Real reason WWE star AJ Styles is wrestling for NOAH Destination 2024 revealed

AJ Styles on Friday Night SmackDown [Photo credit: WWE]
AJ Styles on Friday Night SmackDown [Photo credit: WWE's Official Website]

WWE Superstar AJ Styles will make his debut for the Japanese wrestling promotion NOAH at Destination 2024 against Naomichi Marufuji on July 13 at Budokan Hall. This decision was made by both companies, as they could mutually benefit from such cross-overs. As for Styles, this marks his first return to Japan in over eight years.

Speaking to Tokyo Sports most recently, Cyberfight Director, Narihiro Takeda, who oversees the organization, discussed the negotiations between World Wrestling Entertainment and NOAH. He addressed how ABEMA played a role in bringing this to fruition as they are the internet television network that broadcasts shows for both promotions.

Another name from the Stamford-based promotion, Shinsuke Nakamura, has also made an appearance for NOAH in the past year. The former Royal Rumble winner defeated WWE Hall of Famer, The Great Muta on January 1, 2023, at The New Year show.

According to Takeda, AJ Styles is the next biggest star in the eyes of the Japanese fandom, so he personally handpicked the former Bullet Club leader. World Wrestling Entertainment saw this as an opportunity to enhance its visibility in Japan and went ahead with the collaboration.

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"We got a positive response, so we were able to talk," Takeda said, regarding Shinsuke Nakamura and The Great Muta's match. "The [fans] wouldn’t want the WWE worldview to be destroyed, and WWE performances in Japan come as a package, but the next wrestler Japanese fans can dream of being apart from WWE is AJ after Shinsuke Nakamura."

Styles is a two-time world champion in the Stamford-based promotion, among multiple other title wins and accolades. This past weekend in Glasgow, he failed to dethrone Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes in an "I Quit" Match. In the last year or so, he has reiterated that retirement is getting closer by the day.

In turn, Naomichi Marufuji was chosen as AJ's opponent by WWE

Narihiro Takeda also discussed Naomichi Marufuji, who is one of the most successful pro wrestling names in Japan today. The latter is also the Vice President of Pro Wrestling NOAH and has made appearances for several other promotions, including NJPW, ROH, and TNA.

Takeda claimed that Marufuji's name was nominated by World Wrestling Entertainment, as it was the most obvious choice, owing to the latter's stature as a Japanese legend as well as being a well-known name in the United States.

"It was like there was only one choice. If there’s a NOAH wrestler who’s well-known in America, it’s got to be Marufuji. He’s a Japanese legend. I think it also has to do with the fact that there are PPVs [for NOAH] over there. There is still a lot more to be done regarding strengthening our relationship. We can look forward to more surprise appearances by superstars in the future," said Takeda.

The Phenomenal One required medical attention after his grueling match against Rhodes at Clash at the Castle: Scotland on Saturday. Where Styles goes from here on SmackDown bears watching. As for The American Nightmare, he appears to have a new challenger in the form of Solo Sikoa.

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Edited by Sayantan Niyogi
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