In the same San Francisco room that I met the wonderful Sasha Banks, I was also able to get a little time with a man who’s had some of the best matches in recent memory, both outside and inside WWE. I had the chance to sit down with THE WWE World Champion, “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles.
Before I even got started talking to him he left to chat with another writer in the crowd, and I was left to point—alone and like a child—at the belt. THE belt. The WWE World Championship belt. I thought about touching it, but I wasn’t about to do that without permission. I don’t have a death wish or anything.
But after he came back over, I talked WWE and gaming with “The New Face That Runs The Place,” my first time ever talking with a SITTING world champion and one of the best wrestlers in the world. And here it is for you, my belt-side chat with one of the best of all time, AJ Styles!
Game Revolution (Kevin Schaller): “It is a pleasure to meet you. You’ve had some really amazing, fantastic matches in WWE, New Japan, when you ‘worked in Nashville’. Is there anybody from any of those rosters that you haven’t had the chance to fight yet that you’d love to step into the ring with?”
AJ Styles: “I honestly believe I’ve wrestled… y’know, there are still some guys in the WWE that I haven’t had the opportunity to get in the ring with. That’s gonna come, I’m sure of it. I haven’t been in the ring with Randy Orton.”
GR: “That’ll be a fantastic match.”
AJ: “We’re both on Smackdown! Live, so eventually that’s gonna happen. I think that’s gonna be huge, that’s gonna be fun. So there’s definitely guys on the Smackdown! roster that I haven’t had the opportunity to wrestle, and the RAW roster, and the NXT roster. I think there’s all these matches that people are gonna wanna see, it’s gonna happen eventually. And I’m one of ‘em. I want these matches to happen as well.”
GR: “One of the best matches I’ve ever seen in my life was your match at Wrestle Kingdom X this year with Nakamura. Do you think there’s a chance we’ll see a repeat of that, maybe for the championship?”
AJ: “I don’t know when, or where, but it will happen eventually. The WWE, they’re smart, they know what they’re doing. And when that time comes, everybody will be aware of it, and they won’t wanna miss it.”
GR: “Have you gotten a chance to play [WWE 2K17] yet?”
AJ: “Yes, yes I have.”
GR: “So who do you play as when you’re not playing as AJ Styles? I mean, you’re gonna rock everybody on the roster, I recognize that. But if you’re not playing as AJ, who are you playing as?”
AJ: *laughs* “I play as Sting, just ‘cuz he’s one of my heroes. But there are some other guys that come out. There’s some DLCs that’ll be coming out soon, and that’s pretty exciting. I’m not gonna let the cat out of the bag; no one’s gonna be safe when it does.”
GR: “This isn’t the first time you’ve been in a video game. But it’s the first time you've been in a WWE video game. What does that mean to you?”
AJ: “It’s everything. Well, I’m a gamer, so to be part of a great game—I’ve been part of a game before, but to be part of a great game… it’s awesome. Man, I’m so happy, so blessed to be a part of it. It came down to the wire with me even getting into the game in the first place. So just to be part of it is exciting.”
GR: “And I’ve watched on UpUpDownDown that you have a game room in your house. And you’ve got a Play-Choice 10—which I know what that is—you said you’ve got a NeoGeo cab. What’s in your NeoGeo cab? I have to know this.”
AJ: “It’s got a hundred and… I wanna say it’s either 172 or 160, something like that. So I’ve got all the SNK… tryin’ to think of what the heck that game was…”
GR: “Like the Metal Slugs?”
AJ: “All the Metal Slugs… goddawg it, what’s the name of that, it’s like Street Fighter but…”
GR: “King of Fighters?”
AJ: “King of Fighters, I’ve got ALL those. All those. I didn’t need all of ‘em, but I got ‘em all. There’s a lot of great games. My favorite game is Baseball Stars. Baseball Stars 2, that’s my favorite game. When the NeoGeo was in arcades I just loved playing THAT game. It’s so fun.
Actually, there’s… man, then of course I’ve got the old-school 60-in-1 arcade cabinet, then I got Track & Field, love that one when I was a kid. Yeah, I just enjoy… there’s something about ‘em. I dunno how old you are, but-”
GR: “I am a 32-year-old man, I know.”
AJ: “OK. There was a show called Silver Spoons back in the day. And this kid was rich, and it was a great show, but he had video games in his house. And I always thought that would be a cool thing. Being a gamer I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to do that for myself.”
(Like my interview with Sasha Banks, I asked AJ Styles also if he would thumb wrestle me. I thought about asking for a championship match for it, but the combination of possible flying forearms to the face and lugging a WWE World Title belt in my bag on the train kind of turned me off the idea.
It is amusing to note that AJ took longer to pin my thumb than Sasha Banks did. Though AJ has some massive hands, which even my mighty gamer thumbs could not overcome the strength of. Still got a close two-count though.)
GR: “Thank you so much for talking with me!”
AJ: “Alright, buddy!”