In the wake of AJ Styles’ on-screen firing this week, I thought it would be a good time to examine the “Phenomenal One” and see if he really is as good as he says he is, or if he’s caught up in his own hype.
Please note: This is just an examination of his WWE career. His time in the indies bears no relevance to this discussion.
Styles debuted at the 2016 Royal Rumble match at number three, receiving a standing ovation and setting the mood for the upcoming year. Styles began his WWE career as a face, and his first storyline was with Chris Jericho.
Once Y2AJ ended with their match at WrestleMania 32, AJ’s friends from his indie days, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, made their WWE debut. This was the beginning of Styles’ penultimate heel turn, as he and the Club targeted John Cena.
Two matches later, Styles had completely turned heel, yet was still met with cheers from the WWE Universe. The brand split broke up the Club as AJ went to SmackDown and Gallows and Anderson to Raw.
It was after Styles match with Cena at SummerSlam that he truly became insufferable, at least in this writer’s opinion. He declared himself the new John Cena and was given a WWE Championship opportunity because, well because he’s AJ Styles. After hitting Dean Ambrose with a low blow, Styles became champion.
The storyline that followed was extremely entertaining, I have to admit. AJ Styles vs. James Ellsworth with Dean Ambrose as the guest referee? I’d watch that match over and over again just because it brought Styles down a few pegs.
Once that feud was said and done, Styles retained his title by beating Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin, still claiming himself as “the face that runs the place” or, in a truly cringe-worthy moniker, “the champ that runs the camp.”
That is until Cena returned and beat Styles for the title, becoming a 16-time World Champion and tying Ric Flair’s record.
This is where Styles really becomes a victim of his own hype. In the months that have followed the 2017 Royal Rumble, AJ has been crying and complaining about not being given the right opportunities on SmackDown Live, but rarely doing anything to back up his whining.
But, here’s a question: what has AJ done to deserve the opportunities he thinks he’s owed? I mean, fine, WWE did screw him on his contractual rematch for the title, but that was to kick start the road to WrestleMania. Also, Styles never should have won the title in the first place; he should have been DQ’d for the low blow, but I digress. Instead of understanding that and moving on, he basically has been throwing a temper tantrum and telling anyone that will listen that he’s AJ Styles and he deserves better.
It all came to a head this week on Smackdown when, knowing he couldn’t attack Daniel Bryan, AJ assaulted Shane McMahon.
Now, I’ve only been a fan of WWE since 2014, so I don’t know what heels got away with before, but good God. Only so much of what AJ did to Shane could be staged. Was the camera in the back of the car where Shane’s head went through a window funny? Sure, I guess. I was too focused on a man’s head being shoved through a freaking car window!
I personally think Daniel Bryan made the right call firing AJ. Sure, I know that it was for the storyline and AJ is still with the company, but it’s still extremely important to remember that you don’t get what you want just because of who you are.
Not only that but as SmackDown went off the air, Shane declared that AJ would have a match at WrestleMania…with him. There’s no way that WWE would have let Shane say that if it wasn’t going to happen.
Ultimately, it is my belief that AJ is completely caught up in his own hype and deserves everything that’s coming to him. I really hope that their match at Mania is a No DQ or Street Fight. Not only would it be extremely entertaining, but it would give Shane the chance to get back at Styles and maybe force a face turn.
Who knows? We will just have to see what happens next week.