The Phenomenal One.
Or, you may simply know him as AJ Styles. By any other name, his reputation proceeds him. As he made his debut at the WWE Royal Rumble (to a huge pop, no less), one may question if this is the end of Styles’ career? Will he be used correctly? The dreaded “Midcard Mediocrity”? What about the “Styles Clash”? These questions, while up for debate – can be simply broken down as an analysis of the man himself. With that, we must go to the beginning.
Styles debuted in professional wrestling in 1998 for Georgia’s National Championship Wrestling. By the time 2001 rolled around, he was a part of several companies such as X Wrestling Federation, the now-defunct Word Wrestling All-Stars, ECWA, Game Changer Wrestling, amongst many others. This would be the beginning of Styles and paying his dues.
Funny Note: He was a part of World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2001 before they were bought out by WWF/E.
While he returned to NWA Wildside, he did try out for WWF/E in 2002 where he lost in a dark match to Rico. However, he did have a match with Hurricane Shane Helms on Jacked! While he was offered a contract, he did decline due to family obligations at the time (This will be a recurring theme) Click Here for more on his 2002 WWE stint
Personally, I started watching Styles when he started in Ring of Honor (ROH). With his many wins and accomplishments (feuds with Austin Aries and Davey Richards were pretty cool) He was definitely over with the ROH crowd, but this set him up for another advance in his career
Total Nonstop Action (TNA)
This is where it begins to get sketchy for Styles – his tenure with TNA. There is no question that he was the man of the X-Division, battling the likes of Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, Petey Williams, Low-Ki, Amazing Red and scores of others. He became their first Triple Crown winner of the organization.
From 2002 to 2013, Styles was mixed with every faction (Frontline, Fortune, etc) and his singles matches were impressive…and he was OVER! With a guy being over and practically the cornerstone of TNA, one would think he would get a fair shake, right? Wrong! Styles, ethically sound and was focused on leaving something and providing for his family, left TNA.
When he did that, many questions were raised about TNA and why would they let their blue-chip employee walk away. Did this tarnish his legacy and did TNA keep him from evolving? There is no debate, the solid answer would be NO! Here’s why:
Mexico & Japan
After Styles abruptly left TNA, he took time off and went to Mexico’s AAA. He also went to CMLL. In between all of this, He was in New Japan where he and many others were a part of “Bullet Club” – creating a universal following.
Rewind in the States
Through 2003-12 until early, Styles did what he did best – toured the Indy circuit making stops in NJPW, TNA and ROH. Now, any other person would have sat home, collected a check or fell off the face of the planet (or ended up on TMZ, sadly) Styles kept working, building his brand, adding more to his repertoire and being the best.
It is no secret that Styles is 38 years old and perhaps is coming to the end of his road. 38 Years old, three children and a wife at home, maintaining his values and motivation in a sport that requires you to take yourself away from everyone. Schedules such as this can either make or break you as a person. In Styles’ case, it brought him here.
WWE Royal Rumble Debut and Beyond
January 2016, AJ came into the Rumble at number 3. The “Pop” and the ovation he received was…phenomenal (no pun intended) He lasted long enough to leave his presence for those who were unfamiliar with him. Those who followed him for years, knew he still had it! Those who criticized him due to him being a TNA Original….changed their view.
Heading into Wrestlemania 32, he is in a feud with Chris Jericho, as well as the Miz (House Shows). Do I see Styles winning the World title right now? No, because it’s not his time. Do I see him winning the IC title? Yes, because the IC scene is way better and he can have a variety of feuds.
Also, he can make many superstars look awesome and bring their A-game like Ziggler, Alex Riley, Dean Ambrose (if he doesn’t get the WC jump soon) or even a match I would love to see – Seth Rollins. NOTE: I did not mention him in NXT because it’s already turning into ROH/TNA Lite with Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and a few others that may be coming in)
To wrap this up, Styles can only get better from here. Even if he decides to hang up the boots in a few years. IF creative plays it correctly, Styles can have the best matches added to the resume of his illustrious career. While most people plummeted at the tail end of their career, Styles never missed a beat.
Okay, so they won’t let him use the Styles Clash. WHO CARES? He has more in his arsenal than that one move. Styles will be in the WWE for the long run, and I personally can’t wait to see the next level of his evolution.
Nope, They Don’t Want None.