FATP: TN-AJ Styles

So, here’s the internet’s latest rumour (and I stress the word rumour) about AJ Styles’ current status with TNA – as of this moment, he’s taped a promo saying that he’ll be leaving TNA for good (which will air sometime in January 2014) and he’s done with the company. It’s just another example of TNA doing something that renders me speechless.

Assuming that this rumour (there’s that word again!) is true, then it just baffles me that TNA have been unable to come to terms with AJ. Surely he can’t be asking for a huge amount of money that TNA – or the Carters – can’t afford to pay him. It’s verging on ridiculous. In fact, it’s not. Given how things have gone in TNA of late, it’s completely understandable. In case you’re wondering, THAT my friends, was not sarcasm.

AJ Styles has been one of the staples of TNA for more than the last decade. He’s extremely versatile, as shown by the fact he’s a multi-time TNA X-Division, Tag-Team, Legends/Global/TV and World Champion. He’s arguably their most consistent in-ring performer, regardless of the size, shape or calibre of opponent that he wrestles on a weekly basis. He’s extremely marketable and probably TNA’s biggest home-grown star, yet he’s never portrayed that way.

A lot of the things he’s said in his promos since the summer have been right. Whenever an ex-WWE talent becomes available, he’s shipped further down the card to make way for them, and TNA put their time and money into them instead. Why shouldn’t he feel frustrated or be angry about that? It makes total sense and if I were in that situation, I’d feel exactly the same way. And so would you.

There’s an argument to be made that AJ is the most talented wrestler of his generation. He can do it all. You could say that his promo skills aren’t great, but Bret Hart wasn’t exactly a great talker either and look what he achieved. I’m astounded that TNA can’t agree terms with AJ Styles. I genuinely can’t believe that they don’t think he’s worth it, cos that’s what it comes down to. If they thought AJ was worth it, he’d have a new deal by now.

But what have TNA spent the last 3-4 years doing? Instead of investing serious time in guys like Frankie Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, James Storm and AJ Styles, they sunk all their money into the big red and yellow albatross known as Hulk Hogan…brrrotherrr… And what an unmitigated disaster that was.

Hogan probably earned MILLIONS out of TNA, and what did he bring them? Did the ratings shoot up? No. They stayed the same. Did more people buy PPVs? No. Did more people attend live events? Not really. Hogan brought NOTHING to TNA, yet they were happy to sink MILLIONS of dollars into him because he convinced TNA officials that he was still a draw. But he wasn’t. All the Hulkster brought to TNA was a sackful of bad PR and his daughter. That’s it. Nothing fresh. Nothing new. And NO value.

Styles is capable of doing that. Bringing something fresh. Bringing something new. And more importantly, he brings value to TNA. When someone mentions AJ Styles, you immediately think of TNA. And if TNA had any sense, they’d lock AJ Styles in to a new deal instead of letting him walk away.

AJ will have no shortage of options though. He can make a decent living on the indys, he can get bookings all across the world and fans would flock to see him – whether it’s in Japan, Mexico or Europe.

You know the one thing that really gets me about this whole situation? AJ Styles deserves better than TNA. It’s clear for everyone to see that he loves working there. He loves the company and he loves the fans. Yet how do TNA choose to treat him? By low-balling him in their negotiations.

Let’s be clear about this. It’s highly doubtful that AJ Styles is asking for millions of dollars. He probably just wants a little bit more money than he’s earning now to stay where he is. And who can say he hasn’t earned it after the way he’s been treated over the last 3-4 years? Isn’t it just a little bit of a coincidence that the last time AJ Styles was TNA World Champion was before Hulk Hogan came to TNA, and as soon as Hogan leaves, AJ becomes World Champion again?

It’s not just the way he’s been positioned (or not) in the company for a few years. It’s the ridiculous, BS storylines he’s been involved in, brilliantly capped off by the disaster that was the Claire Lynch saga. Awful, awful TV that was saved by Bad Influence promos and the matches they had with AJ.

And don’t even get me started on the moody, dark character that AJ portrayed for a few months this summer. What was all that about? The character confused people. They weren’t sure how they were supposed to react to it. Were they supposed to boo or cheer? It didn’t benefit AJ, but he kept his mouth shut and got on with it – like a good pro.

I don’t know why TNA and AJ Styles haven’t been able to agree to a new deal. But can TNA honestly say that, right now, they can afford to lose AJ Styles, or that he doesn’t deserve whatever he’s asking for? No. They can’t.

AJ Styles IS TNA. And it’s about time that those in charge realise that. Otherwise, they’ll lose him for good. I’ll finish off by saying this – TNA need AJ Styles a hell of a lot more than AJ Styles needs TNA.