Prior to his WWE debut in January, there was some question as to how the WWE fans would respond to AJ Styles. In fact, Styles himself was even questioning if the WWE audience would even know who he was. But, when the word “phenomenal” popped up on the titantron back on January 24, it was pretty clear that the WWE audience knew exactly who he was.
In the weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble, there were several articles which suggested that Styles was going to make his first WWE pay-per-view appearance during the 30-man match, so most people were expecting him to debut when he did. But, as previously mentioned, nobody expected that he would get the response that he got.
According to Styles, he hasn’t done anything in WWE since then that has topped that moment, and, during an interview with Sporting News, he said that he’s unsure if he’ll ever be able to top his WWE debut.
“I mean, how can you forget something like that? Your debut and not only did you debut in WWE, but it was at the Royal Rumble and the WWE Universe went nuts for it. I don’t know if I can ever top that. I’m going to give it a shot, but I don’t know if I can ever top it.”
Some would argue that Styles’ match with John Cena at last Sunday’s SummerSlam show was a heck of a lot better than his debut was. It turned out to be a fantastic match, and much to the surprise of most WWE fans, Styles ended up defeating Cena clean in the middle of the ring.
Right now, it appears that WWE is positioning Styles to be the face of the SmackDown brand, as he’s set to face Dean Ambrose in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at next month’s Backlash show. It won’t be the first time that Styles has challenged for the WWE Title since coming to the company, but it could end up being the first time that he wins it, as he’s currently the favorite to walk out of Backlash as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and if he does, that’ll certainly top his WWE debut.
Styles has impressed a lot of people since joining WWE, including WWE chairman Vince McMahon, who reportedly wishes that he had signed “The Phenomenal One” 10 years ago. Of course, Styles has said that he wouldn’t have been ready to join WWE a decade ago, and that he chose the perfect time to come to the worldwide leader in sports-entertainment.
Prior to joining WWE, Styles said that he was planning on retiring from wrestling at the age of 42, but in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he said that he’s planning on being in the ring for several more years, and that he’s enjoying being a part of WWE so much that he plans on staying with the company in some capacity after his in-ring days are over.
“No. I know that retirement will be in a couple years. I don’t know how many a couple is at this point, but the ultimate goal is the opportunity to retire and then do something else you’re interested in.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how everything works here. Everything is so professional, and I want to be part of something like that, whether it’d be training or being an agent. I think that’s right up my alley. That’s one of the things I thought about when I came here – the future outside of the ring.”
AJ will have plenty of opportunities to top his WWE debut at the Royal Rumble if he does, in fact, stay in the ring for a few more years. He’s 39-years-old, and even though he dealt with some back issues last year, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. So, it’s probably safe to say that we’ll be seeing AJ Styles compete in WWE’s main event scene for many more years to come.
[Image via WWE]