It was only last year that an admittedly nervous AJ Styles officially stepped into the WWE ring for the first time at the 2016 Royal Rumble. And in no time, his stock has shot up multiple folds both in terms of popularity among the fans and his positioning in the company. Fresh from his brutal clash for the WWE Heavyweight Championship at the Elimination Chamber, the WWE Superstar opened up to select journalists from Asia and Oceana, about more than just wrestling, ahead of Wrestlemania 33.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t beat up after the main event. It was one of the most brutal matches that I’ve been in; you ought to be a little sour,” he reacted to the loss and added, “My first reaction to the match was pain. But I’m yet to receive a rematch call from my loss to John Cena, which will happen soon with Bray Wyatt now.”
When asked about his favoured opponents in the near future, the Phenomenal One made no qualms about who he has his eyes on next. “I’ve only been here (in the WWE) for a year. And half of the year I’ve been on the Smackdown roster, so there are definitely some Raw guys. There is one guy that I’m yet to lay hands on Smackwdown – Randy Orton. I’m sure it won’t be long before Randy and I get locked up in the ring,” he revealed.
And what would be his dream match if he were to get wishful? “In this business it’s never about what I want, but about what the fans want. So, I don’t want to have my dream match, I want to have their dream match,” he said and added, “You’d be surprised to know how many pairings they’d love to see me in, from Shawn Michaels to Andre The Giant. That’s flattering because they’re anxious to see how many different things can be done with so many different people.”
AJ’s immediate recognition in the WWE can be illustrated through him topping the list of most Googled new Superstars in 2016. And what does he think he is doing differently? “Despite the fact that I’ve been on TV for a lot of my career, WWE is just a different animal. So when they (the fans) see something new, something fresh; the fact that I’m in my late 30s, it’s special and different,” he mulled.
The former WWE Champion added, “I don’t want to be another Shawn Michaels; I want to be the first AJ Styles. So there are simple things that I do differently, like everybody wets their hair but I don’t. Even when you see me doing my moves, you’re not thinking of anyone else but AJ.”
Responding to rumours about WWE heading to India later this year, the former TNA star seemed pretty excited to spread the reach of sports entertainment to this part of the world as well. “I think it’d be great coming to India. We want to reach out to the world and India is a huge part of that. I would love for the opportunity to come over and put up some shows for you guys,” he told.
The 39-year-old also opened up about his family and kids, who he thinks are not worried to see him put his body through the line anymore. “This is what they’ve known for their entire life. It’s just my two-year-old daughter, who doesn’t even like her brothers fighting.” But the boys already look like future wrestlers in the making. “Whenever I have the opportunity, I play WWE 2K17 at home. Though, my son beats the hell out of me.”
Talking of family and friends, AJ also expressed his delight for the WWE debut of his ‘best friend in the world’ Samoa Joe. “Unfortunately, we’re on different rosters. But sooner or later, our paths will cross and it’s going to be a special moment,” he added.
Even Wrestlemania 33 is going to be a special moment for AJ who believes that you don’t realise how big the event is unless you’re a part of it. “It’s gonna feel a lot different (than last time). This will be in a stadium and it’s a different feeling altogether. I honestly don’t know what to expect, but am definitely anxious to find out,” he said.