Last night, one of the greatest moments in WWE history occurred. AJ Styles made his debut at the Royal Rumble, coming out in the number 3 spot. Putting aside the past year he’s had, AJ Styles is someone that I’ve always wanted to see in the WWE.
I first saw AJ live in 2003, at the inaugural ROH Death Before Dishonor event. He was one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions alongside The Amazing Red, and they successfully defended their titles against The Briscoe Brothers. Even back then, I had the feeling that I was watching a future professional wrestling mainstay. My next live encounter with Styles was two years later at Death Before Dishonor III. He was taking on Petey Williams.
I can still clearly remember being blown away by what I saw. That match stands as my second favorite thing from that night, with the first being CM Punk’s title win and subsequent heel turn promo. AJ stands out as one of those “can do anything” guys in wrestling. He has the ability to be up there with the great mat technicians, but can also soar with the best of the high flyers.
Here’s a link to him doing the Spiral Tap in 2013, a move that he pulled from his repertoire, but can still bust out like he’s been doing it every day:
Do I even need to mention the accomplishments and accolades he achieved in New Japan? He, alongside The Bullet Club, took the wrestling world by storm. It’s not often a gaijin gains a level of immense popularity and notoriety; but Styles is as deserving of it all as anybody else.
He definitely did a lot of “maturing” as a wrestler in New Japan, and during his return to Ring Of Honor; maturing that I believe finally made him ready for the bright lights of the WWE. Some people are marking this as the end of AJ Styles, and they couldn’t be more wrong. This is a very different WWE than it was even ten years ago. AJ will be given the red carpet treatment that he deserves.
Take, for example, the fact that he was put on the same level as Brock Lesnar. When AJ was walking down the entrance way, JBL mentioned he won the IWGP title, the very same title Brock Lesnar won. That’s a huge thing for WWE to do on your debut. WWE put the hype machine into overdrive for his debut and I was relishing every second of it.
The fact that they also signed him after he had arguably the match of the year with Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10 is an even bigger feather in WWE’s cap. It’s only a matter of time until Styles’ hand gets raised and he’s announced the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. I’m beyond hyped to see what the future holds for AJ Styles in WWE, but I know it will be phenomenal.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of WWE.com.