WWE champion AJ Styles is known as one of the best in-ring performers worldwide. Before winning the WWE Championship, Styles held numerous titles for promotions around the globe, including the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the Ring of Honor Pure Championship, and he is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight champion. However, there was a time when it seemed highly unlikely that Styles would ever show up in the WWE, despite his accomplishments.
While “The Phenomenal One” certainly isn’t a small individual when compared to the average man, by WWE’s standards, he is a smaller superstar. It seems that wrestlers like Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, and other large superstars are more likely to get a push than athletes built like AJ Styles. To be fair, there has been plenty of smaller wrestlers who have been given a push by Vince McMahon over the years, including Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Rey Mysterio, Finn Balor (during his initial main-card run), Jeff Hardy. Now, AJ Styles joins that list.
Though he is enjoying his championship reign in the WWE, there was a time when “The Phenomenal One” didn’t think the company would be interested in him. In a recent interview with The Daily Star, AJ Styles shared why he never thought the WWE would never sign him.
“I think I just assumed me and the WWE just weren’t a fit, we would never work together. I learned to live with it, and I just assumed they didn’t need an AJ Styles. Thankfully I was wrong. It took me a while, but when I got here the timing was perfect.”
“The Phenomenal One” also revealed how Vince McMahon was skeptical of Styles upon his arrival, and how AJ was first looked at as a mid-card superstar, as The Daily Star documented.
“From my understanding, I was looked at as a mid-card at best in the WWE. That was the plan and I was okay with that because it was still a great job, a great payday and a great way to take care of my family.”
I’ve heard the words.— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) August 5, 2018
I know what he said.
And now I make my return to #SDLive THIS Tuesday in Orlando, FL.
I’ve made my presence known there before ... this time won’t be any different. pic.twitter.com/zpLSS7Li5P
The WWE champion said that when he made his surprise debut at the Royal Rumble, the fans knew who he, but Vince McMahon assumed that it was a fluke. Styles commented that he didn’t think he was supposed to be on the Raw following the Royal Rumble, and that Vince McMahon’s skepticism ended when he saw Styles perform in a match as a babyface. AJ Styles is now one of the biggest superstars in the WWE, and fans couldn’t be happier.