How WWE Got It Right: A Phenomenal Move

The Phenomenal AJ Styles

No, they don’t want none
No, they don’t want none
They looking scared no they don’t really want none…

The lyrics created by CFO$ ring loud and clear throughout arenas nationwide. While the words of the song are meant as a message for Styles’ awaiting opponents, it’s also a message that once described how WWE creative felt towards A.J. Styles not too long ago.

AJ Styles and HurricaneIn 2002, the WWE had an opportunity to sign Styles. He signed a contract with WCW right before it was bought out by the WWE. Despite bringing Styles in for a handful of shows, they declined to absorb his contract.  Styles was forced to find work on the indies. The WWE clearly didn’t want none.

When asked about not getting a contract, A.J. Styles said, “It was depressing there for a little bit, but it was one of those things where (I said) ‘Alright, I’m going to go back to the indies and I’m going to find a way to make a name for myself.'” The WWE was already loaded with talent. The brought over the nWo, Booker T, RVD, The Dudleys and many more. They simply chose not to open up a roster space to groom another up-and-comer. They already had … Maven.

So Styles left to make a name for himself on the independents and he did exactly that.

A Franchise Player

A.J. Styles made his way to ROH, and two years later TNA. Not only did he begin to flourish, he became the face of TNA. His matches with Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels are still the bar bouts in TNA are judged by today.

The X-division and the six-sided ring were put on the mat thanks to Styles’ phenomenal in-ring work. His hard work helped launch the company from a weekly PPV special to a legit alternative to the WWE. Despite being the franchise player, TNA opted not to resign him. After 10 years in TNA,  where he captured every single title multiple times over, he was let go. Fans immediately saw this as TNA’s loss and WWE’s gain. But just like a decade earlier, the message was the same.

No, they don’t want none
No, they don’t want none
They looking scared no they don’t really want none…

AJ Styles New JapanThe WWE passed on Styles yet again. A.J. Styles was seen as a phenomenal worker in the ring, but his mic skills left a lot to be desired. So A.J. Styles made his way to ROH yet again … but this time he already had a name. Styles traveled the country putting on showcase bouts until he inked a deal to join New Japan. In the land of the rising sun, a rocket was strapped to Air Styles’ back and his career took off once again.

On his very first night, A.J. Styles made headlines around the world by becoming the newest member of the Bullet Club, a group founded by Prince Devitt (Finn Balor). Styles would go on to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his very first match. From the next two years, Styles and the Bullet Club reigned over Japan. Styles’ made his mark again, and finally … the WWE wanted some.

A Royal Debut

In 2016, A.J. Styles finally made stepped into a WWE ring as a marque name backed by a WWE contract. While he was unsure, at first, if the WWE Universe was familiar with his work, his uncertainty was met with an overwhelmingly pleasing ovation. He had arrived and the fans approved.

What was next was a shock to all. Fans went into immediate panic mode as Styles lost his WrestleMania debut to Chris Jericho. Was this all for naught? Just as doubt set in, members of the Bullet Club (Anderson and Gallows) made their WWE  and all would be saved. Or so we thought.

The WWE was not so quick to pair up Styles with Anderson and Gallows. It was a slow tease.

Instead of a focus on re-branding the Bullet Club, Styles was quickly placed into a feud with the WWE’s franchise player, John Cena. Based on WWE’s reputation for squashing guys they didn’t create, and Styles’ loss at Mania, this didn’t look good for Styles. Could his quick start become a quick fizzle, a la Taz (another star that was created completely outside of the WWE)?

Yet, still, the WWE was slow to pull the trigger on the easy storyline, the revitalization of the Bullet Club, opting to go a different route. Maybe Styles didn’t NEED The Club. Maybe he was actually good enough to do it all on his own.

aj stylesA.J. Styles would put together two straight victories over Super Cena and it became clear that there were big plans for the man who branded himself as “the face that runs the place.”

A month later Styles used his win over Cena to leapfrog into a match with the WWE Champion, Dean Ambrose. Ambrose never stood a chance. Styles rode his momentum right through Ambrose to capture WWE gold for the first time. In doing so, Styles became the first man to win the WWE, TNA and IWGP world titles.

With the win, A.J. Styles has been catapulted to the top of the WWE. Who would have guessed, after everything that Styles has been through, that his path would lead to success in the biggest professional wrestling company in the world? The route was unconventional, to say the least, but as the bigger picture develops, it appears WWE got it completely right.

They let Styles go when he was young, as their roster was full of megastars, so he could establish his name and persona. Even when it seemed the timing was right, following his release from TNA, they knew that he needed to marinate just a little bit longer. And when they finally did bring him in, they could have gone the easy route and road success of The Club to main event status, yet they decided to allow A.J. to do it on his own. They allowed his star to shine and he has not looked back since.

A.J. Styles is a Mack Truck and the King of The South.

More importantly, he is the WWE World Champion and the rest of the WWE locker room don’t want none. No, they don’t want none.

 

Download our weekly podcasts on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and all other places you get your podcasts listens.

One of the founding fathers of Hit The Ropes. I pride myself on finding useless trivia. Did you know that Jeff Hardy was involved with the WWE Raw debut of both RVD and Kane?

  • Shane Howard

    I gotta admit, I was worried early on.

Skip to toolbar