AJ Styles recently recalled his initial tryout days in WWE, and the decision he made to turn down a contract from the company in 2002.
The latest episode of ‘WWE Untold’ focuses on AJ Styles and his memorable debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. During the course of the interview, Styles recalls his first matches inside of a WWE ring, back in the early 2000’s. ‘The Phenomenal One’ made his WWE debut in a dark match prior to Monday Night Raw in July 2001, picking up a victory over his trainer Rick Michaels.
Styles recalls meeting Triple H backstage following the conversation, and ultimately regretting the conversation:
“After that I’m walking to the back and Triple H walks up to me and says ‘Hey, you wanna make sure you slow down. If you think you’re going too fast just slow down a little bit more’. And I said ‘But we were just moving through it’. And I wish I hadn’t have said anything. Cause nobody likes a ‘but’ guy.”
Despite this unfortunate conversation with ‘The Game’, AJ Styles returned to WWE in 2002 for another tryout match. It was at this time that Styles made his television debut for the company, putting over The Hurricane on an episode of WWE C-show Jakked.
Styles remembers bumping into WWE’s Head of Talent Relations, Jim Ross, the day after the match:
“I was coming back the next day from catering. And Jim Ross walked over and said ‘Hey, that was a good match yesterday. Keep doing what you’re doing.’ And I was like ‘Holy Crap!’, he watched!”
Seemingly impressed with ‘The Phenomenal One’, WWE offered AJ Styles a developmental deal in early 2002. However, despite being offered the opportunity to join the company, Style ultimately put his family before his career:
“That development deal consists of me moving to Cincinnati. I ended up talking to Jonny Ace. I said ‘I really appreciate this, but I can’t move to Cincinnati and disrupt my family.’ I feel like my wife’s dream came first with her wanting to be a teacher. And I didn’t want to mess that up. And, lo and behold, I think that was the best decision I’d ever make.”
After turning down WWE’s offer, Styles continued to live in Georgia with his wife, Wendy. Shortly afterwards, AJ began his memorable run with TNA, becoming a staple of the company for over a decade.
AJ Styles eventually made his way back to WWE in 2016, debuting as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match. Since then, Styles has gone onto become one of WWE’s top stars, winning the WWE Championship on two occasions.
Styles is one of nine participants confirmed for this years Royal Rumble match and will be looking to emerge victorious in the bout for the first time.
Credit for Interview: WWE Untold