25th May 2003
interviewed by Danny Bourne at Frontiers of Honor
In the second of this three part series perennial Indy favourite and five year wrestling veteran AJ Styles talks about his early career, belief in a higher power and that WWE contract.
Some people name you as the number one Indy wrestler in the world at the moment. How does that make you feel?
Well it’s pretty unbelievable. I mean you don’t really think about that and so when someone tells you it makes you feel good, but it’s like no, surely not me. With all the great wrestlers around, with Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and Paul London and The Amazing Red… the list goes on and on. It’s pretty incredible.
Does your religious convictions cause problems, being a pro-wrestler?
Well it does because pro-wrestling consists of some words that I normally wouldn’t say in church, you know? So it’s harder to get over as a Heel. But, then, again I’m blessed because of my Faith. I am where I am today because I am a Christian. I truly believe that.
You put down your success to your religious beliefs?
Yeah. I mean I don’t even call it religious. I call it a relationship because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ and I think that in that – and telling you that – that I’m planting seeds, and God’s blessing me for it.
So what made you become a wrestler in the first place, then? Surely, it wouldn’t be the first choice of profession for a churchgoer?
Obviously not. But I always enjoyed watching it as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the biggest wrestling fan, but I always enjoyed watching wrestling. So one day, out of the blue, two of my friends who loved wrestling found a place to train. I said, “You know what? I’ll go up there with you and just see what happens”. They quit, I stayed, and here I am in England talking to you.
So you’re happy that they took you along?
Oh yeah. There’s one thing about wrestling that I know now, that but didn’t know then. That is you don’t get into wrestling because of the money… because it won’t be there – at first, anyway. By the time I found that out it was too late because I had already fallen in love with the sport. Once you fall in love with it, you can’t stop doing it. That’s why you see all these old timers still doing it.
But why pro-wrestling?
If I had to go back and tell myself you’re going to be a professional wrestler and you’re actually going to make a living out of this, I’d say, “you’re a liar”. When I was kid I thought I was going to be a professional football player or a basketball player. But then I growing up, I realised that I was slow. So white and slow doesn’t get over too much in the professional sports in the US. So I figured I’d try something else.
You’ve worked in a lot of franchises as well, is there any one that has a particular place in your heart?
You never forget where you came from and I came from NWA Wildside. In Cornelia, Georgia, a small little place. But that’s where I got my start, that’s where everything happened for me as far as going to the WCW. From there I went to Ring of Honor where I’ve had a great time. The fans really are just some of the best – much like here in London. I really can’t say there’s one that has a particular place, but maybe two: Ring of Honor and Wildside. A big place in my heart.
You spent a short term in the WCW, do you want to talk about your career there?
A lot of people ask me what was the back like, we know there’s a lot of cliques and stuff like that. But I was just happy to be there. I’d done something that very few people can do in this profession, so I was happy to be there and worse could have happened to me other than WCW going under. I could have bought a house, I could have been in THE position that some of the bigger stars that were in who lost their jobs. They were making big time money and had big time bills. That didn’t happen to me, I just lost my job, but it hurt. But hey, life goes on.
You’ve also gained some notoriety by turning down a WWE contract.
Well, you know a lot of people blow that out of proportion. It had really nothing to do with me having big balls or anything like that. My wife was in college and the money wasn’t there that I needed. Financially I just couldn’t accept it.
The FWA have brought you over to the UK a few times now, do you enjoy coming to this side of the Atlantic to work?
You know what? The fans here, I mean they really are some of the best. I enjoy wrestling here because of the crowd. The crowd makes wrestling, wrestlers don’t make wrestling. It’s always the fans. So in return I respect them for just loving wrestling. Without them, who knows where wrestling would be right now? We help put the entertainment part into it, but without the fans we’re nothing. So I just want to thank them for coming and watching and supporting. For them to come out and show the respect, they’ll get, in return, respect from me.