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A.J. Styles interview

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Alex Marvez interviews A.J. Styles


As evidenced by his second stint as National Wrestling Alliance champion, A.J. Styles is one of the few performers who was actually better off turning down a World Wrestling Entertainment developmental contract. In the following interview, Styles (real name Allen Jones) discusses his status in NWA/TNA and Ring of Honor, turning down WWE, how he maintains his Christian faith in a seedy industry, and why Chris Sabin is over-hyped when it comes to playing video games.


Q: How well do you think your career is going in NWA/TNA?

Styles: "There's no reason to complain about anything. I'm getting work, I'm healthy and I'm the NWA world champion. You can't ask for much more than that."


Q: Two years ago when NWA/TNA started, is there where you thought you'd be at this point in your career?

Styles: "I always set goals, so I would say I've pretty much done everything I wanted to as far as straps and all that goes. But I still want to be able to cut the perfect interview and stuff like that. There's always stuff I can work on, but I'm happy with where I'm at. Two years ago, I never thought I would be this far. Of course, I thought I would still be in the X division. I didn't think I'd be moved up."


Q: What are your thoughts on the perception of the X division and light-heavyweight wrestling in general?

Styles: "I think it has changed a little bit. We're talking about WWE with Eddie (Guerrero) and Chris (Benoit) being world champions and me. We're not the tallest guys in the world. I think the perception is changing as to what a NWA or WWE heavyweight champion looks like. There are some guys who can move up from the X division to the heavyweight division like Chris Daniels and Jerry Lynn. These guys are definitely good enough and big enough to be heavyweights."


Q: But should people have to leave the X division to be in the mix for a world title?

Styles: "I think we will always have an X division or cruiserweight title. It's stuff like that which is going to separate us, which is not such a bad thing. Some cruiserweights are small guys who can't adjust to a heavyweight match and some heavyweights cannot adjust to the cruiserweights."


Q: I've read about your background and your decision to turn down a WWE developmental deal because of the strain it would put on your family. How much did your background growing up play a role in making that decision?

Styles: "Basically, I grew up in a loving family. I grew up in the church so that's kind of what molded me. Family comes first. That's the most important thing. At the time, my wife was in college. I was the sole provider. If I left, she would have had to go back and live with her mom. It wasn't feasible to do that to her. I didn't want to be stuck in Cincinnati, but it was still really hard to turn it down. Everybody dreams about working for WWE. Lucky for me, NWA/TNA came up. I can't say I'm the smartest guy in the world. I think honestly the Lord was looking out for me on that one. It was a leap of faith. Not to quote the Hardy Boys book, but it was."


Q: I also found it interesting that you weren't a die-hard wrestling fan before you began training.

Styles: "It was not because I didn't want to. I just didn't have cable. It wasn't easy for me to watch. But the Road Warriors were my favorites. I watched enough to know who I liked.

"After I realized I wasn't going to college to play football, I had the chance to train for wrestling. I didn't really love wrestling as much as some of my friends did. They were going to try out and said, 'Hey, why not try out with us?' I said, 'Ahh, I don't really care.' They ended up quitting and I stayed. It was really weird how it all worked out."


Q: Was there ever a point where you thought about quitting?

Styles: "I think that at least once in everybody's career you feel like that. You think, 'Gosh, this sometimes feels like a job.' I thought it would never be like that, but sometimes it is. Sometimes you get sick of hurting or always being in pain. And when you finally stop hurting and are healthy, you hurt something else. It's the life of a wrestler. So there have been times when you don't feel like going, but as far as hanging it up and walking away, I don't think any wrestler can really do that because it's in your blood."


Q: At what point in your career do you think you turned the corner?

Styles: "I always say this about Christopher Daniels. Even though I was with WCW on TV a few times, I really think he got my name out there. We worked together on the 53rd anniversary NWA show and just had a great match. From then on, my indy bookings started picking up. I really began to blossom from there. I really think he helped me out huge."


Q: How hard is it being a devout Christian in today's wrestling?

Styles: "Man, it's so hard. I deal with it every day. I dealt with it last night (in Detroit). Sometimes, you go to places where you feel really uncomfortable being there but there's free food and little stuff like that. I don't want to go to bars, but a (wrestler) may work at the bar and you may be able to get free food. I've been poor way too long to buy food when I can get it for free. But it's hard on the wife because she's got to trust me. I'm not the best-looking guy in the world, but there are some pretty hot girls that come around. It's hard. There are temptations everywhere."


Q: Obviously, you can't be responsible for a lot of the risqué product presented on television. But how hard is it for you when it comes to being associated with wrestling among people outside the business?

Styles: "I think they know me and know that's not the way I am. By no means am I perfect. Good grief, me saying I'm a Christian lets you know I'm not perfect. I do screw up. If you know me, I think I'm genuinely a good guy and try to do things in a Christian way or in a human way. I just try to be nice to everybody."


Q: What is your status with Ring of Honor and where do you weigh in on what is going on up there and with problems with NWA/TNA?

Styles: "I wish I knew exactly what was going on because I love Ring of Honor. I've been going up there a long time, almost since the whole thing started. As far as I know, (an agreement) didn't get signed (between Ring of Honor and NWA/TNA). It has nothing to do with us getting TV (on Fox Sports Net). It had do with our cable provider because of the guys that are on the (NWA/TNA) Explosion show. They did not want us promoting TNA guys wrestling on Ring of Honor shows. Rob Feinstein didn't get accused or caught for anything, but when you come down to it, you can almost call Rob a pedophile. That's what the big thing was. I hated that it came down to that but I understand. I wouldn't want my kids wrestling around someone like that."


Q: Would you continue to work for them if NWA/TNA allowed you to?

Styles: "I would because I trust them. If they say Rob doesn't work for us anymore, I say ok. I trust you and I'd definitely wrestle for them. But there are a lot of red flags when someone doesn't want to sign any papers saying that."


Q: What status with Japan and how much interest do you have in working there on a full-time basis?

Styles: "That's the thing. I don't think I'll be able to be a full-time guy in Japan. They're not going to fly me back every week to do TNA. I am a big tape watcher and most of it is from Japan. I don't see me going over there and making a career out of anything. But I do love going over there where Zero-One will have me."


Q: Now that you've won the NWA title twice, what is the next career goal you've set for yourself?

Styles: [Laughs] "Paying off my mortgage."


Q: Are you close?

Styles: "I'm really far away, actually. But honestly, that is my main goal, to pay off my mortgage. I don't want be a guy who wrestles forever. I want to pay for my mortgage and be a guy who actually makes money at this crazy sport.


Q: What would you like to do when finished wrestling?

Styles: "I hope getting involved with something in video games. If you don't know anything about A.J. Styles, you should know I love to wrestle and play video games. Hopefully, something will turn out where I can help out in the video game industry. I love it.

"Somebody called Chris Sabin the Game Master. I found that offensive because he really doesn't play that many games and is not very good. We argued about this (recently). It's a known problem. If at all possible, from now on, I would like to be called the Game Legend."

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