AJ Styles Reportedly Asked to Be Traded to WWE SmackDown Over Anger Towards Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman's tenure as Monday Night Raw's executive director produced a lot of excellent moments [...]

Paul Heyman's tenure as Monday Night Raw's executive director produced a lot of excellent moments over the past year, but it sounds like he might have inadvertently angered one of WWE's biggest stars. Back in mid-April Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson were two of the 30+ wrestlers who were released as part of a cost-cutting measure during the coronavirus pandemic. Styles responded to seeing the rest of The OC get fired by taking to his Mixer stream and putting the blame on himself.

"I mean, it's just like the only way I know how to explain it is like these guys are my family and I couldn't take care of my little brothers, you know what I'm saying? Like that's the way I feel about it," Styles said. "Like I'm the oldest and I'm supposed to take care of them and I didn't manage to do that and I feel responsible in some weird way for them being released. It's devastating, I don't know any other way to explain it."

Styles continued to echo those sentiments in an appearance on an After The Bell appearance. Then suddenly in late May he was traded to the SmackDown brand for no apparent reason, and Raw didn't get anything in return beyond future WWE Draft picks. According to Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, Styles demanded the trade after he blamed Heyman for Gallows and Anderson's releases.

"Actually the reason was that he was furious that Gallows & Anderson were fired. Blamed Heyman," Meltzer wrote while responding to readers in a forum post. "Classic case of JR/JJ/Laurinaitis syndrome. Vince is the one who made the decision but I suppose he felt Heyman could have fought him on it. So he wanted to go to the side where the guy in charge isn't fighting Vince on something like that either."

Heyman was fired from his role as Raw's executive director this past week, but will remain with the company as an on-camera performer. WWE also announced it has merged the writing teams for Raw and SmackDown with Bruce Prichard at the helm.

WWE's latest pay-per-view, Backlash, takes place this Sunday at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Check out the full card below:

  • Edge vs. Randy Orton
  • WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley
  • WWE Universal Championship: Braun Strowman vs. The Miz and John Morrison
  • Raw Women's Championship: Asuka vs. Nia Jax
  • United States Championship: Apollo Crews vs. Andrade
  • WWE Women's Tag Team Championships: Bayley & Sasha Banks vs. The IIconics vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
  • Jeff Hardy vs. Sheamus