A.J. Styles came to the WWE as an old rookie looking to finally make a name on the main stage of professional wrestling. To many, this debut was years overdue. In fact, back in 2002, Styles was offered - and would turn down - a WWE Developmental deal; but why?
Well, Styles' reason for turning down the contract was rather simple: his wife. Instead of picking up and moving to Cincinnati (where Styles would have been forced to relocate for the deal), Styles would instead opt to "take care of her" and work the Indies.
From there, Styles would find himself signed to a deal with the newly launched TNA Wrestling promotion; a place where Styles became a legend in his own right while catching the attention of wrestling fans the world over.
In a recent interview with former WWE ring announcer Lilian Garcia, Styles shared his feelings towards TNA:
"TNA started up, which I thought was just another independent thing that was probably happening. It wasn’t a big deal to me. But within six months it’s like, OK this might be something. As it grew on, I grew to love that place, because I felt that it was something I and other guys were building.”
While WWE are willing to acknowledge that Styles was a star in Japan prior to his arrival in WWE, they will likely never mention anything involving Styles' time with their faux rival.