AJ Styles on Shinsuke Nakamura, Learning On His New Japan Run, Tanahashi, Crowd Reactions

AJ Styles #3 2016 WWE Royal Rumble
In an interview with Tag Rope Magazine, AJ Styles spoke about his time wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Here are highlights:

On the most important thing he learned in Japan: “Just because people weren’t making a lot of noise doesn’t mean they weren’t paying attention. The Japan crowds are very different from the UK and American crowds; they’re really paying attention, watching and loving professional wrestling for what it is. The pure sport that it is. You gotta love that. There’s a lot of respect in Japan and you don’t realise it and first, but then you just really love it once you get to know what’s going on.”

On talent he wished he worked with more during his New Japan stint: “You pick anybody on that New Japan roster and I wish I could work them more. That’s what’s so great about that roster, that’s what’s so great about New Japan Pro Wrestling is the roster. I mean, there are guys in there that can have a great match with anybody. Even the guys that you thought, ‘Well, AJ Styles and [Toru] Yano don’t really mix’, but you put us in the ring together and it’s magic. [He’s] one of my favourite guys to wrestle. We’re complete opposites of each other, but that’s what the New Japan roster is, it’s so great and diverse that you can have great matches with anybody.”

On anyone in particular he learned a lot from during his New Japan run: “Wrestling [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, I really feel like that I learned just because I don’t see what’s going on, doesn’t mean he doesn’t. Sometimes, I don’t feel the crowd or I don’t see them so I can’t see the reactions because I’m in a hold or he’s in a hold. But there was a time when I had him in a Calf Killer for what seemed like, ‘Oh man, this is too long’, but he saw something I didn’t, and literally we had people crying in the front row.”

On Shinsuke Nakamura: “First of all, Shinsuke’s awesome. He’s his own wrestler, there’s nobody like him, he’s very unorthodox but he’s his own man. You won’t see another wrestler and go, ‘Shinsuke copied him’, that’s not it. If anything, you could say he does a little Michael Jackson stuff, which makes him so different from everybody else, he’s flamboyant; this guy has all the tricks of the trade. At the same time, he will kick your head off.”

On returning to the independent circuit after leaving TNA: “I tell you what’s liberating, is the fact that you were able to bet on yourself, and it paid off. A lot of people wouldn’t do that, there’s a lot of chance you’re taking when you do something like that but it’s very liberating to feel like, ‘Okay, I did that, and I did it all on my own, and I created a new AJ Styles and separated myself from something that people only knew me as TNA AJ Styles’. Now they knew me as Bullet Club AJ Styles, which is hard to do and I was very happy that I was able to do that.”

On what keeps him going through the tough times: “I’ve never thought about giving up because giving up is a let down to my family. This is what I do for a living. When it gets hard and gets tough, I try to remind myself if I work hard now, that I’ll have a lot more time to spend with my kids as they get older and watch more of their games. You have to make sacrifices, and that’s what it’s all about. Thank God for FaceTime and Skype and everything like that, I don’t think I’d be able to do this without it. Because not seeing them, my family, would drive me nuts.”


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