RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S REVIEW SERIES: RF Video's "Shoot Interview with A.J. Styles 2014" - learning from veterans, stories from inside the ropes, opening a door for others outside TNA
Aug 16, 2014 - 12:45:36 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
RADICAN’S REVIEW SERIES
“SHOOT INTERVIEW WITH A.J. STYLES 2014”
RELEASED BY RF VIDEO IN 2014
NJPW IWGP Hvt. Champion A.J. Styles has just finished the best work of his career in NJPW’s G1 Climax 24Tournament. Styles put together a number of unbelievable matches against a variety of different opponents, including his match against Minoru Suzuki, which I consider to be the best wrestling match of 2014. Although “Shoot Interview with A.J. Styles 2014” from RF Video was filmed back in February before Styles began wrestling in NJPW, Styles offers a lot of insight into how he became the wrestler he is today through an in-depth look at his career in TNA and ROH.
Styles entered TNA at a young age and it’s clear through his mindset at the time that he had a good attitude about how he approached the wrestling business. Styles kept his mouth shut and learned from the veterans during his early years for the most part. One of the themes that ran throughout the interview is Styles being to learn anything from anyone he comes across in the wrestling business.
Styles view on TNA during the early years of the promotion was that it was just another independent company and considered ROH his home, although that changed when TNA offered him a contract that ROH couldn’t match.
Styles does take pride in helping to establish the X-division with Jerry Lynn and Low Ki. One thing that Styles did speak up about was when Jeff and Jerry were considering putting the X-division title on Trinity, which he thought would ruin everything he and the other X-division wrestlers had worked hard to establish. That was the one time he spoke up early in his TNA career, as he told Jeff and Jerry he would burn the building down if they put the title on her. That didn’t sit well with Jeff and Jerry, so they punished him by putting him in dark matches. Styles loves for wrestling shows when he talks about being put in those dark matches, as he says he loved it because it was another opportunity to get in the ring.
He talks about how he heard the promotion was going to shut down since day one, but he said eventually he learned to block that out and just tried to do the best he could in the ring and make people notice him no matter what the rumors were surrounding the promotion and the criticism of the booking.
One of the things that stood out during the G1 Climax 24 Tournament this year was Styles’s ability to make his opponents look good and keep his matches fresh with his selling and by putting twists on his signature moves. It’s not a surprise that Styles was able to put together his matches in the G1 Tournament the way he did given his approach to the wrestling business.
During the interview, Styles talks about how he has spent time studying tapes from Japan and specifically mentions watching NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors, but his ability to learn something from everyone he came during his career is likely the reason he’s able to continue to evolve as a talent in the ring.
Styles worked against Raven and Sandman during the early years of TNA. Styles talked about how he was a rookie during that time and discusses a crazy spot that Raven came up with revolving around a string of moves with a chair. He talks about Raven’s creative mind and how he trusted him and was willing to try his ideas because he was only a rookie.
Later in Styles career when he wasn’t a rookie anymore and had transitioned into a veteran talent in TNA, Styles talks about Booker T coming in and how he was likely only in TNA to collect a paycheck, but mentions that he was able to even learn something from him and discusses how Booker showed him to do a belt shot properly. Styles later discusses how he was able to pass that knowledge down to Kimber Lee when he wrestled on a CZW show in February.
Styles gives a lot of insight into the things he does in the ring to make matches better whether he’s discussing his match against Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels at or wrestling against Sting. Styles discusses the series of matches during the interview, but he gives a lot of insight into what was going on in the ring during their original Three-Way match for the X-division Title at Turning Point 2005. Styles talked about how he, Joe, and Daniels had matured as workers, as they had a planned sequence, but decided to slow things down when the crowd was going crazy.
"What are we doing?"
Styles also discusses a lot of the angles he was involved in during his time in TNA and the ups and downs with TNA shining a spotlight on talent from WWE and ECW, instead of using them to give the TNA originals rub later in his career. The look on his face when discussing the Main Event Mafia vs. Frontline storyline was priceless.
One of the things that was most noticeable during the G1 Climax 24 Tournament this year was Styles’s ability to have good matches with wrestlers that didn’t necessarily fit his in-ring Style. Whether it was adjusting the pace of his match against the slower Tenzan or making Archer look like an absolute beast by selling his power maneuvers, Styles was able to deliver a variety of very good to excellent matches no matter who he was facing during the tournament.
Watching Styles’s matches against wrestlers like Tenzan and Archer reminded me of his comments about wrestling against other talent that didn’t necessarily fit his style. Styles commented about growing as a worked while wrestling against Raven, Sandman, and Glenn Gilberti early in his days in TNA, which he says taught him how to adapt in the ring to wrestlers that didn’t necessarily fit his in-ring style.
Styles talked about wrestling Sting after he came to TNA after not having wrestled for a couple of years after WCW shut down. Styles is asked a question about whether or not Sting had problems remembering of spots and he gave a good answer talking about how difficult it is to get into the ring after being away for a long period of time and how things that come naturally just aren’t there anymore when you’re away from the ring.
Styles makes an interesting comment that it was his job as a professional to guide Sting through his matches when he was making his return to the ring in TNA. It’s insight like this that is a clear indication of why Styles is doing the best work of his career now in NJPW. He has learned from a variety of different wrestlers and has grown as a performer throughout his career to the point where he knows how to pace a match and make his opponents look good no matter who he’s in the ring with.
One thing that is most mystifying to me is that TNA didn’t make a stronger effort to bring him back. Styles claims that the contract TNA offered him was more than a 60% cut in pay. Styles gets really emotional when asked how he feels about fans that say he should have stayed loyal to TNA and just signed the contract.
Styles's reaction to TNA fans saying he should have signed for what TNA was offering.
Styles said he had been a company guy and took up for TNA and talked about how he’s in the prime of his career and can deliver what they want. Styles says he wrestles for his family not to take a cut from TNA. "I'm not about to take a pay cut after everything I've done all the blood all the sweat that's reality that's a fact,” said Styles. It’s amazing that someone like Styles who was so dedicated to the promotion wasn’t given a better offer and the company clearly made a mistake in not building around him as a performer given what he’s done in ROH and NJPW since leaving TNA.
With Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian also not being re-signed, Style’s comments from February about trying to open the door for other talent in TNA and show them that there are places to go besides TNA and WWE to make money and have a career on the independent scene.
Styles wrestles a full schedule now and since Daniels and Kazarian have left TNA, they’ve been getting a slew of independent dates as well, which shows that is there is a way for talented to wrestlers in TNA to go to the independents and help a variety of promotions thrive.
Overall thoughts: (8.5) – This is a really good interview with Styles, especially given how he talks about what goes on between the ropes and how he has grown as a worker. Listening to Styles talk, you can connect his thought process in the ring and his approach to the wrestling business and see how it has translated to him finding success in ROH and NJPW this year.
If you haven’t heard Styles talk in-depth about his time in TNA and ROH before, this is a very detailed account of his time and TNA through the ups and downs dealing with different bookers and how he viewed Dixie Carter behind the scenes.
This interview is worth watching and is very relevant coming off his recent run in the G1 Climax 24 Tournament. I highly recommend this interview for fans looking for insight into Styles’s career and connecting what he’s learned through his experience in TNA and taking those lessons into NJPW.
You can purchase RF Video’s “Shoot Interview with A.J. Styles 2014” by clicking HERE or by visiting RFVideo.com.
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