wrestling / News

Bruce Pritchard On TNA Management’s Issues With AJ Styles in 2010, Styles’ Mini Ric Flair Angle

June 16, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

– On the latest Something to Wrestle With, Bruce Prichard recalled the reputation AJ Styles had in TNA among management in 2010 when Prichard first came into the company. Prichard recalled that Styles had a reputation of being difficult to work with and not being receptive to any ideas, which led into a recollection of the angle where Styles became allied with Ric Flair and started emulating the Nature Boy. Highlights are below:

On Styles’ reputation in Impact: “I had never worked with AJ beyond his tryout matches with the WWE. So immediately, you know, I’m hearing the negative. And I hear that ‘Oh, AJ just wants to wrestle his matches and do all these high spots. He doesn’t listen, he doesn’t want to change, he doesn’t want to grow. He’s a pain in the a**. We’re trying to build him into a bigger star and he’s bucking us at every single opportunity.’ And the feeling was that AJ just wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to become a star.”

On Styles not being receptive to the Ric Flair angle: “For example, they wanted AJ when Flair came in, they wanted to basically make AJ a mini-Ric Flair. They wanted AJ to bleach his hair blonde like Ric Flair. AJ didn’t want to do that. They wanted AJ to wear robes like Ric Flair. AJ attempted that, but it looked like something that his daughter — [it looked like cosplay]. There were robes on eBay that people made emulating the Ric Flair robes that looked better than some of the robes AJ came out in. And I’m not picking on him, but it was horrible, okay? [laughs] They looked like crap. And you’re a big robe guy, you especially love Ric Flair’s robes. If you’re going to try to emulate that, man … in the 70s, Flair’s paying several thousand dollars for these robes to have them handmade. And you’re copying them in 2010 with something that cost $200. $10,000, $200. It just wasn’t a good look, and AJ wasn’t comfortable being Ric Flair. He didn’t want to talk about being up all night with the women. AJ’s happily married and a very religious guy. He didn’t want that perception. Didn’t want to bleach his hair blonde. So AJ was labeled before I got there as a problem child. ‘Any time you suggest something new to AJ, he doesn’t want to do it. Unless it’s just wrestling a match with one of his buddies, he doesn’t want to do it.”

On his own experiences with Styles: “I’d learned early on in my career that you try to judge people on how they treat you. And I tried talking to AJ and found that he was pretty receptive to things and had good reasons why he didn’t want to do some of the things that was suggested to him. So now all of a sudden I’m trying to find a way to get into AJ and a way to pitch him ideas and try to do some different things to him, which he was open to. At least to me.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Something to Wrestle With with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.