If you can believe it, there were some amazing plans in place originally for AJ Styles at WrestleMania involving WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels. To most, Michaels is the greatest in-ring performer who ever lived. Few can compare to him, but one man that has come dangerously close to it is AJ Styles. Styles can do no wrong in the world of wrestling, and since arriving in WWE, he has been absolutely amazing. He perhaps had the best first year in WWE history.
Styles went on a tear his first year and his 2016 was considered by most to be amazing, with top matches happening against the likes of Dean Ambrose, John Cena, and even Roman Reigns all year long. He played both face and heel, and would go on to win the WWE Championship at WWE Backlash in the fall. Despite his amazing year however, a lot of things were in flux for WrestleMania 33 and the WWE had no real plans for him at the event for a while.
Brock Lesnar decided he wanted to work with Goldberg at the event, so the original Shane McMahon/Brock Lesnar match was bumped for the Vince McMahon fever dream of Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. Due to this, Shane’s match went up in smoke when the agreement was made in November for Goldberg/Lesnar III to happen at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, AJ Styles was still without an opponent as well.
This led WWE to actually contacting an interesting name for him to face. Shawn Michaels admitted on the Sam Roberts’ Wrestling Podcast recently that he was asked by WWE to work with AJ Styles, saying the following.
“I could’ve had that match, they did not have an opponent for AJ at WrestleMania. I wish that man was here 10 years ago man, I really do.”
This clearly would have been amazing to see. Shawn Michaels vs AJ Styles would be what The Rock vs Hulk Hogan was, except for fans of people who like wrestling over characters. Of course, after Shawn Michaels turned down the offer from WWE to work with Styles, AJ was then put into the match with Shane McMahon to give both someone to work with at WrestleMania 33. Michaels admitted to Sam that the match was asked of him, but he did not hold off from comments on this before.
He spoke with Sports Illustrated a little while back regarding AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, telling them the following.
“I think everybody would like to see me against AJ Styles at WrestleMania. That’s one that people have talked about, but I also really like Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins. I saw Samoa Joe when he was down here at NXT and his stuff looked really good. It’s one of those things, from an older guy’s standpoint, you think, oh my god, it would be a piece of cake. The thing I do best is get beat up. Samoa Joe’s stuff looks so good and crisp, and he’s a pretty tough, rugged-looking dude, so that would work to my strengths.
“It’s a different kind of match than an AJ-Shawn match. An AJ-Shawn match would be something that you’d expect to be like what you saw with Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. That’s a lot of fun to do, but it is also a lot of work. I guess I speak more of Samoa Joe because it is one of those things that can be good, like a Shawn and ‘Taker, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to do physically. Of course, when you get up there in age, those are the things you think about. It’s more about the story you’ve got to tell and it’s a little less physical. That’s when I think, ‘That would be a piece of cake and be a lot of fun.’ But there are a number of talented guys out there, and the world of the WWE is in good hands with the talent at the top.”
Obviously everyone would love to see Shawn Michaels return to work with AJ Styles or a number of other WWE Superstars. There is arguably a more talented or equally talented roster today as they were was in the Attitude Era, which was said to be WWE’s most successful time period by most fans. Financially, they did quite well. However, the PG era has been the time WWE has seen higher stock and overall sales.
Shawn Michaels has not worked a wrestling match since his retirement match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26 when it was “Career vs Streak.” It was one of the best matches in WrestleMania history and an amazing one to end a career on. However, WWE has tried to bring him out of retirement a lot since then. Michaels has declined each time, as he wanted to respect the Undertaker ending his career.
He has been part of several WrestleMania events since, just not in a match. WWE could still continue having him take part in them. That does not mean he has to work a wrestling match each time. However, AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels would have been special. It truly is terrible that Styles was not with the WWE ten years ago like Michaels claimed. We very well could have seen a classic.
[Featured Image by AJ Styles/Twitter]