wrestling / News

Bruce Prichard on Contract Negotiations With AJ Styles in TNA, Dixie Carter Not Wanting to Commit More to Keep Styles

June 15, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
AJ Styles

– The latest edition of Something to Wrestle (Author’s Note: This episode was previously broadcast on the WWE Network in June 2018) featured Bruce Prichard discussing TNA failing to re-sign AJ Styles some years back (around 2013) and some of his personal negotiations with AJ Styles. Prichard denied a report by The Wrestling Observer that at the time AJ Styles left TNA Wrestling, he was the highest paid talent in TNA who did not have a previous WWE background. Below are some highlights from the podcast.

Prichard on TNA failing to re-up with AJ Styles: “Well, it was critical. It was huge, but if you go back and look at the history of what had taken place — and first of all, as usual, Dave Meltzer is completely incorrect on AJ having the highest [pay] of someone who wasn’t a [former] WWE star. Completely false, as usual –”

*Conrad Thompson asks, “Who was it then?”*

“There were other people. I don’t get into money. I’m not going to get into contracts, but there were at least two others that were higher.”

*Conrad asks, “That had no WWE background?”*

“Correct. Yup. They’re both in WWE now. So, I’m not mentioning any names. So, AJ, a year in advance of his contract coming up, the rollover dates coming up, I had gone to AJ and I had gone to his agent, and I said, ‘Hey, I’d like to sign him up for another couple of years,’ and they balked at the offer. And we went back and forth a little bit. We came to an agreement on kind of a downside guarantee that AJ could live with. When I took that back, the feeling was, ‘Why are we doing this now? I feel that if we can get closer–‘ and this was Dixie, ‘I feel if we can get closer to the time of AJ’s contract that we can get him for less than that. I can’t commit that much to him.’ I said, ‘But here’s the deal. If we commit this much to him right now, he can make more than that, but he isn’t going to come for less. He’s not going to stay for less. And this is a good deal for the company, and it’s a good deal for AJ.’ And AJ was cool with it. Then, I basically had to pull the offer back. It went on. Time went on. I said, ‘We gotta get AJ. AJ’s six months away. We need to sign AJ.’ They said, ‘We’ll wait. We’ll wait. We’ll wait.’ Well, I was gone in July, and his contract was up in October or whatever that was. They still didn’t have him signed. In AJ’s it became, ‘They don’t want me. They’re not making a serious attempt to keep me, so why should I make any serious attempt to stay?'”

Prichard on meeting with AJ Styles in Georgia, and TNA dropping the ball on re-signing him: “AJ and I are talking about it. We did a TV in Georgia somewhere. And it’s just AJ and I in a dressing room, and I told him, ‘Yes, AJ. I do see you. A matter of fact, I do see you as the champion of this company, but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel that you believe you can be champion.’ And man, Allen Styles cut a promo on me that made me believe. The AJ Styles you see right now in WWE is the guy that I saw in that dressing room that day. He was passionate. He was pissed. He believed every word that came out of his mouth and explained to me why he was the best and why he was the only option that I had. And I went, ‘Holy s***. Now that guy is money.’ And that’s who AJ became. And I told him that night, ‘We’re gonna make that guy happen.’ And he was pissed, and he was pacing during the meeting, but they dropped the ball, man. They dropped the ball big time because he was pissed that he felt he had been ignored. And after I left, I don’t think anybody approached him until it was the very last minute when AJ held all the cards. If we had done it a year in advance, where we both had time, and where we had basically come in the middle and had agreed, it would’ve been a different story.”

Prichard on Styles leaving the company after being there 12 years and if it was the beginning of the end for TNA: “Well look, I hope that it’s never the end for them. I hope that they stay in the business, and I hope that they stay and prosper–”

*Conrad Thompson clarifies from a “Dixie Carter standpoint.”*

Prichard: “Probably so. Yeah, you lost your last big star that really meant something, that was homegrown, that truly meant something and you could’ve really built the company around, especially with the tweak in his character and everything else. AJ was a huge loss for them. I can’t speak to the negotiations of what happened in the end because I wasn’t there. I can speak to AJ’s frustration of it that there was a part of him that — I don’t know that — I almost said that I think there was a part of him that may have wished he had signed a year before, but there was also a part of him that was so relieved that he didn’t sign that year before that this was enabling to go on out and prove himself.”

“And I was talking to AJ during that time, just in general about a couple different projects that I had and other things going on in the wrestling business, and he was in a good place. He was confident that if it didn’t work out at TNA, he was going to go somewhere else. He was steadfast in his belief of what he was worth and was not willing to compromise and take less at that time. I said, ‘You know what? The only way you’re going to find out is to do it and to leave.’ And he did it, and he went on to New Japan and did some other incredible stuff. So good for him. I think it was the right move for AJ Styles.”

If you use any of the quotes, please credit Something to Wrestle with an h/t to 411mania.com.