On the latest episode of his podcast, Arn Anderson recalled a time when he was pushing for WWE to sign AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, and James Storm. AJ Styles and Bobby Roode are of course WWE veterans now, and James Storm had a brief run in NXT. Anderson was recalling how before Styles and Roode came over to WWE, he was trying to sell John Cena on the idea of bringing them in and building them up as fresh opponents for Cena and the rest of the roster. Styles would go on to sign with WWE in January of 2016 and Roode joined NXT in April of that year. You can check out highlights from the discussion below:
On pushing for WWE to sign AJ Styles: “I had pushed for AJ. There was a point in time when Cena had about run out of opponents. And I was on that whole ride with John, you know, for all those years. More than a decade, I would imagine. And we were sitting there, and I was talking to him. And it was when TNA was doing well, and I would watch their show — not every week, not every other week, probably because I was just too busy. And you know, suffering from burnout on wrestling. But I was sitting there with Cena one afternoon, we were sitting out there backstage at a table. I said, ‘You know John, it would really beef up the company if we would go out and we would steal Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, and the Cowboy, James Storm. If you just brought those three guys in, it would just give you a whole plethora of new opponents, it would give a lot of guys new opponents.’ And that’s just those three guys, I singled them out because of their work, and their psychology and just things that I knew I could benefit helping them. And they would catch right on, and they would be a very, very good fit.
On Cena dismissing the idea due to NXT: “And you know, fact is, John looked at me and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got NXT, we make our own stars.’ And 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 ’em six to nine months to come in and get over. Which you would have to push ’em the right way, just like they were a fresh 25 year-old body guy that you had hoped the stars for. And that’s what comes from the top, that’s the deal. We want ’em young, we want ’em to have great physiques, great athletes. And we’ll bring ’em in and we’ll build ’em. Well, these guys had their experience. They already had their teeth cut in the indies, TNA, they were experienced. They were ready. You could bring them in Day One, debut them on Raw, debut them on Smackdown, and you had a player. And so AJ Styles and Bobby Roode and Cowboy, they were all on my radar for a while before they ever made it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit ARN with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.