Former WWE and ECW talent Simon Dean revealed why AJ Styles declined his initial offer from the WWE.
Sitting down with the Pancakes and Powerslams Show, former WWE star Simon Dean explained that he worked with AJ Styles while they both competed for the short-lived World Wrestling All-Stars promotion ran by promoter Andrew McManus. During this time, both had the opportunity to compete for the WWE, and were interested. While Styles had to go through the tryout stage in Cincinnati, Dean’s popularity in ECW gave him a spot on the main roster.
Over the years, numerous reports state that Styles decided not to go to WWE due to having to move to Cincinnati away from his family. While this may be the case, Dean went into further detail of why Styles declined the opportunity with WWE and went to Impact Wrestling instead.
“I was right there for it. It was me and AJ. We were in Australia doing a tour for World Wrestling All-Stars. I told him I had been signed by WWE. They had a tryout in Cincinnati and he had went to that. I thought I was going to have to go to that, and I didn’t, I went right through it. In Cincinnati, he’d told me basically, after the tour in Australia we’d come back, and they had a [show] in Vegas.
“Bob Ryder and Jeff Jarrett had come up to me, and they told me that they were launching this new company called TNA. I told them that I had just signed with WWE, and I want to give it a shot. They wanted me to come to TNA, and they wanted to build the company around AJ. So, it’s not that AJ never wanted to go to the WWE, it was just that the offer was never right for AJ to come to WWE.”
At the Royal Rumble in 2016, AJ Styles made his long-awaited WWE debut as the third entrant. Styles immediately made an impression by lasting nearly 30 minutes in the match, impressing both fans and backstage personnel.
Although Styles was initially supposed to be pegged as a midcard talent, according to Ryback, his amazing ability not only catapulted him in the main event picture, but he became WWE Champion within his first year of competing for the company, which is something that only a very short list of people have done.
While pro wrestling talent hope to make it to the big leagues of the WWE, sometimes it can be argued that successfully competing for other companies can raise the stock value of a competitor. For Styles, his time in Impact Wrestling and New Japan made him one of the hottest commodities that was not competing for WWE. Now, he is one of the top talents for the company, and has an opportunity to win the United States Championship from Kevin Owens at Backlash.