AJ Styles has surpassed John "Bradshaw" Layfield as officially being the longest WWE Champion exclusive to the SmackDown brand. Currently, it is at 281 days and will be at 285 at the time of defending the title at SummerSlam against Samoa Joe.
Being the longest reigning SmackDown WWE Champion has been something that JBL has boasted about since it occurred back from 2004-2005. In a surprising turn of events, the beer-chugging, mean Texan, seemingly overnight became a limousine-riding, smug aristocrat.
WWE took a big gamble by making him a top heel on SmackDown. The company even further took a gamble when JBL defeated Eddie Guerrero at the Great American Bash on June 27, 2004, in a Texas Bullrope Match to win the WWE Championship. JBL retained the title until WrestleMania 21, where he lost to John Cena.
JBL retained the title for a total of 280 days. Regarding Styles now breaking this record, JBL praised him via Twitter.
"My record has been broken and I Could not be more proud of AJ Styles," said JBL. "A world-class individual and athlete, looking forward to watching this incredible performer Sunday at WWE SummerSlam."
My record has been broken and I Could not be more proud of @AJStylesOrg -a world class individual and athlete, looking forward to watching this incredible performer Sunday at @WWE Summerslam. pic.twitter.com/VjT33wKsVj— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) August 15, 2018
During JBL's WWE Champion reign, he played a slimy heel, barely getting by against opponents such as The Undertaker, Big Show, Eddie Guerrero, Booker T, and Rey Mysterio, further solidifying himself as a villain. Unfortunately, for Styles, many fans have criticized WWE for the lack of interest regarding his championship reign as a whole.
On Nov. 7, 2017, Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to become the first person to win the WWE Championship in the United Kingdom. Since then, Styles has feuded against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but a large portion of his reign has been against Shinsuke Nakamura. However, while these matches became better as time evolved, they were criticized for not having the same intensity and overall positive reviews as their match at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
At SummerSlam, Samoa Joe has the opportunity to end this record-breaking WWE Championship streak to commence his first reign. If Styles retains, his title reigns will be just two weeks shy of 10 months, which is quite impressive for someone is today's WWE programming for someone who is frequently seen on SmackDown Live, and especially as a babyface the whole time.