We've been doing some digging regarding AJ Styles and his departure from TNA Wrestling. There's been a lot of stuff thrown out there regarding his contract and what he was making and what was proposed to him, so let's try to clear up as much as we can.
According to a source, Styles made close to $325,000 per year and was expected to take a cut in pay around around the $200,000/per year mark if he re-signed. However, the problem is the $200K was not a guaranteed amount and if TNA chose for whatever reason not to use him to save money, he would have only been guaranteed in the $150,000 per year range.
Sources close to Styles say he was willing to take a pay cut, just not as drastic as TNA was asking. He was believed to be seeking $250,000 per year guaranteed and TNA was pushing a contract that would have most likely paid closer to $200,000, with $150,000 being guaranteed. Styles felt there was a $100,000 gap and it was too significant to re-sign.
Any report indicating that WWE tried to "lowball AJ" is not true. We're told WWE never made an offer and do not want him at any price right now. The key phrase though is "right now." WWE isn't interested in bringing in a guy straight from TNA television that is going to be thought of as a TNA guy. His size doesn't help either. However, WWE respects his talent and might be interested once he's been gone from TNA for a longer period of time.
The way WWE currently views TNA is that it's so far beneath them, they'd want some of the "TNA stink" to wear off before they'd touch one of their more prominent names.
Rob Van Dam was an exception because WWE never really thought of him as a TNA guy to begin with.
So WWE flat out has "no interest in AJ" in the immediate future and TNA knows that. The thinking in TNA is that Styles had no leverage. The problem is they low-balled AJ so much that what they were offering ended up being in the range of what he could make outside of TNA anyway.
When TNA booked Styles for "unauthorized title defenses" outside of the company, Styles figured out he didn't need TNA to get himself booked overseas in the same places TNA was trying to setup appearance for the "rogue champion" gimmick.
One observer says AJ also feels that if he doesn't prove himself right now and WWE never calls down the line, he'd have even less leverage the time his next TNA deal was up. Therefore he's trying to prove he can make just as much as TNA was offering without TNA and revisit things down the line and see if they come with a more respectable offer.
Unbeknownst to AJ though, an element in all of this is that TNA is simultaneously pursuing former WWE star MVP and feel they're getting close to a deal with him. Money is so tight in TNA right now if they gave AJ his $250K guarantee, it'd mean they would be unable to pursue workers such as MVP.
Dave Lagana is someone high up on MVP and feels he's a recognizable name to help offset some of their recent losses. However, TNA could end up with "egg on their face" if MVP doesn't sign and it played a part in AJ Styles walking.
The real winners in all of this are the international promotions who are now able to book AJ Styles directly for a more reasonable rate than what they were having to pay TNA to use him.
Expect Styles to be very busy this year as he attempts to prove TNA needs him more than he needs TNA, not to mention the attempt to increase his value to WWE.