On the controversial independent contractor issues in wrestling: The whole independent contractor thing in pro wrestling doesn’t really work, it doesn’t make much sense but that’s the way its been run for so long. When it comes to independents I don’t think any owner or promoter should say ‘you cant work for this guy or this guy’ but when it comes to TNA and WWE, i understand with those bigger contracts.
On being pushed aside when Kurt angle and Christian came into TNA: This might make you mad but I was having the most fun at the time. those things worked for me at the time. for me, that stuff was hilarious. I understand you cant be in the spotlight all the time so why not have fun in the process of getting there. the crazy stuff with christian and then with Kurt and then with Karen. Then i was in a main storyline with Kurt. I just wanted to have fun and give off another point of aj styles.
Working with Ric Flair: I have no problems doing it. I think there is always a time to turn heel and who better to do it with than with Ric Flair. I have no problems working with Ric Flair but I think it was important for everyone to realize that I’m not Ric Flair. Wearing the robe was great but adding the hood on there made it better. I had a lot of fun with that.
On the reaction backstage that Hulk Hogan was coming to TNA: I think we were optimistic. the last thing that hogan really did was he made WCW. He made it a bigger product. We all basically said, the last thing he did was turned to gold. When I heard that things were going to start changing, i had doubts.
Like the first thing being the ring. When I heard the ring was going to be changed to a standard 4 sided. They said because it looks more professional. I think that was a big no-no. One thing the ring did was make us look different from others. That to me was the most important thing. The ring was a lot tighter, the ropes. I know this now but the 4 sided ring is a lot better to bump on. The old ring just didn’t give much and you take a lot more impact on your body. Still, it was different and different is good.
When I took a belly to belly from Kurt in the 4 sided ring, I told myself I will never again bump in that 6 sided ring because it was like heaven. The last time I wrestled Kurt was in the UK and he gave me that spot with the belly to belly and I told myself I will never take that again. I ended up taking that move again in the 4 sided ring and things changed.
Having some friction with Hogan and Bischoff: Initially there was friction. When I saw all of these changes going on I just said, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We were already accumulating viewers more and more every time our show was on the air before they had gotten there.
One thing they wanted me to be was a mini Ric Flair. They wanted to dye my hair and act exactly like flair. I don’t want to be flair, I want to be AJ Styles. Ric Flair is the kind of guy that you can never grow out of his shadow. I think they wanted me to be like flair because they didn’t know who i was. The fans knew who i was but because they didn’t, they wanted to change me into someone they knew, piggyback on to Ric Flair.
On dropping to belt to RVD: We didn’t even have an angle at all. They booked a match with Jeff Hardy vs Rob van Dam to see who was going to wrestle me. Then I found out they were going to put Rob over and I said ‘What!? Why?’ and this wasn’t an ego thing. This was just a thing of, why would you just bring in this guy to go over one of your top guys. Why wouldn’t your top guy go over this guy and show he is the real TNA heavyweight champion? It was just mind blowing. It’s not about me either. I would have had the same reaction if Sting had the title and Rob went over. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s not Rob’s fault either, he just went in there and wrestled.