WWE is full of young talent but also features Superstars who made it late in their careers. It took years for some household names to join Vince McMahon's company.
AJ Styles is the latest example. Although WWE tried to sign him earlier in his career, he would not join the company until 14 years later. It was a decision the chairman regretted, as later reports revealed.
Here is a look at five Superstars Vince McMahon wished he had hired earlier.
1. AJ Styles make it to WWE late in his career
AJ Styles is one of WWE's best signings of the last decade. However, his WWE run came very late in his career. He joined WWE in 2016 after nearly two decades in Ring of Honor (ROH), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA/IMPACT), New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), and the independent circuit.
WWE tried its luck with Styles earlier in 2002 but was turned down by "The Phenomenal One." He recently told the story recently on "WWE Untold."
Styles was offered a developmental contract, but he had to refuse it to not disrupt his family. That development would have forced him to move to Cincinnati. Styles explained: “I ended up talking to Jonny Ace. I said, 'I really appreciate this, but I can’t move to Cincinnati and disrupt my family.'"
Styles felt his wife's dream came first, as she wanted to be a teacher and he did not want to mess that up, Styles added:
"That was very important to me. Mine could come second, so I didn’t take the developmental with WWE in Cincinnati. Years later, it ended up leading me back to WWE at the perfect time."
WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle recently revealed Vince McMahon's reaction to Styles' debut with WWE, saying on The Kurt Angle Show:
"The gauge was when he came out at the Royal Rumble, and the fans were so excited it was AJ Styles. You know, a lot of WWE fans feel like, or a lot of WWE personalities don't think that WWE fans watch TNA Wrestling. I think they do because they knew exactly who AJ was, and I think Vince saw the reactions and went, 'Wow, this guy is a star already.' He hasn't even been here, you know, this is his first day, and he's a star. I think that he had to build a name for himself, and he did it right. It's a shame that AJ ended up in the WWE when he is in his 40s."
When Styles won the world title, Vince went up to him and said, "I wish I would have hired you 10 years ago", according to Angle.
Styles is now a two-time WWE Champion, a three-time United States Champion, and a former Intercontinental Champion.