WWE Rumors: Former Producer Claims Legendary Wrestler Didn’t Want Company To Sign AJ Styles
On the most recent episode of his ARN podcast, former WWE producer Arn Anderson recalled that there was once a time when John Cena — who was then one of the company’s biggest stars — did not want the promotion to hire some of Impact Wrestling’s biggest stars, including AJ Styles.
As quoted on Friday by Wrestling News, Anderson and co-host Conrad Thompson looked back on the 2016 Royal Rumble pay-per-view on this week’s episode, recalling that this was the event where Styles made his WWE debut after spending well over a decade competing for some of the company’s most prominent rivals.
While Anderson admitted that he didn’t recall the year when the conversation took place, he remembered having a talk with Cena and telling the 16-time world champion that WWE’s product was “getting a little stale.” As he explained, he felt that chairman Vince McMahon didn’t just need to call people up from NXT but rather hire “seasoned veterans” from other promotions who already had some name recall in the business.
According to the former WWE backstage producer, he told Cena that there were certain wrestlers in Impact, including Styles, James Storm, and Robert Roode, who were seen as main-event talents and potential opponents for the longtime fan-favorite.
“He looked me right in the eye and at this time John had 100 percent stroke, power, it was his call on everything that had to do with him. He said, ‘Why would we want those guys? We make our own stars.'”
Anderson went on to explain that even then, Styles was already “on [his] radar” because of his extraordinary talent and that despite his vast experience, he had the potential to remain a major star for WWE for many years to come.
Now five years removed from his WWE debut, Styles has lived up to expectations, winning multiple world titles and standing out for his work as a babyface and a heel performer alike. He did, however, come close to signing with AEW, despite the opportunity he would have had to reunite with several of his ex-Bullet Club stablemates.
This isn’t the first instance in which Anderson has accused Cena of using his backstage influence to prevent other people from succeeding in WWE. Last year, as The Inquisitr reported, the industry veteran seemingly confirmed the rumors that Alex Riley — who was released by the promotion in 2016 — lost his push a few years before that due to a backstage altercation he had with Cena, causing officials to lose interest in pushing the then-youngster.