An injury never kept AJ Styles out of the ring for long, and the break gave him a new perspective on what life would be like when he finally steps away for good.
Styles, 45, broke his ankle at a WWE live event in December and thought when it happened it could cost him a month of excitement.
Instead, it cost him four.
It was the first time he had broken anything in wrestling and brushed reality aside a bit, saying he was “long overdue” for an injury he “couldn’t play with and let heal on its own” in his 24 years in the business.
The injury came at an unfortunate time as friends Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson had just returned to WWE from New Japan Pro-Wrestling in October and “Michin” Mia Yim was added to the OC (Original Club) faction in early November.
The group’s momentum was cut short on television with its leader no longer working.
“It was a big break and unfortunately took some time to heal,” Styles said of the injury. “It is what it is. It’s part of what we do. It was unfortunate timing for everyone, but we will come back stronger than ever.”
Styles said the longest he was out of action previously was six weeks with a torn hip in TNA in 2011.
There was no rush in this.
“I thought it was going to be a month or something,” Styles said. “The bone heals, you’re fine, bum. Not so, not with the break I got. It takes time if you want to be able to get it. If you want to go after it, get in the ring and hit the jump pads and all things, it will take some time to heal.”
That time allowed him to go home, completely away from wrestling for the longest stint ever.
Styles said the hardest part was getting injured physically “not being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it.”
While he admitted that it drove him a little crazy, getting out of the ring didn’t.
“It was nice for me to know once this whole thing was over, once I was done wrestling, I could enjoy being at home too,” Styles said. “I realize that. It wouldn’t be a place where I go crazy like, “I can’t wrestle, R!”
“I have a lot of things to do. I have four kids that I have to take care of and be there for and stop missing so many things they are doing. I was fine. This whole thing, it was a good experience.”
With that being said, Styles sees this as a great time to return to WWE.
He will face Seth Rollins at Night of Champions in a match to crown the new World Heavyweight Champion in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday (1pm, Peacock).
Styles is also no match for the Tribal Chief’s version of Roman Reigns, the undisputed WWE Universal Champion, and the company has formed a number of factions on SmackDown that OC can interact with now, such as Hit Row, LWO, Dynasty, and Brutal Brawl.
“I think it’s the perfect time [to be back] Because there are so many groups, so there are so many matches you can get,” Styles said. And it could be for everyone and not just for AJ Styles, for a tag team or for Michen. There are a lot of different things that are going to be very interesting when it comes to these different combinations.”