In a moment many had never imagined they would get to witness, AJ Styles made his WWE debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble match, coming in at No.3 to confront Roman Reigns. The Phenomenal One had a strong showing in the free-for-all, before being eliminated by Kevin Owens. AJ Styles feuded with the likes of Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, and John Cena over the next few months. His win against John Cena at SummerSlam 2016 eventually led to a WWE title shot at Backlash.
On the road to Backlash 2016, AJ Styles and WWE Champion Dean Ambrose crossed paths on various occasions, with the two finally meeting in the main event of the PPV with the top prize on the line. The 25-minute classic ended with Styles hitting a low blow on Ambrose and connecting a Styles Clash to win his first WWE Championship.
AJ Styles would go on to become one of the biggest WWE Superstars of the current era
AJ Styles made history with this win, as he became the first wrestler in history to win World titles in TNA, NJPW, and WWE. Styles entered into the year of 2017 with the WWE title on his shoulder and kicked off another rivalry with John Cena. The two legends met at the Royal Rumble PPV, where Cena defeated Styles to put an end to his reign. Styles had another run with the belt after he defeated Jinder Mahal in late 2017 for the same. He held the title for just over a year, before dropping it to Daniel Bryan.
It didn't take long for AJ Styles to gain the respect of the WWE locker room, upon his surprise debut back in 2016. Here's Seth Rollins recalling a heart-warming story about The Phenomenal One:
You know, AJ’s cool. I mentioned Rey’s longevity. AJ is similar in that. He’s one of those guys too. Seems to get better like a fine wine, right. And he’s been such a mentor to me, over the years. I’ll tell you one quick story about AJ Styles. We were…this was when I was 19, 18 years old…we were on a show together and we wrestled. First time I ever wrestled AJ Styles, we had a really great match. He gave me an awesome match in front of my hometown, friends, and, family.
The next night we were on another show. The town was about a 5-hour drive. Maybe 6-hour drive away from where I was. And obviously, AJ was a star, so obviously, the promoter got him a flight. My partner and I, we had driven. We were on the same show, we didn't interact on the show at all. But we went to eat dinner with a big group later that night and AJ picked up our meal tab. Because he knew that we were young guys just trying to make it in the industry and he still paid for our food when he didn't have to. I told him thank you. 'Anything you need, we'll be there for you' and stuff and he just told us to pass it on.
So, that's something that stuck with me, when I was a young man and something that I try to do as I've moved into the next phases of my career is pass along the goodwill to the next generation.
Many fans were skeptical about how AJ Styles would fare in the company, but his first WWE title win removed all doubts. He has been with WWE for over four years now and has several accomplishments in his bag. Styles is one of the greatest wrestlers in this industry and is a sure-fire future Hall of Famer.
Watch WWE ‘Birth of a Champion’ every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 8.00 pm only on SONY TEN 1 (English)Published 25 Sep 2020, 09:35 IST