World Championship Wrestling (WCW) closed shop 20 years ago in 2001 after WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon bought the company. WWE bought out a handful of WCW wrestler contracts, leaving young WCW talent like AJ Styles to start from scratch to get to the top of the mountain.
‘The Phenomenal One’ signed with WCW in early 2001 at age 23. WCW put Styles in a tag team with Air Paris, collectively known as Air Raid. Sadly for Styles, WCW didn’t sail in the seas for long as WWE bought it in late March that year.
AJ Styles talked about his WWE tryout and the advice that Triple H gave him in an excerpt from his recent WWE Untold Documentary. Styles reveals he was at home when Shane McMahon appeared on WCW Nitro and broke the news of WCW’s demise. The moment shook AJ!
He also revealed Johnny Ace called him up and told him that WWE had not picked his contract. AJ said he still spoke to Ace about Dark Matches and more just to get an opportunity. He said all he needed was an opportunity and guess what? He got it!
Styles had his WWE tryout later that year. He wrestled Rick Michaels, his coach, on a Dark match before Monday Night Raw, and won. But the victory and fast-paced offense moves did not impress WWE much, and they did not offer him a contract.
AJ Styles then also talked about the advice Triple H gave him after his Dark match against Rick Michaels. He said, “It was pretty cool because after that I’m walking to the back, and Triple H comes up to me and he says, ‘hey, just uh, you wanna make sure you slow down. If you think you’re going too fast just slow down a little bit.’ I said, ‘but.’ I wish I hadn’t said anything because nobody likes a but-god.”
Styles himself admitted that he wasn’t good enough back then, but he’s learned with experience. He also said that it’s not about the spots, but about the story wrestlers tell in the ring. Either way, Styles is a hot property in the WWE; it seems like it will be the place where he calls it a ‘phenomenal career.’
Watch WWE Untold: AJ Styles’ Royal Rumble Debut only on the WWE Network!