wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Untold Report: AJ Styles on Leaving TNA, His Royal Rumble Debut, More

January 17, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE Untold AJ Styles Image Credit: WWE

411’s WWE Untold Report: AJ Styles’ Royal Rumble Debut

-The Untold series returns with a new episode and this one has me excited. AJ’s Rumble debut is one of those great moments that I watch over and over again on YouTube. The footage from people that were there is amazing as the reaction when the screen reads “Phenomenal” is well, phenomenal. Let’s get to it!

-Original Air Date: 01.17.21
-Run Time: 33:40

-The producer asks AJ who is The Phenomenal One and he says that is the toughest question he may be asked. He is a turned up version of Allen Jones. He talks about the differences of the character when he is hated and when he is loved. Both are just turned up versions of Allen Jones.

-This is WWE Untold!

-We start with Georgia Championship Wrestling and Ric Flair cutting a promo. Those were the first memories AJ had of pro-wrestling. He watched it alone and didn’t understand why nobody wanted to watch it with him. He has always loved competition and they show newspaper clippings of AJ playing sports in high school. He enjoyed watching his dad watching him in the stands and going nuts. As a father he understands the worries and stress. His dad didn’t know how to handle that and he was a drinker. He talks about how his dad took things out of the family. “When my dad didn’t drink he was a great father.” His dad made him believe he could do anything even though he was the smallest in the family.

-AJ talks about meeting his wife Wendy in High School. She was a cheerleader and she is the one that taught AJ how to do back flips. AJ says he never enjoyed being a student and left college to get a regular job. He had two jacked up friends that said they were going to be wrestlers and he laughed and said he would join them if they found a place. They did find one and AJ had his bluff called so he went and that first bump triggered something in him that he knew this was what he was supposed to do.

-Early Indy footage of AJ is shown as he talks about his name. AJ was the nickname from his high school football days. He was teaming with a guy who had the last name Steele, so he was given the last name Styles. AJ hated the name and hated the spelling and wished he had spelled “Stilez” or something different. To him it was just a common name. He has grown to love the name though.

-AJ was wrestling at Wild Side, who had a deal with WCW. They needed some guys for a dark match and AJ got the call and eventually signed a deal with WCW. We see footage of him getting beat up by the nWo (JJ, Scott Steiner, Bret version) in 2000 in a backstage segment where AJ was a no name paramedic. Fantastic! His goal was to always just stay out of the way when he was an extra and then he could show a little bit when he was signed. We see footage of him at 23 working on Thunder. His deal paid him $750 dollars a week and he was in a team called Air Raid with Air Paris. This was the period where WCW had a Cruisweight Tag Division.

-Matt Camp talks about AJ in WCW and says it was probably a year too late. AJ heard the news of WCW possibly going out of business and he didn’t think it could happen. He didn’t believe it until Shane showed up on Nitro. Johnny Ace called him to let him know WWE would not be picking up his contract, but they would offer dark matches. AJ mentions he would take any chance they gave him.

-His first match in WWE was with Rick Michaels and from the clips they showed, AJ bumped his ass off. AJ says that if he watched the match today he would hate it as it didn’t tell a story. AJ gets the win and in the back he runs into HHH. HHH tells him that he was good but needed to slow down and AJ shot back with a “yeah, but” and looking back he hates that he responded like that.

-Next he gets a TV debut against The Hurricane. AJ says they knew each other from the Independents and Hurricane gets the win with the Vertebreaker. JR told AJ it was a good match and to keep doing what he is doing. AJ was offered a developmental deal, but it consisted of him moving to Cincinnati. He told Johnny Ace that he appreciated it, but he didn’t want to disrupt his family by moving as his wife had her dream of being a teacher.

-Samoa Joe is our next talking head as he talks about first meeting AJ at King of the Indys in Northern California. He didn’t like AJ as he felt he was anti-social and thought he was a real piece of trash. “I found out I was completely wrong….kind of.” Nice! AJ talks about the brotherhood with the guys you do battle with and ride up and down the roads. Through all of this they show clips from TNA which is wonderful as it helps complete these documentaries.

-AJ treated TNA as an Indy for the first few months as all you heard was that it was going to go under (still saying that 20 years later) and yet he was there for 11 years. By the end of his TNA run he knew who AJ Styles was. He got to the point he was pissed off when people would tell him who AJ Styles was and it put a chip on his shoulder. Joe says AJ has always understood his worth and that is invaluable. AJ and TNA couldn’t agree on a new deal as they wanted him to take less money. That bothered him as he was always the guy they could count on and he believes they expected him to take less money. Well, that kind of backfired to say the least!

-AJ talks about his 3 boys who were born in 2005, 2007, and 2009. He had three boys and was about to leave a guaranteed paycheck every week, but he had to bet on himself. Joe says everyone was telling AJ there was no place to make the money he was. Camp says that by 2010 AJ had established himself as the best wrestler in the World and we never saw him on Monday Nights or SmackDown.

-Japan is next and that is where you went to see unbelievable matches from unbelievable athletes. AJ says they were great at taking non Japanese guys and making them stars. AJ talks about how tough it was to travel coach for 14 hours, but it was worth it because of the experiences he had.

-Finn Balor feels that he and AJ always had careers where they passed each other like ships in the night. AJ’s first night in Japan was his last as he had signed with WWE. Finn told AJ to pick up where he left off and the rest of history. AJ talks about winning the IWGP Title and the last American to hold it before him was Brock Lesnar. Finn talks about how hard it is to be accepted by Japanese fans and you needed talent to earn their respect. Camp says that AJ was one of those guys who as a fan, you sought out what they were doing no matter the country or organization.

-AJ says Samoa Joe was in NXT and floated to him that Shinsuke Nakamura was heading to WWE and leaving New Japan. That was a massive deal to AJ because of how big of a star Nakamura was in New Japan. The rumors then started about AJ possibly making the move and everyone here talks about all the internet rumors. Finn: “you can have a little bit of fun with the internet.” AJ talked to Terry Taylor who said he would talk with HHH. AJ got the call from HHH and says that it was a great 30 minute phone call. He and his wife prayed on it and then HHH called back with an offer and AJ said done.

-AJ says now was the perfect time as Daniel Bryan had showed you don’t have to be a big guy anymore in the WWE. Finn talks about how the WWE started using the internet to their advantage to create buzz. They all talk about The Royal Rumble and how it is one of the most exciting nights of the year as anyone can show up. They have great footage of Pat Patterson meeting fans before that Rumble and then staring out at the crowd as the show is happening. Aww, RIP Mr. Patterson!

-AJ found out a week before the show that he was going to be part of the Royal Rumble. Joe picked up AJ at the airport in Tampa before the Rumble. He dropped him off at a transport bus and AJ was on his way. Naturally, cameras are there as they sneak him into the arena and hide him in a bus. He tells a producer it is going to be nuts and he hopes the fans will be excited.

-He joked around with HHH that he wanted to come out at 2 and then finds out he is going out 3rd. We see video of him warming up in Gorilla as he says he was scared and was praying to God that someone would remember him. Oh, no worries there.

-The now familiar music hits and the place explodes and I still gets chills watching it. Watching live, I went crazy and my wife had no clue what was happening and ran out to check on me as I scared my dog and cat causing them to run out of the room. “Wow, it seemed like everybody knew who AJ Styles was.” No kidding! Joe says they live for emotion and elation like that. Finn was at Gorilla watching and he was blown away as AJ stole the show. He mentions AJ blazed a trail for all of them to follow.

-After the shock wore off you then realized AJ Styles was about to face WWE Champion, Roman Reigns. AJ says that the think about The Rumble as that as guys get in the ring there isn’t as much to do and it becomes a waiting game. He talks about the ropes and them being different and not knowing how springing off them would work. Kevin Owens enters and throws down with AJ before eliminating him at 28 minutes. KO was massive dick heel at that point and was the perfect guy to get that elimination because he probably enjoyed the boos.

-AJ walks back through Gorilla and gives a quick handshake in passing to Paul Heyman. Huh! AJ cuts a promo about his debut and says he has a couple more years to be in The Rumble and it will be different next time.

-They show highlights from AJ’s debut year as he ended up winning the WWE Title from Dean Ambrose and by the next Rumble was defending The WWE Title against John Cena. Joe says that some people see a mountain and sit by and look at it in amazement and others look at it and think I am going to climb that thing. AJ is the guy that wants to climb it.

-For Joe the think he respects most about AJ is that his focus has always been on his family despite what he has said about him in the past. Everything AJ does he does for his family and does it with all his heart and that translates to viewers at home. It would have been amazing had Joe just thrown in a quick “Hi Wendy.” AJ says that he hates the words “I can’t” and says if you do anything enough you will get better at it. It’s not about what you deserved, but about what you can earn. That is the same think he puts in his kids. It took him 17 years to get to the WWE and it was all worth it. He would 100% do it all over again.

-This was great and again I can’t stress enough how much better these are with footage from TNA, and various Indy shows and even the pictures from his time with Bullet Club in Japan. Those are the things we missed with documentary pieces years ago that made them feel incomplete. I wish we had gotten a little more reaction about The Rumble debut itself as it was limited to just a few seconds before he came out and the one promo after, but still it was fascinating to watch. He was also hidden in a bus most of the day so it wasn’t like there was a ton of footage of him interacting with people before the show either. Overall another very good episode in this series and must watch. Thanks for reading!