AJ Styles looks ahead to WWE's return to Manchester after terror attacks and responds to 'best in the world' claims

Matty Paddock speaks to the wrestler often referred to as the best in the business

WWE superstar AJ Styles has vowed put “smiles on faces” in Manchester as the company returns to the city Arena for the first time since May’s terror attack on the venue.

The iconic Manchester venue reopened for business last month following the horrific events of 22nd May that saw 23 killed and 250 more injured following a bombing at a music concert.

WWE, who had been due to stage an event there just weeks later, will make their first foray back to one of their regular tour stops when its marquee Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live television shows are taped there in November.

Looking ahead to the tour, Styles was confident that WWE could do their bit to give people a night to remember during the double header which forms part of a lengthy European tour.

Speaking to The Independent, he praised the huge support that the company and the industry in general receives on these shores and said he’s aware of the significance of the Manchester event and couldn’t speak highly enough of the British crowds.

He commented: “I can’t speak for the rest of the guys but there is a reason why I’ve been over to the UK so many times! It’s such a great crowd there and it feels like just yesterday that I wrestled there [just before joining WWE] and told the UK crowd that if there was a spot for me at the Royal Rumble, I’d go and kick tail for them.

“I just really enjoy that part of the country – they’re just true wrestling fans.

“I know that this is a company that’s based around ‘violence’, but it’s an entertainment company and that’s what makes it different from anything else. It’s all about having fun, and if we can do something to bring people together, then that’s what we do.

“WWE does a good job of making sure we help not just the US community, but the world. I’m excited to get back to Manchester and to put some smiles on faces.”

WWE’s biannual tours to the UK are always well attended, with wrestling itself is enjoying something of a purple patch right now.

In terms of exposure and reach, WWE sits at the top of that particular tree by a considerable distance, but with more local scenes in the UK and in places like Japan are also earning rave reviews.

That’s absolutely no surprise to Styles – a well-travelled veteran himself – who added: “It is something we’ve said before. It is a great time to be watching wrestling because there are so many things going on.

(WWE.com

“That’s a good thing, and WWE sees that and knows that they need to have something in the UK and Mexico and stuff like that. They recognise that there is other talent out there and it doesn’t always come from the United States. I’m very proud.”

40-year-old Styles may have only been in WWE for the better part of two years, but he has behind him a storied and decorated career.

Having clinched championships and awards across the globe, he’s considered by many – including his own colleagues – to be the very best at his craft.

Bashfully it’s a claim he shuns, but it’s obvious the Phenomenal One enjoys what he does.

“I don’t know that I’m the best wrestler in the world,” he said. “But I like to think that I work hard when I step into a ring and I take a lot of pride in what I do, take in pride in what I do.

“Who is the best? That’s up for discussion I think; there are a lot of great performers out there.

“You never know which one is going to be the next ‘top guy’, but if you’re asking me about being the best wrestler in the world? I’d say I’m not.”

Styles and the superstars of WWE Raw and Smackdown Live head to the UK for live TV tapings at the Manchester Arena and various tour dates nationwide in November. For full details visit wwe.com.

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