AJ Styles might want to make you believe that Smackdown was the house that he built. However, there’s not a lot of truth to it. For, no matter how hard you try, the blue brand was never really an underdog. It had Vince McMahon’s money as well as the entire WWE machinery wanting to make it work.
However, if there was ever truly a place that the phenomenal one built from scratch, it was Total Nonstop Action or TNA. This was the erstwhile name of Impact Wrestling.
Long before AJ enticed the WWE Universe with his magic between the ropes, he was the backbone of TNA. Starting out in the X division, AJ helped put the company on the map. He was the major force behind taking them from bingo halls to sold-out arenas.
However, somewhere down the line, the company failed to give AJ his due. He was not the only one who was treated this way. Many other originals of the company like Boby Roode and Samoa Joe felt disillusioned with it because of mismanagement.
However, there was still a section of fans who labeled AJ Styles as a traitor for joining WWE. The Phenomenal One had a message for all those people.
“Loyalty can only go so far” – AJ Styles
AJ revealed that he did everything humanly possible for the company. However, he never received a reciprocating compensation. That’s what encouraged him to look for more options.
This is what he said on the latest episode of the After The Bell podcast.
“I remember there was this guy, I don’t know if he had a podcast or whatever, but basically just buried me because how dare I go somewhere based on business and when I talk about business, money.
“When I worked at TNA, the reason that fell apart was because they wanted me to do the same amount of work but wanted me to take less money, and I didn’t feel that that was right because I did everything to the best of my abilities, I represented TNA well, and now they’re gonna cut me because you made bad mistakes, that’s not how it works.”
AJ arrived in WWE as a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble pay per view. Even though most expected him to be an upper mid-card superstar, he soon became the face that runs the place with a record reign with the WWE Championship.
“When you work hard, you’re supposed to be rewarded for it. So I bet on myself. But the fact that he questioned my loyalty because of money, I’m like, hold on a second, this is all a business. This is how I support my family.
“Loyalty can only go so far, and trust me, when you’re not getting the job done in the ring, or wherever they need you, where’s the loyalty there? This is a business, and they have to do what’s best for their business and I have to do what’s best for mine,” said Styes
“I was literally betting on myself” – Styles
AJ wasn’t done with his takedown of TNA. He said that criticizing him was unjustified as he was the one who was taking the risk in this situation.
“If you want to put a chip on my shoulder, go ahead and basically tell me what I’m not worth what I’m asking for. I feel like that’s what happened to me. Everything you did for us, it was great, but you’re not worth as much as you’re thinking you are.
“OK, I’m gonna go show you, I’m gonna show everybody, I’m gonna bet on myself. And that’s what they didn’t understand either, is that these guys who were ripping me for not being loyal to TNA, they didn’t understand that not only was I leaving and going to pursue something else, I was literally betting on myself. That’s a risk not a lot of people are willing to make, and it paid off,” claims AJ Styles.
We can’t agree more with AJ Styles. You can sympathize with TNA. However, those who have watched their product back in the late 2000’s know what AJ is talking about.
The company literally pushed washed up stars like Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Kevin Nash at the cost of its original stars like AJ Styles, Boby Roode, James Storm, Samoa Joe, and The Monster Abyss.
On top of that, not paying their loyalist on time was a criminal mistake. AJ Styles is where he is, after busting his body in the ring for years. He deserves every bit of the money and recognition that he is currently getting in the WWE.