He's mad, and he's just not going to take it anymore.
As TNA spirals into chaos on and off screen (wait, who is champion this week? And who is doing the booking?), TNA star AJ Styles has started becoming more and more vocal about his criticism of the promotion on his Twitter account.
Seemingly uncaring that Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan now reportedly have more power than ever before and are probably not the people to cross in TNA, Styles has been taking some vicious digs at the OAP brigade in the past couple of weeks.
Notably, the first rumblings that Styles was unhappy was when he responded to comments Hulk Hogan made to Busted Open during his whirlwind PR tour to promote TNA's Bound For Glory event (Hogan dismissed the efforts of Styles and Bobby Roode and strongly indicated he viewed neither as top stars). Shortly after, Styles wrote, in a not-so-thinly-disguised dig at Hogan: "Frustration setting in when your own guys bury the company that u have worked so hard for........Brother!"
Styles then retweeted the following quotes:
Knowing how sensitive people in power in TNA can be about criticism, or the suggestion that TNA is anything but a successful, profitable organization where everything is perfect and everyone gets along, these retweets may have been more damaging than AJ's first, more personal, post towards Hogan.
In the aftermath of Bound for Glory and the iMPACT taping the following evening, which saw James Storm win the TNA World Title from Kurt Angle, Styles remained unrepentant, posting the following, very telling quote from Winston Churchill: "You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something in your life."
Has the promise that, with the emergence of Storm and Roode as top players, TNA may be finally pushing the long, under-appreciated TNA Originals smoothed things over between AJ and the company? Well, not really.
Yesterday, Styles also retweeted the following Youtube video. Sent to him by a user named Comedy Mahem, who claimed he was dedicating the song to Styles and the rest of the younger guys, the video is entitled "TNA Main Eventers: We Are Old." It is about...well, you guessed it: TNA's decrepit main-eventers sticking it to the younger guys, taking all the money and hogging up the airtime.
Set to Al Bundy's classic song "We Are Old" from an old episode of Married with Children, it is a funny video with a frightening ring of truth to it (the line "Without your help we can't pay our alimony bills" seems to perfectly describe the situations of Hogan and Flair). There are also jokes about medicare, false teeth and going to bed early.
While nobody would be surprised that AJ got a private chuckle from it, putting in on Twitter and endorsing it seems like a very risky move that could doom his TNA career, especially since, as has been noted, Hogan is probably the most powerful person in the company these days.
Is it possible this is some sort of work/shoot angle, and that's why Styles has upped his criticism so much in the past few weeks? Vince Russo is fond of these types of angles, after all. But what sense does that make when both Hogan and Styles are babyfaces in the storylines? What would be the point?
Or more likely, this is real, and AJ is genuinely angry about the state of TNA these days. Possibly he has simply had enough of the dysfunction and selfish refusal of the older stars to step away from the spotlight. Perhaps he feels that there's nothing much more that management can do to punish him and his long-suffering friends anyway (he may be right).
There's also something very telling in the fact that Styles, a TNA veteran and long considered a centrepiece of the promotion, has finally lost his patience with management after one bad decision after another. If even a company man like AJ Styles have given up and is publicly slamming the company, things for TNA may be looking worse than we thought.