When AJ Styles made his WWE debut at the Royal Rumble match this year, the WWE Universe immediately got out of their seat and freaked out for the long-time Impact Wrestling legend. He was the King of the Indies and made a name for himself in TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles was considered the best wrestler to never get a chance in the WWE. Now, Styles got his chance and is reaping the rewards that he deserves.
It was after the Royal Rumble when wrestling fans began to ponder how Vince McMahon and company would see him. He’s a champion and should always be in the main event. That’s what Indy bookers see, as well as the majority of wrestling fans on the planet. However, that’s not always what McMahon sees in wrestlers. This is the man who didn’t know how to use Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre. There are other names on that list, but Styles was the focal point of this discussion recently.
He isn’t six-foot-four and doesn’t weigh 250 pounds. The WWE has historically been the land of the giants and only the strong survive. There’s a reason why CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn and others don’t hold the WWE championship every day of the year. John Cena is the face of the company for the sole fact that he sells merchandise and relates to kids. No to mention he’s great on the microphone, has charisma for days, and can wrestle.
Wrestling fans had good reason to be worried about Styles’ position in the company. He lost his first two major feuds in the company to Chris Jericho. It culminated in a loss at WrestleMania. Then, he put over Roman Reigns in their feud. What is the backstage perception of AJ Styles? According to F4WOnline and WrestleZone, the views on AJ Styles in the WWE has changed.
“AJ Styles was originally expected to be a mid-level wrestler when he signed with WWE. However, after the live fan reaction he got at the WWE Royal Rumble, and more so at live events, WWE now considers him one of the company’s top five regular stars.”
This is great news for Styles and for wrestling fans that followed him throughout his time in the Indies and TNA Wrestling. His appearance on the Stone Cold Podcast could have confirmed that. Only big stars appear on the podcast, at least the WWE Network editions. Fans didn’t have to look very far, as the WWE has treated Styles like a main event guy since his debut in January. He’s also responded with professionalism and incredible matches.
Styles spoke with Mike Jones of DC101 about his debut at the Rumble.
“I remember telling Triple H, ‘Hey, number 2 sounds pretty good to me!’ Because I would love to have that entrance and he goes, ‘hey, you’re going out number 3.’ Oh, that’s great, that’s cool. And the way they did it, where Rusev got eliminated pretty quickly, I had the stage all to myself. You couldn’t ask for a better debut.”
It’s clear that Styles is in the future plans for the WWE. Will he be a WWE World Heavyweight champion? That remains to be seen. The brand split has an opportunity for Styles to capture a title. There should be two major belts. While Dean Ambrose has one on a brand, Styles could hold the other. He’s a definite candidate to lead one brand. Either way, AJ Styles is in the good graces of the WWE and Vince McMahon is behind him. That may be the most-important thing going for him.
[Image via WWE.com]