When the always ultra-popular AJ Styles first came to WWE in 2016, he initially debuted as a babyface. This run would last just a few months before he officially turned heel by attacking John Cena on an episode of RAW in June, 2016.
The heel run for AJ Styles would last just about one full year, before he turned babyface upon starting a feud with Kevin Owens over the WWE United States Championship in the summer of 2017. The problem WWE faced during Styles' run as a heel for that year was that fans simply refused to boo him, he was just too popular. In fact, Styles never had an official promo or segment that actually turned him babyface; they just went along with his reaction from the crowd and his feud with Owens just sprouted up.
AJ Styles remained so popular when he 'turned face' that he was the only one they could use to get the ever popular Daniel Bryan over as a heel. Now fast forward to the summer of 2019, and WWE decides to turn AJ Styles heel once again. On the final RAW of this past June, Styles turned heel on WWE United States Champion Ricochet following a loss to the up and comer. Styles would turn heel in a way that would mirror his 2016 heel turn, as former Club mates Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson joined him in the ring for a beat down on the U.S Champ.
The big question that has come out of this shocking conclusion to RAW is; can an AJ Styles' heel turn work this time? Or will he just be heavily cheered as he was the first time?
Although it is obviously very early to tell, I think that this AJ Styles heel turn could actually work out. The early signs that it may work are that the live crowd's response to his attack on Ricochet did actually elect quite a few loud boos from the audience.
When Styles attacked John Cena back in 2016, the three man assault received quite a loud pop. John Cena is but of course arguably the most polarizing figure in WWE history, so while he had a lot of respect in 2016 from fans who previously despised him, he did still have his fair share of people who still hated him also.
This time, Styles made his heel turn by attacking Ricochet. While the U.S Champion doesn't receive the biggest pop of the night, he still manages to get quite a big ovation when he does make his way through the curtain. And this is what may actually help Styles' turn actually work, that a pro-2019 Ricochet fan response may actually be stronger than a polarized 2016 John Cena response. For the moment only time will tell, but at the very least, this could still do a lot better than his 2016 - 2017 heel run.