AJ Styles Talks Leaving NJPW vs. TNA, Being Willing To Change His Name In WWE & More!

AJ Styles was recently a guest on Sam Roberts’ Wrestling Podcast. The current number one contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship discussed various topics, including: Nakamura’s departure from NJPW making it more difficult for him to leave, it being more emotional leaving NJPW than it was leaving TNA, being willing to change his name upon arriving in WWE, offering advice to WWE wrestlers’ backstage.

Feeling bad about leaving NJPW, especially after hearing Nakamura was leaving too.

“I hear Nakamura on Christmas Eve told New Japan that he was leaving and I’m going, ‘oh my God! Oh God!’. I was like, ‘whoa’ and then knowing that you’re going to have to tell them in a couple weeks that, ‘hey, guess what [I’m leaving too].'”

Not shedding a tear when leaving TNA, but getting very emotional when leaving NJPW.

“It was very hard. I mean, New Japan is a great place to work. I mean, they’re standup guys. [I] can’t say enough good things about them. I’m going to tell you guys this. I wish I would have told them this, the guys at New Japan this. I didn’t shed one tear when I left TNA. I was very emotional when I left New Japan.” Styles continued, “[there] was a chip on my shoulder when I left [TNA], but, New Japan, I have nothing but respect for them, and the respect that they showed me, I can’t express how much that meant to me.”

Being willing to change his name upon arriving in WWE.

“‘Oh, he’s BJ Smiles!’, like I’m a wrestler from Fire Pro Wrestling. I literally was like, ‘you know what, man? I’ll do whatever you guys want to do. Sure, I’d like to keep my name, but who wouldn’t? But that’s not going to stop me from going to the WWE. I want to do what’s best for my family and my career, so if it works out, it works out [and] if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’ A lot of prayer went to this stuff, but everything worked out the way that it should’ve and they knew, I mean, it just goes to show how smart they are as well, because when the word ‘phenomenal’ popped on that screen [at WWE Royal Rumble 2016], it was like, that was the right thing to do.”

Working behind the scenes with Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch.

“Well, I make sure I try not stepping on any toes because I know that they’re learning from other people and I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes because they have their way of doing things. But, in some instances, I’ll be like, I’ll watch and I can’t help myself and I’m like, ‘hey, you know what would be good right here?’ and just stuff like adding stuff to what they’ve already done. And some of my favorite people to work with are like Charlotte, and Sasha, and Becky. Those girls are awesome and they’re all about taking it to the next level. Just talking to them [and] hearing them get excited about the match and how awesome it’s going to be gets me excited. I want to help with that.”

If you’d like to listen to this episode of Sam Roberts’ Wrestling Podcast in its entirety, you can click right here. Thank you to WrestlingInc for the transcription.

Mark’s reaction: I liked these comments from Styles. I thought it was interesting how he wasn’t emotional over his TNA depature, but was very sad over leaving NJPW. That really speaks to what TNA’s relationship with Styles has turned into. Once the reports of Styles signing with WWE were making its rounds on the internet, TNA released a statement pretty much saying how Styles left them in the dark for a while in regards to the status of his new contract and then went back on his word after promising to re-sign. Styles then responded to TNA’s statement saying how that wasn’t true. Needless to elaborate any more, Styles seemingly left on bad terms. However, it’s nice to hear that he enjoyed his time with New Japan so much and felt appreciated there.

When the day comes where Styles’ in-ring career comes to an end, I would love for him to stay with WWE as a trainer. He has so much knowledge to offer the younger wrestlers and from his comments above, it seems like he enjoys giving advice and getting involved backstage.

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