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Matt Hardy On Why AJ Styles Was Able To Become a WWE Main Eventer

June 17, 2024 | Posted by Andrew Ravens
PWI AJ Styles' aj styles wwe smackdown 31318 Image Credit: WWE

On the latest episode of Extreme Life Of Matt Hardy, the AEW star talked about AJ Styles’ career, the importance of reinventing yourself in wrestling, and more. You can check out some highlights below:

On the importance of AJ reinventing himself in 2013: “I mean, reinventions in pro wrestling are paramount. He’d been with TNA for 10 years at that time. It’s time, it’s time to change things up and go a different direction. And once again — I mean, Bryan Cranston was amazing as Walter White [in Breaking Bad]. They did five seasons, almost six because five was like twice as long. But it’s just hard to keep a character new and fresh once you’ve done everything, you know. And that’s why these shows come to an end, and then they play another character or whatever else. In pro wrestling, you just have to change your character. You have to change your persona, what you’re doing to stay fresh, to once again, rebuild up an audience and gain new fans and not become monotonous and boring. And it’s very important. And it was the perfect time for AJ to do that.

“And also, a lot of times when you’re in one place for too long, it’s time to step out and go somewhere else and kind of get a fresh coat of paint on you that way. And a fresh start where you’re in front of new fans, and you’re doing a new persona, whatever it may be. And as I know, you’re going to speak in just a little bit. We’re gonna get there with AJ very soon.”

On AJ breaking the barrier of becoming WWE Champion: “I just think he was that talented. And I think talent always shines through at the end of the day, in whatever it may be. If it’s your in-ring ability, if it’s your promo skills, if it’s your character work, whatever. I think I think ability always shines through. And Vince, he was at that point where he was just kind of locked in his belief system, right? And he believed in the antiquated system of, ‘If you’re a wrestler, you need to be big. You need to be 6’4″, and you need to have these muscles because that’s who people believe in.’ And there is truth to that, people believe in bigger people. But also, pro wrestling had changed so much, because people want to see more athletic contests. And that’s why — you know, that’s what he did with Chad Gable, the Shorty G. AJ Styles, he’s a pitbull. You know, guys who were smaller, he’s like, ‘Well, let’s reference something that’s smaller, that’s more vicious so these fans will accept them as stars! Because they’re not 6’4″ and they’re not 6’5″ and 300 pounds.’ That was Vince’s antiquated way of thinking, you know?

“So I think we — it was the perfect timing for AJ. Because like, he was able to go out there, he was able to do his stuff, he was able to be AJ Styles, and he was able to go out there and wrestle his ass off. And people got behind it because they got it, because that mentality had changed. You know, I look back and I think I’ve referenced this before in the past. Like when Jerry Lynn came in back in the day, and he really didn’t get to do anything of substance. Because I mean, he was a great worker, but he didn’t have this over-the-top flashy personality, and he wasn’t a great speaker or whatever in Vince’s mind? Like if he would have showed up at that age, and in that physical shape, like 10 to 12 years later it would have been a totally different story. Because wrestling, being a great wrestler, was much more accepted by the audience at that time, much like it is now.”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Extreme Life Of Matt Hardy with an h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.

article topics :

AJ Styles, Matt Hardy, WWE, Andrew Ravens