best for me and professional wrestling.
This story originally appeared on WrestlingNewsSource.com and was written by Josh Bennett.