As reported on the newsboard on Sunday night, AJ Styles is reportedly leaving TNA Wrestling. According to the report, Styles and TNA failed to come to terms on the financial side of Styles’ agreement. As a result, Styles will be leaving TNA for the first time since the company launched back in 2002. His contract expires on December 16th, so on December 17th, Styles will officially become a free agent.
The end of Styles’ historic reign in TNA is further evidence that the company is taking their recent cost-cutting measures extremely serious. The fact that TNA let Hulk Hogan go is one thing. Hogan’s price tag was incredibly high and the company simply wasn’t seeing a proper return on the investment. Styles on the other hand, has long been considered one of the “faces of TNA.” With TNA refusing to pay Styles what he felt he was worth, it proves that TNA is not making any exceptions when it comes to their financial cutbacks.
TNA president Dixie Carter was recently interviewed by the Tennessean newspaper regarding the TNA sale rumors. Carter vehemently denied the rumors, claiming that TNA is not only not up for sale, but is going to start competing with WWE with 24/7 programming.
I am not privy to the costs of TNA’s new programming venture, but one would assume that attempting to compete with WWE on any level, especially during a time where the company is attempting to cut costs across the board, seems like an insane idea. On one hand, it should be commended that TNA wants to challenge the big dog in the industry. On the other hand, it’s absolutely ridiculous and simply put, bad business.
AJ Styles’ future at this point is uncertain. Styles is accepting independent bookings through my former co-worker Bill Behrens. From what I’m hearing, Styles is looking for as many consistent bookings for the first quarter of 2014 as he can get. The obvious future for Styles, if money is his primary concern, which rumors from the negotiations he just went through with TNA point to it being, then “The Phenomenal One” will likely end up working a heavy Japanese and Mexican based schedule. That’s where the money is in this industry for a guy like Styles.
One thing I keep hearing is, “wouldn’t it be cool if AJ Styles popped up as a surprise in the 2014 WWE Royal Rumble?” That’s extremely unlikely. No one would be more pleased to see it happen than yours truly, but it’s just not in the cards. Styles is looking to score some big pay days as he enters the final stages of his career, and in WWE, Styles will not earn the kind of money he did in TNA, and won’t even come close to the amount of money he could make traveling the Japanese and Mexican markets. It was widely reported that WWE offered Styles an “embarrassingly low ball offer” earlier this year, and if Styles is out for money, which all signs indicate he is, then it’s very doubtful that he will end up in WWE.
For those who watch myself and Ryan Clark on WZRtv every Tuesday night from 8-10pm E.T., you’ve heard me say it a million times. I’ll say it one more time in print — TNA will not survive 2014. Basically, the TNA we know and love (or hate, depending on personal preference) will not live past 2014. Whether or not Viacom purchases the company to retain their programming on Spike TV is a different story altogether. The TNA business model that has been in place since the inception of the company in 2002, is on death’s door. That’s only one man’s opinion, and time will tell if it’s a correct one or not.
Speaking of opinions, with the absence of Styles on Impact Wrestling every Thursday night on Spike TV, I’m of the opinion that the company has just let their heart and soul walk out the door. If they can live without Hogan and Styles, the question has to be asked — who else are they willing to let go? And if they’re so willing to let these talents leave, how willing are they to fight to keep their business alive? Once again, time will tell.
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