It was once unthinkable that an undersized X Division star from TNA could ever capture the biggest prize in professional wrestling, but it finally happened. AJ Styles captured the WWE Heavyweight Championship by defeating Dean Ambrose at the Backlash pay per view on Sunday night, as reported by CBS Sports.
For years, AJ Styles was considered one of the best performers in professional wrestling that has never worked for Vince McMahon. Back then, McMahon had avoided signing undersized performers who were associated with companies such as TNA that he considered to be business rivals. Styles joining WWE was something very few thought would happen.
The possibility of AJ Styles joining WWE became a hot topic for the internet wrestling community when it was announced that the former world heavyweight champion was leaving TNA. Though he was very loyal to the promotion, Styles was not able to get a contract from Total Nonstop Wrestling that he felt was fair.
— Wrestling Observer (@WONF4W) September 12, 2016
While there were talks that AJ Styles and WWE had engaged in discussions about a possible contract, the two sides simply could not come to a deal. There were those that believed that Styles was not offered a huge contract and World Wrestling Entertainment were insistent on Styles starting in the developmental program first.
Rather than going into a deal that he was not completely comfortable with, AJ Styles decided to take an alternate route with his professional wrestling career. The Georgia native decided that he would work the independent wrestling circuit while also venturing out to Japan occasionally.
New Japan Professional Wrestling is one of the most respected promotions in the world. A lot of professional wrestlers dream of someday being able to work against the top stars in the Land of the Rising Sun. Not only did AJ Styles pull that off, he was also the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
Things started to change in WWE when the promotion started shifting from Vince McMahon having total control to Triple H taking on a bigger role. As legendary as McMahon is, he understands that he is not going to be around forever, so HHH needed to be groomed to take over World Wrestling Entertainment some day.
Once WWE started expanding their options for hiring performers, the possibility of AJ Styles being signed by the biggest sports entertainment company in the world became a bit more realistic.
In January, it was confirmed that AJ Styles was indeed finally going to be joining WWE. The 39-year-old entertained the idea of returning to TNA, the promotion that helped him become a global star. In the end, however, Styles decided that he wanted to see if he could make it in World Wrestling Entertainment.
At Summerslam, AJ Styles was placed in a match against John Cena. Considering that it is the second biggest WWE pay per view outside of Wrestlemania, this was a highly coveted spot for people in the industry. Not only was Styles given the spot, he was also given a huge victory over Cena, which set up his eventual push.
Dean Ambrose is one of the more popular performers in WWE. However, his reign as world heavyweight champion was not entirely supported by management. There were those that did not believe that he was the right guy to lead the company, especially after he came off poorly during a podcast interview with Steve Austin.
A dream came true for AJ Styles and his fans at the end of Backlash. He stood with the belt held high against his head.
[Image via WWE]