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Former TNA Impact Wrestling star "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles recently spoke to Busted Open Radio about a number of topics:
On his return to Ring Of Honor: "I’m excited. I really am. The different things that have happened in Ring Of Honor and for guys that have left--a lot of great wrestlers have left but I’m honored that I can come back. That they would welcome me with open arms and I’m looking forward to getting into a Ring of Honor ring and mixing it up with some guys."
On him returning to ROH creating buzz around ROH again: "I can’t imagine that I am--that it’s blowing up or getting a little bit more attention because of me but--because Ring Of Honor is such a great place to work and it’s very respected. I don’t know anybody who’s ever really watched the show that hasn’t enjoyed it. So it’s going to be fun going back and a lot of people think that I did this on purpose. That the very place I’d first be wrestling after my contract is up with TNA is in Nashville, Tennessee with Ring Of Honor. That wasn’t planned that way. It wasn’t on purpose, it was coincidental. But then again if you’re gonna start back with ROH, what a place--I mean I started in Nashville, so a lot of people--at least my career, as far as TNA started in Nashville. They know me up there, you know? So it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be fun."
How strange is it that negotiations with TNA have seemingly broken down, yet he is still being featured on TNA: "Well it seems that the dirt sheets are way off on this one. How many times did you hear that I was signed with TNA and now I’m not signed with TNA? They’re way off on this thing. They’ve been all over and then there’s people saying, “Oh, it’s a work, it’s a work.” Because they don’t want to be fooled and they are not going to admit when they are wrong when I haven’t signed a contract. I don’t know man, it’s just--it’s been a crazy time for me, these couple of weeks. And I don’t want you guys to think that I’m mad at TNA, cause I’m not. I’m not bitter towards them. I don’t hate them. I hope they do well. I got a lot of good friends that wrestle there and I hope that it’s successful. It was just an opportune time for me to take an opportunity to go wrestle somewhere else, where I may not have that opportunity again. And that’s basically what this has come down to. And I left the door open for TNA and I hope they continue to leave the door open, that you know maybe sometime in the future, I will be back. But that I don’t know and like I said, I left the door open."
On people stating that his statements about his status with TNA being a work: "Well I mean, and I can understand why people want to believe that it is a work. Because they don’t want to; first of all I’m sure they don’t want to believe that I’m actually not working for TNA. Second, I told them that I didn’t have a contract in the first place. Cause I didn’t. I had an extension. So I understand why they might believe it’s a work, and why it’s hard to believe but it’s even hard for me to believe. That after working with a company for 11 years, and busting your tail and doing what you thought was right and doing it to the best of your ability that it would even come down to a negotiation where it would take a long time or anything like that. I just figured that we’d find a way. And the timing, you know it just had me where I had to make a decision. I had to do something and I just figured that this is an opportunity and I need to take it."
On how difficult has it been to adjust to life outside of TNA after being there so long: "Well I think the biggest problem for me right now is when I do interviews is to stop saying “we”. A number of times I’ve said “we” when it’s not “we” anymore, it’s “me”. And “them”. That’s my biggest problem that I am having right now. Because it’s so hard to get used to. I mean, 11 years might not sound like a long time to someone but when you work anywhere for that long of time, it’s like you can’t get it out of your head. It’s just a force of habit. Being there. But it’s something that I’m gonna have to get used to and get used to it quick. This is my first match at Ring Of Honor, this Saturday; tomorrow. And I think once I get in the ring and start rolling around, and weekend after weekend and week after week and being on the Independent scene, I’ll get used to it pretty quick."
What does he have to say to the hardcore TNA fans who are upset with his departure: "Well I’ve definitely have had a couple of tweets, with some being angry with me. And I’m not going to retweet them, I’m not going to respond to them. I’m not going to respond to someone who is just being a jerk even though I want to. Just a number of things, like for instance some guy said that “AJ, if you’re done with TNA, then that’s a big F you to me.” Like saying I’m screwing him. My argument would be to him if you would like to pay me to work there then I’d be more than happy. Negotiations are what they are and sometimes you can’t agree on something and at some point you need to make a decision that benefits your family. One guy brought up this--this is the most ridiculous thing--did you know that I guess, Ring Of Honor’s website there is an under 18 kind of--I don’t know, soft porn or whatever it is, that sponsors them? I don’t know if it sponsors the website, I don’t know anything about it. I’m not filming any movies with soft porn if it makes him feel any better. I’m not doing that. I am there to wrestle and that’s it. I’m sure if we knew where a lot of money comes from; from different businesses; we would be less likely to support them. I am supporting my family. That’s the bottom line. It has nothing to do with some soft porn site. I don’t really know what it is. And he’s attacking my beliefs. And I want to say to this guy “well you without sin, throw the first stone.” They always want to bash something that you do. No matter what it is but it relies on me taking care of my family and what I think is right for them."
On if he looks at Ring of Honor possibly having a brighter future than TNA: "I mean sure I do. I’m going there so I would think that the sky’s the limit, man. I wanna go and help build something that you take pride in and you fall in love with it. As I did with TNA and don’t get me wrong, like I said, I don’t hate TNA but if the opportunity comes to make ROH bigger and I can have a part in that then absolutely I want to do something like that."
On how Ring Of Honor is about the wrestling more so than TNA: "It is and I do know that you have to create characters. I understand that. But then again you can’t fight someone on their field; on their playing field. You gotta accentuate what you do best. And Ring of Honor knows that wrestling is what they do best. And that is their strongest asset and I think that at a point, TNA thought the same thing about themselves. And then they tried to move on and tried to be bigger. Which is what you should do. But it was the little things like taking away the six-sided ring and putting the squared ring back in there. You realize that they weren’t really being different; they were being the same. And to me that was a bad move."
On whether his contract status is long term or short term with Ring of Honor: "Well I think we are gonna sit down tomorrow at the show and talk about that. I definitely want to be there. I definitely want to represent them. Like I said tomorrow we’ll talk about how far we are going to go with it."
How he felt after his contract with TNA was officially expired: "Well when you know you don’t have a job it’s pretty scary. It’s heartbreaking, really. But as quickly as I got those independent dates, it started making me feel a lot better. When you think you’re worthless sometimes and you get the respect that I got from the Indy’s and Ring Of Honor, that’s a big deal.It boosts your confidence, it boosts your ego a little bit. Which you need. And apparently somebody was watching. Everything you did and it’s gonna take off. It is worrisome, you’re gonna worry about it. But at the end of the day, it ain’t gonna do you any good. Just go up there and do your best and do what you can and that’s it."
On if WWE was to approach him with a contract, would he be worried they would change him: "I do know that they like to make their own characters. But I’m ok with that. If I had the opportunity to go there, I may take that opportunity. I mean it all depends on certain things obviously but if they were willing to give me the opportunity, I would make the best of it. I’m not saying that I would go there, I’m definitely not saying that I wouldn’t. It all depends on what they are offering. That’s the bottom line."
On the top of the card at WWE being more wrestler orientated than “characters”: "True. But there are little things that have happened that have gotten that character over; that wrestler over. Despite what we may think, there is a bearded guy who once he starts saying yes, people go crazy for it. And I think it’s awesome. Good for him, man. I am so proud that he is doing so well because I know that guy works really hard. And of course I’m talking about Daniel Bryan or American Dragon or whatever you want to call him. But that’s a good thing and like I said it’s all about opportunity."
Does it frustrate him to see the state of TNA how it is right now; not utilizing the talent they have: "Well I mean that is frustrating because you know they are more than capable of having those kinds of matches (5 star) like Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels. But at the same token I look at what Chris and Frankie (Kazarian) are doing as far as this tag team and I think it’s hilarious the stuff that they’ve come up with. You know it is entertainment. And for those who want a little bit of everything, those two guys can definitely give that, there’s no doubt. But at the same time they can give amazing matches. And it’s all who you put them in there with. You can only do so much with certain people in the ring. I don’t want to bash anybody because that’s not what it’s about. I’m just saying that it’s who you are in there with sometimes that you are able to have these five star matches. But at the same time you gotta tell a story and have guys who are able, are capable of having five star matches. It’s difficult to find that happy medium. Joe I think deserves to be in a huge storyline because every time he goes out to the ring somebody yells, all we hear is “Joe’s gonna kill you” yet he never gets to do it anymore. It’s hard, man. It’s just--it stinks sometimes and I don’t know whether going with a storyline’s better. It’s one of those things--it’s the same thing that Ring Of Honor does is that they do a good job of wrestling. Because that’s what they do best. TNA definitely has the wrestlers that can gather and do amazing things. But they have to give them that opportunity."
On what Dixie Carter’s focus should be on; her character or running the company: "I don’t know. I don’t know what her position in the company is anymore. I’m not really sure if she’s dealing with the money or dealing with the storyline, I’m not exactly sure what she’s dealing with. When I was in negotiations, it wasn’t with Dixie. So I’m not sure who’s in charge when it comes to that. And as far as her character goes, if she is doing such a terrible job then why is she getting booed so much? Is she getting booed because she’s doing a terrible job or is she getting booed because people honestly don’t like her character? It’s hard to say, it’s hard to know."
His thoughts on Jeff Jarrett’s departure from TNA: "Real shocking. To see the man that help start the company and the man that I know loves that place. And wants to see that company do well. For him to say you know what? I’m done with this. I can’t do anything else. It’s surprising. Because I Just figured that if it was gonna go down, the captain would go down with his ship. But it’s honestly--it makes you think. If Jeff Jarrett is willing to depart with the company then you know what’s going on out there? How frustrated are they up there? It’s hard to say, man but it was very surprising to see Jeff Jarrett leave. "