The Crow's Nest - So AJ Styles and TNA Called it Quits...
Dec 9, 2013 - 10:09:12 PM
1) So AJ Styles and TNA Called it Quits... (12/09/13)
It's amazing how fast time goes by sometimes.
A little over 3 months ago, I wrote a column discussing whether or not I thought AJ Styles should leave TNA. In case you missed it, my final point was basically that he should, but only if TNA wasn't willing to bring some more money to the table. According to the reports, money was the major issue in the negotiation with both parties being "very far apart" in terms of what they wanted.
Sure enough, as I figured would come to pass, TNA didn't bring enough money to the table, and now one of their originals is gone. They let a guy who has done EVERYTHING for them slip through their fingers. The man's an 18-time champion for crying out loud, and is easily one of the most popular talents on the TNA roster.
I get that TNA is trying to cut costs right now. They've got some ground to make up after the failed Hogan & Bischoff experiment, and they've cut ties with a few of their lesser names to free up some roster space and cash flow. I get that. But AJ Styles isn't just another superstar in TNA. He's over, he's talented, he moves merchandise, and with a bit of easy booking, he could (and should) easily be a big-time player in the company.
But now he's gone.
So what's next for AJ Styles? Well the obvious first question to ask is whether or not we'll see him compete in a WWE ring any time soon. I'd love to say "hell yes" with all the optimism in the world, but it would not be the first time WWE passed on a guy that popular IWC opinion said should be hired. It doesn't even have to be about WWE not wanting a "TNA guy" on their roster. It could simply just be that they don't want him because they don't see a fit right now. Personally I think that's garbage, because the amount of potentially great matches awaiting Styles on the WWE roster is incredible, but you have to think about this situation with WWE logic.
So if he's not going back to WWE, what about Ring of Honor? He spent some time in RoH (while also competing in a young TNA) and lord knows that company could use an injection of help right now. I'm not a big RoH fan by any means, but at least competing there would keep him in one of the bigger companies around.
What about Mexico? He's had a few matches there, and I think his high-flying style would be a natural fit.
Or Japan? Given how recently he competed for the Wrestle-1 promotion over there, it wouldn't be totally illogical to think that he might have some connections.
Being as talented and relatively high-profile as he is, there probably aren't a lot of closed doors for The Phenomenal One right now. I'm sure his booking schedule is going to be quite full for the next little while, and even if it's predominately with smaller indy shows, it's going to keep him on the bigger radars.
My ideal scenario, for both selfish reasons as a fan and because I want him to succeed, is for Styles to end up in WWE. Even if he has to "pay his dues" on NXT for a while, just to make sure he can connect with the WWE crowd, it could be a very quick transition to the main roster. He's versatile enough to pull off a good match with just about anybody on the WWE roster, and could easily become a big enough name to provide transitional feuds for main event guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. I don't know that he would ever become a WWE Champion, but I'd be curious to see what he could do with a mid card belt.
Or, and I could realistically see this happening, Styles goes and spends a little while on the indy circuit, maybe flirting around with WWE rumours for a bit, before TNA finally comes to their senses and makes a better offer to him. If money really was the only thing standing in the way of a contract being signed, I think it would be reasonable to assume he'd go back for the right amount of dollars. Especially if WWE shows no interest in signing him.
At the end of the day though, it really is TNA's loss here. Styles has a number of doors swinging wide open for him, whereas TNA is losing one of their top stars because they didn't want to spend a bit more cash. It may not be the move that will singlehandedly kill the company, but it's certainly not a great sign if they're willing to let their "golden boy" get away.
Regardless of what happens, I do wish AJ Styles the best of luck in his travels. I'm a big fan of his work, and I hope it isn't long before he's back on my TV screen in some capacity.
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