Ever since his surprise debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, AJ Styles has consistently amazed audiences and strived to make every moment count when he’s in the ring. All of this should be culminating in possibly the most anticipated match of his career when he defends the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura at the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania. We managed to gain entrance to a conference call with the Phenomenal one himself before his big match to discuss the many things going through his mind, and even address certain rumours that may put everything on hold in a major way.
Reportedly during a show at Madison Square Garden, AJ was seen to be carried backstage after a match, leading many to speculate his health moving forward. The always faithful internet wrestling community continued to spiral as thoughts of Styles missing Mania filled comments and tweets. AJ’s response was many things, but definitely direct.
“If my leg got cut off, I’d find a way to make it to WrestleMania. I will be wrestling Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania, don’t worry about it, it’ll be fine.”
His confidence has filled me and many others with a sense of relief. Lord knows what would happen if a match like that was suddenly off the table. This response speaks volumes of AJ’s character, he goes on to say much later in the conference with regards to his do or die attitude when it comes to entertaining the audience.
“I think it’s more my ego than anything that won’t allow me to take time off. I still feel like I can go with these young guys and I feel like I’ve got something to prove. Because I am older… I got to be this guy, I got to be the same AJ Styles that everyone used to see and so when I’m not able to give them that guy or be that guy then I’ve got to hang it up.”
This passion to go and above and beyond has paid off in the past. Thinking back to matches that AJ has been involved in before has left a mark in WWE that cannot be removed. Matches with Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Brock Lesnar, and even Finn Balor have all had memorable moments littered throughout that show a lot of work has been done to make them outstanding in one way or another. But even with this outlook, when asked if he felt there was anything he needed to improve on, AJ replied positively with an eagerness to grow as a performer.
“There’s a little bit of everything I need to improve on. You name it, you can always be better at it and I want to be better at everything. If I can just be a little bit better at something throughout my career I feel like at least I’m moving forward. I think that once you believe you have learned everything and that you’re the master, you might as well get out of this business. I’m sure The Rock would even tell you that he still had more to learn.”
Honing your craft and wanting to learn is a key factor in AJ’s attitude. Applying yourself and allowing to take in new information seems to be the best way forward for him, which ultimately leads us perfectly to the next encounter for Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura and AJ have faced off before back in NJPW during Wrestle Kingdom 10. After this bout, which many people thought would never happen again, their paths soon crossed during the Money in the Bank ladder match in 2017. The crowd felt it, AJ and Nakamura felt it, and we’re fairly sure Vince felt it too. Though a brief encounter, this then led to the slow hype, asking when will they face each other again or if they do, how will it go down? That answer was brought to us thanks to Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble match where he got to pick his champion to face, and we all know who he chose…
What did AJ think when Nakamura secured his place at WrestleMania?
“I was very excited that Shinsuke won the Royal Rumble and I had to make sure that I had the championship so that he and I could get in the ring together, against each other one on one, give the WWE Universe what they want to see. As far as the main event goes, I can tell you which match is going to steal the show. You can either put [Styles and Nakamura] on last, or you can have that as the only match and people are going to remember it because we are going to tear the house down, that’s what we do. We have the talent to be able to do that and I think that’s what people are expecting. Whether or not it’s the main event, it’ll be a main-event match.”
Surely a match like this, which fans are already calling “match of the night”, must lead to some high pressure for Styles to come to terms with. AJ commented on this by stating;
“Well, there’s definitely some expectations that are a little high, it’s going to be hard to reach those expectations. If I had to pick someone in the WWE that I could do it with, it’d be Shinsuke. It is what it is, at the end of the day we can only do what we can do. I really believe that we have the opportunity to do something great for ourselves, each other, and put ourselves on a pedestal that people will remember a match from WrestleMania that they’ll never forget.”
“I don’t know there’s that much pressure. I feel like that [Nakamura] and I can have a great match no matter what, it’s going to happen. There’s a little pressure of it being WrestleMania, but I work well under pressure so I’m not worried about it… it’s a match that I wanted. So the fact that we’re actually going to do it at WrestleMania, I think its long overdue but it’s the perfect timing to do it and it’s exciting.”
So there you have it, folks. AJ is going to be ready no matter what, Nakamura has his sights set on the WWE championship and WrestleMania is only a few short weeks away. The only question now is who is going to walk out with the title? Either way, this matchup has been a long time coming in WWE and we finally get to see it. All I can say is sit back, relax, and look forward to seeing what these two pull out of the bag to make it truly memorable.