AJ Styles thinks much better of John Cena’s in-ring skills than one might expect.
For over a decade, both Cena and AJ Styles had devoted camps of fans that claimed that ‘their’ guy was the best wrestler in the world. Cena was the unquestioned ace of the world’s biggest wrestling company while Styles was widely considered the best all-around in-ring competitor in the world during the same period.
In some ways, the two were polar opposites of each other. John Cena was considered a great talker and very charismatic but a subpar and repetitive wrestler.
Conversely, AJ Styles was hailed for his in-ring skill and adaptability but wasn’t known for being the best talker and didn’t get as strong reactions as Cena.
But when these two clashed after Styles went to WWE in 2016, they had some great matches, including a classic at SummerSlam 2016 and an outstanding WWE Title clash at the 2017 Royal Rumble.
AJ Styles trash-talked Cena quite a lot during their feud, but that was all hype to get fans invested enough to buy tickets to see them fight. In reality, Styles has much more respect for Cena’s abilities as a wrestler.
So much so, that he praised Cena during an appearance on The Halftime Show:
“I’ve had a lot of tough opponents throughout my career. I will say that a guy that surprised me with how good he was in the ring would be John Cena. John is not known for being a technical mastermind in the ring, but he’s pretty good. I had some of my better matches against this guy.
I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into, there’s a little bit of everything. I had no idea. That’s one of those things where I had a lot to learn. Some guys may not look the part, but they definitely…. His mind for how everything needs to work and transition-wise. He’s just good. He knows what he’s doing.
It’s one of those things were you thought, ‘I’m the superior wrestler in the ring,’ but once you get in there with John Cena, you realize, ‘Well, okay, I didn’t know that. Let’s keep going.’ He’s pretty good.”
h/t Fightful for the transcription