AJ Styles discusses Hulk Hogan coming into TNA and the initial friction between them, The reason the Claire Lynch storyline failed, and why the "independent contractor" status of wrestlers is wrong
SNS Unplugged with AJ Styles
Hosts: Tony J. Mirabella and Jeff Jackson
Available at http://youtu.be/MPNY9B6IBJY.
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 it's been run for so long. When it comes to independents I don't think any owner or promoter should say 'you can't 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 can't 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 Fortune: "I think the best stuff was with Fortune. The wacky stuff we were doing. I think the entertainment value went up. We had so much idea but not all of it made it. We were going to be different. Not just the four horsemen but a new age, a new horsemen. Not running around in suits in limos but wearing cool clothes and driving sports cars. We wanted to come off of a plane that had 'Flair Force-1' written on it. All of those crazy little things you can think of.
There was another time we talked about doing a spoof of the movie 'the hangover' where we wake up hungover and we go looking for Flair. James Storm is all hungover and he wakes up with his face painted like a tiger. Just like those silly face paintings you get at a circus or something. And the hotel is trashed. Stuff like 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.
On the Clair Lynch storyline: "At first, I'm telling you this was supposed to be a great story. I helped bring it together and Frank and Chris helped bring it together. It fell apart when Clair Lynch was actually brought in. Clair Lynch was never supposed to be a friend of the family. Clair Lynch was supposed to be an irresistible smoking hot niece or something, like a distant relative. When the Dixie Carter stuff rolled on then AJ was the one who was supposed to sort of take care of her. When the allegations surface that AJ was banging Clair, the fans reaction was supposed to be 'You know what, she is so hot that I'd bang her too'.
There were so many missing pieces to this that it just didn't work. First thing was the friend of the family, well who cares if she is just a friend. Second, she wasn't hot, not remotely so you would never believe that I would touch her with a 10 foot pole. There were little things that wrecked everything. Plus the way she departed the company, I'm not too happy about that either. This could have been sort of like 'The hand that rocks the cradle' stuff. That could have been good."
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