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March 28 Update: A.J. Styles spoke in generalities about his negotiations with TNA and WWE when he was looking to begin a new chapter in his career after an international run in New Japan.
Included was Styles indirectly responding to what TNA put out in January about negotiations with Styles before WWE entered the picture.
“I had some opportunities coming up with people I was going to sign with,” Styles was quoted by DigitalSpy.com. “I thought, ‘Well, you know what? There’s been some talk on the Internet and I’ll just go and give WWE a call and see what’s up.”
“One thing led to another, the ball started rolling pretty quick once it got started, and me and Triple H got it done.”
Styles also commented on his first full-time experience in WWE. “The main difference is that it’s very professional here in the WWE. Not that they weren’t professional before, but there’s little things,” Styles said.
“The little things that make things work so much smoother and better are done very well in the WWE. That’s the biggest thing.”
January 22 Report
One of the biggest stories of 2016 has a new twist after TNA released a timeline of events surrounding negotiations with the Bullet Club trio of A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows.
Styles, Anderson, and Gallows are heading to WWE, prompting TNA to release detailed information on their talks with the trio on Friday (Jan. 22).
Timeline of Events
– Mid-2015: TNA says they were involved in “serious discussions” with former TNA headliner A.J. Styles over a period of “several months” when Styles was a free agent.
– End of 2015: TNA says “creative discussions escalated” with Styles, who then brought his Bullet Club partners Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (formerly Doc in Aces & Eights in TNA) into the discussions.
– December 14: Styles, Anderson, and Gallows attended a meeting at Dixie Carter’s home in Nashville. TNA says “a handshake and written deal between A.J., (Doc), (Anderson), and TNA was agreed upon and signed by all.” TNA added that talks advanced to the point where “start dates were determined, creative decided, merchandise designed, and plane tickets purchased.”
TNA says lawyers “finalized the long-form agreement” over the Christmas holiday at the end of December. TNA says around this point, “all communication with TNA stopped.”
The proposed contracts were believed to be lucrative multi-year deals in harmony with TNA’s new TV deal with Pop TV. However, the key is that talks did not get to the final step of finalizing the contracts after both sides signed an agreement.
– The next step, which TNA did not attach a date to, was A.J.’s side contacted TNA and said “the wrestlers had changed their mind and would not be honoring their commitment to TNA.”
Again, the two sides had finalized agreements, but not contracts. A.J.’s camp told PWTorch on January 5 that A.J. had not signed a contract with any company.
– During the negotiation period, A.J., Anderson, and Gallows were talking to WWE. It appears that WWE topped TNA’s offer, sending the trio to WWE.
TNA decided to release details on their negotiations to indicate that the company had resources to offer a significant package to the trio, but they opted to take WWE’s offer, which we reported earlier this week was a “blow-away deal.”
TNA’s publicly-stated motivation for releasing the information was because “fans have asked for the status and wrestling media have made numerous inquiries.”
On the WWE side of the events, it’s unclear what WWE knew about the trio’s talks with TNA.
Styles, Anderson, and Gallows were also wrestling for Ring of Honor and New Japan at the time of their free agency negotiations. After Styles finished up with New Japan at the Tokyo Dome Show on January 4 and New Year’s Dash show on Jan. 5, WWE began floating teasers on their website and through social media that the Bullet Club wrestlers, along with New Japan star Shinsuke Nakamura, were coming to WWE.