Tuesday, 9 July 2013

TNA Analysed 13 - AJ Styles

This edition isn't so much a criticism of the titular wrestler but more a complaint against TNA for botching the use of one of their best assets.  AJ Styles is one of the best wrestlers TNA has and some would argue that he is one of the best in the industry today, but for the sake of the article I am keeping it strictly TNA.  AJ has been referred to as the future of TNA many times by the likes of Hulk Hogan, Dixie Carter, Ric Flair and Eric Bischoff and bear in mind I am only basing this off my time watching TNA which is somewhere around a fortnight before Hulk and Bischoff joined the company.

With such high praise coming from these people you would think he is one of the top players in the company, but you would be wrong.  AJ styles has only held the TNA world heavyweight title once back in 2009 and has never had it since.  I am aware that he was a multiple NWA heavyweight champion back in the early years of TNA but since the change to being a single entity, he has only held it's coveted title once since Hogan's arrival.  For the future of the company you would expect him to have had the belt at least once a year surely, but the sad fact is that out of the TNA originals in which I count the following:

  • AJ Styles
  • Samoa Joe
  • Bobby Roode
  • James Storm
  • Christopher Daniels
  • Kazarian
  • Eric Young
Only two of them have held the TNA world heavyweight title since the regime change.  James Storm had it for less than a week before Bobby Roode went heel and ended up winning the belt.  Now he did hold the title for a company record of close to a year but after that it has all been former WWE, WCW talent.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at this wikipedia link showing who has held the title since 2007 when the belt was debuted:


Many people will have seen the interview where AJ comments about reading the death of WCW (a very good read by the way) and how he wouldn't want to see Hulk Hogan join TNA.

Of course Hogan isn't the type to hold a grudge, I mean it's not like he purposefully signed the ultimate warrior for a WCW rematch where he went over Warrior to get revenge for losing a fake match or anything.....

Yeah it wouldn't surprise me to hear one day that Hogan saw that video and decided that Styles was on his Hulkashitlist for the remainder of his years and it shows.  Here we have a loyal employee who has had the chance to jump ship in the past stick with TNA through it's worst periods and how do TNA reward him?  Deny him a title shot for a full year.  Now you may call "kayfabe it's all for a story" and you would be sort of right.  We know that many pro wrestlers have ego's and really they want to be shown in the best light possible, just look at the top stars of the past and how big an ego they have about themselves and the business in general.  AJ would be pissed that he will be out of the main event of the show for 12 months but since he is loyal he rolls with it.

Now he runs a gimmick very similar to one Sting had in WCW as this lone badass who fights for no one but himself.  TNA even screwed this up by having him feud with Kurt Angle and fucking LOSE!  They built AJ for months, not having him speak and tease us with a heel turn to Aces and eights just so he could lose his first match back to a broken down drunk like Angle?  Fuck you TNA.

It just boggles the mind how ignorant TNA are when it comes to promoting their established stars, the work was already done for them when they took over.  Don't get me wrong here, I am not against new talent or even promoting former WWE wrestlers but you need to work both to ensure it doesn't look like you're trying to ape WWE at every turn.  AJ has been the supposed future of the company for quite a while now and well TNA has a funny way of showing it.  Really it isn't a massive shock when you think about how many "future stars" the company has over a single year.  This year alone we have been told that Magnus, Chris Sabin, Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles are all the future of the company yet aside from Hardy they all languish in the midcard or act as fodder for the current top echelon of TNA.  Don't expect to ever see Magnus in the main event or Sabin either since Hogan has a dislike of small guys in pro wrestling and Magnus is a foreigner so his chances of being champ are zero.

Overall I feel pretty bad for AJ and the other originals because it sort of is their company. They built it from virtually nothing and kept it alive through putting on good matches and entertaining the fans.  The new management step in and all of a sudden the company switches from promoting home grown talent, to raking in broken down old stars or cast off's from other promotions in a fruitless bid to bring those fans over to TNA with them.  Instead of making the show about TNA and it's roster of top guys like AJ Styles, highlighting their best matches and bringing in more talented wrestlers from the indies to create a new lineup for the future.  TNA seem dead set on rehashing WCW stories and promoting old guys while using the younger talent as background stand In's is killing TNA slowly but surely.

Will this future appear for AJ?  Probably not, he is likely to continue as he has been now for the last few years, feuding with Chris Daniels and failing to win the title until his eventual retirement.  Maybe he will get another title run in the future but as it currently stands he's going nowhere fast.


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