In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, AJ Styles discussed his run with NJPW, future goals in WWE, and much more. Here are some of the highlights.
On his run with NJPW and how it led to him joining WWE: “That was a defining moment in my career. It showed everybody I was so much more than just TNA. I had a chip on my shoulder; I had something to prove. That run in New Japan is the reason I’m in WWE. Someone, and I don’t know who it was—and I’m not saying it was Vince, because he’s not watching New Japan—but someone knew what I was doing in Japan. I don’t know who it was, but that’s why I’m here.”
On his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble: “If nobody cheered, I was in big trouble. Lucky for me, the last place I’d wrestled a lot in the United States was Orlando. So having the Royal Rumble there was the perfect place for me.”
On Adam Pearce’s upcoming match against Roman Reigns and his appreciation for the independent scene in pro wrestling: “I have a different appreciation for guys who took the long way. “I definitely took the long route to WWE. I know what it’s like to be there on the independents. You’re always trying to make new fans and make it to the WWE. For me, the best part of my career was going through the independent scene. People who aren’t familiar with the independent scene may not know this, but Adam can get after it. It will be interesting to see if he’ll get to do some stuff in that match. I am as curious as anyone is as to what is going to happen.”
On his on-screen pairing with Omos: “I love working with Omos, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. All he wants to do is learn. He continues to be a sponge, and there is no limit to what he can accomplish. I want to help him get there. Think about a guy like Kurt Angle. People forget that Kurt wasn’t even in WWE that long; he was in TNA longer than he was in WWE. He was one of the best and he got to learn from guys like Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. With Omos, I hope I can give him a little bit of what he needs.”
On his future goals in WWE: “My plan is to finish my career without having a major surgery. That’s what I would like. Whatever else needs to be done in terms of entertainment, that’s not up to me. I am happy having a job, doing what I do for a living. I’m happy doing that, and I always say, I want to be wherever I’m needed.”