The TNA Apologist’s Take: AJ Styles
News, if you can call what the “dirt sheets” post as news, broke yesterday that AJ Styles is ready to leave TNA and not renew his contract once his extension is up. For many die hard TNA fans, of which it seems there are lesser and lesser of these days, it seems a shot in the heart as the face of TNA since it’s inception is now apparently gone. There are many different roads he and TNA could go down still, but the two easiest to see are WWE and RoH, and then the third which is still a possibility with what has happened over the passed year or so, a return to TNA.
The first and easily the one that causes most of the stir in the IWC as soon as the news broke, is the possibility of AJ signing with WWE. The biggest problem being his age. AJ is 36 years old and many would say his in ring ability has already been slipping for the past few years. If WWE were to sign him, they would send him down to nXt and see what he could do there for a year or two before he ever got his face on Raw or Smackdown. Putting him even closer to 40 and getting even slower in the ring. The WWE style is something not all wrestlers can easily adapt to either. This can be noted with the recent departure of Mistico(Sin Cara) from the company after he was put directly on TV without the time put into developmental. While there are a number of stories and matches with guys like The Shield, Punk, Bryan, and others that would be must see for any TNA fan, or wrestling fan for that matter. The timing just doesn’t seem right for AJ to go to WWE, that shipped has sailed, he is just getting to old to have the time to adapt and find a place in the WWE roster.
A return to ROH and with that the indies is the second road that Styles can go down. AJ has been there before and for now at least he seems to be going to them again. The indies will gladly pay AJ what he is worth to them to come and make a few appearances, and of course ROH will have a wide open door to bring him back. It seems like this will be the most probable path for AJ. The hurdle here would be the financial situation this would put him in. While the stories of TNA and low wages are a dime a dozen, the indies are not all they are romanticized as being. There will be times that he gets paid more for an appearance at an indie show than he would for an appearance for TNA, but for every one of those how many shows will pay him less than his TNA rate? This is the balancing act he is going to have to do as long as he continues to work the indies, and no doubt this will lead to more dates, and a tougher travel schedule than he would have to work with TNA.
The last option is return to TNA. Over the past year and half we have seen Matt Morgan, Devon, D Lo, and Mr. Anderson, along with others let their TNA contracts expire only to return to the organization a few months on down the line. This why TNA fans shouldn’t completely get their hopes dashed and feel AJ leaving isn’t a death nail for TNA. He could always return down the line, and with so many recent TNA figures doing the same in recent months AJ could just be the next name on the list.
The silver lining of the entire situation is Magnus. While it seems many fans are split down the middle on if they love him or not, he is now going to be the face of the company. While the title tournament is finished yet(I refuse to read spoilers and allow the show to speak for itself)it seems that while Hardy has a shot to win, the story going into the final match is going to be all about Magnus finally getting over the hump and winning his first world title. People want TNA to push new talent and with Magnus’ recent run since Bound for Glory, beating every Mafia member. A win against Hardy for the title, and then a win against AJ Styles, to pass the torch of being the face of the company, would be TNA doing everything right to move into the “post AJ” era, with a brand new poster boy who has proven himself in the ring not only over the past few months but over an entire year of building the next TNA star.