Monday 31 October 2011

AJ Styles: WWE Bound?

If you're a fan of TNA you'll know that AJ Styles has been one of the longest tenured wrestlers there, having been with the company since the very beginning. Over the years, AJ Styles has been a featured performer in TNA, and arguably the best all-round wrestler in the company. In my honest opinion, AJ Styles should be the face of TNA right now. If you listen to the average mark posting on some YouTube video, of course AJ is already the face of TNA, and TNA is the only place which truly showcases AJ's ability. But quite frankly, nothing could be further from the truth.

One must only watch TNA for a couple of weeks to see that AJ is hardly being 'showcased'. While in the past, AJ played a prominent role in TNA, and contributed greatly to the growth of the company, (which was originally designed to be a viable alternative to the WWE product) nowadays nothing could be further from the truth. AJ is hardly playing a prominent role in the current TNA product, and is barely contributing to its 'growth'. This is not the result of AJ's own failure, but is rather the fault of TNA Management. Ever since Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff arrived in TNA, we have seen the slow demise of AJ Styles.

At their arrival, AJ was the Heavyweight Champion, and had been for several months. I like to think of AJ at that time as being almost like the Bret Hart of TNA. Was he the best 'mic-guy' of all time? Probably not. But he was legitimately the best worker in the company, and night-in and night-out AJ put on show-stealing performances which could not be matched. Any fan could tune into TNA and know that AJ Styles was legitimately the best wrestler in the company. Following the arrival of Hogan and Bischoff, Styles dropped the title to Rob Van Dam in a match that had virtually no build (booking gold) and has not won it since that time.

Rather, since dropping the World Heavyweight Championship, AJ has been thrust into factions and kept at the midcard level. No offense to Fourtune, but AJ being in Fourtune does absolutely nothing for him, and quite frankly TNA does not need any more factions. TNA seem to always go back to factions, whether its the MEM or Immortal, presumably thinking that they can replicate the success of the nWo, that factions are somehow the key to success in the wrestling business. Not only was the formation of Fourtune meaningless, it has served as a means through which AJ could be kept at the midcard level for the past year and a half, and prevent him from being in the main event where he belongs. Instead, TNA puts guys like Jeff Hardy, who has been convicted of drug trafficking and is a known addict, in the main event, while AJ floats off into obscurity. No, TNA is not showcasing AJ Styles anymore.

While in the past, AJ has always been supportive of TNA, that seemingly has changed, with Styles posting several anti-Hogan comments on twitter, and criticising the direction of the company he helped build, sparking talk that AJ could be headed for the WWE when his contract expires. The majority of fans, when rumours of AJ going to WWE arise, are quick to bash the WWE and suggest that AJ should stay in TNA. However, considering the quality of TNA's current product....what exactly is so bad about AJ Styles going to the WWE? The typical reason cited is that WWE wouldn't know how to use AJ Styles, but history says otherwise. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit (:O), and most recently CM Punk, are all examples of smaller guys, who were great workers, who were allowed to showcase their talent on the WWE stage. Just because Colt Cabana or Low Ki didn't make it in the WWE, doesn't mean that AJ is suddenly doomed as well.

I understand that the WWE is this big bad corporation, and the popular thing to do on the internet nowadays is to bash the WWE and praise indy promotions, just so you can seem like a real "smark" (if there is such a thing) and like you know what good wrestling is, but to deny the fact that the WWE's product has consistently improved in recent months is ludicrous. Internet fans wanted CM Punk, they got CM Punk. They wanted Christian, they got Christian. They wanted more edgier content, now swearing is commonplace and angles centred around chaos and the destruction of the WWE are in full force. Nothing will ever be good enough for the so-called internet smarks, but the WWE has indeed improved, and quite frankly I would love to see AJ make the jump.

Imagine the matches that AJ could have with Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, CM Punk or even John Cena? AJ making the jump to the WWE will allow for fresh match-ups, dream matches that we never thought we would see, and would finally answer the much debated question over whether or not the WWE knows how to use AJ Styles. What's the worst that could happen? WWE wastes AJ and then he goes back to TNA, which of course, is the only place that knows how to showcase AJ Styles...right? The alternative? AJ stays in TNA and continues to be mis-used until he finally retires. So I invite internet fans to stop being so cynical, and instead imagine the matches we could see if AJ Styles did indeed go to the WWE.

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