AJ Styles has opened up about his previous injury, following his return to action, and ahead of his World Heavyweight Championship match.
Styles returned to the ring on the May 12 edition of SmackDown, pulling double duty to win his qualifying bout and semi-final match in the tournament for the new World Heavyweight Title bout.
The Phenomenal One had been out of action after suffering an ankle injury during a December 2022 house show.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Styles recalled the incident that led to his injury, noting:
“It was a simple thing, something I’ve done a million times and usually it happens the same. I was taking a backdrop, and I could have hit my back on the apron a little bit, but in that couple of seconds of landing on the outside my ankle, depending on the mat and where it was, turned in on me and snapped.
“I knew right when I did it, it was one of those things, it was like ‘I’m done’. As far as rehab is concerned, as soon as I’m able to rehab, I’m on rehab and it’s crazy how being in a boot for a while you forget how to there are certain things we take for granted – like walking and running and jumping.
“It’s like my body had to rehab that, I actually went for another MRI because I thought something wasn’t right. But they said the reason why it’s hurting so bad is because there’s so much inflammation.
“Once I realised that and that I wasn’t going to tear or rip anything I got after it because I wanted to get better. I was able to focus on jumping and running and stuff like that and it was like overnight it changed.
“Once you tell your brain you can do it, you can. It was really that simple once I realised I could put forward my best effort.”
When asked if he thought about life after wrestling during his hiatus, Styles said:
“I will tell you this. I thought I might go stir-crazy being stuck at home and not being able do to what I wanted to do, which I did a little bit.
“I wanna go when I wanna go and do what I wanna do and when you’ve got a boot and crutches it just hinders that and it will drive you nuts. That’s what drove me crazy, not being unable to be in a wrestling ring as I thought it would.
“I enjoyed the time, I enjoyed seeing my kids and my wife as it’s the first time I’ve been out this long in my career. So it kind of put things in perspective, like when retirement does come, I’m going to be ok.
“But I did go down to the Performance Center and see these young, hungry kids and it inspired me to finish strong. Whenever I finish from now on, I want to finish strong. Being down there really helped my motivation.”
Styles will face off against Seth Rollins with the new World Heavyweight Title on the line at Saturday’s Night of Champions event.
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