The impossible dream really happened when at the Royal Rumble. AJ Styles made his WWE debut. The man who is so often associated with helping build TNA as a brand, even earning the moniker “Mr. TNA”, before going on to find huge success on the indie circuit is now working under the mainstream thumb of Vince McMahon.
Having put on so many classic matches across many promotions, he comes with a huge fanbase already, and his shirt sold out within hours of being put up on the WWE shop. AJ Styles is certainly looking to be a big for WWE, if he is booked correctly.
While there’s never been someone on AJ’s level, WWE have taken indie stars and underutilized them before, much to the disappointment of fans. Cesaro is the most obvious person on the main roster, with the fans trying to convince the main brass to give him a chance multiple times and failing. There’s also Daniel Bryan, who despite multiple title reigns around the world and being the main player in Ring of Honor for a year, still took an 18 second loss to Sheamus in his first Wrestlemania. It took two years of hard work and fan support until Daniel Bryan finally got the spot he held at Ring of Honor – Top of the card.
But we like to think Styles is different. He is a unique talent that can surely only be destined for the main event. These are the top fifteen things we want to see AJ Styles do during his tenure at WWE.
15. Reform The Bullet Club
Bullet Club is a stable in New Japan Pro Wrestling made up foreign wrestlers who seek to take over the Japanese division by using western tactics, such as match interference and referee distraction. They are hugely over in NJPW as the top heel faction, and was previously led by AJ Styles before he moved to WWE.
The way things are looking, Finn Balor (Who led the Bullet Club under Prince Devitt before coming to NXT) will be starting a stable called “Balor Club”. With two former Bullet Club leaders at WWE, it makes sense for them both to be involved in this spiritual successor to New Japan’s answer to the NWO.
14. Face Kevin Owens
When AJ and Owens faced off in the Royal Rumble, they seemed to be hinting towards a tension between the two. Both sides started landing heavy blows before Owens eliminated him, ending Styles’ first WWE moment prematurely. As Styles left his first ever WWE match, KO taunted him from inside the ring, mocking The Phenomenal One.
The two have faced off a few times before on the indie circuits, and are both really over with a large part of the audience. A feud between the two of them would light the arena on fire. With Fast Lane and WrestleMania on the horizon, a showdown between both parties could come sooner rather than later.
13. Overcome Company Stigma of “Outsiders”
Vince McMahon likes to present his own guys as the best in the world. It’s an understandable position when you run a business full of wrestlers you’ve helped develop, but it is really annoying when great talents like Sting don’t get the WrestleMania victory like he should have done. Daniel Bryan as well was constantly berated for being the “indie wrestling geek” on NXT, suggesting that because he wasn’t brought up in WWE, he was somehow worse.
AJ Styles has had a good start to his WWE career, but the company has proven in the past that guys not built up by them tend to be booked weaker.
12. Face Cesaro
Cesaro was a mainstay of the indie scene, and has had great matches with pretty much every name you could throw at him. Except, it seems, AJ Styles. The two shared a brief year in Ring of Honor before AJ moved on to TNA, and not long after The Phenomenal One returned to the indie circuit Cesaro joined WWE. The two always seemed to keep missing each other.
With Cesaro’s recovery date fast approaching, it seems only right to put these two in a match together, fully completing the Indie Fans dream match-up list. While a face versus face feud seems out of the question, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Styles and Cesaro face off at some point in 2016.
11. Feature on UpUpDownDown
UpUpDownDown is Xavier Wood’s Youtube channel dedicated to videogames. One of his most popular series is when he gets other wrestlers to play games with him while they chat about their lives. While there has been a mixture of gamers and non-gamers on the show, the videogame enthusiasts in the roster usually have the most interesting episodes.
AJ Styles has already made Twitter rumblings about his gaming history, even calling out Xavier Woods as “not the gamer we all thought he was”. Having AJ on the show would be great, and the two are sure to have an awesome chemistry.
10. Become Mr. Money in the Bank
For all of the excitement the Royal Rumble brings, and for all the esteem the King of the Ring tournament once had, I daresay Money in the Bank is the most exciting part of the year. A wonderful storytelling move that ensures any match involving the champion has an extra level of tension.
When you mix the excitement that MitB generates throughout the year with a character as dynamically exciting as AJ Styles, you get something that’s sure to make great watching. His cash-in would get the most explosive crowd reaction out of them all, except maybe Seth Rollins.
9. Face Samoa Joe
This isn’t exactly a match we’d never thought we’d see – after all they’ve had many bouts in TNA – but to see it inside a WWE ring would be something spectacular. Both guys can be credited with helping the rise of TNA, and their leaving really didn’t help the company’s downfall. It might seem like a bit of gloating on the WWE’s part to put these two former stars of Dixie Carter’s promotion together in a match, but the sheer spectacle would be worth it for fans alone. Styles and Joe have a decorated history against one another; and although Vince McMahon and company would steer clear of any TNA references, seeing the former Florida stalwarts compete on the biggest wrestling stage in the world would be a sight to see.
8. Not Become a Victim of 50/50 Booking
50/50 booking is one of the worst things going in WWE right now. The idea behind it is that if a superstar loses one week, they should win the next in order to help protect their worth to fans. However, this just means no-one gets over, and no-one looks strong to the audience.
Tyler Breeze suffered this when he was called up, recording a massive victory over Dolph Ziggler only to lose the next night on Raw, reducing his worth. The Wyatt Family have consistently been pushed down because of this as well. If AJ is going to get any sort of momentum, he’ll need to overcome this and get some clear wins.
7. Feud for the Intercontinental Title
The IC title has exploded in importance over the last few months as Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens have made it look like it’s the only thing that matters to either of them. During the rumble match, Kevin Owens made it known his disdain for Styles, Zayn and the champion Ambrose, and a feud between the four of them would make for great television. All four of them have different styles, and a wealth experience between them. It would also allow AJ Styles to pick up a loss for the title but not take the pinfall, allowing him to move on to other things without weakening his character.
6. Face Daniel Bryan
The two have faced a few times before on the indies, mostly having clashes at Ring of Honor (even for the World Heavyweight title at one point), but they haven’t had a match in over ten years, and they’ve never face each other on such a big stage as a WWE ring. The two both share a high velocity, Japanese based style and could create a match like nothing else seen in the WWE if given the opportunity. Obviously, injury worries for Bryan might stop this one becoming reality, but hopefully he recovers soon so we can get The Phenomenal One vs. The American Dragon this year.
5. Have A WrestleMania Moment
By debuting at the Royal Rumble, this one is almost guaranteed, but it’s still something I think every Styles fan wants for the guy. Even the smarkiest of fans have to admit the spectacle of the grandest stage of them all, and even icons like Sting seemed almost overwhelmed during his entrance at WrestleMania.
It’s a big deal, and any wrestler who’s performed to the level that Styles has deserves that moment at WrestleMania where all eyes are on you. In 30 years when he’s retired, AJ needs to have that WrestleMania clip he can still look back on and smile at.
4. Win the World Heavyweight Championship
AJ Styles is a main event guy. He’s been in the upper part of the card all over the world for several years now, and has held the top gold pretty much everywhere except the WWE. To not put him in that position would be a real travesty, and to not give him the belt will just seem petty from a company with a history of treating stars from other promotions badly.
AJ Styles is an accomplished main eventer, can draw a crowd and can go for a great 30-minute match, something that with all the injuries, WWE is beginning to miss at the moment.
3. Be Inducted Into the WWE Hall of Fame
For better or worse, the WWE Hall of Fame is seen as the Wrestling Hall of Fame. It’s the biggest, most glamorous event used for paying homage to those who have entertained us over the years. Due to the fact it’s WWE however, many stars will never get inducted. Sting was one of these superstars, but after joining he’s now listed for the 2016 inductees. Other stars, such as Hiroshi Tanahashi or Homicide, will never be inaugurated into the prestige Hall of Fame, which is a real shame.
If you’d have asked me a few months ago, I would have included AJ Styles in that last statement. Fortunately now, he has a real chance of taking his place alongside other legends of the ring.
2. Help Build New Stars
A guy like Styles can do a lot for the floundering mid/under-card that WWE has at the moment, and help elevate a lot of the talent that’s lost in the shuffle. While I imagine Styles would win lot of the matches, he can help showcase what these guys can do by putting on some amazing matches with them.
Cesaro is definitely one who is destined for a classic with Styles at some point down the road, but there’s also guys like Tyler Breeze (who gave Styles a taste of his boot at the rumble), Damian Sandow and Stardust – all of whom can put on incredible matches but haven’t been given the chance.
1. John Cena
Yeah, I know it’s almost inevitable that John Cena will go over Styles, and give him the same treatment he did Kevin Owens by patting him on the head and saying “Well done indie guy, you are allowed in the WWE”. The last thirty seconds of this match will just be dedicated to Vince reminding us this is HIS show, and HIS guys will win on it. I know all that.
But Mr. WWE vs Mr. TNA has all of the build-up and potential as Triple H vs Sting, but with a few years knocked off the wrestlers to ensure the match will keep up a good pace. Cena can put on a great match with just about anybody, and Styles is one of, if not the absolute, best in the world. It’ll be fireworks in the ring and I can’t wait to see it.
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