WWE News: Backstage News On When WWE Officials Decided To Go With AJ Styles As WWE World Champion

It has been quite a phenomenal year for AJ Styles, pun certainly intended. In less than nine months since arriving to the mainstream of the WWE, Styles made his debut at the Royal Rumble to a thunderous ovation, wrestled Chris Jericho on the biggest WrestleMania stage of all time in arguably the best match on the card, headlined back-to-back pay-per-views with Roman Reigns, re-formed The Club with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, turned heel, and capped it off Sunday night by winning the WWE World Championship.

As if all that weren’t enough, AJ Styles and John Cena put together perhaps the most compelling feud of the summer; one that transpired over the course of three marquee events and is expected to resume once Cena returns to television. But Sunday at Backlash, Styles cemented his reputation and made a case for the best first year of any WWE superstar in the history of the company. His championship victory came at the expense of Dean Ambrose, who lost the title after a reign spanning less than three months.

It was hard to imagine AJ as a WWE World Champion as recently as a year ago, after spending the majority of his professional wrestling career with TNA. Stints on the independent scene and in New Japan made it increasingly difficult to picture Styles ever joining the giant that is the WWE, but he finally got his shot, and it paid off in a huge way.

[Image via WWE]

The brand extension has been met with mixed reviews so far, but it certainly vaulted AJ Styles to the top of the SmackDown Live card, although his work would have likely gotten and kept him there anyway. Furthermore, John Cena’s reduced schedule and Randy Orton’s injury and likely limited dates long-term have opened the door for Styles to lead the way on Tuesday nights. He can have an excellent match with anyone, but it remains to be seen whether WWE has enough stars on Tuesday nights to maintain Styles’ credibility.

Styles’ program with Dean Ambrose was clearly the blue brand’s top priority, and the driving force behind the weekly show, but Ambrose drew quite a bit of criticism publicly and backstage for his championship reign. It was going to be difficult anyway to keep the title off of AJ again after falling short in his feud with Roman Reigns, but with Ambrose failing to meet the expectations required of the top guy, it made the decision to go with Styles a little easier.

According to Daily Wrestling News, that decision to make AJ Styles the new WWE World Champion started leaking out Friday morning, just two days prior to Backlash. The whispers also included talk of the finish which ultimately saw Styles hit a low blow on Ambrose when the referee was knocked out before connecting with the Styles Clash for the pin.

[Image via WWE]

However, we had noted previously that Vince McMahon and other top WWE officials were extremely impressed with AJ after the series of main events at Payback and Extreme Rules. Vince was telling people privately how he wished he had signed him a decade ago. It was clear that Vince realized he had a top-tier talent who could wrestle a classic match at a moment’s notice, and it was just a matter of when he would green-light him as the champion.

This is in stark contrast to the claims Ryback made earlier this month when The Big Guy said that Vince told him he would squash Styles at WrestleMania. Ryback is now gone while Styles is arguably the most over talent on the current roster.

The brand split makes it difficult to predict how next year’s WrestleMania card will shake out considering the lack of depth on each show. However, it’s far less difficult to imagine that AJ Styles will be featured in one of the most high-profile matches that evening. A far cry from potentially jobbing out to Ryback if you even believe the recently released wrestler’s claims in the first place.

[Image via WWE]

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