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AJ Styles went from being a WWE long shot to a future Hall of Famer

Many critics thought AJ Styles would never wrestle in WWE. Now, he's become a legend.
Many critics thought AJ Styles would never wrestle in WWE. Now, he's become a legend.

AJ Styles has become one of WWE's most sensational and reliable performers since signing with the promotion almost six years ago.

After years of being 'Mr. TNA', he left that organization after more than a decade of being their franchise player. Big stars and big names came and went, but Styles remained the cornerstone of Total Non-Stop Action.

But eventually? It was time for a change.

@BustedOpenRadio @AJStylesOrg @davidlagreca1 @TheMarkHenry @ApplePodcasts Leaving TNA and going to New Japan was one of the best moves of his career. He got to remind people that he is one of the best in the world and that he is the Phenomenal AJ Styles. https://t.co/r8oCqeP4UZ

He spent the next few years reinventing himself, including a fantastic run in New Japan. He became the leader of the Bullet Club and captured the IWGP Heavyweight title on two occasions - defeating Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, respectively.

That's when WWE came calling.

Styles' debut at the Royal Rumble in 2016 blew the roof off the building. After years of waiting, the WWE Universe would witness the greatness of The Phenomenal One.

Classic Royal Rumble moment! (2016) AJ Styles making his WWE debut, at the following years Royal Rumble he was the WWE Champion. @AJStylesOrg #WWE https://t.co/R51YUE2dtO

From there, Styles soared across the WWE skies much like he flies around the ring. He was immediately inserted into top storylines and would capture the WWE Championship within nine months of that magical night at the Rumble.

January will mark six years since Styles walked through the curtain that night. Since then? He's been a two-time WWE Champion, three-time United States Champion, and has held the Intercontinental belt on one occasion. And until recently, he was enjoying his only tag team title reign on RAW with Omos.

At this point? There's basically nothing AJ Styles hasn't accomplished in WWE and he's a surefire Hall of Famer.

๐Ÿ˜ @AJStylesOrg's 'Phenomenal Forearm' is a thing of beauty. Will the United States Champion return to the 'House that AJ Styles Built' during the @WWE Draft? https://t.co/4q9dmghDJz

But it wasn't always that way.

A decade before AJ Styles' signed with the company he had already established himself as one of TNA's top stars and had won the NWA World title. He had also become the talk of wrestling as one of the most gifted high flyers in the history of the sport.

He had good looks, a flashy style and was seemingly improving every time he stepped into the ring. Surely, he was destined for WWE, right?

Wrong. At least according to several critics at the time. Styles' detractors said he was too small and sounded 'too southern' to likely ever get a look from someone like Vince McMahon. He was given the 'indy darling' label and dismissed as someone who would likely make it in the big time.

These same people also said that even if he did get the chance to sign with WWE, he would be relegated to the lower or middle cards, and likely spend all of his time fighting cruiserweights. In other words? He would be far, far away from the main event picture.

While hindsight is 20/20, it's almost humorous to go back and look at comments that were left on message boards and Facebook at the time. Especially now, after seeing all that AJ Styles has accomplished with World Wrestling Entertainment in a relatively short time.

In the end? Styles proved them all wrong. He went from WWE underdog to WWE top dog, and he's done it phenomenally.


What do you think of AJ Styles' accomplishments during his time in WWE? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Edited by Brandon Nell
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