September 5, 2006 - Sometimes a nickname says it all.
"The Phenomenal One".
If you've never seen AJ Styles in the ring, that's what you're missing, a phenomenon.
He's the face of TNA wrestling, along with Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, and Jeff Jarrett,
and it's a league that grows more popular by the pay-per-view.
In fact, Midway recently inked a deal with TNA to create a line of videogames based on the brand,
and have even gone so far as to hire AJ Styles and Samoa Joe as consultants.
"I haven't liked a wrestling game since the N64," says Styles, "so I'm going to make sure they get this right."
Here's what else Styles had to say as we talked about everything from the six-sided ring
to a dream match against Kurt Angle…
IGN Sports: How important is Midway's videogame in terms of getting the TNA brand out to the mass market?
AJ Styles: I think that it's good for everyone. TNA is a growing company and Midway is going to take
advantage of that by putting out a great game. It's almost like we're going to piggyback off of each other.
Publicity-wise, it will be great for everybody, and in the fans eyes, seeing is believing. Maybe you didn't know
someone could do a flipping piledriver like The Canadian Destroyer until you see it in the game, then you're
going to want to see how it looks in real life. It's such a huge thing for both companies.
IGN Sports: For gamers whose first experience with TNA might come in the form of the videogame,
what differentiates the league from your main competitor, WWE?
AJ Styles: The wrestling is so different from WWE. I just believe that the best athletes in wrestling work
for TNA. When you watch our matches you can see that. We actually bring wrestling, and we bring that
wrestling to a different level that WWE isn't able to do. Just the caliber of guys that we have at TNA
is just unbelievable, and when you put that with unbelievable athletes, it's a great product.
IGN Sports: One of the striking differences is the six-sided ring.
What's the advantage to wrestling in a six-sided ring as opposed to four?
AJ Styles: More space in the middle of the ring. It's a circle, pretty much. And for high-flyers like myself,
with the ropes being closer together, that means the ropes are tighter so it's easier to springboard.
It adds a whole new level, and a lot more confidence to guys trying to adapt to that high-flying style.
Most people don't know that it takes away from the corners, though, because it's not at a 45-degree angle,
so it's a little harder to stand on top if you're not used to it. That's why you see me do more springboards,
because for me, there's a lot less chance of screwing up.
IGN Sports: Are you a gamer?
AJ Styles: I'm quite the gamer. It's my parents fault, they got me addicted to them a long time ago
when they bought me a Nintendo, and I've just loved videogames ever since. You name the system,
I've got it. That's why I really believe the TNA game is going to be so great. They're bringing in me and
Samoa Joe as consultants, and all the ideas we had for the game, these guys pretty much already had.
That's really exciting for guys who love wrestling games. We're going to bring things back to the way they
were on the N64. Easy to play, hard to master.
IGN Sports: In terms of your wrestling style, what does it mean to you when fans refer to you
as the most exciting athlete in the entire sport?
AJ Styles: It's weird, honestly, because I watch guys like Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels
and I think those are the most exciting guys in professional wrestling. So to hear someone say
that I could be that guy, it's awesome. It makes you feel great. You can never hear it enough that
you're doing a great job. I still try to stay pretty humble about all of that stuff, it goes in one ear and
out the other to me, but it still makes me feel pretty good.
IGN Sports: At the same time, you have guys like Batista coming out and saying some pretty critical
things about you. Does WWE fear TNA?
AJ Styles: In defense of Batista, I don't believe it until I've heard people say it,
and I've heard through the grapevine that he didn't even say any of that stuff.
So it's almost like us against the media. They want it to be hot between the two companies,
and it is because that's our competition, but in that same line, I don't want to see anybody get hurt,
even if they work for the competition. It gets crazy like that. But do I think WWE fears us?
Absolutely, that's why they brought back ECW. They're afraid and they should be.
We're growing at a super fast rate, and that's something to be scared of.
IGN Sports: You have such a unique style in the ring, who were some of your favorite wrestlers
to watch when you were growing up that you maybe tried to pattern yourself after?
AJ Styles: I have to tell you, I never really watched that much wrestling, so I didn't pattern myself after
anyone. I looked up to guys in football, but I just never thought I'd be a professional wrestler.
It just kind of came out of nowhere for me. I had some friends who were just big-time fans of professional
wrestling, and I told them if they ever found a place to train, I'd go with them. I said that sarcastically
because I didn't even think they'd find a place. I mean, c'mon, how many places do you know train you
for wrestling? Lo and behold, they found a place 20 minutes from my house. I went with them and
found out it was something I could do.
IGN Sports: Is it because you never watched wrestling that you don't get stuck in the rut of performing
moves that look like everyone else?
AJ Styles: I don't want to be like anyone else. That's my thing. I want to do everything in a unique way,
that way when they think of wrestling, they think of AJ Styles. I don't want them to think of anyone else.
IGN Sports: When you first heard about the Ultimate X concept, did you think it would be as popular
as it has become?
AJ Styles: The concept of the Ultimate X match is pretty awesome, and I was quite jealous of the guys
who got to do it before me. With trial and error, they've gotten better and better, and I'm excited that
I've gotten to be a part of them. They're always exciting and innovative matches…
definitely one of the best match styles that TNA has come up with.
IGN Sports: How far is that fall off the wire? I saw you do the flip…that had to hurt.
AJ Styles: That was pretty scary. Honestly, I didn't think I was going to make it. From the turnbuckle,
we have to actually jump to reach the rope, so it has to be at least 12 feet in the air.
It's not exactly an easy fall. People say what they want about wrestling, but when you fall from that high,
it's just scary. Anytime someone can get hurt, it's always scary, and the Ultimate X match really raises those stakes.
IGN Sports: You've performed in both singles and tag matches. Do you prefer one over the other?
AJ Styles: I guess it depends on who I'm with. I always had great matches with D-Lo Brown,
and then me and Christopher Daniels know each other so well, it's always fun to work together.
Then again, you've got singles, and that's always great because if you're not having a great match,
you've only got one person to blame, and I always blame myself. It's my job to make sure we have
a good match, and singles wrestling provides that. Then again, I can always go back to tag team
because it's always something different. For me, it's a challenge because I proved that I can be a
singles wrestler, but I want to prove that I can also be a great tag team partner.
IGN Sports: What's up with Christopher Daniels wearing a suit to a street fight?
AJ Styles: [laughs] That's Christopher Daniels. He always wears a suit, that's his thing.
He does what he wants and I don't argue with him as long as he does what he's supposed to do.
Why should I argue with one of the best wrestlers in the world?
IGN Sports: How important was it for TNA to have someone like Christian Cage make the jump from WWE?
AJ Styles: I think it was very important. I think it showed that there's a better product out there
and he wants to be a part of it. Coming to TNA, that proves to everybody, if WWE is so great,
why would Christian Cage leave? He was one of their top guys.
IGN Sports: Do you think there's a chance that we could see the dream match between AJ Styles and Kurt Angle anytime soon?
AJ Styles: Time will tell. Who knows? I would definitely love to wrestle Kurt and we'd love to have him in TNA.
Time will tell, man, your guess is as good as mine.
IGN Sports: If anything can touch off a new Monday Night War, it might be that match.
AJ Styles: We'll take advantage of WWE's mistakes, that's for sure.