How many years does AJ Styles actually have left to be a prime spectacle for WWE? Did he arrive on the scene too late? Will he be a top draw or just a really good mid-carder?
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned often is that AJ Styles is 38 years old and has been wrestling all over the world for a very long time. Even though the Raw match between Styles and Jericho a few weeks back was a dream in many eyes, their combined age just happened to be 83. Adding to that equation that there are currently 54 members of WWE’s full-time roster and Styles is older than 44 of them leaves a little bit of an unknown for the future.
As a Former TNA and IWGP Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles has propelled himself to the top of the popularity ladder in less than a month and has already become one of the most popular wrestlers the company has on the current roster. To add to the momentum, it even looks like he was partly responsible for Raw’s first sellout of the year on Monday. This is not a product of many top stars being out, but instead his high profile status that has been built up over many years. He earned every bit of his praise and popularity with his two decades (almost) of hard work and dedication.
On the contrary to what WWE thought, wrestling fans were already well acquainted with Styles even before his Royal Rumble debut. He was the heart and soul of TNA for nearly a decade. Styles joined TNA when it was founded and became one of the faces of the company within no time. He held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three times and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice. He was also the first-ever TNA X Division Champion, a title he held six times during the course of his career. As if that weren’t enough, Styles was also a decorated tag team wrestler at TNA, winning the world tag-team championship six times. The WWE didn’t think he was that recognizable for what reason? Does this just show their ignorance towards the talent of other federations?
After several years of speculation the WWE announced that it had signed wrestling’s hottest name outside of the organization. It was a surprising move, particularly because of the timing. Wrestling fans had talked about this for years, but AJ seemed extremely happy wrestling his own schedule and events on the Indy circuit. However, after a nice spot in the Rumble and an overwhelming amount of merchandise sales it seems both parties have made the right move.
It’s been a long and winding road to the WWE for Styles and things aren’t going to get any easier as he battles for screen-time on the road to WrestleMania. Still, there’s plenty of reasons to be impressed with Styles’ achievements thus far and even more to be excited about when it comes to his future with the WWE. The battle partners seem endless and the character direction is the breath of fresh air the company needed.
The potential feuds for Styles are enough to get most wresting fans excited. Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and even John Cena all could prove to be worthy opponents. These scripted conflicts could lead to extraordinary battles that will be filled with charisma and sheer wrestling ability. To see Styles compete for and win the WWE United States and Intercontinental Championships could elevate these titles, similar to what fellow 38-year-old John Cena was able to do. Over the years, Cena has proved he doesn’t need to be in the main event to matter. In the same sense, Styles will always have a large following showing he can be a character of that caliber as well.
Many wrestlers have carved out a strong legacy in the midcard. And with Styles’ first year in the WWE occurring at age 38, it raises some questions as to what his ceiling is. Right now, Styles is in a feud with Chris Jericho, which may end up lasting until WrestleMania 32 or come to a crashing halt after Fastlane. In fact, it could almost read like a resurrected poem that has Styles becoming the next Y2J. If you think about his long awaited arrival and sharp climb up the WWE ladder, it almost seems like a repeat of the same story. Obviously, Jericho was much younger in his WWE debut, but he electrified the audience and was a well know commodity before he jumped ship. That moment when he interrupted the Rock will be a huge moment that will never fade in the infamous attitude era.
With so many WWE Superstars in their late 30’s now dealing with serious injuries, the WWE may be hesitant to make him a long term option. On the other hand, we all know merchandise sales, ticket sales and TV ratings are what separates the high profiled entities from the casual roster fill-ins.
Many are wondering what’ll be next for Styles after he’s done feuding with Jericho, and while there’s no clear answer, one can only wonder if they will treat him the same way they treated Owens upon his call up from NXT. Back when the AJ Styles to WWE rumors first started, John Cena fed the rumor mill by posting a photo of Styles on his Instagram page. AJ then had fired back with a photo of his own. This could be just professional play or it could be a prelude to a long awaited feud in the near future. Could Cena offer up another nice 3 or 4 match campaign with “The Phenomenal One?” Do you think we could see him as a future MIB winner? One thing is for sure, if AJ Styles keeps commanding attention like he has so far, the sky will only be the limit for him in the WWE. A SummerSlam match between him and Seth Rollins for WWE Gold could always be on the horizon!
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