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A.J. Styles and Jeff Hardy, 38, are separated by two months in age. Both wrestle a similar style and both have their own following of hardcore fans.
Hardy is recovering from a serious leg injury suffered in a dirt bike accident, while Styles is looking ahead to not ending up in a wheelchair when he’s older after wrestling “killer matches” for the past 15 years.
Therefore, Styles says he’s not just going to jump at any contract offered to him. He’s patiently waiting for the right deal, seeing which promotions are trying to stand out from the pack, and continue taking his own bookings, even if he reduces his workload in 2016.
“Maybe less dates because I have been going hard ever since I left TNA. I have been rocking it. Maybe less dates is something that I should look to, but as far as slowing down in the ring; no way. I have one gear and it’s all or nothing with me,” Styles said on the Ring Rust Radio show with host Donald Wood.
The question of whether his career would be complete without a WWE run, even wrestling for NXT, came up again in the interview. Styles carefully noted that it’s about business to him when he’s looking ahead to his financial future decades down the line.
“The thing that makes wrestling most interesting to me is going to be the business that occurs after the match is over. A lot of people frown on that and say money isn’t everything. Well I say it depends on how much you have saved. My goal when I retire is to not be in a wheelchair or walk with a limp. Wherever I go, I will do my best, work harder than anybody there, and that’s just what I do. I only have one gear and if someone is looking for that and I can support my family while doing it, then that is what I will do,” Styles said.
As for whether his career would be incomplete without a WWE run, Styles said, “It’s not, it really isn’t. I get to work in the Tokyo Dome on January 4 in front of thousands and thousands of people. That’s pretty awesome. I don’t know about you guys, but the first time I watched New Japan and saw them walk down that long ramp to the ring it was unbelievable. The fact that I get to do that, that is my wrestling moment. I wouldn’t say I would never go to WWE, but if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t go, ‘Oh man, I missed out. I’m the one guy that missed out.'”
Overall, Styles said he’s going to follow the path the wrestling business sets before him, whether it’s regular return trips to Japan or to Lucha Underground in California or continuing his current booking schedule of Ring of Honor and indies.
“Lucha Underground does great and crazy stuff over there, and it’s a little bit of what we talked about with doing something different,” Styles said, relating back to TNA trying to be WWE-lite at the turn of the decade instead of being their own entity. “Wherever the business takes me, that’s where I am going to go.”