2016 was barely a week old and we’d already had possibly the biggest wrestling story of the year: AJ Styles, Shinske Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson had handed their notice into NJPW and were signing with WWE. If rumours are to be believed, Styles will deburting at tomorrow night’s Royal Rumble (Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer said that was the plan before the news broke out).
Well AJ Styles’ former employee TNA, where he spent over 10 years as one of their top stars, claimed that he had agreed to return to them in December last year along with Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. However, TNA claim communications broke down when Styles stopped returning their calls, and his lawyers called the office to tell them he’d changed his mind.
“For the past several months, AJ and TNA were involved in serious discussions to bring him back home to TNA,” they wrote on their website. “Creative discussions escalated and two additional wrestlers, Drew Hankinson (Gallows) and Chad Allegra (Anderson), were enthusiastically added. These discussions culminated on December 14th in Nashville, Tenn., where all attended a meeting at Dixie Carter’s home. A handshake and written deal between AJ, Drew, Chad and TNA was agreed upon and signed by all. Start dates were determined, creative decided, merchandise designed and plane tickets purchased. Over the Christmas holiday, and after the lawyers finalized the long form agreement, all communication with TNA stopped. AJ’s lawyer contacted TNA and stated the wrestlers had changed their mind and would not be honoring their commitment to TNA.”
Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that Styles, Anderson and Gallows had not signed any deals with TNA and they were only in the stage of preparing to negotiate. Word around the industry is that TNA posted this on their website as a “woman scorned” and are trying to cast doubt to WWE about putting Styles in the Rumble as he doesn’t “honour his deals”.
TNA spent most of 2015 on Destination America, where they were pulling in around 250,000 viewers a week with live shows that drew 300-500 people. They recently moved to Pop TV where they are doing more or less the same number of viewers despite being in more homes, and their attendance hasn’t grown either. Matt Hardy was crowned the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion this week when he beat EC3.