Part of the reason why AJ Styles has been able to remain so successful throughout his career is because he hasn’t really changed much about himself.
He’s always had a unique look, his in-ring style has seen him stay as one of the best performers on the planet and even though his character might have suffered from slight changes – such as his time in the Bullet Club – he’s always remained The Phenomenal One.
One of the worries with independent stars with a reputation signing with WWE was that they’d change their names and potentially their looks so we don’t need to bring up their past and what they’ve achieved elsewhere, especially if they were with rival promotions.
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KENTA became Hideo Itami, Prince Devitt transformed into Finn Balor and most recently, Tommy End became Aleister Black.
However, we’ve seen that in special cases the company opts to make no changes, which is why Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe were fortunate enough to stay as they are – as was AJ Styles.
Styles, though, might never have had that name based on a recent interview with Bailey and Southside as he revealed he originally hated the name Styles and the first gimmick idea he ever had saw him as a masked luchador with the name Velocity.
According to Wrestling Inc, he said: “I wanted to wear a mask! I loved those [luchadors]. I’m so glad that didn’t happen.
“I wanted to wear a mask and call myself Velocity. What a terrible name.”
AJ Styles is certainly one of the best names on the roster and you instantly recognise it, but the way it came about isn’t so glamorous.
He added: “I didn’t have a name. Everybody always called me AJ anyway, so I stuck with AJ. And then, [the promoter] is like, ‘Yeah, you’re tagging with Damien Still. We need a last name. Styles! Go!’
“That’s it. That’s how the name [came] about. AJ Styles. I hated it. I hated Styles for a really long time.”
The man almost known as Velocity also highlighted how he was open to changing his name when arriving in WWE, but admits it worked out best for everyone that the organisation kept him as he is.
Styles added: “[WWE] didn’t say anything about changing it.
“I just assumed it would probably happen, but a year prior, maybe a couple of months prior, Samoa Joe had went to NXT and they didn’t change his name, so I thought, ‘Well, maybe there’s a chance.’
“But at the same time, I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t care what they call me, Velocity if you want to call me that, whatever.’ But, I’m glad they stuck with AJ Styles and it actually worked out for everybody.”
It’s hard to imagine Styles having the same level of success he’s had under a mask with the name Velocity, while SmackDown LIVE being the house that Velocity built also doesn’t have a great ring to it.
Then again, if anyone could have made it work, it’s The Phenomenal One.
What do you make of AJ Styles initial gimmick idea? Have YOUR say in the comments section below and the third episode of GiveMeSport’s WWE podcast is here! Check it out via this link. https://soundcloud.com/user-818579649/gms-wwe-podcast-all-the-fallout-from-wwe-payback
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