AJ Styles was the face of Impact Wrestling, better known as TNA, for the majority of his professional wrestling career. But, according to WWE, there was a gap of about a decade between the time WCW closed down to when Styles finally made his debut at the Royal Rumble.
WWE has actually acknowledged the fact that Styles was working for New Japan Pro Wrestling for a year prior to signing with them. But, much like with every other TNA mainstay who has come to WWE, they won’t acknowledge his role and accomplishments in TNA.
But on this week’s Edge and Christian Show that Totally Reeks of Awesomeness, WWE finally at least hinted at what Styles was up to from 2002 to 2014 in a segment called, “will WWE talk about it?”
In the segment, Edge and Christian brought up the Bullet Club, which is the faction that Styles was the leader of during his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling. It’s expected that Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson are going to debut either in NXT or WWE television in the next couple of weeks, and form the Balor Club with NXT Champion Finn Balor, who was the original leader of the Bullet Club. So, because of that, WWE has no issue with acknowledging the Bullet Club.
The next topic that was brought up was “the company that AJ Styles wrestled for from 2002 to 2014,” and the answer to the question of “will WWE talk about it?” regarding that topic was no. But, WWE, Styles, Edge, and Christian did take a subtle jab at TNA by showing a picture of Test and Albert, who were a tag-team known as T&A during the Attitude Era.
The showing of the photo was then followed by the three men cracking up, and saying “yeah, right. WWE will never talk about them!” You can check out the segment below.
WWE has rarely acknowledged TNA’s since the company formed back in the early 2000s.
In a recent WWE Network episode of Table for Three with Neville, Samoa Joe, and Bo Dallas, the fact that Joe wrestled in TNA for the majority of his career was never brought up. However, they had no problem talking about Joe’s time in Ring of Honor.
During the first ever Stone Cold Podcast in December of 2014, Steve Austin briefly mentioned TNA as WWE’s chief competitor during his interview with WWE chairman Vince McMahon, and while McMahon didn’t address it during the interview, he wasn’t happy that Austin name-dropped TNA on the WWE Network.
The most recent TNA name-drop on the WWE Network was during JBL’s interview with Brian James, better known as Road Dogg.
After leaving WWE in the early 2000s, Road Dogg went to TNA, and he and his longtime tag-team partner Billy Gunn didn’t have a whole lot of nice things to say about their former employer during their time there. JBL shockingly brought that up during his one-on-one with the former WWE Tag-Team Champion.
It’s likely that the reference to the Test and Albert tag-team is the closest we’re ever going to get to WWE acknowledging Styles’ run in TNA. But, rumor has it that TNA is up for sale, so if WWE ends up purchasing the company, then they’ll almost certainly acknowledge all of Styles’ accomplishments there.
But, at this time, TNA isn’t exactly looking to have another company absorb them like WWE absorbed WCW in 2001. They’re just looking for outside investors, and of course WWE isn’t looking to invest in one of their competitors.
[Image via WWE]