This mild tongue lashing has been sponsored by Alvin Diesel and his brothers Simon and Theodore - Heroes of the Mediterranean and its cats.
Sometimes loyalty pays off. It certainly did in the case of the Undertaker. However, even if he bet on the wrong horse and the WWF was the one to go under, WCW would have given Ted Turner's left nut to sign him so it could do absolutely nothing with him. At least Bret Hart would have someone to talk to in between face/heel turns.
Sometimes it doesn't. AJ Styles and the Undertaker both went to loyalty races at different points in the careers. The Undertaker hit big, taking home the best streak gimmick in wrestling history. (Okay, second greatest behind Mideon.) AJ Styles went home with a small pile of horseshit. Not even enough to fertilize his vegetable garden. Under fertilized vegetable gardens makes Daniel Bryan a sad koala.
AJ Styles is kind of screwed here. On one hand, TNA has no money. They are on a downward spiral from which there may be no return. Of course, I've said the same thing every year since 2007, but it seems like all those bad decisions are finally starting to have consequences. To paraphrase a man who once sat next to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the plane may have crashed into the goddamn mountain.
On the other hand, WWE has about as much interest in TNA talent as Hulk Hogan has keeping his dignity. One can't really blame the WWE. As much as we would all love to see Styles and Samoa Joe in the WWE, the sad fact is they're not draws. But the sadder fact is, they absolutely should be.
Right now, the WWE is pushing a sad koala named Daniel Bryan as if he's the biggest star on the planet. He has just main evented SummerSlam against soccer mom heartthrob, John Cena. Not only that, he won the match clean with a knee to face that would make Jun "Too Cool for School" Akiyama proud. The one thing that WWE always knew how to do was make a guy look like a massive star.
TNA has never been able to do this. The top guys in the company who are getting the "A" storylines should be Styles, Joe, Roode and Aries with Daniels and Bully Ray thrown in the mix occasionally to keep it fresh. The Main Event Mafia and the Aces and Eights storyline has sucked the life out of the program. TNA spent the past year keeping Hogan and his daughter the center of attention. How is AJ Styles supposed to draw money for them if he has to pay third fiddle to a broken down has been in his sixties?
If there was ever a time for Styles to jump ship it was between 2006-2008, a long time ago. But he stayed loyal. He kept with the company that he had been with since its foundation. In 2006, TNA had its problems but it had a future. (The chief problem being Vince Russo, not to be confused with James Russo who is never a problem.) One could see if they just righted this ship, corrected its course just a bit, it could grow into a successful company.
However, that never happened. Styles' rise should have coincided with Cena's and should have been just as dominating. It wasn't from a lack of talent or presence; his stunted growth as a draw was a direct result of the absence of promotion. TNA never got fully behind Styles. They had Sting and Kurt Angle. They had Kevin Nash and Booker T, who both left the promotion. Another opportunity to get behind Styles and push him to the moon as the face of TNA and they elected to hire and give that spot to Hulk Hogan instead. That worked out so well, now they have that Asian kid from Goonies screaming about how there's no parachutes.
One could say the same thing about Samoa Joe or Christopher Daniels. Alex Shelley had real breakout potential, but they filleted his wrestling soul to feed to Brooke Hogan, who requires the sacrifice of actual talent to keep her famous. Then there was Jay Lethal who proved to be one of the most entertaining guys on TV when he was Black Machismo. All of these careers are pretty much dead on the tracks. They will never get a chance to make the kind of money that they should be making. These guys got over big and were ready to draw, but constantly got pushed to margin by TNA and its idiotic decision making.
TNA is like an infernal beast who devours careers and then shits them out, discarded and forgotten. Once TNA goes belly up, there is nowhere for these guys to go. WWE is focused on developing its own talent with its big new facility whose shininess makes Triple H as giddy as a schoolboy, and Triple H was never giddy, not even as a schoolboy.
Indy: Dad, nine o'clock!
Dad: What happens at nine o'clock?
Indy: On Thursdays? Absolutely nothing.
I hold that AJ Styles could still be a draw for TNA. That there might be a chance that they miss the mountain. TNA needs to re-sign Styles and pay him whatever he wants. He's worth the money. They need to put the belt on him at Bound For Glory and push him as hard as they have ever pushed a wrestler in their existence. He needs to be presented as the centerpiece and face of TNA and put in top billed feuds with Roode and Aries, then Bully Ray, Joe and Daniels.
The rest of 2013 and all of 2014 needs to be dominated by AJ Styles when it comes to TNA television. No more Hogan, no more Sting. They need to put the focus on the in ring action and cut back on the storyline nonsense. Also, fire Ken Anderson.
TNA, listen to me. This man has given his entire career to you. He has been loyal and has worked harder than anyone on the roster. This may literally be your last chance. He is both the heart and the soul of your company. If you leave him out in the cold, you will be beyond redemption and beyond saving.
The saddest of all facts is, they may not even be able to re-sign him. They got at least one more lawsuit from a former talent coming their way, and will probably have a couple more before they finally kick the old bucket for good. They may not have the money to pay him a decent earning. If that is the case, then AJ Styles may just be another broken career, left in TNA's wake.