On the latest episode of Busted Open Radio, WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry explained why AJ Styles was possibly traded to SmackDown from RAW earlier this month. Mark Henry said that given the number of young Superstars on the Blue brand, WWE would have wanted a veteran presence on the roster to help them.
Mark Henry pointed out how Ricochet benefitted from a program with AJ Styles on RAW and suggested that he could do more of the same on SmackDown as well. (H/T WrestlingNews.co for the transcription)
"It’s not the same SmackDown, but it’s a more youthful SmackDown. And it [SmackDown] needs veteran leadership. And he’s a guarantee, and he’s a guy that could come in and no matter where you put him? He is gonna…he’s gonna make it a success."
"You look at the most relevant that Ricochet was? Ricochet got to get in there with AJ Styles and put it an edge on Ricochet. Who’s gonna be next? Who’s the one over there that is gonna get the rub from AJ?”
AJ Styles was the second overall pick made by SmackDown during the 2016 Draft. Within the first few months, Styles got his hands on the WWE Championship, his first world title with WWE, when he defeated Dean Ambrose.
AJ Styles' second title reign was the more memorable one, which began after he beat Jinder Mahal. The Phenomenal One held the title for more than a year (371 days), making him only the eighth Superstar to hold the prestigious title for more than 365 days in a single continuous reign. He would lose the title in controversial fashion after Daniel Bryan used the low-blow to win the championship.
In between the two reigns as WWE Champion, AJ Styles also held the United States Championship on two separate occasions. In April 2019, Styles moved to RAW as a part of the Superstar Shakeup.
During his time on SmackDown, AJ Styles had memorable feuds with the likes of John Cena, Dean Ambrose, James Ellsworth, Kevin Owens, Shane McMahon, among others, that made for must-see television.
Upon his return, AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to advance to the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Championship tournament, where he will face Elias. If he manages to get his hands on the gold, there will be no doubt that SmackDown is still the house that AJ Styles built.