It finally happened! After over two full years, AJ Styles has turned heel again. It's crazy to think that after two years of being a top babyface (out of which one full year was as WWE Champion).
Obviously, the time was right for him when he did turn babyface after WrestleMania 33. While fans were skeptical at first (and he was cheered a lot despite being a heel), there is no doubt that his run as a heel was absolutely phenomenal.
However, that was peak SmackDown Live. Now, he's on RAW but the direction has undoubtedly seemed a lot more interesting of late. AJ Styles originally defeated Ricochet to win the title the third time, but the decision was reversed after Ricochet's legs were visibly under the ropes during the pin.
Ricochet ended up getting a quick win after that, but AJ Styles was ultimately in no mood for sportsmanship. Why did The Phenomenal One turn heel? Here's why!
#5 It was time for a change
As we mentioned, it has been two years since AJ Styles turned babyface. While it was obviously a great run because AJ Styles has always been a natural babyface, sometimes the writing is on the wall when it's time for a change.
AJ Styles is also a seasoned veteran so even if he is a better babyface, he can be utilized accordingly and more likely that not, he's bound to pull it off well.
WWE perhaps felt as though post-November last year, AJ Styles had cooled down a lot as a babyface. Even in his feud against Randy Orton at WrestleMania, it was clear that he wasn't as hot as he was when he held the WWE title.
He had a great match with Seth Rollins at MITB, but the time had come.
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#4 RAW needs a top heel
Remember in 2016 after the brand split when the top 3 superstars on SmackDown Live were Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles and John Cena? WWE pushed AJ Styles to the top instantly to establish him as the brand's top heel and to their credit - it worked really well and he had great chemistry with both Ambrose and Cena.
On Monday Night RAW, despite the brand split being dead, there's a clear absence of a top heel. Sure, Brock Lesnar would normally fill that role, but he's hardly ever there to make a big splash anyway.
Since AJ Styles has a few more years left in the tank, it's going to be interesting to see him in the role of RAW's top heel. For all we know, the United States Championship may simply be a stepping stone for him. Don't be surprised to see him challenge for the Universal title again later this year.
#3 To help Ricochet the way John Cena helped him
In 2016 when AJ Styles turned heel by attacking John Cena, little did people know that it would be the rivalry that shot him into the stratosphere. To John Cena's credit, he did a magnificent job in putting Styles over as a legitimate threat and a main event superstar.
Right after their feud concluded in the summer of 2016 at SummerSlam, Cena went on a month-long hiatus while AJ Styles ended up challenging for and winning the WWE Championship. Knowing that Cena did all he could to help him, AJ Styles likely feels that by turning heel, he can help Ricochet the way that Cena helped him.
There's no doubt that WWE has huge plans for Ricochet and it can be seen based off the way they're heavily pushing him early on. We believe that AJ Styles will end up helping Ricochet big time.
#2 To reunite The Club since he's injured
In the latest WWE NEWS, there were reports earlier in the month stating that AJ Styles was on a brief hiatus in order to deal with some nagging injuries. Now, we all know that nagging injuries are a part of the business and that every wrestler at some point works through them.
In the case of AJ Styles, it seems as though WWE decided to reunite him and The Club in order to protect him and prevent him from getting too physical on live television. That would certainly keep him fresh for PPVs.
Since he has now reunited with Gallows & Anderson, we can probably expect AJ Styles to get less physical and wrestle relatively lesser on free television. It would help him in the long run, but it does bring up the question as to what these "nagging injuries" are.
#1 The "Paul Heyman Effect"
Now let us just preface this by mentioning that we don't mean to say that Paul Heyman came up with the idea of AJ Styles turning heel. It was evident from the direction of the storyline, dating back to even Stomping Grounds, that AJ Styles was eventually going to turn heel with The Club.
However, WWE knew well that a large chunk of the audience would be tuning in due to the news about Paul Heyman taking over as Executive Director of RAW. Overseeing the creative, WWE and Heyman himself probably felt that it was best to end the episode with a big twist and that's why they decided to pull the trigger on the heel turn when they did.
It obviously made for a very interesting segment and topped off what was actually a really solid episode. That's an A for Heyman!