This past Sunday, AJ Styles, the current WWE United States Champion on Smackdown Live, showed up at a NWA Wildside reunion event in his home state of Georgia. Your first question might be: How can he be allowed to attend a indy wreslting event if he’s signed to WWE? Well, Styles was off last weekend (in preparation of his busy week coming up as WWE talent work four days per week on average) so he was able to schedule the appearance. According to Jerry “The King” Lawler from his recent podcast, WWE talent are “technically tax-wise, considered independent contractors” and can make “third-party appearances” at indy events permitted they are not scheduled to work a WWE-based booking, which is done (typically) with the indy promotion making a request to WWE, paying an agreed appearance fee, then WWE asks the talent if they would like to appear, and the deal is done.
Plus, Styles used to wrestle at NWA Wildside shows for many years and wanted meet and greet with the fans and the talent. He also wanted to express why he feels it’s really important to support indy wrestling. Appearances by WWE talent at indy shows really helps drive that point home, and in some cases, WWE will allow a talent to work an indy match. This is the case of WWE NXT talent Kassius Ohno (a.k.a., Chris Hero) challenging Joe Coffey for the Insane Championship Wrestling Championship this Sunday, September 17 in Manchester, England.