Current WWE World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles has done something few professional wrestlers have ever done. He entered the WWE landscape as a big name free agent and immediately became popular among a new crowd — and thus far has sustained it.
Since debuting at the Royal Rumble earlier this year, Styles has feuded with the likes of Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose. He lost to Jericho at WrestleMania 32, and twice to Reigns in an attempt to capture the title. However, he has pinned Cena on three separate occasions, albeit under controversial circumstances. Styles’ biggest win, however, came at Backlash last month when he pinned Ambrose to capture WWE gold and has not relinquished it since.
Usually, big name free agents head down to WWE’s developmental system NXT and stay there for a while before being called up. Styles’ case was unique as he came straight to the main roster — but there is one big name who went to NXT that Styles would like to face again but this time on the WWE stage.
— WWE Australia (@WWEAustralia) October 12, 2016
“I think Shinsuke Nakamura’s going to have to work his way up to where I am. I don’t have to work myself to where he is,” Styles recently said to the Phoenix New Times to promote a WWE live event. “I’m the World Heavyweight Champion. So if he wants a piece of AJ Styles and can find a way of getting onto the ‘SmackDown’ roster, he can come and get some. It may sound cliché, but he don’t want none. But, would people like to see that matchup? Absolutely. And I would love to give it to them.”
Styles’ career since 2014 has been somewhat of a whirlwind. He left a comfortable — if not frustrating — spot with TNA Wrestling, a company he started with from its inception and was viewed by many as its biggest name. Styles went on to become the most popular performer in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) while TNA has been clinging on for life.
Recent reports suggest the company is in extreme debt and president Billy Corgan is suing the company — and Dixie Carter — due to financial reasons. WWE reportedly has an interest in TNA’s video library and nothing else. Others want the WWE to outright purchase the entire promotion.
— Jason Solomon (@solomonster) October 14, 2016
Styles just wants more options for other wrestlers in the industry.
“I don’t know. I think that I would love for them to be them and us to be us. Competition’s a good thing and to see some of my friends maybe losing their jobs, that’s never good. So I would love to see them continue to exist and do so.”
Others in the industry, like his former buddies from the Bullet Club, NJPW superstar Kenny Omega, and the Young Bucks are two entities whom fans want to see join Styles in the WWE. He would love to see it too but as he explains, his friends’ happiness goes before his desire to work with them.
“Yeah, those guys, I would love to see ’em here. But the thing is that what’s more important to me is that they’re happy. And I know a lot of those guys are happy. But there’s a part of me, a selfish part of me, that wants my friends to be a part of it. And I know I’ve got good-hearted friends, they’re good people and I want good people to work here in the WWE. But it may not be the times. I’m sure there was guys who wanted me to be in the WWE long before I got here, but timing is everything.”
[Featured Image via WWE]