When AJ Styles music hit at the 2016 Royal Rumble, fans in the audience had no idea who was coming out. The polarizing Roman Reigns stood in the ring looking confused as well. Then, AJ Styles came out as his name flashed on the Titan Tron and the WWE crowd went absolutely nuts. It was one of the biggest reactions to a WWE debut in many years.
McMahon responds to AJ Styles debut
AJ Styles recently appeared on the Edge and Christian podcast E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness and said that Vince McMahon was not as impressed as the audience was with the reaction that he got at the Royal Rumble. According to Styles, McMahon thought the reaction for his WWE debut was a “fluke.”
After AJ Styles wrestled his first match as a face in the WWE after the Royal Rumble, he said that Vince McMahon was still not sold on him. According to AJ, Vince asked where the “pitbull” and “attack dog” was that he heard so much about. As McMahon said, anyone can have a babyface match like AJ Styles put on in that debut.
“When he said that, it was a relief because I was like, ‘oh yeah, I can be that guy.’ And so I think the next thing was a MizTV and I just beat up Miz. And I think he’s like, ‘uh huh! That’s the guy! That’s the guy I want to see!'”
AJ Styles on his debut
When it comes to his own thoughts on his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, AJ Styles said he was a little surprised and called the reaction he got “unbelievable.” The debut did take place in Orlando, somewhere that AJ Styles had wrestled for over a decade with TNA Impact Wrestling.
However, AJ Styles mentioned that he had been gone for two years and spent almost all that time in Japan for New Japan Professional Wrestling with only minor appearances in the United States — mostly in Ring of Honor. However, the audience exploded when AJ came out as the third entrant in the Royal Rumble.
“I did not expect that. It’s one of those things in WWE history that will be forever there because it was that kind of reaction that I didn’t expect. I don’t think anybody expected that. I definitely don’t think Vince expected that because I’ve heard stories that he’s like, ‘nobody’s going to know who this guy is and you want him out number three!’ So it definitely worked out to my benefit.”
It was a huge reaction, and then AJ Styles did what he did best. Styles lasted a long time in the Royal Rumble match and looked like a star. He then moved on to a feud after that with Chris Jericho, who helped teach AJ the WWE style of wrestling, and the rest is history.
AJ Styles on Working with Vince McMahon
AJ Styles said that Vince McMahon was not enthusiastic about his WWE debut but soon came around to what makes Styles special. AJ said that he is able to talk to McMahon because that is what Vince wants from his wrestlers. He has a relationship with him now and that means that he is able to pitch ideas and has moved to the top of the WWE.
In just one-and-a-half years, AJ Styles has been the WWE World Champion, beat John Cena cleanly in the center of the ring, and is the current United States champion for the second time. He wrestled, and beat, Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33 and might be headed for a match with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34 next year.
[Featured Image by WWE]