Year one of the AJ Styles experiment in the WWE has been nothing short of… phenomenal. Styles kicked it off with a surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble that was met with a thunderous reaction. He followed that up with memorable feuds and matches with Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns and of course, John Cena, only to cap it off with a WWE World Championship reign that continues to this day.
As you might recall, AJ was on the pessimistic side when it came to how he felt he was going to be received by both the WWE Universe, and WWE officials. Those reservations were quickly squashed, and he was immediately thrust into the main event picture to the delight of his faithful followers.
After all, conquering the WWE was the lone accomplishment yet to be checked off the impressive resume of AJ Styles that had seen him achieve success everywhere he’d been. So in just a span of 10 months, Styles went from his own uncertainty of whether WWE fans would even know who he is, to being asked about whether his current employer, the WWE, should buy out one of his former employers, TNA. But that’s one of the highlights from AJ’s recent interview with the Phoenix New Times.
“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.”
Wrestling fans would find that answer refreshing, as more people watched wrestling during the Attitude Era than ever before or since in the history of the business. And that was due, in large part, to competition. Styles was one of the TNA originals, and one who arguably achieved the most during his time there. He left over financial differences and eventually replaced Finn Balor as the leader of the Bullet Club in New Japan when Balor signed with the WWE.
Soon, Styles’ NJPW running buddies, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson joined him in WWE, briefly reforming The Club on the big stage. The Bullet Club has been one of wrestling’s hottest acts, regardless of promotion, and now AJ feels like several of the current members would benefit from an opportunity with a more mainstream audience.
“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.”
Timing played a huge part in AJ Styles becoming the WWE World Champion. It was probably only a matter of time before he did win the title, but Dean Ambrose likely never would have had it had Roman Reigns not violated the WWE Wellness Policy. Though we reported months ago that Styles and John Cena were slated to compete for the main championship on SmackDown right after the brand split.
AJ and Cena got entrenched in an epic rivalry, nonetheless, and one that also included Ambrose. But after victories over both, a lot of fans have asked who might be next for Styles. SmackDown Live broadcaster Mauro Ranallo recently offered up Shinsuke Nakamura as a potential challenger which would hearken back to their memorable bout at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 just weeks before Styles arrived in WWE. Would AJ accept such a challenge?
“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. 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.”
Is that a match you want to see on the WWE stage?
[Featured Image By WWE]