AJ Styles discusses WrestleMania 33, losing WWE title, making his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble & more
What do you think of Kurt Angle wanting to face you?
I would love to get in the ring with Kurt Angle again. Whether or not that will ever happen, who knows. I'm very excited that he's in the WWE Hall of Fame. I know how much this means to him, and it's a big deal. Even when we were with a different company, he still talked about WWE so I know this is a big deal to Kurt Angle, and I'm very happy for him. And as far as other performers, I would love to have gotten into the ring with a bunch of them. But you know, that's not gonna happen. I would certainly have been able to learn from some of them. And there are tonnes of them; too many to name. For me it's not just the fact of getting in the ring with them, it's about learning from them.
Is there anyone on the current NJPW roster that you would like to see in NXT or WWE?
I was very familiar with the New Japan roster, so there's a lot of guys I would like to see come over. But some of them are honestly a better fit for where they are. Despite me leaving there, there were no bad terms and what not. It's a great place, and there's a lot of great talent over there. That roster could come to WWE and do well, but they're very loyal, and I respect that. Some of them were just made – and I'm talking about Americans too – made to wrestle in Japan, and wrestler for New Japan.
When will see the Fosbury Flop make its debut in WWE?
Well, I can tell you I'm no spring chicken anymore. The vertical's not as great as I'd like it to be, and the ropes are a little bit higher here. I haven't done it in years, so it may have been retired, as unfortunate as that is. But then again, who knows? I may get a little crazy one night, feel it coming and do something terrible. Never say never.
What has contributed to AJ Styles being the number one most over star of 2016?
I think it's something new in the WWE. I think that I've grown, just being in the company, and it's in a good way. Despite that I've been on television for a lot of my career, the WWE is just another animal. They see something fresh, the fact that I'm now in my late 30s; it's special.
What are you doing differently than the other Superstars on the roster?
My thing has always been to do my own thing. Don't be like anybody else. I don't want to be like Shawn Michaels or some of these other Superstars. I want to be the first AJ Styles, and be as different as I can be. There are things that can make me a little bit different than everyone else and that's what I try to do. When it comes to my moves, when you see me a do a move you're not thinking of anyone else, you're thinking of AJ Styles and that's very important to me.
Is there anyone in history that you would most like to have a dream match with?
In this business, it's never about what I want. It's what the fans want. I don't want to have my dream match, I want to have their dream match. From Shawn Michaels to Andre the Giant, there are so many different guys. At the same time that's flattering, because they're anxious to see how many different things can be done with so many different people. I'm all about challenges, and that would be one. Being in the ring with so many different types of opponent is a good thing.
What are your first impressions of India, and would you like to come here?
It would be great! That's what WWE is about, is getting to the world. We want to get to the world, and India is a part of that; I huge part of that, as a matter of fact. I would love to have the opportunity for us to come over, and put on some shows for you guys. I think it would be great.
What is your all-time favourite celebrity moment from WrestleMania?
Wow! You gotta understand that Cyndi Lauper was a big deal back in the day. And I'm not the youngest guy on the roster, so I actually remember this. I don't remember much about the match, but I remember Cyndi Lapuer being there. As crazy as that sounds. Also, there was an American football player named Refridgerator Perry, who was a huge name in American football, so that was cool to me. He was in the Royal Rumble – I think that was the Royal Rumble – but that was a pretty cool moment.
How do you adapt your training outside of the ring to make it different from that done by other wrestlers?
Like I said before, my thing is always being different. I don't want to do anything that anyone else does. That's why you see me, instead of doing a running tope through the ropes, I do a spring-over forearm. Little things like that, to make my stuff different than anybody else. I don't know how many other guys do a jump-over-the-top-rope strike, but that makes me different. It's one thing I'll always do when it comes to high-flying and whatnot is try to make mine different than everyone else.
How do you make sure you're performing at your best in an environment like WrestleMania?
Whether there's a hundred thousand people or five thousand people, I have a job to do. Regardless of how many people are there, I'm going to do it to the best of my abilities. Once I step through the curtain, once I walk down and I step into that ring, nothing matters anymore – just the person in front of me. That always keeps me on my toes. You don't notice anything else really, once you start. That's a good thing.
What advice would you give to the Chinese trainees to help them?
You're definitely in the best place to learn your craft. It takes a lot to learn how to get to the level of a WWE Superstar, and it's not an easy journey to go on. Keep pushing, keep working hard; good things happen to good people. You gotta appreciate what you're doing in there. And the fact that you're learning from some of the absolute best, and having the best equipment to get you in shape, to maintain the rigorous falling down and whatnot that it takes to be a WWE Superstar. Know that you got the best opportunities at the Performance Center. Then you have NXT, and ultimately the WWE main roster.
How do you feel about John Cena after facing him in WWE?
Regardless of what anyone else thinks about John Cena, I respect him. They can boo him or say he sucks; the guy is one of the hardest workers in the WWE. He's been here on top for a long time, and there's no way he can do that without being one of the toughest, one of the best, and one of the most experienced guys in the business. John Cena has earned my respect, and that's why we've had incredible matches.
Did you change your style training for New Japan?
My style hasn't changed whatsoever. None. I've been the AJ Styles in Japan, that's the same AJ Styles you see in WWE. Nothing has changed. Which is why maybe I'm one of the most Google'd guys in 2016. My styles a little bit different from everybody else, including in Japan, therefore why change it? It definitely worked out for me.
Did you manage to get your Xbox back after your luggage was stolen?
I did not. I don't think that's ever going to happen, and it made me very angry. This is the world that we live in, that nobody wants to be a hero anymore. You got thieves out there, and people thinking that's cool, wanting to do certain things like this. They think we're a bunch of Superstars over here, and we're all billionaires, which is absolutely not true. We basically have to scratch, crawl to earn money just like everybody else. But unfortunately, like I said before, there are not as many heroes in this world as we'd like.
What's your favourite match from WrestleMania?
When Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank, that was a pretty big moment. To see a guy that I wrestled so many years on an indie show, and to see him get the WWE Championship is pretty amazing.
Do you think we need more shock and surprises in WWE?
Absolutely. WWE right now is like, there are so many things on the internet that shouldn't be. That really bothers me. That hurts surprises, that hurts a lot of things. Hopefully, that will be taken care of so that we can give you the surprises that everybody wants. We got to tell a story out here, and you know that the best movies are the ones you didn't see coming. We're doing that same thing, and when things are leaked it bothers me. But we definitely try to give you guys surprises, but sometimes it's hard.
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