Why John Cena didn’t want AJ Styles to join the company in 2016

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Why John Cena didn't want AJ Styles to join the company in 2016

It seems hard to remember now, but AJ Styles hasn’t always been connected to WWE.

Before he finally made his way to the company in 2016, Styles had wrestled for TNA during a 12-year period from 2002 until 2014.

Cena and AJ Styles ended up having an epic rivalry

He was their crown jewel. A homegrown talent in – in many ways – that many fans always wanted to see in WWE.

Once he left TNA in 2014, he headed to New Japan Pro Wrestling and joined the Bullet Club.

He would also frequent Ring of Honor during that time, but it wasn’t until his contract was up in early 2016 that the rumours he might join WWE intensified.

Styles would debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble and has since gone on to become one of WWE’s top stars.

His rivalry with John Cena is probably his most noteworthy, but according to Arn Anderson, Cena didn’t want him in the company originally.

“I had pushed for AJ. There was a point in time when Cena had about run out of opponents,” Anderson said on his ARN podcast.

“I was sitting there with Cena one afternoon, we were sitting out there backstage at a table. I said, ‘You know John, it would really beef up the company if we would go out and we would steal Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, and the Cowboy, James Storm.

AJ Styles had to prove a lot to Vince McMahon after joining WWE

AJ Styles had to prove a lot to Vince McMahon after joining WWE

“If you just brought those three guys in, it would just give you a whole plethora of new opponents, it would give a lot of guys new opponents’.

“And that’s just those three guys, I singled them out because of their work, and their psychology and just things that I knew I could benefit helping them.”

Roode did eventually come to WWE, also in 2016, and has won the NXT title, United States title and the RAW Tag Team titles during his time with the company.

Storm also made some appearances for NXT back in 2015, but he never signed a proper deal.

Both of those men had stints in NXT, which makes Cena’s next comments to Anderson even more startling.

AJ Styles and John Cena had undeniable chemistry in the ring

WWE

AJ Styles and John Cena had undeniable chemistry in the ring

“Fact is, John looked at me and says, “Hey, we’ve got NXT, we make our own stars,” Arn added.

“I’m sure he was just transferring Vince’s psychology to me when he said that. But I knew at that time what those guys could do in a match for John.

“If you just gave ’em six to nine months to come in and get over. Which you would have to push ’em the right way, just like they were a fresh 25-year-old body guy that you had hoped the stars for.”

Anderson was right as Styles has some absolute classic matches, including a legendary encounter at the 2017 Royal Rumble.

While Cena is right that NXT is WWE’s in-house developmental for want of a better term, truly homemade stars like Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin are littered with many guys – like Roode – who have already made a name in the business. Samoa Joe being another one.

We’re sure Cena wouldn’t dispute that WWE made the right call signing Styles now…

AJ Styles and John Cena brought out the best in each other, just like Arn Anderson predicted

AJ Styles and John Cena brought out the best in each other, just like Arn Anderson predicted




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