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January 23, 2016

Big Backstage Update on the TNA – Bullet Club Situation, Why TNA Issued a Statement, Possible Legal Action, Details on TNA – AJ Styles Meeting

As we reported earlier this evening, TNA issued a statement via ImpactWrestling.com, which revealed they had been in talks with AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, and the talks lead to a deal signed by all three talents. The following is an excerpt from the TNA statement:

“[The deal] was agreed upon and signed by all. Start dates were determined, creative decided, merchandise designed and plane tickets purchased.”

Shortly after TNA released its statement, a representative from AJ Styles’ management team contacted WZ and issued the following, refuting TNA’s claim:

“No contract was ever finalized nor signed by the parties”.

According to PWInsider.com, talks between TNA and AJ Styles began sometime back in November, and Styles was a very high priority for TNA as they wanted him to return as the company was debuting on POP TV, to show the fans that TNA was turning things around. Talks between Styles and TNA continued through November and December, and those talks lead to the idea of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson debuting in TNA alongside Styles. Gallows and Anderson were looking to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling, and at the time, Gallows was not under contract, and Anderson’s deal with NJPW expires on February 1st.

TNA, as they noted in their statement, bought Styles a plane ticket for the Impact Wrestling tapings in Bethlehem, PA, and one of the rumored return plans for Styles was to shoot vignettes at a local hotel, and then insert them into the Impact Wrestling broadcasts so that everyone would be surprised. Styles would have then made his in-ring return at the upcoming TNA tour of The UK, along with Gallows and Anderson.

The story currently making the rounds is that once AJ Styles’ agent Bill Behrens learned Styles, Gallows and Anderson had signed TNA deals without his supervision, he was not happy about it, and was against the deal. This prompted Behrens to begin communicating with TNA, who by that time already had their legal department working on long form contracts for the three talents.

TNA noted that discussions between Styles, Gallows and Anderson culminated on December 14th, at a meeting which took place in Dixie Carter’s home in Nashville. The meeting was reportedly attended by Carter, Styles, John Gaburick, Gallows, Anderson and others. The meeting reportedly “could not have gone better”, and following the meeting contracts were presented to the talents, start dates were locked in, logos were created, and story lines were worked on. The talents came back with amendments to the offered contracts, to which TNA agreed.

Shortly after the Christmas holiday, TNA stopped hearing from Styles, Anderson and Gallows, as phone calls were neither answered nor returned, and text messages were not responded to. Bill Behrens then reportedly contacted TNA and told them the deal was off, and all three talents would not be signing contracts. TNA officials were reportedly shocked to hear this news, as they were under the impression all three talents were already signed, and now the company’s big “reboot” plans were out the window. The creative plans in place for Styles and the others were reportedly going to take TNA through a significant portion of 2016, so it left them void of major creative plans. There was also a feeling in TNA that AJ Styles was the company’s “Sting”, the one TNA original that the company couldn’t live without, and they were unable to get him back.

TNA sources remain adamant, as evidenced by their statement, that all three talents signed deals with the company, and although no lawyers were involved, the thought was the talents were a lock. TNA has not heard directly from Gallows or Anderson, however it’s being said Styles did contact them to let them know he would be doing what’s best for his family.

TNA is said to be very frustrated with the communication stopping, and the wrestlers backing out of their deals, which is why they issued a statement via the TNA website. TNA feels the company did the right thing, however they were “wronged” by the talents involved, so they issued the statement because they didn’t want to look like a “patsy”, and didn’t want fans thinking the company let its “Sting” go to WWE without an attempt to get him back.

With regards to potential legal ramifications stemming from this entire ordeal, word is that as of late Friday no decision had been made yet as to whether or not TNA will pursue legal action. There’s also a lot of speculation that TNA might have timed its statement to potentially put an AJ Styles debut at the WWE Royal Rumble in jeopardy.

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