‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles recently opened up on the creative process heading in to his initial feud with John Cena.
The pair were viewed as polar opposites prior to their rivalry, with mega star Cena pitched as the company’s Golden Goose, whilst Styles willingly played the well travelled underdog.
It was a feud that helped establish Styles as a player and yielded several impressive pay per view encounters, most notably at 2016’s Money in the Bank and SummerSlam shows, as well as the pair’s Royal Rumble 2017 contest.
Streaming live on his Twitch channel, Styles spoke of the duo’s initial creative meetings and how ‘Big Match John’ reacted to the perception of him burying younger talents being used within the storyline:
He was asking what I wanted to say about him, and I was like – this is John Cena, you know, so I’m trying to figure out how to approach this without being a jerk about it – so, I was like, ‘Well, people always seem to think you bury them once you get in the ring with them, and it’s kind of over for them after that.’ He was just like, ‘Okay that’s good!’
..he (Cena) went on to say, ‘Well, I tried digging up some stuff on you and I couldn’t really find anything’, so that’s when he ended up coming up with the stuff about, ‘Well, if you don’t like it then you’ll just end up leaving to go somewhere else’. But I thought it was really cool that he takes some real stuff and throws it in the mix of entertainment, and you ended up with a matchup like AJ Styles and John Cena. I enjoyed working with him and can’t wait for the next one.
The perception Styles was alluding to has swirled around John Cena for some time now, with the likes of Alex Riley and Tyler Reks both having previously taken aim at the Leader of the CeNation.
Going back to 2017, Cena directly addressed these reports in an interview with The Wrap.
At the time, Cena had the following to say:
..I have the reputation of quote-unquote ‘burying younger talent,’ because I will let them do whatever they want with me and then after they get done, they’re not as motivated. So, it’s not that I sink their ship, it’s that they fail to operate at an elite level. And I’m on to the next person, (to) whom I say, “Hey man, bring your best punch and I’m gonna punch back” and they don’t take that attitude beyond me.