In a recent edition of ARN, Arn Anderson discussed AJ Styles joining WWE in 2016, why Styles should’ve won the Royal Rumble, and much more. You can read his comments below.
Arn Anderson on wanting AJ Styles to join WWE and suggesting it to John Cena: “If you remember, I sat John down and I don’t remember the year, the month, or the date. I could just feel that things were getting a little stale, and WWE needed a little influx of not just bodies and people coming from NXT – no knock on that – but seasoned veterans. People who were considered stars. I sat John down and said, ‘You know, John, there are some guys with the other company that we could steal and blend in to work with you.’ My conversation was that it was Bobby Roode, Cowboy [James Storm], and AJ Styles.
“I said these guys can go. I’m talking about top-shelf performers, and they will freshen everything up. He looked me right in the eye, and at this time, John had 100 percent stroke, power, and it was his call on everything to do with him. He went, ‘Why would we want those guys? We make our own stars.’ So, yes, he was on my radar. AJ Styles is one of those rare talents that only comes along every 20 years or so that can just do it all. I knew that then, I know that now. It would be the same thing barring injury a year from now. Definitely on my radar, and I was pushing for the three of those guys.”
On whether he was surprised by the reaction to AJ Styles’ debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble: “Nope. There are other things in this world other than WWE. AJ Styles had had a tremendous career up to this point and been around the world and gained his notoriety and had gotten over universally. When he came out, it was one those things that you thought you might never see. You’re a little bit down about that, and all of a sudden, you do get it. Everybody is not on the internet or social media. Everybody doesn’t know that he’s gonna be there. If you’re sitting on your couch, and you didn’t have a clue or hadn’t heard a word – out comes AJ Styles. That’s why I buy the Rumble. There is your selling point for the Rumble. What’s gonna happen during the course of this thing that’s gonna make my teeth fall out? That was one of them.”
On AJ Styles potentially winning the Rumble and a WrestleMania match with Roman Reigns: “It would’ve been incredible. It sure would’ve helped you on that path to getting Roman to where he needed to be, which was a years’ long struggle…….we walk into WrestleMania with Roman Reigns challenging him for the title. Roman would’ve failed at the Rumble, and AJ would’ve won. Now, Roman is the challenger. Don’t you put him in a hell of a position to come out of that thing a heel? Couple of mistakes were made during the body of that match where you’ve got Roman beaten down and you take him out on a gurney. He gets off the gurney, but he’s not been eliminated. Instead of heading back to the ring, he heads to the back. That felt a little funky to me if you think about it. Is he looking for a rest period? What’s he doing in the back? Why is he not re-engaging in the fight? If you’re gonna roll off that gurney, if you have to crawl back to the ring, re-engage. Him disappearing back to the back is just a mistake……if you’re trying to make him a heel, yeah, head him to the back.”
On how Styles winning could’ve launched Reigns’ heel turn: “That would’ve been the biggest thing that could’ve happened. First of all, Triple H has been around and been used enough and is a good enough performer – he’s come back from injuries and always been in the mix and is one of the faces of WWE. The fact is, he really wasn’t a heel. When he won that match, he was just an iconic figure that had already been the world champion 13 times. That became 14. He’s somebody that the audience respects because he’s earned their respect over the years. I’m not sure he wasn’t the bigger babyface in that scenario. If the goal was to help get Roman into a more babyface role, that wouldn’t have been the guy to do it.
“I’ve always said, people have tried to fix something that wasn’t broke. Roman Reigns is an ass-kicking Samoan who goes out and can perform and has personality and has a great look. If he opens his mouth – look at him now – it’s one or two lines where you go, ‘Jesus, that guy is cold.’ It’s who he should’ve always been. He should’ve came out of that match the same way. If you want another step, AJ wins the Rumble. You get your full celebration to where the audience feels like that’s so cool, and they’re getting ready to leave. Then Roman, because he is a bitter son of a bitch, kicks the shit out of AJ just as you’re going off the air. Now you’ve got something fresh the next day and something to put on RAW that’s brand new. You do not like what Roman has done. You start the wheels of getting him straightened out right there.”
If using any of the above quotes, please credit ARN with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.