John Cena and AJ Styles were involved in a feud back in 2016 and 2017. Their feud received a lot of praise from fans and wrestlers alike as they had quite a few excellent matchups, especially their Royal Rumble encounter in 2017.
It seems that before Styles joined WWE in 2016, John Cena was against him signing with the company. On a recent episode of the ARN Podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Arn Anderson revealed that John Cena did not want WWE to sign former TNA stars such as Bobby Roode, James Storm and AJ Styles.
Cena seemingly told Anderson that WWE had NXT, where they could make their own stars. Therefore, they had no need of veteran wrestlers from other promotions.
No, I wasn’t surprised [they signed AJ]. I was pleasantly surprised and I pushed for AJ. It was at a point when TNA was doing well. I would watch there, sitting with Cena one afternoon, and I said, ‘It would really beef up the company if we went out and stole Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, and ‘The Cowboy’ James Storm. If you brought those 3 guys in it would give you a whole plethora of new opponents, it would give a lot of guys new opponents.’ John looked at me and said, ‘We’ve got NXT, we make our own stars.
Anderson then said he understood Cena was simply speaking Vince McMahon’s mind. He believed all of the aforementioned wrestlers would become challenging opponents for Cena in the future.
I’m sure he was just transferring Vince’s psychology to me when he said that, but I knew at that time what those guys could do in a match for John. If you just gave them 6-9 months to come in and get over – these guys had their experience, they were ready. You could bring them on day one and you have a player. They were all on my radar for a while before they ever made it.
There was a lot of hype surrounding his signing. In the four years with the company, he has won multiple championships and remains one of the top stars of WWE.
h/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.